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Jim's Blog

Why I Can't "Play Your Song Next"

If you've ever been to a party with a DJ, chances are that while you were dancing or listening to the music, you came up with a song that you were SURE everyone would scream and shout over. In your head you imagined a flock of people decending on the dance floor and making it the most awesome party ever based solely on your suggestion.

So you made a beeline to the DJ, you proudly announce your idea for the perfect song to be played next and he doesn't seem to share the same enthusiasm that you do for this song, telling you that he will "get to it".

Naturally, this answer will not do. You are now so sold on your idea of the perfect song that you're convinced that the longer the DJ puts off your request, the quicker this party is going into the dumper. You're confused as to why the DJ doesn't get it. Why don't they see that this brilliant idea shouldn't be implemented immediately?

The answer quite simply is ... you're working with a talented DJ who understands the psychology of the dance floor. And while your song may be an awesome song (most requests I get are just that!) there's actually a logical time for every song to be played.

For example, let's use the "Cupid Shuffle" and "Wobble". These are two extremely popular songs that will fill your dance floor. You see a full dance floor dancing to the Shuffle and you know the floor will keep going to Wobble so you request it.

Cupid Shuffle is 143 beats per minute (BPM). That's a generally fast song to dance to. Wobble is 95 BPM. That's a much slower tempo. Putting the two back to back would be a train wreck on the dance floor. Sure, people will dance to it, but the "flow" of the mix would be horrendous. Can it be done? Sure, there's no great law that says these two shall never be played back to back. But we want something that's going to fit nicely with the Shuffle. Something from 138-148 BPM would be perfect.

So when a DJ tells you that it's going to be later before he can play your request, he's really wanting to put your song out there when it will get the best reaction from the crowd, when it will fit naturally into the mix and when it will make a smooth transition. He WANTS your song to succeed and knows that now is not the right time for it.

It's like if you're watching a great movie or reading a great book and while you can't wait for the ending, it doesn't make sense to give you the ending 20 minutes into the movie or book. A movie or book "builds" to a big climax at the end to leave you satisfied.

A great DJ does the same thing. He structures the song selections into a never-ending flow of great songs strategically placed to get the most positive reactions from his audience.

So don't be offended if your song can't be played next. And don't ever say "I'm about to leave, can you play it next?" The goal for the DJ is to KEEP you at the party, not to get you out the door quicker.

But if your request fits all the qualifications of the current song (same BPM, Key, Genre, Popularity, Danceability) there's always a good chance that he can play it next. Nothing pleases me more than getting a request played quickly and having it work out well for the audience as well as the guest.

THAT is a job well done!

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