Trying To Get To You

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Remembering The Rules

A happy and soulful New Year to you all.

On New Years Eve I went to a great party at a friend's apartment in Brooklyn. There were a lot of great people, great food, great drink and great dancing. As it happened, I was asked to DJ, which is not an unusual occurrence amongst any gathering of my friends. So I took my iPod and made a playlist that I thought would work; a combination of old and new rock, soul, r&b I thought the revelers would get into.

It didn’t work.

I forgot one of the two cardinal rules of DJ’ing for a party. Play the music people know and love. I had cued up a lot of great, but obscure songs, the kind of tunes that if I was playing them in a car with friends, they’d all say, “Wow! This song is great. Who is it?” I’d explain what songs they were, and I’d get to wow everyone with the depth of my impeccable taste and musical knowledge. But at a New Year’s party with a crew of thirty-somethings, playing an obscurity like Candi Staton’s “Heart On A String” just ain’t gonna work, no matter how great the song might be.

So, needless to say, we quickly switched it up, and on came the Madonna (“Into The Groove,” “Holiday”), Prince (most of Purple Rain), Justin Timberlake and other more familiar favorites, and then it became a sweaty dance party. It cooked.

So next time I DJ a party, I will remember the following; it is my job to entertain the audience and get their asses on the floor, not to turn them on to anything they haven't heard before. It’s about them, not about me. Because if it was up to me, I'd be playing most of Otis Blue.

Oh – and the other cardinal rule of DJ’ing for a party? Make sure the women are pleased with what you’re playing. Make the women happy and you’ve got your party made.

Actually, that’s a pretty good rule for all of life.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. I always just try to play the best of what's popular. Generally, if they can ignore it or dance to it, I'm in good shape.

Anonymous said...

interesting observation for an A&R person to make. does this rule translate to A&R too: Make sure the artist is entertaining, and gets people to dance.