Playing to the Crowd


There’s nothing worse than a DJ that ignores the most fundamental requirement of being a DJ, keeping the crowd happy and entertained. Playing to the crowd seems obvious but I am sure we have all seen times when the DJ is seemingly oblivious to the down-turned, unhappy faces and patrons leaving the venue in droves. In fact there are plenty of examples of famous DJ’s being kicked off the decks because they were being too self-indulgent. There is a definite science to “reading the room” and keeping the majority of punters happy while still offering some originality and fun to your set. Patronage retention is the key to your being booked again and again. Patrons that are happy with your music will spend more time and money at the venue, and that will keep the venue very happy with more bookings for you!



Evaluate the Crowd

Evaluate the type of crowd by studying their dress, attire and behavior. Across different times of the night you might experience an “after work” crowd at 7pm vs. say a “party” crowd at 11pm. An after work set would be quieter as generally the punters would be talking more, might involve more chilled out music with the tunes would offering more subtlety overall. A party set would involve more uplifting tunes, higher energy tracks and would be louder and more pumping. End of night tunes are useful for bringing the crowd down to a more relaxed vibe, useful when telling them they have to leave!



How Loud?

A lot of DJs are renowned for blowing up speakers and PA systems by overdriving the gain on their DJ mixers. With dynamics, compression and modern day production techniques, music today is a lot louder than music released years ago. As such the ability to play at high volume has become very appealing for some DJs. Loudness is affected by many physical factors such as speaker volume and placement, and the size and shape of the room. Reflective surfaces for example like glass and metal makes music sound harsh, as the sound waves bounce and collide with each other. However by filling that same room up with a decent sized crowd, the bodies tend to soak up a lot of the audio making the sound more acoustically sympathetic. Remember that most venues have noise restrictions so it is always best to take advice and experience from the bar manager or sound technician.



Handling Requests

Handling requests can prove tricky if you have limited material in your set. If a request is worthy and you don’t have the track, promise that you will have it ready for the next week, and in the mean time offer to play something in the same style. While Ding requires concentration, most DJs know that they are an ambassador for the venue and as such need to be courteous and polite, even of the punter is a little tipsy.



Diversity is the Key!

Having a diverse set is a superb way to play to the crowd as you can jump from one style to another depending on what you think the crowd will like. Plan your set as you always would but if you have the ability to offer several styles, ultimately it will work in your favour. It’s always handy to keep a few guaranteed favourites up your sleeve as well, as dropping a popular track can make the room come alive.


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