Let’s set the scene, we've arrived at the venue for our booking in plenty of time. We have been able to get into the room early and we have set all our equipment up. It’s not only looking good, it’s sounding good too.
We take a look at our paperwork to check on the timeline, and confirm it with the organiser or banqueting manager, the chances are it looks something like this (assuming It’s a wedding):
7:00pm Evening Guests To Arrive
8:30pm Cake Cutting & 1st Dances
12:00am Last Song
Don’t worry about the exact timings too much - what I am about to share with you works for any timeline and for any event - but what do we do in the time between 7:00pm and 8:30pm? Well, if social media is to be believed, this is the time for us to take pictures of our rig and post them in the DJ Facebook groups, "What do you think of my rig?" or "This is my office tonight…".
But what music do you play? I have asked quite a few DJs over recent months and most of them do exactly what I used to do. They either put on a purchased pre-mix or a playlist that they have prepared themselves, but the norm is that they play roughly the same music for every event. But, if you play the same music that every other DJ plays at this time, what makes you different from the rest? Plus, if you play at any venue on a regular basis, the staff may think "this DJ always plays the same music"!
Let me share a story with you; one that completely changed by perception of ‘background music’. In early 2016 I was booked to play at an event that had a ‘carnival’ theme. I decided that, to fit in with the theme, I would DJ live during the whole of the early part of the evening instead of just sticking on my usual playlist. I was lucky, as Brazilian music is a particular favourite of mine, and played one really specialist ‘80s Brazilian tune by Tania Maria. While this was playing, an elderly woman came up to me. My initial thought was that she was going to ask me to either turn it down or “play something we all know” (come on, we have all been there). But, no, she wanted to tell me that she’d never heard Tania Maria played at any function and we had a chat about other Latin American tunes, then she made a few requests, took my card, and walked away. I thought nothing of it, but a few weeks later she phoned me to ask if I could play at a couple of events she was hosting. So, that one song generated two high-paying bookings!
This got me thinking that I should really be doing more during the early part of the evening at all my bookings, as people want to be entertained then too. Also, just imagine if you hired someone to work on your home for five hours, and they spent the first hour chatting on the phone, or on Facebook, you probably wouldn't be happy!
So, how do you make better use of the ‘background music slot’? Well, let's think about the age range at any wedding reception. There are usually children or teenagers, some people the same age as the happy couple, and older relatives too. They all need entertaining, so I’ve started using the early part of the evening to play music for some of the other guests at the wedding. You know those people in their 40s and 50s who are sat at the back of the room, or even those in their 60s and 70s who always seem to sit themselves near the speakers! Remember, older people get married and celebrate birthday parties too...
Maybe chat with them (this is easier if you have been booked at the wedding all day) and ask what they like. Try playing music from when they were teenagers, not the obvious chart toppers or floor fillers, but those songs that were big at the time, the songs that are going to bring back memories. A much wiser person than me once said, "music is what memories sound like".
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 82, Pages 30-31.