When we meet to talk with clients about music for their event, often the first thing we notice is that they've already dejectedly decided the music they really like and want to hear won't be able to be played at their event.
It may be a designer in a fashion show thinking that the music she wants to use for her fashion line will be too ethereal a sound to keep the audience interested. Or a couple who loves moody acoustic indie pop but thinks it would be too much of a downer to play a little at their wedding Or an organizer of a corporate party who worries that the employees won’t dance because they tend to like raw Southern hip-hop and their bosses wouldn’t. Whatever the case, whatever the event, it seems this kind of unfortunate premature musical censorship is everywhere.
It often comes from a good place of common sense or consideration, like an organizer at a art opening knowing that prospective buyers might not want to hear his beloved deep cuts of ‘70s classic rock all night long. But some of our clients’ decisions that their favorite songs or genres won’t work comes not from a good place at all, but instead from having met with conventional, unimaginative DJs that tend to work for bigger, more cookie-cutter DJ companies. We’ve heard from these clients that some of these DJs have told them straight up that the only way to get a party movin’ is to play disco all night.
Whatever the reason for clients' doubts in the music they love, one of the first things we tell them – no matter what their event – is to open up their mind, revisit their CD collection or iPod, and make their “dream list” of songs they want to hear, with no censoring allowed. Put anything in you would love to hear. Not only does it make the process of selecting music easier, but also more fun. It will get you excited about the possibilities of hearing this music, as opposed to nixing songs right away and feeling frustrated that the soundtrack to the event is already not what you would like.
Now, will all these "dream songs" end up making the cut when the event arrives? Sometimes many of them do, sometimes they don't. But what always happens is that when we see these “dream lists” and talk a bit with the client to see what music is most important to them, we can then use our experience in knowing what of these songs will work given the mood that is wanted at the event, as well as what kind of guests will be there, and what kind of structure the event will have. Then we can suggest which songs to keep, which to think about not using. For example, a pair of melancholy indie songs at the more sedate moments in a wedding can feel absolutely right and even moving. So can a set of obscure hardcore punk during the more boisterous moments of a corporate party. And even a little experimental progressive rock can enhance the feeling of an art opening, if played at the right time.
By far, many more of the songs you really want at your event then you ever think you can play are actually able to be fit in, but not only that, they can be made to add to the atmosphere of the event. But to do it, you have to begin by letting the DJ know what you really want to hear. And if that DJ looks at your list, smirks, and says something about how you can't have a party without having "the Y" on your list, well, you know the time has come to find a different DJ.