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  • Writer's pictureAndy Przybyla

Getting the Music Right

A good DJ will play the tracks you love, a great DJ will play the song you never knew you wanted to hear...

This is a bit of a long post but very worth while reading. Getting the music right for any party is a total minefield, its something its taken me years to perfect and understand. Why, well because there are so many factors that come into play affecting peoples desire to dance over other things they could be doing at the reception.

What we need to first understand is how many songs will be played in a typical 5hr wedding reception? To deal with current attention spans modern songs are made to around 3mins and 30 seconds so that is about 18 songs per hour. Mixing songs can get this up to around 20. First hour can often be what I call warm-up music, especially if the first dance is a bit later. The cake cut and first dance can deduct another 10 mins from play time. You might also want to select a father-daughter dance or the last song of the night. So your night (if 5hrs) will have space for 90 selectable songs.

I hope you read this post before you start on the planner as I hope to give you a few tips about doing it right. I'm going to try to give you a pro and a con to each topic below:

What songs do you like?

Pro - It's your party isn't it, if you are on the dancefloor guests will want to be around you and its a pretty easy way of getting people up to dance.

Con - You will want to circulate, speak to guests and it will be hard to spend the entire night on the dance floor, if you pick all the music it might not be to the taste of the guests so when your not on the dancing, they will want to request songs

How to win - Give us 10 songs you love, wait till close to the event to pick them as peoples tastes change with time, you might over listen to a song. Leave the DJ some time to work with the guests, take requests and see what works.

I've asked the guests to send me a song they will dance to?

Pro - Your considering your guests which is a great thing to do, it gives you a chance to look at and vet the list and it can save you the time sitting down to compile a list.

Con - If its 2 year to your reception, that is 2 year of music they can't select. Some people pick tunes they like to listen to rather than ones they will dance too. Some people will wait to get up for their song and they can't all be played in first hour. If you have 60 guests however that can be 60 songs which is a huge chunk of the time taken.

How to win - From experience these lists dont work for a multitude of reasons. People who want to dance will often request songs on the night, just let the DJ take requests (moderated if you prefer i.e. no line dance songs like Macarena) as it will save a lot of time and effort on your part collating these. Or ask a different question. What type of music gets you up dancing?

I'm leaving it to the DJ

Pro - We have probably been to more events this year than you have ever attended, we know music inside out, we know the banger that fill the floor. I have little sets I can work through that are tried and tested, I know how to order music through the night to keep the energy building.

Con - I don't really know you or your guests, you have most certainly partied with them more than me. So some input from the client is always appreciated to get us off in the right direction. Reading the floor and trying different genres can take a chunk of time out the night till you find the vibe. What works for one party does not work for every party.

How to win - Most certainly trust me as your DJ, but give me guidance. A list of 30 songs is ideal but don't make it 30 dance songs, if your crowd like to sing a long to stuff, make it varied and let me fill the gaps. Better still, just message me and tell me "Andy we love Ibiza anthems, or We love the charts currently mixed with some dance songs from the last 30 years, or we love Motown and Disco but also some up to date stuff, or we are bang into RnB, Latin and stuff. This really lets me hit the ground running.

Below are a few more tips for getting the music right on the night:

  • Consider your guests, getting the right people at the party is more important than the music.

  • Get your guests to join in the end of the first dance, this can often be a great way of starting the dancing and getting people on the floor. Have the first dance early too, many people don't want to dance before you have.

  • Guidelines are better than rigid song lists. If the playlist isn't working be willing to drop it and get the party back on track.

  • Be on the dancefloor as much as you can, remember you can request songs on the night too, I love to speak to my clients during the party.

  • Tell me what you don't want to hear if you are against certain types of song. Don't ever use the term cheese as its far too varied in interpretation. Remember rather than banning stuff people might enjoy it can be a great time to get another drink or circulate the guests.

  • Always give the DJ time to mix and select tracks as you just never know when we might pop on a song you love but forgot about or you've never heard but is an instant hit.

  • Fill the planner in about a month before the event rather than as soon as you get access - tastes and trends change and great new songs come out all the time, and some that were in the charts now that people love will be dead in 2 years.

  • As well as the music there are thing that can be done to make the dance floor more attractive, give out slippers, glow sticks or batons, if you have space in your budget getting a live sax player can add a huge buzz.

  • Finally if your going to ban anything, make it slow songs. Anything more than 2 and you can damage the mood. Never pick songs that remind people of those they have lost. This is a sure fire way of changing the mood from one of celebration to one or remorse.

  • Our music policy also states we don't carry with us any Football songs, Rave songs or Heavy Metal. Please speak to us about this if there is an issue. We feel they are too extreme or can cause disturbances.

I hope this has helped a little, if it has stirred up any questions please feel free to get in touch. Remember its only advice which has came from over a decade and near 1000 events.


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