There was a time when the latest hits were heard in the club before anywhere else. The “music of the streets” was the music in the clubs. Today people are mostly guided more by radio and music videos but why is that? As DJs we have this rare opportunity to make a huge impact on our audiences but we often don’t take advantage of this anymore. Instead, we play it “safe” with known club bangers and classics. Why do DJs do this? What do they get out of it and what do they have to loose?
I am of the belief that most DJs want to play new music. We get very tired of playing the same old thing over and over again. However, many get stuck in a groove where nothing else will work. Maybe they have a finicky crowd or worse….they’ve got themselves stuck into a place where their crowd only expects hits.
Why does this happen? How do DJs get “stuck?” Well I’ll tell you. A lot of DJs play it “safe” out of fear of loosing their job. New DJs are always waiting the in the wings for their shot and you know they’re going to play hits to get that easy crowd reaction. So the current DJ also plays the hits to make sure the crowd is happy and to keep that other DJ at bay. They simply have to gain or loose only one thing and that’s job security.
Don’t get me wrong. I play plenty of hits and classics. But I also break a lot of new music. What these DJs don’t realize or are too afraid to risk, is that breaking new music can mean standing out on a completely different level. It’s separating yourself from the radio, videos or even a jukebox. It’s about becoming the “selector” you were meant to be. Playing a great set of hits and classics is all fine and fun, but if you really want to impress play a mixture of music including some rare remixes and tracks that no one has ever heard before….and STILL keep them moving. That’s what gets my attention.
Show the crowd what they haven’t seen before and make them want more. Don’t think about who is waiting to take your spot. Focus on delivering a musical experience to your crowd that is unique and memorable and your job will be secure. DJing is a risky business and if you want to play like a jukebox I suggest you stick to weddings and bar mitzvahs because nightclub DJing is the next level and as long as you stick to the hits someone out there IS better than you.
As always, don’t hesitate to comment with your thoughts.