You may be at a stage in your DJing skills where you may want to crack on and DJ in clubs. There are a few experiences that may come your way, that are outside outside of the home studio set, and getting song requests is one of them.
This is a comprehensive list of the reasons why DJs hate requests and I’ve added various tips and advice on how you can get around the annoyance of taking song requests.
1. Planned their DJ Set Already
Depending on the genre or setting that a DJ is playing it’s highly likely that a DJ has decided upon a set list for the music they are going to play.
There are many factors that come into play when a DJ is playing a DJ set, so when a request or two (more like loads) this can be quite frustrating for a DJ as they have already planned what they want or aiming to play.
If they are a nice person then they might play what you want already in the set. Think about it this way, if a DJ is trying to make a name for themselves then they may not want to play any tracks that are similar to other DJs before them.
2. Breaks Your Focus
Related to the point above, if you’re a DJ that likes to plan your DJ playlists in your DJ software, ready to crack on and just mix away then great.
Now imagine let’s say about five requests come in during your set, you focus and flow could be broken which is highly distracting. It can take some time to get back into your DJ set again which could lead to compromising the quality of your mixing slightly.
Psychologists call this “flow”. I call it “in the zone”.
You simply lose track of time, you are being so creative the sense of time, anxiety and future or past does not enter your mind.
Now breaking that is like waking someone up from a very deep sleep that you were enjoying, it’s really annoying and off-putting. Especially if you are enjoying the creative process so much.
Here’s an article (with a TedX talk about “flow”, really interesting if you’re into learning about the mind.
3. Requesters are Drunk & Persistent
By far the most annoying aspect of a human arriving to the DJ booth pissed out of their mind slurring loudly a request of an utterly dance floor destroying song.
Drunk people requesting music can be really annoying to DJs. Especially if you can’t hear them, or if they simply keep coming back to request multiple tracks.
If you’re a DJ that’s experienced this before, then you need to check out some tips in the final section below.
4. Song Requests are not Relevant to Music Genre
Another annoying aspect of someone requesting a song is the song is not completely relevant to the audience that you are catering for music wise.
You may be playing a specific genre of house music for example or to a type of audience, let’s say a birthday party.
Some under-age rude boys want you to play some grime or dubstep and want to start MCing over it. Not cool!
That is frustrating for the DJ and it can leave the DJ feeling awkward and put them in a vulnerable position in the eyes of the person that hired them to DJ.
5. Against the Genre of the Label or Club Night
Certain events that you might play as a DJ may result in you playing specific music related to a record label or a very niche topic of music.
This means that if you get requests for a separate niche of a genre then this might not go down too well.
The record label or night club may not allow it to be played and stop you from DJing altogether.
If you value your relationship with the club or the record label you may well be switched on enough to not listen to a request coming in.
In some cases you may get lucky due to where the DJ booth is situated. Or so far back from the crowd or blocked off to the point where no one can get close enough to ask for you for a request.
I saw online recently that DJ Shadow was playing a set somewhere in America and he was playing some deep sort of tech house sound. This clearly was not the vibe that the club manager was after, so asked him to change it. I’m not sure but I think DJ Shadow sacked off the DJ set.
So it can piss DJs off another way, not being allowed to play their own style. This is quite a relevant topic as I wrote an article on when a DJ is and artist, check it out here.
6. Too Left-field & Not Possible to Mix
You may well be happy enough to take requests. Some DJ jobs that you get assigned to or DJ sets that you get asked to play may well involve you to do so.
That’s great and all but you open yourself up to some really left-field song requests.
If you’re a DJ like me and simply love beat matching and getting in the groove then this sometimes is simply not compatible.
But if your audience and client that’s hired you is expecting you to be taking requests, then the hurdle you need to get over is simply learning how to drop music tracks in that aren’t mixable or beat match compatible.
At the end of the day, if you’re getting paid to be a DJ, please the crowd, get them on the dance floor, then you need to keep them on the dance floor.
Practice at home dropping random tunes in, one after the other. This will keep you in business. It will make you more resilient as a DJ when taking random requests.
7. No Internet Connection
Another situation that a DJ might find it annoying when taking requests is not simply having a track available. The annoyance may come from when the same person or multiple people ask for the same track over and over again.
DJs are only humans and they usually do the best they can to plan ahead for the music tracks that they may need for the DJ session that they are assigned to.
A DJ really needs to be on point, in the zone and focussed to make sure they are mixing tracks. If they have the internet available on their laptop which allows them to search on their SoundCloud account then great.
Rekordbox allows SoundCloud to connect playlists which is great, but I’d imagine having to search for a track online during a DJ set can be detrimental to the quality of the mixing and vibe of the DJ set.
8. Not the right time of the Night to Play a Song
There’s a time and a place for everything in life. This applies to a song and the timing within a DJ set too.
Great, you’re a DJ open to taking requests, but it can be highly annoying when you’re DJing at a gig, any shape or form, when someone asks for a track that’s a night ending track.
The request might be bang on and and absolutely banger of a track, that’s fine. Notice that I say “banger” of a track. If the track is too hard hitting for a party too early on in the set, then this could be a complete waste of a good track too early on.
This request is annoying, however manageable. There are ways to manage these sorts of requests which we will cover in the final section below.
9. Breaks the Mood of The Party
Vibe, energy and groove is a massive ingredient when it comes to party, club night or wedding reception. It doesn’t matter what type of event it is, the flow of the party needs to be smooth, effective and maintain a fairly steady flow of people on the dance floor.
Requests that arrive to you may be great or ridiculous, but might not fit the mood of the party. In which case you need to creatively manage or push back these sorts of requests. At the end of the day you need to do a job and please the crowd (and the client or club that’s hired you).
10. Too Niche of a Song or Genre (Needs to Be a General Crowd Pleaser)
If you’re DJing a party, bar or wedding for example, you need to strike the ear candy of the majority of the people that reside in the building.
If a request is too niche or completely random then as a DJ you can get frustrated with this too.
A good way to think about it is that if a request is going to please around 60% to 70% of people that’s great, any lower say 10% then this could really turn off the quantity of people on the dance floor.
Ideas & Tips to Deal with Requests
Make the requester responsible (Cover yourself from blame)
A really great tip that I read online to manage requests from people at a party, wedding or bar environment is to transfer ownership.
What I mean by this is to move the blame from yourself as the DJ to the requester of the music track, and when I say music track I mean questionable music track.
So let’s say “Bill” requests a track that you have no idea that the crowd will like then you can use a great technique. Use the microphone to do a “shout out” to the requester, “Bill”, and say his name and the next track they have selected.
This is a great way of deflecting someone requesting a very sub-par music track. If the crowd are turned off by it then at least you won’t take all or most of the blame.
Say you haven’t got the song available (No internet)
If you genuinely haven’t got a track available that the person requesting a song is after, then admit you haven’t got it.
Suggesting that you don’t have the internet to grab hold of the track may be a great way to deflate the annoyance of the person requesting it too.
Direct People to a Notepad Near the DJ Booth
When I was going clubbing in my early years I noticed that DJs used to put pen and paper down next to the DJ booth.
In a loud club environment the last thing you want is to be taking off your headphones too much, exposing your ears to loud decibels and potentially gaining hearing loss.
Getting your audience to write down requests on a dedicated notepad or something similar could be a great solution. Also with the added benefit to not breaking your “flow” state and avoiding having to justify why you don’t have a track or want to play it.
Get sent a Spotify Playlist beforehand (Wedding DJ)
Apparently a lot of DJs that play weddings tend to suggest some ideas from the couple getting married before the big wedding day.
This is great in theory, but I’d image having a lot of gigs can be quite taxing having to go through a lot of email lists of tracks to prepare for DJing gigs.
A top idea that I’ve had a while ago that I’ve since notice that some DJs use is Spotify or SoundCloud playlists. What with all the amazing DJ software out there you can take Spotify or SoundCloud playlists and convert them over to your software, such as Rekordbox or Serato.
The most recent example that I’ve used is curating my own set list in Spotify and then converting the set list data over to my SoundCloud account using Soundiz. Check out how you can do this particular conversion here. It’s free for a basic account, you can upgrade too for more features.
Smile and Be a People Pleaser
Providing that you sign it off and get the go ahead from the organiser or person who is paying you to DJ then take all the requests you can.
I’ve mentioned a few tactical steps to gain the ideas – verbally, digital playlists and pen to paper.
Verbally is the most likely, and if the person who’s booked you is completely fine with you taking requests then you need to be fine with it too.
Be strategic about this and also more importantly be realistic.
Imagine you’re playing at a wedding or corporate company Christmas party. Some requests come in, but you’re in the zone playing a pre-planned or genre related mini-set. Record the requests in your mind or write them down. Play all of the requests within a mini-set of say 20 minutes.
This will give the dance floor a break and allow people to mingle, chat, get a drink or food. Sure that vast majority of people might not be happy the tracks you are playing are right for them, but a few may be super happy. That’s what matters most to the host that’s putting on the party though. A few single tracks might make a few certain people’s night and really remember the night.
This will give the dance floor a break and allow people to mingle, chat, get a drink or food. Sure that vast majority of people might not be happy the tracks you are playing are right for them, but a few may be super happy.
That’s what matters most to the host that’s putting on the party though. A few single tracks might make a few certain people’s night and really remember the night.
It’s unrealistic to be honest if you think you’re going to get a full dance floor all night long. It just doesn’t work out like that sometimes. Requests can be a good dance floor warm up strategy.
Once people have settled in and got a few drinks down them, it’s potentially high on their agenda to hit the dance floor no matter what. Especially good if you have a planned set which is tried and tested. You’ll smash it either way.