One thought that plagues every DJ on the planet, especially those just getting started in the business is that you play a set that you think is killer, and the crowd thinks it’s less than stellar. Sure you’ve planned this whole amazing set with transitions and interludes and you’re ready for the world to see you own that DJ booth.
Unfortunately the crowd hears what you’ve lined up for them and rather than shaking their groove thang on the dance floor, they make a bee line for the bar. Many new DJs have no idea what to do in this situation; do you forge ahead with your pre-planned set or do you scrap it and see what works?
When you know what to do, you can count yourself among the best DJs around.
Open Your Eyes
The best way to learn how to read any crowd is to actually pay attention to the crowd. I’ve seen those ultra-cool DJs wearing their dark sunglasses inside the DJ booth, too cool to even glance down at the partygoers. Those guys have it all wrong. If you want to be able to read a crowd, all you have to do is look around and see what music packs the dance floor and what tunes fatten the bartender’s tip jar.
As a DJ it is (sort of) your job to play new music that you think is on the cutting edge, but it is also your job to make sure the crowd is having a good time. After all, if you clear the dance floor after a few songs chances are very good that you won’t get invited back to play anytime soon.
TIP: If you notice the crowd isn’t responding to a specific genre after 2 songs, skip those in your playlist in favor of what’s been working.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of spending my entire night responding to song requests and searching my library for “Hey Mickey,” it drives me up the wall. But there is one thing that incessant requests are good for: letting you know what it is the crowd actually wants to hear.
Chances are good that no matter where you play you’ll get a few requests for dance tunes from the likes of Beyoncé or Lady Gaga and you don’t always (or ever) have to play them. But what these requests let you know is that your new age techno world music songs ain’t gettin’ the crowd excited.
If you’ve got something better than but similar to these requests, put it on and let the crowd respond. Good things can only happen!
One of the best things about being a DJ in the digital age is that misreading a crowd can be corrected quickly and easily. Gone are the days when you have to spend precious time hunting for the right song in a crate of tapes or albums. With just a few keystrokes you can access tunes that can get the crowd back on their feet swaying to your collection of tunes.
This probably goes without saying but for you stubborn DJs who need to hear it, I will. You must be willing to change what isn’t working!
If the crowd isn’t feeling what you’ve prepared then you owe it to them and your career to recognize what they want and give it to them. After all, first and foremost you are an entertainer and if the club goers aren’t entertained then you are not doing your job right.
Don’t get too caught up in being the cool hipster DJ who plays nothing but totally obscure rock from underground bands. There will be a time and a crowd who will fully enjoy those songs, but once you know how to read your crowd, you’ll know that every crowd won’t appreciate your finely tuned tastes.
How Do You Know
If you’re reading the crowd right there are telltale signs to let you know. An empty dance floor doesn’t always mean that you’ve read the crowd wrong, especially if you’re DJing the event from start to finish. If so, relax, there will be some lulls as dancers and gyrators catch their breath.
But if you’re doing it right you’ll notice one or more of the following:
*People bopping their heads or tapping their feet to the music.
*Dancers swaying in chairs or next to tables.
*Crowds of girls slowly making their way to the dance floor.
*People getting closer to the designated dance floor.
If any of these happen, keep doing what you’re doing. Maybe break out a big hit or two just to be certain.
Until you feel comfortable reading a crowd you should always prepare a list of reserve songs in case some of your big hits don’t make a big splash. As a DJ it isn’t as important that the crowd LOVES everything you play; it matters more that you recognize when they don’t love them and you do something about it.
I hope I helped you learn how to read your next crowd. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey and tricks DJ use to read a crowd!
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