Starting out as a DJ requires a learning curve, but as a burgeoning entrepreneur you don’t want that learning curve to be too steep. After all, you’ve got money to make and gigs to play. One way you can (and should) limit DJ growing pains is to make sure you know ahead of time what type of audience you’ll have.
Playing the wrong tunes for an unsuspecting audience can cut into your ability to get repeat customers as well as word of mouth recommendations. Although many event organizers will be mostly understanding to your newbie status, you will run into those who are simply unforgiving and will do their best to make you pay for your gaffe.
Keep reading to learn how to minimize the damage as you become a more experienced DJ.
The first thing you want to do once you have a gig booked is find out the ‘type’ of people who will be in attendance at the event. By knowing certain demographic information such as age and profession, you can determine right away many things about the playlists you need to create.
For example you may want to leave your death metal or house music on the shelf for a gathering of professional dentists, while you may want to take that out for a class of ’87 reunion. Find out as much as you can about your audience so that you don’t somehow offend their musical sensibilities.
Learn more about what your audience expects, and give it to them but don’t forget to be true to your DJ style in the process.
Always Be Prepared
One of the first rules of learning how to DJ is, always be prepared. This means that whether your gig is a retirement party for a funeral parlor worker or a prom or a sales convention, you should always be prepared to play some version of the popular hits blaring through radio stations around the world.
Of course certain populations will want specific music, but never underestimate the popularity of, well of popular music. You should always throw in some Top 40 songs to keep everyone happy, but the key is finding the right version of that music to please your guests.
You’re probably wondering how you can have different versions of the same songs to please different audiences?
Original vs. Radio Edit
So many budding DJs write to me wondering what the difference is between a song labeled ‘original mix’ and ‘radio edit’. Understanding the distinction between these types of tunes will help you adjust your mixes for each crowd you entertain.
Remember when you were younger and you’d hear a song with unfamiliar words like “ish” and “itch”? Well that was the radio edit version you heard. When you got a little older and finally learned the real lyrics, you finally heard the original mix.
Original edit simply refers to the song in its original version which can mean it has a longer playing time, includes an intro or outro, sometimes both, and usually includes any suggestive or explicit lyrics.
Radio edit on the other hand usually is a song that has been shortened and excludes the intro and outro, or only contains one or the other. Radio edits, particularly in the United States, will most certainly have any explicit lyrics—which mean profanity or sex noises—removed.
Understanding the differences between these two versions of songs will help you cater your mixes to the right audience. Never assume that because your gig is an adults only affair that it is appropriate to play the original edit. Whenever you’re uncertain it is best to err on the side of caution and go with the radio edit.
You should also know that these different versions will require you to program your mixes differently. Original mixes, for example, include those helpful intro and outros to help you make a smooth transition from one song to the next, while radio edits will require you to create a smooth transition without the help of the artist.
Stylistically as a DJ you will almost always want to go for the original mix, and that is fine for songs that don’t require censorship.
One other factor you will want to consider when choosing which version to play for your audience is the loudness of the mix. This is very important for different venues. Radio edits are often re-mastered for loudness whereas original mixes are usually less loud, although not always.
The truth is that I can tell you all day long about the pros and cons of radio edits and original mixes, but none of it will matter to you one bit until you can hear and feel the difference for yourself.
So get the real world experience you crave by investing in the original and radio version of some of the most popular songs—5 to 10 tunes—and practice with them so that you can learn the differences. Since the differences can vary by producer, the only real way to learn which you prefer is to try both out and make up your own mind.
Just remember that a happy event organizer will recommend you in the future, and eventually everyone needs a DJ for something!
I hope I helped you choose the right music for your audience. 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!
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