“What Would You Do” is written by Jam On Sound Productions’ Mike Kindlick, where each month he offers insights, tips, solutions, condolences and empathy for DJs’ most problematic situations.
Even more so than mistakenly showing terrifying images to children at a gig, the bane of our existence is the following: you’re DJing a wedding and the father of the groom repeatedly tries to “assist” with song suggestions and other advice about the event; he even tries to further “assist” by touching the gear, claiming that he is in fact a DJ himself.
Too many of us have experienced that unruly guest — I’ve heard of guests trying to close a DJ’s laptop in the middle of a set — an entitled family member, or in this case, the ever so popular, “I’m a DJ too and I know better than you” scenario.
It happened recently to a DJ friend, and I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve been in the DJ/entertainment industry long enough, you’ve experienced something similar to this — especially with the onset of Spotify, which seems to make everyone believe they are a DJ, and, when mixed with booze, can often produce the most belligerent of “guest programmers.”
Anyway, I believe this DJ friend handled himself well — he was polite and asked the guest to please be respectful. It didn’t go any further, so our DJ here actually experienced a respectful guest.
But what if being nice doesn’t work?
Tip #1: In most cases these guests just want to be validated, so I try to create a rapport with them. Many times, just a simple conversation can lead to a great result. Ex. “Thanks for the suggestion”, or “That is a great song” can go a long way. When we experience that “I am a DJ myself” guest, I have always found that engaging them in gear or industry talk can help deflect them from telling you what they think you should do.
Does this always work? No — but it beats attempting the “next level” step — trying to break their hand by closing your laptop on it!
Tip #2: To help avoid this situation in the first place, you can always announce something like, “We hope you enjoy the evening’s selections as they were chosen by our bride/groom, birthday person etc., for your enjoyment.”
This can deter guests from even making requests — it tells them that the clients prefer what music they will hear. This doesn’t always work but will prevent some guests from thinking they’re in charge.
Hopefully, you’ve found this anecdote enlightening and helpful. That’s my take — but ask yourself, “What Would You Do?”
Mike Kindlick is the owner of Jam On Sound Productions in Reading, Pennsylvania, and has been in business since 1994.
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