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We are proud to bring you the works of Dan McKay a skilled industry writer for many years. Dan's Soup will be a regular feature in each issue of DJzone with both old and new articles. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Should You Play Music Provided By Guests?
by Dan McKay

In a few months, I'll celebrate my 23rd year as a Mobile DJ. I'd like to think that one of the reasons I've been able to make a buck at this is because I treat my guests... as guests.

That means I don't ask them to carry in equipment (even when they offer), don't make them provide tables and chairs (I bring 'em... even the tablecloths), and make sure I have enough extension cords to reach the moon (even those awful 3-to-2 prong adapters). After they sign the dotted line, all I want my clients and their guests to do is to smile and enjoy the show!  However, from time to time, a guest will come up to tell me there's this killer new jam that I've just GOT to play to REALLY make the party take off. Yawn. Bet if you had a quarter for everyone who's ever told you that you can buy a set of new Mackies.

Now, I'm not talking about the people who hired you. Occasionally, a bride will want her dance to be to a personal favorite, specialty or ethnic song.  In those cases, I encourage her to bring whatever CD's she enjoys with a Post-It stuck to the case with the cut number. (Tip: Make sure the cut number written is the right one for the song they one event, I played the proper cut number, but the bride had miscounted!)

When I posed this question on an internet forum not long ago

Kelly Martin of Prince Party Productions, a five system company in business since 1985 in Billing, MT agreed. "I encourage guests to bring music, that is if it's the bride & groom. I tell them beforehand to make a list of music that they would like to hear and if they have something that we do not... please bring it and we will mix it in with our regular set. I always reassure them that the discs will be kept completely separate and taken care of. Customers generally understand that if we don't have something that they want, it's usually because it is some obscure or low frequency type of music. And that it would be pointless for us to go out and spend $200 on music that we will probably never use again." OK, back to our scenario about "Joe Guest" and the jams out in his pickup truck. Said Kelly, "If I have one of the guests bring in some type of music that I feel would be inappropriate, I won't play it unless it is cleared with the bride and/or the groom."

I'm all for making everyone happy, but why bother the bride and groom? After all, they hired YOU to make all the music decisions-and you should already be aware of their preferences when you booked the event. Nine times out of ten, the B&G-not wanting to be rude to their guests-will give their nod sight unseen to a friend wanting to share their "ultimate" party song. Guess what? If it's a dud, everyone will be staring straight at you.

Is there a compromise? You could first preview the song in your headphones and decide if it'll work for the gig. However, if you don't like it, you run the risk of creating a scene with the guest who brought you the CD.  ("Hey, DJ, you don't know $#!+ about music!") Or, before playing it, you could announce, "Here's a tune Joe Guest brought to share with our couple of honor today." This too could bring the party to a grinding halt, subject that guest to ridicule and again make you the bad guy. Or you can accept the CD and stall until the gig's over. ("Gee, I'm sorry I never got a chance to play it!")

I believe the best policy is to avoid a confrontation. I tell guests, "I'm sorry, but tonight's hosts have already chosen all the songs they'd like to hear tonight" or "Your hosts have asked that we stick to our play list." Then I'll give him our song list saying, "If you'd like to pick one from here, maybe I can squeeze it in."

If you're doing a wedding or any mainstream event, it's far more important to have something popular and recognizable than the latest underground remix. Geez, Kool and the Gang still gets them on the floor! Of course, if you're doing something more eclectic, your mileage may vary.




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