“play whatever you want”

I hate when someone tells me to play what I want.
Gee, thanks for your permission.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.
I am hired to play what I think the crowd wants to hear.

Oftentimes I play songs that I absolutely hate.
But I play those songs because that’s what moves the party.
I know you think you are being polite, but really it’s just asinine.
Take this following conversation, which recently happened to me –
girl: You should play what you like. What do you like?
me: It doesn’t really matter. I have to play what everyone wants to hear.
girl: Well, what do you like.  Tell me, and I can request it.
me: So I tell you what I like, then you request it from me, then I can play it?
girl: Yea
me: Hmmm, I have to think of something.  I’ll come find you when I think of my request, then I’ll tell you, then you can request it from me, then I can play it.
girl: Great!
That’s 2 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

11 Responses to ““play whatever you want””

  1. January 29, 2011 at 4:05 AM

    I can’t say I agree with this post man. I love when people tell me that. Most people like really shitty music. When someone tells me play what I want, I get to showcase the best music has to offer. What I think is hot makes the people dance. Its the best part of being a DJ.

  2. 2 DJ That Asshole
    January 31, 2011 at 2:32 AM

    It’s the people that act like they’re trying to get you out of your musical closet that get annoying. As if the massa beats the DJ for not playing Something Crunk and all they need is permission from empathetic passersby to *really* be DJs. It’s frustrating when they’re actually trying to get you somehow into an edgy rapport so now I trust their judgment when they ask for fucking screamo, Papoose, Sage Francis, Lamb of God, 2pac’s “Dear Mama” or anything by ICP ever.

    My answer to “What do you like?” is usually the same – tons you love and tons you can’t stand, same as everyone else. The game afoot here is I get paid to figure out what you and everyone else here likes and combine it with things you may not know you like yet. What I like is seeing asses shake. Most people are trying to dance around requesting things but it’s not exactly like buying your bartender a shot. My favorite song is the soothing sounds of Burning Swisher and I don’t get to hear that until after I get home, thanks for reminding me.

  3. 3 miSmiS
    February 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Miles Davis… must be a *really* great party when the DJ resorts to heavy melancholia. 🙂
    Just let autosync do the work and route “Kind of Blue” oder better yet “Ascenseur pour l’echafaud” (Lift to the scaffold) to the headphones.

  4. 4 el rey
    February 18, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    so i had a similar request scenario

    girl: could you play a song?
    me: what is it?
    girl: well its that dude over there(thats a 45 yr old weird looking douche made of plasitc) and he wants to hear barbie girl
    me: barbie girl?
    girl: yeah, barbie girl in a barbie world
    me: not gonna happen
    girl: well can you just play whatever?
    me: whatever?
    girl: yeah
    me: yeah(stare at computer screen)

  5. 5 Rueben
    February 28, 2011 at 6:06 AM

    how about when they come up to you and request a song you don’t want to play and they tell you that the owner said to play it… when it’s obvious that didn’t happen

  6. 6 Moreno
    February 28, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    This is the only thing I dont agree with you on. I wont play stoopid ass music just cause the crowd wants to ear it. Sometimes the crowd need to get “educated” so I prefer playing some cool shit instead of the Top40 or whatnot. And every now and then I´ll throw in some just to keep them on the dancefloor. But thats just me and yes, it might cost me some gigs cause pussy promoters dont wanna risk it. But I absolutely disagree the DJ is only there to play what the crowd wants to hear. Some of the best times I´ve had out clubbin is when the DJ plays some new shit I´ve never heard before that made my nite.

    • 7 DJ Reverend Rob
      April 29, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      Cost you SOME gigs?!?! Yes, part of being a DJ is breaking new material, or turning the crowd on to something a little different, but you base that on what you already KNOW about the people in that crowd. You don’t go too far off from what you’re already playing, and definitely stay close to the genre you were HIRED to play, or you’ll be pissing off the most important listener: the club owner! “Education” is a small part of the job. The primary part is entertaining the crowd. I’ve come to have some A&R like skills: I can listen to a song & be pretty good at determining if it’ll be a hit (or floorfiller) whether I like it or not.

      • July 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

        I totally agree with DJ Reverend Rob. It’s a balancing act. Sometimes it depends on the venue as to how far you can veer from the overplayed “staples”, but in any case you are hired to entertain the crowd and that means sticking with the expectations of the night.

    • 9 BD
      October 22, 2011 at 7:01 PM

      Yes, when I think of a club I totally think of a place of “education” – I remember when I was back at Cornell University, ordering kamikaze shots from my professor in the slutty dress while she tried to teach us political science over the blasting music.

  7. 10 Rueben
    February 28, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    or when people come up to request a song and they dont even know the words!! they recite some of the lyrics instead!! so annoying. or if they call it by the wrong name. i remember a girl requesting we speak no americano as im not mexicano…

    • July 14, 2011 at 6:15 PM

      Oh yes we get the “misnamed” requests constantly. And it’s usually a song in the top 10, so there’s no excuse really. Some of the titles are so far off, I wonder how they can claim to like the song. One girl last night couldn’t even remember Jason Derulo’s last name, moreless the lyrics of the song. I was about to suggest Jason Voorhees. He’s a real scream at concerts.

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