It’s true most of us live incredibly connected lives. Anyone with access to the web has millions of songs available in an instant.
Spotify has been the buzz over the last few years. It’s common for brides or event organisers to simply want to hire a small sound system and use Spotify playlists for the party. In fact I was recently asked how I “compete with Spotify”, as if it was some new threat, some end of days for DJs and music professionals.
In my opinion, Spotify is the new iPod/iTunes. Before that in 1999, we had Napster appear and make it easy to download songs for free in MP3 format, usually illegally. In fact back in the early 2000s when Napster was shut down by the music police, someone asked me “where will you get your music now that Napster’s gone?”. Of course I was buying CDs, occasionally still vinyl. But to the average non-DJ on the street Napster was where music came from, and they thought Napster invented MP3 too. (to be honest, 50% of DJs worldwide possibly got their music from Napster).
So fast forward 10 or 12 years and we have all sorts of online and easy access options. Spotify is nothing new, it’s just a high spec easier version of taping songs off the radio. If you were born before 1990, you did this! And jukeboxes were the best alternative for decades, and they had just as many technical challenges as the iPods that came after it.
Spotify = iTunes = iPods = Napster = Jukebox = cassette tapes recorded off the radio. The technology has changed, but as yet none have what a real professional DJ can bring to the event.
So moving past the tech, what makes a hired professional DJ at a wedding or event different compared to Spotify, iTunes, iPods, jukeboxes, or songs taped off the radio.
- A DJ can eliminate the gaps between the songs.
- A DJ can line up the songs to keep the style and energy similar, no bunny-hopping tempos from a slow dance to fast number to slow again.
- If the songs you thought were 100% guaranteed dance floor fillers simply aren’t working, a DJ can change the style, energy or tempo even before the dance floor empties completely.
- No internet connection required.
- A DJ won’t let your drunk friends take over and change the playlist. *
- You know that song that kinda goes like do de doo de dum dum de da? No? Chances are the DJ knows what you’re trying to sing describe.
- A good DJ will have the classics your parents or grandparents will recognise and dance to, but will keep them on the floor with newer top 40 tracks as well.
- A professional DJ that cares about their business image will make sure the music isn’t too loud, and won’t let your friends turn it up when really it’s already loud enough, thank you.
- A professional DJ knows how the speakers are hooked up so you don’t have to learn, and probably brings his own along with backup.
- A good DJ will make sure your guest’s requests are suitable and won’t offend anyone or kill the dance floor.
On the other hand, one of the reasons brides and event planners choose iPods and Spotify over a DJ is because it seems like a good way to save money. However, it’s also possible they’ve seen too many bad DJs. Yes, there’s plenty of DJs out there giving the industry a bad name and making a DIY option seem the safer way to go. But if you do your research, meet with the DJ, and ask the venue for recommendations and opinions, you’ll probably be OK. Be sure to ask the venue though if their recommended suppliers are paying for the referral.
* In my opinion, a really good DJ doesn’t have a playlist, we just make it up on the spot based on experience combined with what’s actually working.
I hope this helps!
Event DJ and Wedding MC