Age-Based Song Selection

Using the age of guests is one of the most powerful principles of song selection. These are generalizations, and may not always hold true, but you will be amazed at the consistency of control you will have over the crowd just by applying these principles.

Age Analysis

Definition: Using estimations of the age of guests to help you select songs.

As a general rule of thumb, people love the music they listened to in middle school, high school, and college (ages 12-28). When on events, try to get a rough estimate in your head of how old the guests are, and then do some quick math to figure out what year they graduated high school. If you estimate that most guests are around age 55, you can ballpark their high school graduation year to be 1981--which means they grew up listening to a lot of 70s and 80s music. Therefore, there's a great chance they really like a lot of 70s and 80s music. Fire up those 70s and 80s crates with confidence! 

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean they will ONLY like music from the 70s and 80s--it just means it’s likely to be their favorite eras. They'll still probably want to hear the mega-popular Top 40 songs that everybody knows (ex. Pitbull, Flo Rida, etc). If you don’t play anything current, you risk having guests complain to you that you're making them feel old.

People tend love the music they listened to in middle school, high school, and college.

People tend love the music they listened to in middle school, high school, and college.

Age-Range Juggling

Definition: Keep mixing between older and newer songs, in a way that keeps both age groups engaged (the older and younger crowd).

Always be switching up eras of music

Weddings tend to have very wide age ranges of guests, so in order to cater to all the different ages of people at the wedding, you're going to need to cover decades of music in a short amount of time. With this in mind, it is usually a bad strategy to group all oldies together for an extended period of time, because while you're catering to the older crowd, you risk boring and frustrating the younger crowd. They are either going to complain, or stop dancing.

Instead of staying in one era for a long stretch of time, I recommend playing 2-3 older songs, then 2-3 newer songs, and keep following that formula all night as a general rule of thumb. This makes sure you're never getting stuck in one era for so long that you start to bore or alienate an age range. It keeps the music fresh and entertaining for everybody, and maximizes your chances of keeping all guests dancing all night. 

Note: There always exceptions to every rule. If you figure out that the majority of guests are really into one particular genre or decade of music, don't be afraid to stay in that genre or decade for an extended period of time.

Play the big hits to keep all age ranges entertained simultaneously!

However, when you transition from oldies to current stuff or vice versa, you run the risk of losing an age range, so you need to be careful about what songs you're choosing when you switch things up. As an example, if you're doing a 3 song disco set and you have a lot of older guests on the dance floor, and then you transition to some hot new song, you will lose all of the older guests if they don't know or like the hot new song.

What you want to do is play music that is new enough to appeal to the younger crowd and add variety to your playlist, but popular enough that even the older people who were dancing to disco will still know and want to dance to. So rather than moving out of disco and into a brand new top 40 song, you're probably better off using a top 40 song that has been out long enough for you to feel confident that the older guests will know the song and stay on the dance floor for it (something popular by Pitbull, Flo Rida, Maroon 5, etc).

Similarly, if you're moving out of modern stuff into oldies, you don't want to drop an obscure 60s song that only the older crowd will know, you want to drop a mega-hit from the 60s (like Twist & Shout) that is so popular that even the young crowd can get into it. If you're always playing songs that everyone at the wedding will know, you're maximizing the likelihood that you keep as many people on the dance floor as possible--even as you jump from era to era and cater to different age ranges. 

Find a decade that everyone will get into!

You can keep multiple age ranges happy at the same time by finding a decade that both ages grew up listening to. At a typical wedding, the newlyweds and their friends are about age 27, which means they grew up listening to 90s, 00s, and 10s. Their parents are probably about 50 (20-30 years older than their children), which means they grew up listening to a lot of 70s, 80s, and 90s. The common decade there is 90s. This means there is an excellent chance that 90s will work very well, because both age ranges will know music from that era and consider it throwback. You might be able to play more ‘90s than any other decade, because both age-ranges are going to enjoy it.

Here are some tips to blend music while Age-Range Juggling.

  • Use redrums to seamlessly mix between old and new. Because songs made before the 90s were rarely produced using the precision of computers, they are usually hard to mix. This is why ReDrums of old music are so useful. ReDrums ensure that the songs are on beat for mixing, AND gives them a more danceable beat. Use these to seamlessly mix between songs from as old as 1940 into current music.

  • Use new songs that sample older songs (ie. Shake Senora by Pitbull samples Jump In The Line, a song from the 60s). This makes the song interesting for two age ranges at once.

  • Use remixes that mesh old and new (think of the I Will Survive Calabria Remix). Be careful with these however, most remixes are annoying to guests because they change the song too much (read more about Remixes in the Course Intro).

  • Use songs that SOUND older but are new (think Uptown Funk or Treasure).

Keep mixing between older and newer songs, in a way that keeps both age groups engaged (the older and younger crowd).

Keep mixing between older and newer songs, in a way that keeps both age groups engaged (the older and younger crowd).

Demo Set

Here’s a demo set the employs Age Analysis & Age-Range Juggling.

Scenario: The bride and groom are in their mid 20s. Their parents are in their mid 50s. Their grandparents are in their mid 80s.

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Notice how there is a continual rotation of songs that will appeal to the grandparents, parents, and the bride & groom’s age range. There is never time for anyone to feel like the DJ isn’t playing “their music”, because as soon as they might start to feel like that, you’re switching things up to cater to them. 

However, notice that EVERY song on the list has such wide-range appeal, that even if it came out in 1963, it still has a high chance of being known and loved by all age-ranges. So while you might be playing Twist & Shout to appeal to the grandparents, you can be sure that the younger generations are still going to enjoy it and will therefore stay on the dance floor.

Employ these strategies to keep everybody happy, and the dance floor packed, all night.


Age-Based Song Selection Quiz