Instructions for entire Song Selection Course
Read the written course for each chapter, then answer the questions in each form. The Wedding Dance Main is the only outside resource you will need to successfully complete this training course. You can see a text version here (and sort by BPM, artist, title, release year if needed). The best bet is to pull up your actual crate in Virtual DJ, so you can hear the songs and play around with them.
ALWAYS have your “why” - The first habit you should get yourself into, is to ask yourself “why am I choosing this song right now?”. Great DJs have a strategic reason for every single song they play, and the time they choose to play it. The rest of this document should help you answer that question. As you learn and grow as a DJ, never forget to ALWAYS “have your why”.
People love songs that they know - People only want to dance to stuff they already know. It is rare that you should be trying to introduce new music to the majority. The art is in playing to what the majority already loves.
Because of this, what music you personally love can be irrelevant. If you happen to have the same musical taste as the client and guests, that’s great. But if you don’t have the same tastes, it should not impact your song choices, and your distaste should NEVER show through to guests. Sell your enthusiasm.
Tempo & BPM: “Tempo (Italian for "time") tells us how fast a piece of music is being played or should be played. It's usually measured in beats per minute (BPM) and has a strong effect on how the mood of a particular piece of music comes across. The faster the tempo, presumably, the more emotion and urgency you're directing at the dance floor.”
Use Your Crates - Crates are an easy way to brainstorm songs to play for any part of an event. You can use them to help create Dinner or Cocktail playlists, or to help you put together dance sets. If you can determine what genre or era a crowd wants, you can then select the corresponding crate and choose songs. Ex. You realize the crowd is loving ‘90s hits. Select the ‘90s Main Lineup crate for an easy view of all the top dance songs of the ‘90s.
Once you have selected a crate, you can sort the music by Title, Artist, BPM, or Key.
Remixes - Be very careful of remixes. NEVER play a remixed version of a request from the bride and groom, they almost always want the original for a reason.
Good remixes can be amazing assets, but MOST remixes are not. A major problem with most remixes is that they change the song too much. They’ll switch where the chorus is supposed to be, remove certain lyrics, reloop sections of the songs, etc. The big issue with this is that it makes it impossible for people to anticipate where to sing-along, or they might think it’s butchering a classic that they love.
The best remixes are usually more subtle. Perhaps it has a different beat drop (but it’s still where the drop normally would be), or maybe it uses a different instrumental for the beat. When it doubt, you’re better off sticking with the original.
ReDrums - ReDrums are almost always safe. They don’t change anything about the song, other than putting a drum beat in the background. This makes them easier to mix, and also better to dance to. You may use these liberally during dance time.
Mixing Out Of Songs Early - A major part of song selection isn’t just what song to play and when, but also what part(s) of the song to play. Some songs are great in full. Some songs get boring after a couple minutes.
Knowing when to mix out of a song will keep the dance floor fresh and exciting, and also allows you to play more songs per hour. An excellent strategy for knowing when to mix out of a song, is simply look at the guests. If they are really into the song, don’t mix out of it early. If they’re just kind of on the dance floor not doing much, the excitement is dwindling and you probably want to mix out of it.
Overall, this is one of the top things I see newer DJs struggle with. DO NOT let every song play all the way through if it starts to drag, and the reality most songs start to drag by the second chorus. So your rule of thumb should be this: verse, chorus, verse, chorus and mix out before the start of the third verse.
Be careful of this however, because some songs have very well-known parts, and you will upset people if you mix out too early (ie. mixing out of Love Shack before the “Tin Roof” part). When it comes to knowing which specific parts of the song people want to hear, this comes by experience, so pay attention to how the crowd reacts to songs.
Always know where you’re starting a song from! - LISTEN TO EVERYTHING IN YOUR HEADPHONES before you bring a song in. Some songs have not very well-known, or not very exciting intros. A very long instrumental, unrecognizable part of the song (ex. The album version of It Takes Two by Rob Base), or accidentally playing a cover can totally ruin the dancefloor.
Look Up From The Laptop! - Look at the dance floor! Who’s on it? Try appealing to them. Who’s not on it? Can you get them back up with a different song? Don’t just stare at the laptop all night, you need to be aware of how guests are actually responding, and adjust accordingly. If your face is buried in the laptop all night, you’re missing out on critical information for song selection.
Always Know Where Your MC Is!!!!!! - As the DJ, you need to always be aware of where your MC is. The MC might need you to adjust volume, switch songs, etc. This is especially important during formalities, but even throughout dance time. Keep the MC in your awareness at all times.
Inappropriate CONTENT - Swear words are not the only reason a song may be considered inappropriate. For example, the clean edit of Shots by Lil Jon doesn’t swear, but it’s still about drinking. This is when you have to use your judgement, because what is considered “inappropriate content” can vary wildly depending on the client and crowd. Remember, what is appropriate to you may not be appropriate to the very conservative bride and groom. It can be a good idea to wait until later into the night to play songs with overtly inappropriate content.
How does EDM or Trap fit into wedding and corporate? - Treat EDM or Trap as a very powerful spice. It’s not for every event, but if used properly it can really make for an awesome moment. Keep EDM and Trap use very, very short. An example of this would be a surprise EDM drop out of a popular song, for about 10 seconds, into another popular song. Because it’s a very powerful spice, a little goes a long way. However, misuse it, and it can majorly backfire. Most older guests have no idea what EDM or Trap is, so overuse of it will definitely alienate them.