Who Is Running This Show? From The Other Side… By Jake Palmer


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How many times have you heard DJs talking about a wedding dance where things didn’t go perfectly because the bride had such a restrictive list of music? I think it is fair to say that we have all had that dance where the client is not happy because we didn’t play all 148 songs on the list they provided.
How does this happen??? I mean is this a “bridezilla” or a breakdown in communication. When I ask how this happens, think about it this way. When you take your car to the shop, do you tell the mechanic which tools you want him to use on your car??? Sounds pretty odd, doesn’t it? If you did tell the mechanic that, what kind of response would you expect to get? Yet, I hear stories all the time from DJs complaining about how they couldn’t do the kind of show they wanted to do because the client tied their hands with odd, bizarre, or just absurd, requests and directives. When this happens, the DJ can’t do their job, or worse yet… becomes a jukebox, not an entertainer. This leads us back to the original question…who’s runnin’ this show?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you DO NOT listen to your client’s needs and wants, or ignore their requests. I am all in favor of great customer service and getting the client involved with their event. The age-old problem is, how involved do you get them? It’s important to remember, that YOU are in charge, YOU are running the show, and YOU are responsible for the fun everyone will have. People don’t leave a wedding early because the bride and groom picked out bad music. People leave early because they don’t like the music the DJ is playing. See the difference? People relate the music and pretty much everything coming out of your speakers as your choice. As strange as it may sound, when I train new DJs, one of the first things I tell them is that THEY are in charge of the event, not the bride, groom, parents, or the caterer. I know you’re thinking, “Holy cow Jake are you nuts? The person paying the bill is in charge,” but hear me out on this. Just because you rent the hall, doesn’t mean you get to re-paint it for the night, just because you rented the limo doesn’t mean you get to drive it. You certainly have the right to temporally decorate the hall, and you certainly have the right to give the limo driver directions to the church. Remember if you as the client tell the limo driver to run a stop sign… he gets the ticket, not you because he is in charge of his limo. I once had a bride tell me not to play any country music at her wedding. While I thought this was strange, I did realize who was paying my bill and honored her request. Imagine my surprise when I found out half of the groom’s family was from South Dakota, can you guess what kind of music they wanted to dance to? An uncomfortable situation for everyone involved. I immediately realized this was MY fault.
Successful wedding receptions are about details and preparation; by not covering the details with the bride and groom, I was not prepared. Cover the details, go over all the music with the client, and explain how you select the songs you play; let them know you are a professional who they can have confidence.
Car salesmen talk about repeat customers because the more times a customer buys from the same salesperson the more they TRUST the salesperson and haggle less. Instill the same trust in your clients by listening to their wants and needs and being receptive to their ideas.
When a client sends you a request list that is 3 pages and 200 songs long, explaining that you can only play so many songs. Make sure the clients understand, that you will do your best to please everyone at the event and want to be able to play requests from the guests as well. Take the time to find out what the client’s expectations for the event are, maybe they don’t want people to dance, or maybe you are simply misunderstanding what they want. If you take the time to cover these details, you can avoid the “in-your-face” demands of brides, grooms, parents, and caterers, because everyone is on the same page, and knows YOU are runnin’ this show.
Jake Palmer can be reached at jakepalmer@discjockeynews.com.


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