Sometimes I think we need University degrees among other varying qualifications for this DJ art form, or to properly plan the entertainment in a party. It’s not simply getting DJ's/Artists and putting them all how at any and every time. You really have to put some proper thought into things if you want it done properly. That being said the purpose of this article is not just for the DJ, but the Promoter as well. Just my spare thoughts that may help make your next event better.
For the purpose of this article, I will be doing a basic party during the hours 10:00PM to 4:00AM or your average 6 hour event. I also use the premise that this is a party and not a “fete”/concert, thus the structure will say more to DJ’s placement and expectations. This structure also works for fetes/concerts and boat parties, if you want to adapt it.
Lets break down a party into stages. We have three stages:
At each stage, we expect different things in terms of music and vibe. Promoters should note that an effective party only needs 3-4 DJ's. Too much DJ changing really kills the fun, I have seen this happen a lot. 3 is bare minimum, with each DJ getting 2 hours each, but 4 is ideal. There is 2 hours for the Warm Up period (1 hour on a boar party). 3 hours for the Headline period (2 hours headline on a boat party) and 1 hour to Cool Down.
Let’s be honest, it's not common for people to reach an event ont the start time. That doesn’t mean dead air should fill the venue until the first patron arrives. Remember there are also Bar Staff, Promoters team, Security, and other event staff there who are already at the event. Even though they are there to work, it's still good to get into the full ambiance of the night, thus music should play from the time advertised. You only need 1 DJ at this point, for the 2 hour Warm Up period. To the Promoter, this period is usually the one where the young DJ's or inexperienced DJ gets experience. You don’t necessarily have to go with those DJ's, as the option for experienced DJ's who are lesser known is also available. I for one, love to play in this role as I am aware of the musical requirements, but I do not have the “hype” to my name, like others.
The DJ’s responsibility at this point is to build a vibe for the night. In my view, this is the most important role of the night. It makes or breaks a party. People expect music to greet them as they arrive. What music you may ask? I suggest Recurrent music, and the least amount current music, based on the genres set out by the Promoter. Definitely no "bangers".
At this point people are arriving and most likely not into the music as yet, but that doesn’t mean no one is listening. DJ's merely offer background sound as people mingle, get drinks or food, and basically get comfortable. Light MC hype can happen from the second hour, welcoming people encouraging them to get into the groove. Interacting a bit as you get closer to the end of your time. The last 15 the DJ can touch older "bangers", but do not overdo.
Here is where the popular DJ(s) that you advertised get to shine. Artists can also make part of this period. This is the main 3 hours of the event. The two headlines get even time, regardless of the performance time, but its all at the Promoter's discretion. All the party "bangers" from current and past get played here. You expect that you get your money worth from your DJ's/Artist here. There is little that I can say for this section as the DJ's who usually play this role can use their experience to meet the Promoters requirements.
I will say though, if you have artists, put them between the DJ's.
IMPORTANT: ANY ARTISTS YOU MAY HAVE, NO DJ SHOULD PLAY ANY OF THEIR MUSIC BEFORE THEIR PERFORMANCE TIME. ALWAYS LEAVE A REMINDER FOR THE DJ'S TO KNOW WHAT MUSIC TO STAY AWAY FROM.
There is also a new trend where Promoters restrict certain Songs from being played from certain times, as they know the impact it will have. So DJ's respect a promoter if they give you restrictions. Also use common courtesy.
There’s no nice way to say this, but at this point you want to encourage people to start leaving. That doesn’t mean you put on the worst DJ either. The first half of the last hour, the DJ should try to play music that didn’t get played that patrons look forward to. The latter half hour however, the Promoter and/or DJ can choose what happens next. End on a high or slow it down. Generally in clubs, you slow down to the end, but in outdoor events you usually finish on a high with people wanting more. Again, all under the Promoter's discretion to make sure he gives patrons what he wants, so they will come back to another event.
While any event is on the Promoter's discretion, there are still some structures for the event success. Takeaway points: