3 C’s of Social Hour Success – By Jay Maxwell

October 23, 2013 by Jay Maxwell

MAKING A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE MUSIC

For most of my childhood my father would wake me up by singing a song to me. He would stand in the doorway and sing until I got out of bed. It was the only time my dad ever sang. He didn’t sing in church, didn’t even hum a tune while driving. Yet it was how I started each morning of my young life. Out of respect for my daddy, I only requested an alarm clock during my senior year of high school.

Did I mention how bad my dad sang? I loved him for the effort, but it was hard for me to get the song out of my head during the day. It was then that I vowed to never sing to my kids to get them out of bed. I wanted to start their day in a different way—let my wife wake them up.

There is a tradition that I started with my children, Rebecca and Robert, when they were in first grade. Even today, with Rebecca in her senior year of high school and Robert not many years behind her, this little tradition continues. When I drop them off at school I tell them something other than simply “Have a good day.” Instead, I think of a word that is more descriptive, like “fantastic,” “stupendous,” “marvelous,” or “terrific” to express the day I hope they experience. My wish is that by saying the “extra-positive” word it will resonate with them throughout the day. It could be just the word they need to hear to set the mood for them for the remainder of the day.

Setting the mood for the day is important. Setting the mood for an event is important as well. The mobile DJ’s job is not only to pack the dance floor later in the evening, but to create an experience that the guests will remember from the very beginning. Usually in this article, we focus on the dance portion of the night. This time let’s start from the moment the first guest arrives and look at the “three C’s” of creating the social hour sound for a wedding reception.

COMMUNICATION

The first “C” is communication. By no means do I mean that you should be talking on the microphone during the social hour. In fact, very little, if any, microphone work should be taking place during this time. Typically, the first time the microphone should be used is when the wedding party is introduced. By communication, I mean that during the consultation you should ask the bride and groom what type of music they want played during the social hour. Many couples will provide a list of specific songs they want played even if they will not hear many of the selections because they are still at the ceremony site taking pictures. Nonetheless, they may want a particular style of music played while their guests are arriving and eating the light hors d’oeuvres. Communication beforehand is essential to make sure that you are not playing country love songs when they want today’s up-tempo top 40 played instead. It’s always a great idea to speak with the bride and groom at length about every aspect of their wedding reception, including the first song that the guests will hear. But don’t take it for granted that every bride wants her guests to hear lively jazz as background music during the first hour. At a minimum, make sure that the planning sheet you offer your clients has several musical styles to choose from for the social hour.

COMMITMENT

Commitment is the next “C” to consider. As professionals, we are committed to providing the best possible entertainment for the client. This commitment begins with always putting our best foot forward in every element of our show. One way to express this commitment is to avoid putting the social hour music on automatic. It would be easy to set up all the songs ahead of time and simply let “canned” tunes take control. That’s not how you plan to DJ the dance portion of the night, so why would you hit “play” for the social hour and just kick back for an hour?

Another way to show commitment is in how your setup and presentation looks to the audience. It’s the little things that make a difference: Make sure that no wires are visible, straighten the tablecloth, and store any boxes or crates out of sight.

One temptation is to sit down during the first hour. For over 30 years I’ve found and continue to find a chair behind the table for me, leaving me to wonder why the coordinator placed it there…because I’m not going to have time to sit down at any time during the evening. A standing DJ shows commitment—one who is “standing by,” always ready for action. It shows that he is committed to enhancing the client’s experience from the start.

CONTENTMENT

The final “C” is contentment—creating a state of happiness and satisfaction. I’m sure you agree that being a mobile DJ is the best job in the world. We love our job so much that few of us ever view it as work (except those times we have to carry equipment up flights of stairs). We should show our state of extreme satisfaction, this aura of contentment, from the beginning.

How? Just smile. Not some fake silly grin, but a look that portrays how happy you are to be there ready to serve the client. A smile is contagious. Share it. You smile, they smile. Take it a step further. When someone comes up to you, whether during the social hour or later, shake their hand AND give them a smile. Your show of contentment will further their state of satisfaction.

These three “C’s” of communication, commitment, and contentment work, whatever genres of music you play, to create the beginning of a memorable evening. Some brides may only want lively jazz played in the background, but most will want uplifting, toe-tapping, recognizable sounds filling the room for their guests to hear.

This issue’s list is not a ranked list; instead, it is a sample of four distinct genres: American Songbook, Country, R&B/Soul, and Alternative/Pop. Show these lists to your clients. Communicate to them how important the social hour is to set the mood. They will appreciate your professionalism when they sense your commitment to their event during the consultation. And they’ll be more content, knowing that you will create a memorable party, starting with the social hour and continuing until the last time during the night a guest yells, “Play Something We Can Dance To!”

AMERICAN SONGBOOK

SONG TITLE ARTIST
I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN FRANK SINATRA
ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE ELLA FIRZGERALD
THERE’S A RAINBOW ‘ROUND MY SHOULDER BOBBY DARIN
I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU FRANK SINATRA
L-O-V-E NAT KING COLE
OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY ELLA FITZGERALD / LOUIS ARMSTRONG
SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE SAMMY DAVIS JR.
EVERYTHING MICHAEL BUBLE
YOU’RE NOBODY ‘TIL SOMEBODY LOVES YOU DEAN MARTIN
EXACTLY LIKE YOU BING CROSBY
WE ARE IN LOVE HARRY CONNICK, JR.
COME FLY WITH ME FRANK SINATRA
IT’S DE-LOVELY JERI SOUTHERN
I’M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT BOBBY DARIN
THE MORE I SEE YOU NINA SIMONE
YOU’LL NEVER GET AWAY FROM ME TONY BENNETT
ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE DEAN MARTIN
HOORAY FOR LOVE ELLA FITZGERALD
COME DANCE WITH ME FRANK SINATRA
I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE SARAH VAUGHAN
YOU’RE NEVER FULLY DRESSED WITHOUT A SMILE HARRY CONNICK, JR.
(LOVE IS) THE TENDER TRAP SAMMY DAVIS JR.
ME & MRS. YOU MICHAEL BUBLE
TOP HAT, WHITE TIE AND TAILS FRED ASTAIRE
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU ELLA FITZGERALD
For the rest of Jay’s lists for this article check out the November 2013 issue of Mobile Beat. Subscribe today and get access to the digital edition!
 
Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (issue #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.
 
 
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Jay Maxwell Jay Maxwell (29 Posts)

Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (issue #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.


Filed Under: Issue #152, Music, Performing