It’s Always About the Outcome

August 27, 2014 by Jay Maxwell

FOCUS ON THE TRUE GOAL: A PARTY TO REMEMBERPSWCDT-dancing

Regardless of the profession, many individuals emphasize the attributes of their tools. Photographers might showcase their cameras, landscapers could brag about their lawnmowers and, of course mobile disc jockeys have a tendency to boast about their equipment. Clearly, having the right tools is essential to doing a job well. However, simply having the fanciest equipment doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome, especially if the operator is inexperienced or doesn’t understand the desires of the client.

If a landscaper uses his new mower to cut a client’s grass, yet cuts it too short or loses control and mows down a row of tulips that had just begun to bloom, the outcome is clearly disastrous. As a mobile disc jockey, I certainly use professional equipment and would recommend the same to other pros; we should always have reliable tools of the trade. But it may not be necessary to buy the most expensive or highest tech devices.

The outcome of the event should be the most important focus. The mobile DJ should at all times remember that the objective is people-oriented. The ultimate goal is to satisfy clients and their guests. The equipment serves as a fundamental tool to accomplish this end-goal. For my company, the outcome must always be that we “delivered wow.” To help remind every team member of this goal, we have made this the central “catch-phrase” of our mission statement, “Delivering WOW by creating an unparalleled experience at every event.”

Though brief, almost every word of the mission statement is important. As DJs, we are literally on our toes during the entire event (we never sit down) because we are busy creating the mix that will set the perfect mood for each moment. Those moments combine for an experience that has no equal and one that the client will talk about for weeks, maybe years, to follow. This is true for every event. The same effort put forth to create an unparalleled experience will be exerted for a wedding reception, birthday party, or a corporate event. The mental state for us is the same for every event: We are going into the event with the outcome in mind of “delivering wow.”

If we went into an event with the attitude of “another day, another dollar,” the outcome would be a lackluster event, one that the client will soon forget, or worse, remember for being sub par. There is no magic blueprint for a guaranteed “wow” event, but several steps can be followed to help increase the potential of a successful outcome.

PLANNING TO ROCK THE PARTY

Let’s take, for example, how to better prepare for a holiday party around the Christmas season. Did you notice the word “prepare” in the last sentence? I’ve been a college professor for over twenty years and before every lecture I prepare my notes, even if it’s the same lecture as last semester. There is no way that I’d walk into the classroom, open the book and try to “wing it” from memory. I’ll review the material at hand and update it with any new information. I might also try to approach the material in a different manner, based on questions that had been asked in the previous year. Any DJ event would also require a good amount of preparation. Of course with a wedding reception, at least one meeting with the bride and groom is expected in order to know what elements they want in their event and any special music requested. Holiday parties for corporations deserve the same level of planning. Find out who is in charge of the event. This should be easy, since somebody had to contact you to contract your services. There is a good chance that there is a planning committee, with one person assigned to be the spokesperson for the group. This is a more ideal situation, as it helps you get a better idea of the music expected for the event from a wider spectrum of the employees.

Part of the planning will be to ask the contact person what the order of the festivities will be. Ask questions about the timing of the social hour, dinner, speeches, door prizes, and time for dancing. For example, inquire about the type of music for the social hour. This is typically when the traditional Christmas tunes are played. One variation that you might consider is to play the most popular tunes, but by an artist that is not the standard one for that song (see this issue’s list). The dinner music might consist of Christmas tunes as well, but perhaps instrumental versions of the songs instead. Look for some lively jazz versions of the songs.

Just like driving a car with a stick-shift and knowing when to change gears, being aware of when to ramp the music up a notch is equally important. If you know ahead of time what will be occurring after dinner (e.g. a speech from the company president a time of employee recognition) you are better able to adjust the “gears” of the music and know when to start the dance music. At almost every Christmas party I’ve DJ’d, someone has approached me with a slightly rude tone of voice, to inform me that they are bored with my music and that they are ready to dance. Knowing that there is an event (door prizes, speech, etc.) coming up in a few minutes will allow you to politely inform the person that the dance music will begin right after the president delivers his or her speech. At the same time, take the guest’s request and play it as soon as you can.

Part of a successful outcome in any situation is to ask questions. Knowing the answers will help you perform your job better and “deliver wow.” Yet, as at any party, no matter how much planning happens beforehand, a DJ needs be flexible and ready to change the music to please the crowd. Remember that it starts with great equipment and a wide variety of music, but in the end it’s the outcome that is most important. It’s about creating an experience that every person will remember for a long time. Your mission as a DJ is about entertaining people. After all, people are the “we” in Play Something WE Can Dance To!

 


Holiday Tune Alternatives

SONG STANDARD ARTIST ALTERNATIVE VERSION
1 WHITE CHRISTMAS BING CROSBY DRIFTERS
2 BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE JOHNNY MERCER AND MARGARET WHITING JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN
3 JINGLE BELLS BRENDA LEE DIANA KRALL
4 MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY BONNIE RAITT & CHARLES BROWN ERIC CLAPTON AND SHERYL CROW
5 HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS FRANK SINATRA PRETENDERS
6 SLEIGH RIDE JOHNNY MATHIS DEBBIE GIBSON
7 LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW DEAN MARTIN JACI VELASQUEZ
8 HAVE A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS BURL IVES HARRY CONNICK JR.
9 WINTER WONDERLAND JOHNNY MATHIS EURYTHMICS
10 IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR ANDY WILLIAMS HARRY CONNICK JR.
11 CAROL OF THE BELLS HARRY SIMEONE LOS LONELY BOYS
12 SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN FRANK SINATRA AND CYNDI LAUPER CARLYLE FRASIER
13 HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS ELVIS PRESLEY RAMSEY LEWIS TRIO
14 IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS BING CROSBY KATHERINE MCPHEE
15 MY FAVORITE THINGS TONY BENNETT KELLY CLARKSON
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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: Events, Exclusive Online News and Content, Issue #158, Music