Quality Control for Music Selection

April 8, 2008 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

I would like to start this article out with a story. One Saturday in 1987, I was making my “rounds” by checking in on several events that my company was providing entertainment for. I do this as a measure of quality control and to evaluate the skills and abilities of my staff. The guests were all finishing up dinner, and it was time to start the dancing. My disc-jockey started the first dance, and the parents dances, everything was going just fine. Once the bridal party dance was complete, it was now time to start the uptempo music and get the party rolling. My disc-jockey chose to get the party rolling with “65 Love Affair” by Paul Davis. I was horrified at his choice of songs!!As most of you know, your first selections of the reception can make or break the reception, so it is critical to select the proven motivators that inspire dancing. This is a pretty basic concept that most experienced disc-jockey’s will agree with. The song that the disc jockey chose was obviously not a proven motivator. The song was five years old, and was not that popular when it was new in 1982, let alone in 1987! The disc-jockey couldn’t understand why he cleared the floor, after having so many people up dancing just prior to playing 65 Love Affair. When I questioned him as to why he chose to play that as his first song, he said “Paul, it’s in the music library!”. I will never forget that response, as long as I live.

It was after this event that I did some soul searching on where I went wrong. I thought I had properly trained the disc-jockey prior to sending him out to represent me, but obviously, I failed in some way. In hindsight, the training and preparation that I provided this disc-jockey was grossly inadequate.

My company training manual had been in place for three years at the time. Since then, I have made hundreds of revisions to it. One of the revisions that I made was to implement a quick reference system for my staff to play from. We usually carry about 8000 selections in our music library. How is a new disc-jockey to know which ones to play? Better yet, how many times have you(an experienced DJ) left a gig, and on the way home, a song popped into your head and you told yourself “I should have played that song!!” It happened to me more times that I care to mention.

I developed a categorized “Quick Reference” system that is placed in the front of a three-ring binder for each of the systems that I have. This served two purposes:

Improved the quality of the selection of music played by my staff

Gave the staff a more user friendly system for finding the songs, since each song title and artist gave the CD number, making it very easy to find.

I took it one step further, and mandated that my disc-jockey’s play 80 percent of their music selection from the quick references, and the remaining 20 percent of their selection can be requests from the guests that are not listed in the quick references. My bottom line was to improve the quality of the music selection that my staff was playing.

The quick references greatly assisted newer staff members, however, it is also a great tool for your more experience DJ’s. With sixteen years experience, I still use the music quick references to assist me in my decisions on what music to play. I am constantly scanning through the listing, and grouping my sets from the quick references. Very rarely do I think of a song that I should have played after the event was over. One other idea that I have used to assist the newer disc-jockey’s is to actually give them a listing in sets. This is great for the training mode, especially, so they can practice mixing music. I hesitate to mandate specific sets to a disc-jockey when they are actually turned loose to do a job on their own. It would seem to be too programmed, and go too far in trying to completely control what your DJ plays.

We have used quick references for ten years now, with a lot of success. I have listed my quick references to assist anyone who wishes to utilize that system. Give it a try, I think you will like it!  

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Mobile Beat Staff Writer (228 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.


Filed Under: Music