It’s Okay To Say No

October 16, 2015 by Tony Schwartz

its-okay-to-say-noToday, I received an inquiry for an August date I surprisingly wasn’t booked for. Typically, I DJ an event every Friday and Saturday night in August, so it’s just weird that there’s this one date I just can’t get booked*. So, excited at the possibility of finally filling that date, I opened the email. Within a minute, I had sent back a reply, politely declining the event.


Because a Quinceañera is outside of my focus as a DJ. For starters, I don’t know the music. But more importantly, I don’t jeopardize my reputation, as well as the success of one’s monumental event, due to inexperience at performing a certain type of event. There is nothing wrong with saying “No, thank you.”

I’ve even turned clients away after consulting with them, because I just didn’t feel it was the right fit for me. Branding is important, and if my performance can’t represent that brand, I’d rather decline the event and refer them to a DJ that is better suited for them. And the odd thing is: a better event that fits my brand eventually comes my way.

I tell this story, because I want to address two of the most bothersome questions I see from DJs no less than once a month, if not more often…
The first: “Hey, I just got booked to DJ a [event type] – what do I need to know?”

The second: “The client has asked me to play [genre] music. What songs should I play?”

Ugh. You’re killing me, Smalls!

Not only are you not helping yourself, but you aren’t helping the industry, either. If you have an interest in doing a certain event, say Quinceañeras in this case, refer the inquirer to a DJ that does them exceptionally well, and offer to be a roadie for that DJ. The same for weddings of any ethnicity or style – American, Jewish, Indian, etc. In exchange for lugging around some speakers and taping down some wires, you’ll gain valuable experience.

I get it, you have to start somewhere. But some events are much too important to start at.

And honestly, as it always inevitably happens, I don’t blame veteran DJs for jumping all over those DJs who ask these questions. There are guys and gals who have put in their dues and worked hard to change the perception of how a mobile DJ is viewed. Strides are being made, but the industry still has a long ways to go.

Now don’t get me wrong, as I believe online DJ communities on Facebook are still a great resource for kicking around ideas. If I was more novice DJ, I would rephrase those two questions in a way that shows I’ve done my homework, tried a few things, and want to get some feedback from those with experience. I believe phrasing the questions in this manner would gain a more positive response:

“Hey, I’ve booked a couple of [event type] and had a few questions. Here is what I have done/practiced, is there a way I could do this better or am not thinking of?”

“Hey, my client has asked me to play [genre] music. I came up with these surefire hits: [lengthy list of songs], what are some not so obvious songs that may also work?”

As with anything, it’s all in how you approach it.

Have a question for me? Tweet me on Twitter and use the hashtag #AskTonySchwartz – it might even make the podcast!

*(Not that I’m worried about booking it or not, as there is nothing wrong with a night off during the summer!)

This post originally published on June 10, 2015 at


Tony Schwartz Tony Schwartz (36 Posts)

Tony Schwartz is an award-winning MC & DJ, a business entrepreneur, stock market investor, a dog lover, a daily blogger, and a die-hard Red Sox & Seahawks Fan.

Filed Under: Mobile DJ Performance Tips, Mobile DJ Sales & Marketing