The 3 Essential “E’s” of DJing By Jay Maxwell

May 10, 2013 by Jay Maxwell

One of the great privileges that I have teaching
in the School of Business at Charleston Southern
University is teaching the Principles of Management
course. This is a required course for any student
pursuing their degree in any field of business at
the university, whether their major or emphasis is
Accounting, Marketing, Finance, Entrepreneurship,
Non-Profit, or Management. This course covers many
different facets of managing including a section on
leadership and trust. It is my favorite chapter in the
textbook to teach and also gives me the opportunity
to expose my students to examples of effective
leadership that they should strive to emulate.

Several examples are given in the textbook of great leaders
and we also use references from the Bible to gain further knowledge. However, I believe the best way to learn about great leadership is to introduce my students to someone who is a great leader and has led an organization with integrity, honesty and vision. That is why I have repeatedly asked the president of Charleston Southern University, Dr. Jairy Hunter, to hold a seminar with my students during our study of leadership and trust. He has gladly accepted the invitation, and shares with my students his 28 years of leadership experience.

Each time Dr. Hunter presents his ideas on leadership, it is apparent that he spends an incredible amount of time preparing for the talk, since each semester he has a different approach with new slides on his PowerPoint presentation. Not only do the students take away a lifetime of the president’s “non-textbook” lessons while seated around his boardroom table, but I’m always taken to a new level of knowledge as well, with the wisdom that he shares. In
the most recent experience, one of his keys to leadership success was an emphasis on three words each beginning with the letter “e.” He stressed the following alliteration as a memory aid for the students: energy, enthusiasm, and empathy. As he was explaining that all three are essential for leadership, it ocurred to me that these traits are also required for successful mobile disc jockeys.


Dr. Hunter is not the type of individual who simply stands behind
a podium to deliver a dry, “canned” speech. He is dynamic and
engages his audience. For example, when he first introduced the
energy trait, he pretended to have just started a meeting with
a group and slumped down in a chair and spoke in a boring,
monotone voice to show a lack of energy. He followed that with a
rhetorical question to the students of, “Who would want to follow
a leader like that?!” Before he had a chance to continue with the
enthusiasm portion of the alliteration, my thoughts turned to the
leadership role that every mobile DJ has at every event. It’s one
of the primary reasons that we have not been truly replaced by
iPods. A device has no ability to create energy at an event or lead
anyone to the dance floor. It is simply a tool.


When I heard the explanation for the second “e” it became apparent
just how similar the keys to leading an organization and and for
being a professional DJ are to each other. If we think “passion”
when we hear the word enthusiasm, we get a good idea of why
this is essential for both great leaders and effective DJs leading
the crowd into having a fantastic time. On several occasions, I
have heard members of my team of DJs say, “I love this job.” This is enthusiasm that goes well beyond looking at DJing as simply a job to be done. Without passion, leadership suffers; the ability to get a crowd on the dance floor is also impaired without an enthusiastic leader.


The final concept of empathy rang true for a mobile DJ as well. By definition, empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of another person. In short, empathy is described as being able to “walk in another’s shoes” to see and feel his point of view. When a new DJ first joins my team, one of the initial lessons
he must learn is that the music played will be the tunes that
the client wants to hear, not the songs that are his favorite. For
the seasoned DJ, he must always remember that most events are
a once-in-a-lifetime events for the client. This is especially true for a bride and groom’s wedding reception. Therefore, the DJ should
entertain at the event as if it is his own wedding reception, as far as the amount of effort and passion he puts into it.


The songs in this issue’s list represent the top 50 songs that can help put energy into the event. Normally my lists are ordered by position, but these songs are all fantastic and the top energy songs change depending on the event. Whether it is the initial spark to get the party going, or just the right tune to ramp up the level to a euphoric high during the night, these songs represent a wide range of genres. Each song has the potential to create an energetic experience for the crowd. Of course, these songs alone are often not the only element required to lead the crowd into a memorable celebration. It is equally important to have a DJ with the elements of energy, enthusiasm, and empathy to deliver the passion along with the music in a manner that everyone there will want to follow his lead. It is like two different professors giving lectures on the same material. At the end of the term, one professor gets high ratings from the students while the other professor gets low marks. The difference is usually due to the degree of energy, enthusiasm, and empathy that the highly favored professor showed as compared to the lackluster delivery of the one who was rated with low marks.

People go to an event with the expectation of having a great time. Part of that grand experience is seeing people they have not seen in a while or meeting new friends. They also want to enjoy tasty food in a pleasant environment. But remember that it is the professional mobile DJ who is the one person at the event who is the leader, as far as creating the overall “feel good” mood with both the music and his attitude.

Don’t forget that we are the leaders at the event. Our energy, enthusiasm, and empathy must be evident from the first moment of the event until the equipment is packed away. Our friendly smile, body posture, and the tone of our voice must express our energy just as much as knowing what to play when someone requests more energy on the dance floor by saying, “Play something we can dance to!”

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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Filed Under: 2013, DJing Weddings, Mobile DJ Business, Mobile DJ Performance Tips