Three Tips for Winning the Crowd With More Just Music

Marilyn Monroe once said, “If I’m a star, then the people made me a star.” While not every DJ aspires to become a star, you have to ask yourself, “What good is a DJ without people to hear their amazing music?” Building a loyal following should be the top priority for anyone wanting to take his or her DJing career to a professional level. It shows club owners and promoters that you can pull in regular clientele (thus making you more valuable), and the passion of your crowds will make you be the best DJ you can be. In this article, we’ll talk about effective methods to build a solid, loyal following that you can accomplish as you win over the crowd with more than just your music …


The inspiration for my approach came from reading Ean’s article about what to carry in your DJ bag. He recommended carrying a notebook with you and getting a person’s contact info while giving them a demo CD.

I immediately adopted this method and found it was very effective. After playing around with different ideas and building on this concept, I came across a method that not only developed very loyal followers but also handled the issue of dealing with requests – not to mention, helped me build my music collection all at the same time.

When passing out a CD, don’t just pass it to anyone. Try to find those people who have been dancing to my entire set or who look really interesting to get to know. Go up to them and say, “Hey, I just want you to know that I’ve been watching you dance to every song tonight , and  I want to thank you for coming out.”

Personally, I then give them a free CD and follow up with my notebook. On the notebook is a sticker with instructions for them to write their name, phone number, email, and birth date. (The sticker is necessary because the club environment is loud and they usually can’t hear instructions.) They write the information; I thank them once more, and get back to the mixing.

The following day, email or text them, thanking them once more (you might not want to text them if you don’t want to share your private number). I personally let them know that I really am glad they were there last night, and that I hope to see them the next time. I also ask if they could leave some feedback about my work either in a text or on my website.

This whole process may seem obvious and basic but you’d be surprised how few DJs even do this and, more importantly, how effective it can be. The reason is that you are making the individual feel special. You aren’t seeing them as just another fan. Don’t underestimate this! What you will do next with their info is put it in the address book on your laptop.

Do this after every gig, and you will have officially started a mailing list. Try to get a picture of them if you can. This is valuable because a visual reminder can help when you’re trying to decide who to invite to a particular party.

Periodically send them texts and emails about your upcoming shows, but make it sound personal – never spam them. Use their names, avoid mass mailings, and make it sound informal. When their birthday comes, call them and invite them personally to your club for a free drink, give them a shout out, and play their favorite song. They will never forget this. It’s like a domino effect: They’ll tell two friends, and those friends will tell two friends … you get the picture.



Some of the best DJs in the world are known for their ability to read a crowd and give them what they want. It should be no surprise that the secret to their crowd reading success is that they never take their eyes off their crowd!

According to Ezine, “Researchers who study relationships have discovered that a big difference between those people who make new friends easily, and those who don’t, is that socially successful people tend to make eye contact with their conversation partners much more frequently than those who are less successful socially.”

That’s a big problem I see with a lot of club DJs in my city: they never give their audience the time of day. Their eyes are glued to the equipment in front of them and they are in their own world.

To build a healthy dance floor requires trust between the DJ and this crowd. From the information above, we can clearly see that there’s actually a connection between eye contact and people dancing to your music. In a way, you are building temporary relationships with your audience. Making eye contact with a person in the club and smiling at them tells that person, “I’m glad to see you here and I want you to trust me, so I can take you where you want to be taken.”

Eye contact is especially important for digital DJs who use a laptop, and not so much for DJs who use traditional media (CDJs and turntables), because the laptop can create a barrier between the DJ and the crowd. Laptop DJs can also fall victim to the “checking email” syndrome and get lost in their screen. I combat this barrier by actually placing my laptop at an angle to the right or the left, depending on the booth I’m playing in. Either way, you should step away from the laptop every so often and let the crowd see yo grill.

You can win the crowd over simply by paying attention to them! You can also build your following while you mix because all this technique requires is looking at your audience. Lack of eye contact is probably the reason why the DJs who never look at their crowds put on the poorest performances.



As a working DJ you will get many requests throughout the night. I’ve seen many other DJs not know how to deal with requests simply because they don’t have the song and feel that they aren’t a good DJ. On the other hand, I’ve seen DJs get offended and cuss out the person, simply because they’re making a request!

One night, I got a request for some Kelly Rowland B-side and felt really bad I didn’t have it. I saw the sadness in that person’s face and I really didn’t want to disappoint them. Before the person left I stopped them and said, “I sorry I didn’t have your song, but do me a favor: write the name of the song and the artist down for me and I guarantee that next time you come, I’ll have it.” They wrote it down and were actually satisfied because at least I seemed to be making an effort.

The following week, that person did come back and sure enough, I had their song. This action instantly created a regular customer and I decided to handle all the requests of songs I didn’t have this way. You may consider purchasing a separate notebook for just this purpose because it accomplishes a few things:

1. It helps prevent the person whose song you don’t have from getting disappointed;
2. The person is more likely to come back to see you play; and
3. Your music collection builds without you having to devote all your time to it.

The first two reasons are self-explanatory, but let’s look at the last one. I found that people were actually building my music collection for me. The next day, I’d find and download the songs they had written down. If it was a song I didn’t like, I’d try to find a remix of that song that I did like and started to see my collection build into a list of crowd driven tracks.

The truth is, that if one person really likes a track- the chances are high that many others also do.  This only adds to your following and generates a kind of loyalty most DJs would kill for.


These ideas may not be entirely original, but I do believe they are a fresh and progressive approach to establishing a following. Being a good person really does have its rewards. Here are some things to remember:

  • Be sure the notebooks are not so small you have difficulty writing in them, but not too big, so you can carry them with you;
  • Make sure they are made out of durable materials (the notebooks I use are made out of plastic), as they have to survive in harsh club environments;
  • Keep two separate notebooks: one for your mailing list and one for requests. I made the mistake of using one notebook at the beginning and it was all crazy unorganized!;
  • Update your list daily and don’t let it fall behind! The more organized it is, the more effective you are and the larger your crowds will be;
  • When meeting people, don’t be a DJ. Win them over by being you. I often ask myself, “Would I be just as interesting as a person if I didn’t DJ?”; and
  • Always smile (but not all Hannibal Lecter-style) and be sure to make eye contact.

There’s nothing like an appreciative and energetic crowd. Start a following today!

how to build a dj followingTips
Comments (78)
Add Comment
  • How to Read a Crowd Like a Pro DJ

    […] Need an awesome DJ for your next event? Golden Productions has you covered. If you’re interested in booking an MC or DJ for your summer blowout, then call Golden Productions at 410-356-6444. We will set you up with a professional DJ who will ensure that your event or party is a raging success. You can also contact us on our website for all of our karaoke, DJ, and photobooth options as well as our other services at: Don’t wait to book your next event! We can handle a wide variety of events from corporate gatherings to big weddings. 1 […]

  • Lewis Mcvay

    very long, very informative and somehow hmm positive 🙂 This time it’s about
    building loyal, following fans. There are three very good tips introduced –
    very practical (ie. how to handle a person that requests a song but you don’t
    have it). Good article.


  • dj pacifika

    You are the king…simple advice but its amazing how many djs (incl. yours truly) do not do this…


    Have you got any Kylie? errr no. Any Britney? errr no. This was actually at a friends wedding that I agreed to play at. I warned him I didnt play chart stuff. I did keep it the music as wedding friendly as my stomach could handle and I was given some tracks to play by the groom. One of the tracks was by Jurassic 5…I was then told by the best man to stop playing gangsta rap…sometimes you cant win.


    Have you got any Kylie? errr no. Any Britney? errr no. This was actually at a friends wedding that I agreed to play at. I warned him I didnt play chart stuff. I did keep it the music as wedding friendly as my stomach could handle and I was given some tracks to play by the groom. One of the tracks was by Jurassic 5…I was then told by the best man to stop playing gangsta rap…sometimes you cant win.


    Have you got any Kylie? errr no. Any Britney? errr no. This was actually at a friends wedding that I agreed to play at. I warned him I didnt play chart stuff. I did keep it the music as wedding friendly as my stomach could handle and I was given some tracks to play by the groom. One of the tracks was by Jurassic 5…I was then told by the best man to stop playing gangsta rap…sometimes you cant win.

  • Killmedj

    Big ups for this article!
    I’m embarrassed to say it, but I used to be the DJ that got pulled off mid set because I was so determined to play breaks or DnB!
    And couldn’t believe the audience wanted house or top 40!! God I cringe thinking back!
    Then one day I had a thought:
    I live and breathe music and I love DJing, but the average person either studies all week or has a job they slave at for 40 hours or more.
    It’s likely they’ve been looking forward to this Friday or Saturday night all week!
    And I come along with my attitude and mess it up for them!
    I am an Asshole!!

    Now this doesn’t mean I have to be their party slave, but they will be looking to me to give them an experience that will validate all their hard work that week, you become the conduit for a night they hopefully never forgot!

    Once I absorbed this concept my DJing changed forever.
    I love my gigs I am grateful that these people choose to stand in front of me for 4 hours + having “Oh MY GOD!” moments when I play a track they love, or “What the f@#k is that track!!?” moments when I play something fresh that I took a chance adding to my set.

    The irony to this story is that now that I have a mindset of gratitude towards the patrons, I always manage to drop the odd cheeky DnB mix or Breaks re-edit and without fail they go with me!

    I have this little saying: Make friends with the audience, because friends will let you off with anything!
    (to a point!)

    All the best in the trenches guys!

  • chrisneil

    A tech house version of a brandy song ,its not tech house is it lol.

  • dennis parrott

    Every last DJ *believes* they know the best music, the essential tracks that those poor, silly fools need to hear. Yes, we all do believe that.

    I still believe that even though time and experience have done their best to beat that thought out of me.

    I have learned that there are only two kinds of music; Good Music and Bad Music. The listener is who gets to choose.

    I have adopted a different way to look at my craft: I am there to try to make the crowd happy, get them to dance, etc. I look at requests as a way to make the crowd happy (and as a challenge to the depth of my track collection!). Sure, I still slip in something I think they NEED to hear but it really gets me going to be able to play a request, see the floor fill up and then watch a few heads swivel when I slip in some great track that fits with the request…

    Look, it is one thing if you’re a Hawtin or a Cox who can charge an admission fee because they showed up. Most of the rest of us just aren’t there yet…and being nice to the fans is just good karma.


    I started out djin with the passion and drive for the music. I quickly learned that no matter how soal distroying it may be top 40 etc is where its at.
    I at past gigs had a planed out set starting mellow and ending up quite punchy I aimed for house to tec house then tec trance to trance and just finishing up with hard trance.

    just after comeing into tec trancer part of set I was asked to play dynamite .. I was completley unprepaired for requsests as i had a planed out flowing set . anyway the girl who asked for the song I told her that I didnt have it and was very sorry. i said it in a polite maner and friendly as posabile . she just looked at me an said you dont have dynamite what sort of f**kin dj are you ..I later learned that night that this person went and run me to the lowest with other clubers in the venue. it just goes to show that no matter how nice you are to someone they are still demanding and if they dont get what they want they will flame you.

    I find it hard to play top 40 stuff most of it is so awful but at end of the day people go to clubs to dance and if the girls arnt up dancein to thier cheesy pop the boys wont be up .its harsh but true in todays modern society this younger generation dont give a shit about the way a set built or what music you like. they want to go out and get drunk and dance to tunes they know. girls rule the dance floor if you dont have them up danceing boys wont be up with them. I find that researching the top 40 and then bootleging or geting remixs is a great way forward. that way you get to show of your skills as a dj and keep crowd happy. this is working for me. my passion is trance music and im working on building a fan base via my web site for that set genre. people who dont like it dont join people that do simple. that way even if its a small group say 50 people to start with them 50 people will come and see you play on special advertised nights aimed specificley at this genre as thats thier intrest.

    so there you have it 50 people go to your trance night maybe some regulars turn up maybe not into the music but are over powerded by the genral feel of the night word will spread and before you know it your doin gigs with the music you want to hear . building a fan base is as simple as askin people to your website from face book makeing something exciteing and creating a scene is what people will take notice for . and club owners will take notice .

    people are like sheep become thier shepard

  • KingRichard1st

    Sssssoooo many Dj’s with ego’s that defy physics! An article to remind us DJ’s we’re human and THAT is what partying is about – good article.

  • dj igniter

    thank you so much, this is just what i needed. now i just have to work at doing what you advise which comes a little hard to me but i will def try it out. def great advise, thanx again

  • Sean Linman

    Great article, adding ‘human touch’ is worth 10 times more than all fancy marketing strategies combined.

  • Dirk Gently

    What all started out as trying to fit two songs together seamlessly, and then progressing to sampling, back in the day has resulted in that thing we call “remixes”.

    Whether you’re a top 40, dnb, tech, deep house, dubstep or any other type of SUCCESSFUL dj, you know that having that one single REMIXED track of that popular song in your genre is what separates you from the rest of your dj peers. And you know that when you have several of these beauties in your bag you start to stand out from the rest because you’re playing hot, popular, different remixes… ALL THE TIME.

    But, who does the noticing? Your crowd does. Irrespective of the genre you play. And when the crowd notices, the club owner notices. And when the club owner notices, then your bank account notices. Yes, you’re playing for the love of the music, but come on, be honest, love ain’t gonna pay the bills.

    So, it’s a balancing act. How to stay true to the music you love, make the crowd happy, AND get paid?

    I’ve been djing since the age of 17. I’m 39 now and at the top of my game. I look ten years younger, act like a 26 year old, and hang out with girls 18-28. I’ve done the vinyl and CD thing, and am now using MIDI controllers and remixing LIVE. I’ve been around, played more big nights (including FIFA Cup Final 2010 in South Africa) than many bedroom djs here that have cds or vinyl in their collection, AND HAVE STILL LEARNED SOMETHING FROM THIS ARTICLE. Or at least been reminded of some of the basics. Thank you Matthew.

    So, how to balance? Decide right now… do you want to get paid for djing or not? If no, then Matthew’s article doesn’t really affect you except for building a fan-base for your music. If you do want to get paid, you still need to build a fan-base that will know who you are amongst all those other djs out there, and will gladly follow you to your gig because they know you play hot tunes (again, irrespective of your choice of genre). Club owners take note of when you pull a crowd, trust me. Matthew’s article gives some good starter advice for this.

    A tiny significant example: It’s mid winter, it’s quiet, I’m passing through a small coastal town. I call up the club owner and organize a two hour set at the local club. I get a group of ten girls to drive from another town to come dance to my tunes.. only ten… but that’s ten hot girls new to a club, buying drinks, dancing with the local boys and having a good time! Those ten, only ten, can easily add an extra four grand or more to the bar by the end of the night when you add in how much more money the guys spend because there are new hot girls around. My two hour set turns into a four hour set because everyone is having a good time. I’m a little more valuable than the next dj who is an unknown, which makes future bookings at that venue easier. The club owner calls me up a month later asking when I’ll be in the area again, if I would play, and if the girls were coming too!

    As you can see this also translates into more pay for your next gig at that same club… because next time THEY WILL CALL YOU, and you can add travel and accommodation costs. All because you play music that other people like and thus have a fan-base. And that’s just one tiny example.

    Eye-contact is essential. Even merely the ILLUSION of it as any good public speaker will tell you. Just looking up from what you’re doing every now and again with a smile on your face will go great lengths to building rapport with your crowd. Why do you think people like to dance right in front of the dj booth? They want to be seen, and to see. You’re in control of their every movement, by being seen by you they acknowledge that and give you more to work with. They want you to know they’re having a good time, and that they trust you to carry on with what you’re doing. If not, they WILL let you know! At the very least an empty dance floor gives you immediate feedback about your choice of music or your skills.

    Furthermore, whether you take requests or not isn’t the issue. It’s how you deal with it when the request arises. Once again, good simple advice from Matthew. If a request note book doesn’t suit your personal style or choice of music, at least read between the lines and realize that what Matthew is saying is this: acknowledge the request in a friendly manner. It’s the same as you walking into any store in any part of the world and wanting something, and the shop attendant just doesn’t pay attention to you. Do you not get p***ed off and vow never to go back? You can be guaranteed that the person asking for that request, however annoying the request might be, is currently slagging you off to their friends and anyone who will listen. The crowd is the majority, you’re the minority… it’s not very often the minority wins this one. I’ve had people complain to the club owners directly because I don’t play their specific request. I’ve had club owners stand behind me and point out a full dance floor, and I’ve had club owners come tell me to play that request. The former is cool, but the latter sucks. The club owner is paying me. I don’t want him to tell me how to do my job, and doubt whether or not to book me again. All of that can be avoided by simply acknowledging the request. Sound advice.

    Finally, the concept of creating a fan-base is essentially the same across ALL genres of music. Matthew’s article just gives some good advice on getting started. You could even implement some of the ideas at an outdoor rave if you tweak the general idea and creatively think outside the (dj) box.

    Thanks Matthew, I enjoyed the article.

    Oh, and just to end off, that club I played at normally plays top 40 stuff. That night I started off with my personal favorite funky house and ended with fidget, throwing in three dubstep tracks mid set just for fun and to mix it up. You can take ANY crowd ANYWHERE if you know how.


    First of all I would like to start by saying this is an amazing article and it should be bumped to classic level. So props to the author for sharing knowledge and props to you all that get it.

    I have been a club goer since high school and all of my adult life. I have watched home town heroes come and go. Most DJays I have seen and followed are ones you have either heard of or read about. Some are bigger now than when I first got into them. Let me say that this article is dead on! Unless you come into the business with a fan base for instance someone like Ben Watt or Biz Markie you don’t have to worry about following the suggestions this author has laid out. However, if you are strictly a DJ you need to take heed to these words in this article. Here is why. Like I said I have clubbing since highschool. I was like sameoldsong, I danced if the music was good and if wasn’t I would leave. However, on the occasion I met a DJ that took the time to say hello I gave him or her a bit more slack. However the acts that excelled, meaning they had great talent played great music were the ones that played to the crowd. Not for the crowd but too the crowd. They DJayed to keep them on the floor. I am not talking Hip-Hop or R&B either.

    In your scene you know what tracks are hot right now. More than likely your crowd does too. So how do you pull it off?

    Once I went to see a friend of mine DJ. He headlined that night. Most of the DJays before him played it safe. It was a diverse crowd, but this place was sort of hip and catered to the house heads of the town. But he totally tore it up by not playing it safe. Starting with his first track being dropped. He played a tech house remix of a Brandy song. No one was dancing much until my friend was up on the decks. Immediately after hearing Brandy over a deep bassy tech house track it was like aural candy to the crowd. The crowd went bonkers! The rest of the night the crowd swooned. He played too the crowd!

    At the time Brandy was hot on the radio and all the ladies of course was loving her songs on her newest release of mostly R&B ballads. To set the night off right he hit the crowd with something he knew would stir the ladies up and he knew surely the guys would follow. End result packed dance floor.

    Every successful DJ is playing what the crowd wants to hear, and that’s what makes a great selector. You have to know what’s hot in your scene and play that hot track or two in your set. Otherwise no one will come see you. If you can’t add your own flavor or style between two flavor of the month tracks, do me, all the clubbers of the world and yourself a huge favor; sell your decks or stay in your bedroom.

  • Hitchcock

    Great article man!
    I’m going to put this into practice.
    Keep on rolling out these awesome informationals!

  • bedroomdj

    Oh and I didn’t even meet tommy lee… He was just that dope… I guess when ur starting out the fan base is vital.. But I’m just saying put on a show. I forget who it was, calvin harris or somone showed up saturday night in a morphsuit… Be creative… People remember dope acts.

  • bedroomdj

    I for one think the best idea is to introduce urself to a select few in the crowed.. Make sure there with different groups.. Hand em a few cards with your website, and let them know if the register for fan mail and info on upcoming shows they will have access to whatever library you want to provide, be it live mixes or singles. The other stuff seems to extrainuous.. As for conection with the crowed, I say get down in the booth every moment you have… Let the crowed know ur right there with em, be sweaty by the time you’re done rocking ur set. Tommy lee got fucking down at hard haunted mansion this year. I respect him so much after seeing him throw down one of the most epic sets of the hole event with dj aero! I think I lost about a gallon of water in sweat during his set. I want to be making crowds wild out like we were in LA this haloween!!!

  • Tito

    The people who buy a book about how to make friends,never will get friends. Just an opinion

  • RMDJ

    Working DJs know the deal. I spend more time in the studio working on songs than in the booth in order to make the show as good as possible. But if you don’t connect with the crowd, you won’t be in either because you’ll be punching a clock to pay the bills. The article was spot-on. If you want to make a living doing this, you gotta get people to show up. There isn’t one club that doesn’t give a $h\t about profit cause they’d by out of biz by now! Don’t believe me? Ask an owner.

  • Anonymous

    after reading some responses I’m left wondering, howmany dj’s on this site are trying to throw down gangster edm sets and how many are mobile/wedding/resident bar dj’s… Cause I’m aspiring but in the future, during my sets… If a fool has time/breath to ask me questions. I’m not doing my job. I want everyone on the floor mashing out until they have to leave to cool down!!!!

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Is that last picture a wu tang show? People got their 1’s up!!

  • malzfreund

    addendum: most of the good places are driven by people who <3 the music and <3 to party. they invite the DJs and live acts they *must* hear themselves. and, hey, shit, some of them even make good money doing it.

  • malzfreund

    let me tell you something you don’t know 😉 the clubs where DJs with their “we’re here to entertain you” attitude like Matthew on the Rocks play are effing boring. The club sucks, the prices suck, the crowd sucks, the music sucks. You don’t wanna go there…

  • A Real DJ

    The day I start taking requests is the day I die.

  • RSDJ KayPlaya

    Definitely appreciate this article.. I’ve been trying to think of a few ways to creatively motivate people to sign up for my guest list and though I don’t know if I’d write FAN on the cover the concept in itself is pretty good. I also like the idea of writing down requests on a notebook, not only the ones I don’t have but any requests in general.. it serves as a visual reminder and prevents me from saying “What song?” 38 times before I can hear them correctly.

  • DJ Edubbs

    I have used the cd for an email address idea and it works. I have gotten great responses thru this method. Also, I carry a large notepad that says ” Song Request” on the very top in bold letters. Its a great way for me to know what people want to hear. Last, I always bring an ipod cord so that I can play someone’s song if they have it on an ipod. That way, I don’t have to waste time downloading immediately. Thank you for this post. Keep it coming!!

  • Chrisso

    [quote comment=”39913″]Ok I don’t mean to start any flame wars and name calling, but I think a lot of the “Nay-Sayers” (people who disagree with the column) are deeply confused, misinformed and naive.
    The Night Club scene is a BUSINESS not a charity and and everyone in it is there to make money. The bar owners, bartenders, club promoters all got bills to pay. I don’t mean to burst any of these “bohemian”, “play-for-the-music” types’ bubbles, but no one cares if thats how you feel; they want to get paid.
    Even if you don’t agree with it, you HAVE to appreciate and understand that is why they are staying up all night dealing with drunk idiots in the shady nightclub industry. So if you can’t understand that they want someone with a “fan-base,” “mailing-list, or access to bringing a crowd… they stay your butt at home. Because a lot of people are DJs, but only a few a PROFESSIONAL DJs. So if you think its too much work to get emails/phone numbers, than just stay a hobbyist DJ, DJ your BF wedding or your parents anniversary party, but stay out of the big time nightclubs, because the business people in the industry don’t want you.[/quote]

    To late Pal, telling people to keep there but at home is starting flames. The world, not just the night club scene is in danger, because of so called business minded people like you! All your kind see are little dollar signs in the sky, you are the reason why our youth get’s poisoned into listening to bullshit like Justin Bieber or Auto Tunes prodical son T-Pain! If you bother to read any of these rebuttal’s properly, (and by the way ‘Captain obvious’ that’s what forums are for!) you would have noticed that “Playing-for-the-music” as you so kindly non flamed it, does actually = Fan Base! Not all club owners need Dj’s running around at the gigs organizing a “fan-base,” “mailing-list” or worse still “texting” people! Pull the wool out from over your eyes, people do care and that’s what keeps great music inside clubs around the world, individuality! 93 Feet East, (London) Cafe 1001 (London) Club 69 (Argentina) Revolver (Australia) The Ambar (Australia) Sir Henry’s (Ireland) the list is endless. Some clubs are even prepared to go broke rather than sell out, why? because there sick of having to deal with people like you! money, money, show me the money, why arent people drinking? how much water did we sell tonight? what did door sales bring in? oop time to up the cover charge. All Dj’s want fans this is a fact, all serious dj’s pro’s or non pro’s are prepared to work hard for that, but there’s a difference between earning respect and buying it! Name 1 big name Dj that hasn’t released his own track at some point but has worked his way to the top through a fucking mailing list?

    Mathew on the Rocks

    I agree 100% with you, we’ve all done it, go home find a great remix of Gaga or whatever’s been requested and try it the next night/week, better still get the acapella or pull some frequencies out of the original and drop it over something that fits. I’m not that into dubstep but I get it, in-fact I’m buying more and more lately. educating the crowd is also the wrong attitude I agree again 100% re: pop music being the hook is fantastic!. But to people like Dj PC3 I say this I’m pretty sure that when these owners went and signed the paper work for there “BIG TIME” clubs they new that “Drunken Idiots are part of the package! or maybe the wool is over there eyes too.

    No ones dogging on anyone it’s constructive criticism and theres nothing wrong with that

    Yours Faithfully

    Mr deeply confused, misinformed and naive.

  • Lord Lucan

    Sorry but ‘Big time nightclubs’ like Ministry etc & the so called ‘industry’ are the very problem.
    How,if you are doing your insane 4 deck a la ean golden mash up do you have time to look at the crowd?
    I appreciate this advice might be useful for wedding/mobile dj’s who need to build a client list,
    but at venues that play the same genre for 8 hours straight,the only thing that makes you stand out from the guy on before you & the guy on after you is what you play & how you play it.
    In my personal opinion this is why music today is so crap because clubs are about pretty people with expensive hair/clothes etc-NOT MUSIC
    I never accept local work,because most of them are wine bar/pub clubs that play top 40/RnB/Hip Hop etc.
    I would rather smear my genetalia with fishpaste & dangle them in a pool of hungry piranha than listen to/play that crap.
    Sorry if this upsets you but its just my own opinion.
    Sorry Matthew on the rocks but commercial music is not ‘the hook’-if you play that crap you just end up with drunks & chavs

  • Cray-Z5200

    Matthew: You hit the nail on the head – DJs should play primarily for the crowd. It’s what we’re paid for. I was pleasantly surprised with your comment on playing remixes of pop tracks – a lot of my DJing revolves around that too! (Skrillex’s take on Lady Gaga’s Alejandro is mental…)

    I honestly think a big problem with a lot of DJs is looking down on genres they don’t appreciate as if they have no merit of their own. Has it ever occurred to some of you that many DJs DO enjoy the top 40 and RnB that they play? For me, I find no conflict in enjoying both Gigi Barocco and Sean Kingston – both have their time and place.

    FUN is the key word – If you find yourself constantly justifying why one type of music is superior over another without agreeing to disagree, then you’re probably not having any.

  • Matthew on the Rocks

    OH and one more thing, you only take these requests and consider them. They aren’t set in stone and some don’t even end up in my collection. I see people’s posts suggesting to get a juke box but I’m not a jukebox, I’m johnny 5 and i’m alive, dig?

    I do only play what I want to play but you have to slip what they want in to keep them going. Commercial music is just the hook. Once you have them in, then you can throw on your techno or whatever floats your boat.

  • Matthew on the Rocks

    After reading a lot of the posts, I just thought i’d clarify a few things so you can understand this article a little better. First and foremost, I DJ because I love music; It doesn’t matter what it is (progressive, minimal, house, d&B, etc.)

    I play commercial music because thats what pays my bills. I am an artist and the way I keep my artistic integrity is by finding amazing remixes of the songs that are being requested or personally remixing them myself. Djing for any crowd is like a relationship and in order to have a successful relationship, you have to have compromise. I hate Lady GAGAs originals but you know what, some of the LGG remixes are mind blowing.

    This is the compromise between me and my crowd. They are satisfied because they heard Lady Ga GA and I’m satisfied because it was a song of hers that wasn’t so terrible.

    You have to stop going in with the intention of trying to “educate” the crowd with good music. You can’t force your beliefs on people because they will violently oppose them. A true lover of music will not look at the bad things about a song, but will try to find the best in it.

    I think it was Will Rogers who said, “If I didn’t like a man, it’s I never got to know enough about him.” If you don’t like certain music, then maybe you don’t know enough about it.


    I DJ at three clubs a week. I don’t have another job, I”m a DJ. that’s all I do. This is what I want to do the rest of my life and instead of dreaming about it, I am being it. I want to thank everyone for the lovely comments, I am truly honored to be accepted with open arms from so many of you.

    Whether you like me or hate me, at least you feel something for me…


    At first glance, I thought the article was going to be about playing more “Just Music” 🙂

    Anyways, there are some good tips here. I completely agree with the eye contact observation, I see a lot of DJ’s who barely even nod their head to the tracks they play, which makes me wonder if they’re enjoying themselves.

    Taking requests and helping the venue turn a profit are essential parts of the whole deal. Most clubs aren’t geared towards supporting the more creative types of DJing that some of us (myself included) are passionate about. In my opinion, if you want to land gigs where you can play cutting edge tunes, it’s important to write your own music. Once you get recognized for that, then people will view you more as an artist, giving you more freedom behind the decks.

    I can’t help but wonder though… why not just install a fancy jukebox at some of these mainstream places if their clientele just want to hear Top 40 stuff? It’d be cheaper than hiring DJ’s all the time, and the crowd would more or less have complete control over the music (which is what they want anyways). I don’t see the point in having a live body up there if the crowd/club owners aren’t going to let them show any skill whatsoever.

  • duerr

    [quote comment=”39915″]I mean, most of this stuff is common sense. But suggesting all that nonsense with taking requests is a bit closed minded… Are people really getting upset cause they didn’t get to hear their favorite track out one night? That girl that requested it probably has it on repeat in her turquoise Chevy Cavalier anyhow. I don’t know much about the hip hop and pop world as far as djing is concerned, cause its commercial music, but with techno music you don’t play requests, its more about taking the club goers on a journey etc… I think this article needs to be a little more specific with who its directed towards. A DJ in the techno scene is not a hired jukebox…[/quote]

    they’re just tips bro, i don’t know that the article was meant to be the definitive rulebook on marketing yourself as a dj.

    take what applies to you and run with it, disregard what doesn’t apply to you.

    i’m sure it’s safe to say most the DJs who frequent this board are not of the variety that take requests, but that’s not to say the advice isn’t helpful for those who are open to it.

  • Arclyte

    On second reading this article could be broken out into three separate posts actually. People are getting too hung up on the requests portion and losing sight on the other sections and their importance.

  • Lance Blaise

    I mean, most of this stuff is common sense. But suggesting all that nonsense with taking requests is a bit closed minded… Are people really getting upset cause they didn’t get to hear their favorite track out one night? That girl that requested it probably has it on repeat in her turquoise Chevy Cavalier anyhow. I don’t know much about the hip hop and pop world as far as djing is concerned, cause its commercial music, but with techno music you don’t play requests, its more about taking the club goers on a journey etc… I think this article needs to be a little more specific with who its directed towards. A DJ in the techno scene is not a hired jukebox…

  • Captain Obvious

    i think some of the guys who are hating on the article could brush up on their reading comprehension skills before slamming the author.

    “Three tips for winning the crowd with MORE (THAN) JUST MUSIC.”

    i don’t know about you guys, but to me that indicates to me that the article isn’t going to focus on the obvious importance of the music side of djing.

    this is purely about the business side of professional djing and everybody has their own style and approach so it’s a given that not every tip the author shared will resonate on a universal level.

    i think you guys are being completely disresectful and counterproductive by dogging on someone who is actually contributing to this website. if you want to bolster your ideals about what “real djing” is, all the power to you – but keep in mind there isn’t just one type of “real djing” or marketing strategy for everyone’s audience.

    what makes this website great is that it’s generally friendly and encourages the community to share knowledge with eachother, even if that knowledge may not be helpful to everybody. so ask yourself before posting, “are my comments adding to the community or detracting from the community?”

  • Dj PC3

    Ok I don’t mean to start any flame wars and name calling, but I think a lot of the “Nay-Sayers” (people who disagree with the column) are deeply confused, misinformed and naive.
    The Night Club scene is a BUSINESS not a charity and and everyone in it is there to make money. The bar owners, bartenders, club promoters all got bills to pay. I don’t mean to burst any of these “bohemian”, “play-for-the-music” types’ bubbles, but no one cares if thats how you feel; they want to get paid.
    Even if you don’t agree with it, you HAVE to appreciate and understand that is why they are staying up all night dealing with drunk idiots in the shady nightclub industry. So if you can’t understand that they want someone with a “fan-base,” “mailing-list, or access to bringing a crowd… they stay your butt at home. Because a lot of people are DJs, but only a few a PROFESSIONAL DJs. So if you think its too much work to get emails/phone numbers, than just stay a hobbyist DJ, DJ your BF wedding or your parents anniversary party, but stay out of the big time nightclubs, because the business people in the industry don’t want you.

  • ArcLyte

    Traditional media Djs have some issues too because the back turning to the crowd to get the next cd breaks the rapport with the crowd as much if not more as the laptop Dj. I went to hear some cdj DJs last week and one guy literally ducked down under his console with a mini flashlight to pick his next disc. You look up at the both half of the time, there is no one there! Huh?

    I mentioned this in the forum a while back and got gangbanged by a bunch of folks. However I knew I was right then and now. If you have to duck out of sight that much you need to make some adjustments to how you organize your discs, carry smaller organizers, or anything that will help you to not break the connection to your crowd.

  • Nephew

    Yo DJAR, I don’t think it has anything with the DJ having an ego or being to proud, it’s more about their integrity and staying true to themselves. And that’s exactly why I pass on local gigs all the time, because there’s no way in hell I would want to play at these venues, and the crowd wouldn’t even like what I was playing.

  • sameoldsong

    as a consumer of edm, let me tell you:

    good music i dance
    no good music i not dance

    and i don’t come back to clubs where i don’t dance… couldn’t care less about getting to know the djs

  • Chrisso

    Dropping Shania Twain to in the middle of a set to keep a few girls happy wont keep a dance floor pumping, gaining a residency and building a reputation as a great Dj isn’t about just throwing songs into the mix. Researching your venue and what the crowds get into is of course a must, as is playing to the crowd, changing styles, tempo’s and genres to suit but lets not confuse ego with common sense. Ok so this article may be geared toward the top 40 “Pop” Disc Jockey then what’s next?manifactured Dj’s with blonde hair and big tit’s? No offence to any Dj’s nor this article, it has some good points but what I call a “Good Service” is Great music!! I go to a venue for exactly that not to pump money into a manifactured Dj vending machine. I’ve done my time also playing weddings and “mobile Djing” It’s hell on earth, but that’s personal preference.

  • DJAR

    Great article. I’ve been DJing for 33 years and have always used this method for building my collection. It is impossible for any DJ to know all the songs and what new music or genre is out there. People are the best source for building a music library because each one listens to different genres of music. I actually carry a spear laptop for downloading songs on the fly and burning a cd copy of it. I’ll simply look for that song and if i find it i just throw it into my mix. The problem with alot of DJs is that they are too proud and have ego problems. Alot of new DJs just do not get that they are providing a service and that service is to entertain and please the crowd as best as possible. It’s about the Crowd and the Party, NOT the DJ.

  • Nephew

    I think this article is more geared towards your “working DJ”, the guy who plays Top40/Hip hop/mashups even though he doesn’t want to. It’s very soul destroying to say the least, but if he doesn’t do it then some one else will so he might as well get paid to do it.

    But I still believe in interacting with the crowd in your own way, and I’m a strong believer in building a fan base on a one on one basis for the reasons listed above. But they should be a fan because of the music first and foremost, and then you hook them in using the tactics listed above.

  • Chrisso

    Jeroen Bos – Agreed! Thank god someone spoke up! Honestly wtf!? the last thing I want is an annoying text message the night or week after a gig, If the Dj is worth seeing again then you will go back. I’m all for interaction, as am I for being polite, unless it’s Paris Hilton (how did steve angelo do it i would of fuc#@ing sprayed her!) but come on. Even to the un-trained Dj ear I honestly believe that a good clean set and solid mixing makes a difference, people and crowds subconsciously remember good track selections, vibes and set energy not eye contact (yes it does help, time and place though!). There are 10000’s of amazing Dj’s who don’t jump up and down behind the decks blowing kisses and the brutal truth some that are that wasted but still able to pull it off. Respect to the humble Dj, Let the music speak for itself, it’s not that bad.

  • andy

    that first pic is the Roseland theater! Portland, OR woot!

  • Ray Jarrell

    Thanks for the article. Great information to be reminded of or shown for the first time.

  • NIKK-C

    The photo speaks for itself. WU TANG brings everybody together.

  • P-Digs

    I liked the article but I also see where Jeroen Bos is coming from. I think it all depends on what sort of DJ you are, what you play, and where you play it. It also depends on the request.

    If you’re a drum’n’bass DJ and someone asks you for a Dolly Parton track, well – that’s obviously a polite “no”. However, if you play Top 40 and random shit, it may get a look in.

  • Jeroen Bos

    ps. to name a few that became famous in their scene because they actually have talent: Adam Beyer, Jeff Mills, Chris Liebing, Richie Hawtin etc. Maybe focus on your music instead of getting people to sign on your facebook fanpage.

  • Jeroen Bos

    damn some people really don’t understand real dj’ing, dj’s are people that express themselves in a musical manner. These real dj’s play and especially mix different tracks they appreciate, in a way like you never heard before and make you release that he/she is a good dj. you either like a dj or you don’t. Why the F*ck would you play a request when your building your set towards a climax. If people on the dance floor could choose the music, you might as well just install a jukebox, much cheaper !!!. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nice to people that appreciate your style of dj’ing !!

  • Chris

    What a concept, be nice!! Whoda thunk? Great article!

  • hardean

    i meant less informal:( doof head)

  • hardean

    if the idea of a fan list sounds pretentious then how about having a friends list? a little more informal sounding and more likely to get warmer response too. it will make people feel involved in your rise to dj stardom as opposed to following it as a fan? works for bands x
    greta article Matthew .T , i am inspired 🙂

  • Matthew T.

    [quote comment=”39868″]I actually have downloaded a request I didnt have straight from iTunes during the gig a couple times already.[/quote]

    Great Idea DJSive but I’d be careful when using wifi while djing. It eats up a lot of Cpu usage and you are more prone to program crashes, latency issues, and audio dropouts. I’ve done this before at gigs as well, but immediately abandoned the technique because i’d rather wait to get home and download a track, then to have something go wrong during my set.

    Thanks for your feedback and thank you for reading my article! I write what I write because of people like you.

    Best, Matthew T.
    Matthew on the Rocks

  • Dj PC3

    Great Column guys… I already do a lot of this but it never helps to reminded and have it reinforced

  • DJSDive

    I actually have downloaded a request I didnt have straight from iTunes during the gig a couple times already.

  • Daniel

    Brillaint article! Pure common sense and being a nice person, so simple!

  • celtic dj

    excellent article,,,i totally agree with all of this..
    was joy-able to read,,,thanks.

  • will

    Great Article, “I’ve seen DJs get offended and cuss out the person, simply because they’re making a request.”

    i went to the sullivan room in NYC recently. and was shocked when i heard someone telling the crown that the dj is not a jukebox. it was hilarious..

  • kAYF

    last photo is scary ))

  • dick walz.

    just hand them a note book that says “i’m a giant tool.” on the front. calling some one a fan that just came to dance and more than likely don’t give two shits about you is a bit pretentious.

    i would rather make friends than fans. i only need fans on hot days.

  • Jason Hazardous

    Great article. Really good insight into building a following and building it in a personable manner.

    I like the notebook idea. I would even take it a step further and have a comment card with contact info on it. They can leave it with you and you put it in a folder or something.

  • duerr

    one of the better articles i’ve seen on djtt in awhile. i was expecting a bunch of the super obvious tactics to be shared but was pleasantly surprized to see some really great ideas.

    what i like most about this article is the positive attitude and sociable approach you take. not only is this type of attitude helpful for DJs but i think it encourages upcoming DJs (and oldtimers alike) to be more positive in their interactions with their audience which can only make for a better experience for everyone who attends the events, this sets a good example for everybody there.

    well done!

  • Phil Morse

    Very worthwhile advice. Here’s Carl Cox on the eye contact thing: “I want to be looking at the crowd and them looking at me, interacting with one another. If we start getting dependent on screens it is going to ruin the art of performance.”

    I think one needs to be a little bit careful with requests, though, because sometimes the only person in the room who likes a record will be the one who asks for it! But it doesn’t stop you being polite when handling them. So many DJs are rude to people who ask the most reasonable things of them.

  • Samwise

    Very nice article, one of the most useful I’ve ran into here. Gotta try this out next time I play out live : )

  • Dutch

    Great article!!

  • malzfreund

    I was wondering where this article went. It popped up in DJTT’s RSS feed some time ago.

  • Hev

    [quote comment=”39797″]DJTechTools could charge a subscription fee, and the material in these posts would still be worth it! This is a fantastic idea for dealing with requests.[/quote]

    Tru true!
    Id rather subscribe here than at a record pool, cause this article is just worth gold!!!
    Thank you, djtechtools for beeing such amazing source of valuable informations!
    And greetings from Czech republic, Europe!

  • scenic

    DJTechTools could charge a subscription fee, and the material in these posts would still be worth it! This is a fantastic idea for dealing with requests.

  • Ando

    great article, I really like the way you write. And the tings you bring up are so simple and basic that most people won’t ever think of doing it that way on their own. 🙂

    looking forward to more articles from you mate 🙂

  • Doomsday Dan

    I love the part about the notebook. I meet people all the time and I try to shake as many hands as I can but the notebook idea is great. I’m going to add this to my gig bag. Thanks for being out there and helping us improve ourselves in our line of work/hobby. Doomz

  • Boi Jeaniu

    Great post! Im Gna Try to work that email list suggestion in to my every gig routine!

  • Adriatic Blue

    Great article with common sense tips.



    I play Latin, Electro and Hip-hop music and i gotta say that this site has been very helpful.THANK YOU. The universe has answered my thoughts by bringing me to this site! YESSS