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How to Choose Your Music Playlist

Dance at wedding

Its your day and a special occasion. You have taken the time to hire a professional DJ to help you coordinate your event and you will want to highlight the special moments with music that speaks to the emotions of the day. You may have a few songs in mind that you will want to play at your event or you may have a special theme in mind if your event is for a holiday party or summer picnic. Weddings tend to have more specific songs to highlight moments during the reception such as first dance, cake cutting and other special moments.

Many people planning a large event start out with specific songs or genres in mind but as they start to really plan their playlist, they end up lost and confused. This is where hiring a professional will start to give you peace of mind. Your professional DJ will have ideas and suggestions for you when you get "stuck". Your DJ will also know the typical flow of an event and is very observant of how a crowd reacts to the music that is being played.

So how do you navigate that large list to include the music that fits your style and taste that will also reflect the theme and mood of the event? Here are a few tips that can make your playlist selections work for every event.

Elaine dancing on Seinfeld

Choose dance-able music. What does that mean? Well, many people looking to dance at their event will mistakenly choose music that is great to sing along with but difficult for many people to dance to; think "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey or "Hotel California" by the Eagles. These are great songs to listen to or sing along with but I tend to envision Elaine from "Seinfeld" dancing to them. Your guests will run to sit when these songs are played at events. If you are planning a picnic with no dancing these songs would be great options but if you are planning a dance, stick to dance-able songs.

Choose Music for everyone. You may be planning an event with many different ages and preferences in styles of music. Don't alienate your guests by playing all one type or genre of music. This doesn't mean you have to play music you don't like or cater to a specific demographic but you may want to choose a few selections that most people can relate to or will enjoy. Sprinkle in a few selections that are crowd pleasers that will give the largest amount of guests a chance to participate. Many times these songs are line dances, traditional/ethnic dances and slow romantic songs.

Choose Different styles and artists. You like Bruno Mars. So do I! I would probably have a difficult time narrowing down which songs I would like at my event but the fact of the matter is, you only have so much time. Most dance floors cover about two to three hours of an event and sometimes less. When selecting songs on a playlist I am inclined to start highlighting every song I like from a particular artist. Unfortunately when you do that, your DJ will only select one or two from each artist to play. If there are specific songs by an artist you really love, just select those two or three (at the most) so that you are sure to have them played.

Choose almost enough. With two to three hours of dance floor time, you don't need as many songs as you think! Most three hour dance floor events can accommodate approximately 50-60 songs. If you plan on having your DJ accept requests or if you want your DJ to have some wiggle room to do what he does best, you will want to choose only 30-40 songs. This will ensure your style is heard, your guests will have some freedom to select a few songs and your DJ will be able to engage all of your guests to ensure everyone can participate and have fun.

Choose styles during formalities. We have covered the dance floor portion of song selection but what about dinner music or cocktail music? These areas are best to be left to styles or genres choosing individual songs for these events can be difficult and unnecessary. The arrival time for your guests along with cocktail and dinner music should be lively to encourage conversation and interaction of your guests but don't overthink this portion. Your DJ will have some great suggestions for this music if you are unsure but choosing individual songs can be not only time consuming but the chances that you or your guests will mentally tune into these songs is very unlikely. Talk with your DJ about the theme and feel of the event and he can suggest some genres that can meet the criteria for the event. Holiday music, classical, soft piano or guitar, Sinatra and Rat Pack, jazz or even Disney love songs have all been great choices to allow guests to enjoy a lively conversation or elegant meal. There is sure to be a genre that will convey the mood of your event without the hassle of picking individual songs.

Planning the music portion of an event should be fun and give you the opportunity to bring your personal style to your event. With these guidelines, you can choose a playlist that will not only be fun but memorable for both you and your guests!

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