Category Archives: Shadow Report

When To Turn Down A Client (And How)

You’ve been talking with a client, they want to move forward with the booking and give you their deposit. Great! But, something just doesn’t feel right. Deep down something feels off.

Here are a few reasons you should follow your gut and turn down the gig, and how to do it with tact.

Why Turn Down A Client:

1) Tastes & Specialty

You simply don’t have the music or acumen for what the client wants. Most times I’d advocate taking the gig and figuring it out, but you need to tread lightly. NEVER commit to something you can’t follow through on. There’s a difference between pushing your comfort zone and being stupid. I’ve done a number of gigs where the client wanted international music for a portion of the event. I’d be honest and tell them I didn’t have experience working with Bollywood for example, but if they were willing to work with me and provide some examples I’d be more than happy to help. If however a client wanted 100% alternative indie for their wedding I’d have to decline (and have). I had no basis of confidence for how I’d pull that off and make everyone happy.

2) Style (on the mic)

They want someone on the mic… All, night, long. But that’s not you. Maybe you’re not even comfortable on the mic. Hard pass here, unless you outsource that job and bring someone else in while you DJ. Over the years I’ve become more comfortable on the mic and can belt out energetic, cheese-free introductions no problem. But aside from coordination and standard wedding engagement, I’m no hype man. I make this very clear to my clients. I go one step further and provide a live recording of a wedding introduction so they know exactly who they’re getting. If you’ve been hiding behind your MC abilities or style and sense they want something else, pass.

3) Client connection

Perhaps you just don’t click with the client. Do they want to control every aspect of the playlist, providing a minute by minute screen-play of what songs to play when? I don’t work so well under micro-management. If that gels with your personality and how you operate, great! Or maybe you’re having an extremely difficult time getting a sense of the type of music they want. They change their mind every other email. Your communication styles might be getting in the way, aside from the simple fact they could be indecisive.

If a flag like these come up, act on them. Otherwise everyone will be miserable.

Ultimately it boils down to:

  • Can you deliver the expected product?
  • Can you collaborate effectively to prepare?


Ok you’ve decided you don’t want to work with a client. How do I turn them down!?

Be honest (as much as possible)

  1. If it’s as simple as musical misalignment, this is easy:
    • “I don’t think I’m the best fit for the music you’re looking for”

  2. Same for your MC offerings
    • “I don’t think I’m the best fit for the atmosphere you’d like to set”

  3. But if it’s them, being 100% transparent may not work out so well (but still be honest)
    • “I don’t think we really click on how we operate”

If they don’t sound crazy, you can try and forward the hot lead to someone in your network that would be a better fit. You win in both eyes because you were helpful to the client and the other DJ appreciated the passed business and will want to reciprocate in the future.


Wedding Trends for 2018

2018 Wedding Trends by Wedding Wire

The following are my notes from Wedding Wire’s most recent webinar focusing on wedding trends of note for DJs & Bands as useful tidbits to pass along to prospective clients. By staying on top of the industry and conveying to your clients where weddings are headed, they’re more likely to view you as an expert in the field and thus more likely to entrust you with their big day. Enjoy!


  • 1/3 weddings taking place Sept thru Nov
  • 15% weddings in October


  • 22% guests ask guests for an unplugged ceremony
  • Assigned tables, free choice seating


  • 50% couples writing their own vows
  • Less aisle markers, more focus on backdrop

Rising trends:

  • More personalized experiences/elements
  • More unique food to the wedding location
  • More themed wedding décor – Ex. Wood theme, less décor by color palette
  • More low-flower centerpieces so table can see each other and talk
  • Food trucks are in after the reception
  • Top-tier cake, then small desserts for later
  • 50% serve a buffet style dinner
  • Photo Booths still in however with different props: less boas, more signage

 Declining trends:

  • Less Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances
  • Less couples changing last names
  • Less Honeymoons right after wedding; more mini-moons
  • Less wedding party members divided by gender
  • Less sparkler exits
  • Less traditional Save-The-Date invites in the mail
  • Less menu cards sent in the mail

First dances

  • God only knows – John Legend
  • Perfect – Ed Sheeran
  • How Would You Feel – Ed Sheeran
  • Helium – Sia
  • I’ll name the dogs – Blake Shelton
  • Greatest love story – lanco
  • Love – Lana del rey
  • Best party – Daniel Chester
  • My forever – Tamar Braxton

Narrowing down everything into your budget:

  • Pick your top 3 or 5
  • Focus on things guests will notice & remember
  • Guests most comment on Food & Experiences (Band, DJ, juggler, etc)

For an in-depth view on the most recent wedding I did including each and every song I played, check out my article here: My New Year’s Eve Wedding Playlist

Shadow Report: 5 Wedding Gems From A 30-Year Pro

More Wedding Gems!

Shadowed another wedding this past weekend. This DJ has 30 years of experience and has grown his multi-op to half a dozen DJs averaging 300 events a year between mitzvahs & weddings alone. His mixing skills were even more questionable than the DJ I shadowed in DC, but he was a solid programmer and his MCing was 99/100 (he could have spoken a little slower). With so much experience, I took away five more wedding gems to immediately employ in my business.

1) Musical Glow-sticks

Give each table a glow-stick. Tell them to start passing it around as music is playing. Keep passing it until the music stops. Kill the music.

“Ok stop! Who’s holding your glow-stick? You’re now the table captain. And as captain the table has to do what you say. Now the first captain to get their entire table to the dance-floor wins! Ready? Go!”

*Drop upbeat dance music*

He says it works 99% of the time. It was so ninja, dance-floor immediately full.

2) Slow-Dances

I realized that I really under-utilize slow-dances.

After everyone was seated for the wedding party introduction & dinner orders, he gets on the mic and announces:

“Alright we’re going to get some dancing going, this one’s for all the wonderful couples out there.”

Unchained Melody beigns playing and like clockwork the dancefloor packs up. After one or two slow-dances he drops into Runaround Sue and bam. Rocking dancefloor.

Perfect Bait & Switch.

3) Freedom Sticks.

A super easy way to really kick up the atmosphere.

They’re wirelessly controlled and battery powered, so setup is crazy easy. You can get a pack of four for $500; not cheap but not ridiculous.

These you can supplement with up-lights or replace them altogether. Many couples don’t want over the top lighting anyway for their wedding, these are a nice classy upsell.

4) Setup Time

Regardless of the rig he needs to setup he gets there at least two hours before the event is scheduled. Not when he is required to begin playing, but when the event starts.

We had a one-room setup with super-easy lighting. With three guys we were done in about an hour.

A guitarist was providing music for the cocktail hour so we could have used that time to tie off odds & ends. No one would have seen us as our section was walled off.

Still, this is a bad look to the venue staff and fellow vendors when you don’t have your shit together once the event has begun. Not to mention anxiety inducing.

Don’t stress, get there early and relax.

5) Backup Laptop For Critical Music

His setup included a backup laptop with a playlist of critical songs (1st dances, introductions, etc) wired into a channel on his mixer.

In the event something happened in those moments, he’d be able to recover in seconds.

Backup Laptop

I bring a second laptop myself to all gigs, but it’s usually packed away. In the event something happens I always have my phone hooked into my mixer, but not usually with critical songs ready at a moments notice. As I don’t bring a facade with me, I might start setting up my laptop underneath my table for instant access.

And all those backpacks on the floor? Photographer crap. Seemingly the ones capturing the event visually care least about how things look *eye-roll*