Given the varied music tastes at a wedding, this is an extremely valid point to clarify. Especially given that everyone loves to hear their favorite song. So that begs the question, can a wedding DJ play any song? The short answer to this is, yes.
The main issue when it comes to DJs playing music is to do with licensing. Generally, the music licensing will be covered by the venue itself. This license covers all genres and artists i.e there is no type of music that is excluded from public performance.
A Professional DJ Will ALWAYS Purchase Full Quality Tracks
Usually, this is not a problem given the many online stores like Beatport, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc. However, some remixes or special versions of tracks may not actually be available to buy.
A good example of this would be, say, a live cover that an artist does as a one-off. Something like this may only available as a YouTube video so the chances are you are not going to be able to purchase that version of a track.
There are options to download music from YouTube, although this does come with its own problems. Namely, guaranteeing audio quality.
A good DJ will always want your wedding disco to sound as professional as possible. Which is why they will always purchase high resolution/quality audio wherever they can.
YouTube, however, can be unpredictable when it comes to quality. The person who uploaded the track may only have had a low-quality version to begin with, for example (you can read about this in detail here).
So in this case, although a DJ can technically play any song, it will be down to how professional they are as to whether they want to play a (potentially) lower quality track. This is because they risk it sounding bad over a professional sound system. Particularly when played side by side with proper, full resolution tracks.
What If the DJ Has to Purchase a Special Track?
Then you may wonder who will actually pay for it. 99% of the time it will be the DJ themselves. This is because they will add the track to their library for future use as well as your wedding.
Plus, the cost of buying music will already have been factored into the costs they charge for doing wedding gigs. This means you shouldn’t have to worry about extra costs when asking a DJ to play any song at your wedding.
What If You Want Your DJ to Play (Multiple) Rare Songs?
Given that rare songs are likely to be more obscure i.e less danceable then it is probable that these will be more suited to the cocktail, or dinner, section of the day.
In this case, a good compromise would be to ask the DJ to create a Spotify playlist. This saves them (and potentially you) you the cost of having to purchase 30 or 40 rare songs for use exclusively during your wedding.
Most songs can be found on Spotify, and they can be downloaded and played from the DJ’s device. As there less focus on the music, and there is no dancing during cocktails/dinner than it is acceptable for the tracks not to be mixed together as a ‘set’.
If you do have many rare songs that want playing during the actual disco section…
Then you perhaps should be prepared for a DJ to add a little bit of markup for purchasing tracks and also time spent finding them. That said, extra charges are very rare. I’ve actually only heard of one DJ doing so.
What If You Remember a Song You Want to Hear During the Actual Event?
This is fine, as long as your venue has cell service or Wi-Fi. Due to the risk of the connection dropping out most Professional DJs will not stream music as a general rule. However, they will be comfortable purchasing/downloading the odd track on the fly.
So if you think of any song you want your DJ to play then simply put that request in as early as possible. This gives the DJ the time to search it out, download it and then slot it into the set at an appropriate time.
Being able to use Spotify or iTunes in this manner has been a game-changer. Particularly when it comes to finding obscure requests in the middle of a wedding. Previously, you would have had to rely on only what the DJ had in their library, meaning many requests went unplayed.
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What About Backing Tracks?
A common scenario where tracks from YouTube are often requested is when there is a singer performing at the wedding. For example, someone’s friend might be performing a song. And the backing track, they have been practicing with is someone playing piano on YouTube.
In this case, the DJ can download or rip the track off from YouTube. But the audio quality is still an issue. So you are having someone perform and if you have the time, it is a good idea to ask them to find a professional quality, high-resolution audio backing track.
This will just ensure that, on the day, the music sounds crisp and professional. It will then also fully do justice to the person that you have singing at your wedding.
Notes on Streaming & Youtube
It can be common for guests to ask a DJ to stream straight from YouTube. However, this is generally not advised. While it is easy to download tracks via Spotify and iTunes, it is a bit more cumbersome to download from YouTube.
Aside from the risk of a connection dropping out (and the song stopping), there are adverts playing in the middle of tracks to consider. And, while that might be funny to the audience, it would sound hugely unprofessional for the DJ.
Therefore, if you do really have to play a song from YouTube. It is best to tell your DJ ahead of time so they can rip the track properly.
Can I Give a Wedding DJ a Playlist of Songs to Play?
Yes, absolutely. Some DJs limit the number of tracks you can give them, but most won’t. Weddings are such highly personalized experiences. And the disco section should be no different.
All professional wedding DJs should be confident that they can play any song and still managed to keep the vibe alive and the crowd happy, and dancing.
That said, it’s best to give your DJ any requests and music, well in advance of your wedding. This is so they can download and prepare as much as possible. This will make the performance as slick as possible can be on the actual day.
Can a Wedding DJ Play Any Song… a Note on Obscurity
When it comes to non-traditional weddings, you may have non-traditional music tastes. And to play the music you love is absolutely fine. However, do bear in mind that not everyone, you have invited to the wedding will necessarily share your music taste.
Of course, you want to ensure that everyone has the best evening possible. This is where sections of the day can be used to great effect. For example, if you like do really obscure music, you could play that during cocktails, especially if they are not danceable numbers.
Again, be sure to check with your DJ and how flexible they are on playing tracks. Sadly some DJs can be a bit pretentious and refuse to play any song if they don’t particularly like it.
I have heard some stories where a DJ has outright refused to play a bride’s favorite track. In this case, the DJ seems to have forgotten that the day is not about them at all. So be sure to check with your DJ beforehand to avoid any situation like that.
Non-traditional music tastes = Non-traditional DJ
The other thing you can do if you do have non-traditional music taste is take the time to search out a DJ that is more in keeping with your music tastes.
For example, if you like rock, then you might be better phoning your local rock nightclub and asking for contact details for their DJs. You could then look at hiring them instead of a traditional wedding DJ.
Generally, any genre of music can be played at a wedding, even the most obscure (I have heard of Original Nuttah, a filthy d&b track, being dropped at a wedding before). Particularly as your guests already know you and what you are into.
However, just be aware that it’s a good idea to play some cheese in as well. Just to keep the crowd happy.
After all, you want people to speak kindly of your wedding. Not about how awkward and strange it was.
Just a quick note on your “what not to play” list
Just as much as you are going to request tracks, it can be an idea to tell your DJ what not to play. Especially if you have certain tracks or artists that you absolutely despise. So make sure your DJ knows this.
In fact, your ‘not to play’ list is almost as important as your ‘must play’ list.
Should a wedding DJ take requests?
This is entirely up to you. Most wedding DJs will play any song that is requested. Unless you have specifically added it to the do not playlist.
Again, this is a conversation to have with your wedding DJ ahead of the actual event.
If you do not want your DJ to take requests or stray from a setlist then it is perfectly reasonable to ask your DJ not to honor requests. Again, just make sure they know this ahead of time.
Finally, can a wedding DJ play any song? Yes… as long as you trust them…
If you have done a good job in selecting your DJ then you should be able to trust their judgment, skills and their ability to keep the event flowing, and the crowd happy.
After all, this is why you hire a professional in the first place. This is their job so trust them to do it to the best of their ability.