Matthew Campbell of My Wedding Songs and Staci Nichols of DJ Track Star Staci chat about music inclusivity in a DJ’s playlist.
Staci Nichols gave a presentation on the topic at the Mobile Entertainment Expo (MEX) in Las Vegas. You can watch her music inclusivity presentation at MEX here. You can also listen to her Nordstrom playlist here.
- Most Memorable DJ Performance
- About DJ Track Star Staci
- Meaning of Music Inclusivity
- Gender Exclusivity
- Inclusivity in Song Lyrics
- Cultural Dominance In Music
- Music Preference by Geo Location
- Social Responsibility
- Female Artists on Playlists
- Mixing Different Cultures
- Retail DJs
- Diverse Playlist
- Reading the Crowd for Inclusivity
- Requests For Offensive Music
- Female Raunchy Music
- Advice to Event Planners
- Robbed of Generational Wealth
- The Power of DJs
- Follow DJ Track Star Staci
Welcome everybody to the Wedding Songs Podcast. I’m Matt Campbell. Today we’re going to be talking about music inclusivity. Today’s guest to help me along with this is Staci Nichols, also known as DJ Track Star Staci.
She’s coming to you from Southern California but travels the world djing. Welcome to the show Staci. Thank you, Matt. Thanks for having me. Yeah, it’s awesome and I’m very excited about this topic thank you for being on the show today to bring some light to something that I think a lot of wedding pros don’t think about. But not only wedding pros, corporations, and anybody that’s planning an event.
Most Memorable DJ Performance
Just to get started a little bit, can you talk about your most memorable performance as a DJ? Wow, there have been so many. I think probably my favorite ever was when I got a gig to perform at a resort in Cabo San Lucas on New Year’s Eve on the beach.
They rolled out the red carpet for me. I was there for a couple of days on this free vacation. I stayed in a nice suite. Everything was free. They’re driving me around to look at their different properties. you’re going to do a teaser set at the pool here at this resort.
And then another teaser set at the pool at this resort, leading up to the main event on New Year’s. And then during the actual event on New Year’s, they had girls dancing on the stage I had a hype guy. There were fireworks. I mean, I felt like Diplo. It was crazy. That’s awesome.
Yeah. You think of New Year’s Eve, you have the fireworks, and wow, what a show for sure. It was crazy. And I knew immediately Oh, I should hire a photographer. I’m probably going to want to use these for brand photos later. And we got some great shots with the fireworks behind me and all that.
So yeah. And those some would turn out to be some of my favorite pictures too. Oh, that’s awesome. Those are the times that, Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this. Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have that thought just when I’m in a ballroom somewhere, but that was my favorite for sure.
About DJ Track Star Staci
So can you tell everybody a little bit about yourself for those who don’t know you? Sure, I’ve been a professional DJ for 16 years. I have been full-time for, probably the last 10 of that. I’ve done a lot of speaking. I’ve spoken at DJ Expo, Mobile Beat, MEX, Wedding MBA, Midwest DJs Live, and Canadian Pro DJs.
I have written for DJ Times, Digital DJ Tips, Book More Brides, and BPM Supreme. so, tried to, get out there and, share the wealth and, spread some marketing tips and, topics like what we’re going to talk about today.
You’re well-known in the DJ industry. And, and I’m very thankful that you’re on the show today. Well, thank you. I just wanted to get started on our main topic today.
Meaning of Music Inclusivity
Can you describe what inclusivity and music means to you? Yeah. So, just a little background. I studied sociology in college and this is a lot of what. I’ve been sitting in class learning day in and day out for years. So it’s something that I pay attention to. It’s important to me. and then of course, being a woman, being a female DJ, you’re looking through a different lens than what most other DJs are.
So inclusivity, just in general. means, making sure that people who are typically excluded, like marginalized groups, are the people kind of standing on the outside, that those people are being seen, acknowledged, represented, heard, and just, bringing the margins into the center or widening the circle. So everyone’s included. I think that that’s such an important topic and, like you said, bringing everybody into the music that’s played.
Today’s radio stations are gender skewed. Can you share more about your findings in the music exclusivity? you know, it’s not just Radio, it is permeated throughout the entire music industry and the world, sexism is happening in all kinds of different places everywhere.
but yeah, this is where I, printed out my notes because I did have a lot of statistics, on this topic, and some of these are just ridiculously mind-blowing. I’m going to read these statistics, but before I get into it. just to remember that women make up 51 percent of the population.
our suicide rates are lower. We have a longer life expectancy, blah, blah, blah. So we’re the only marginalized majority group. So when you consider these numbers, thinking about, wow, this is a majority group and, it’s ridiculous. So. 14 percent of the songs on U. S. radio are by women, 1 percent of dance music on British radio is by women, 9 percent of country radio is songs by women, and 22 percent in general of recording artists are women.
14 percent of radio shows feature a female lead, or like, the morning show host be a woman, only 14%. 13 percent of professional songwriters are women. 3 percent of music producers are women, and 14 percent of record executives are women. And this one gets me because I feel like country music has a pretty conservative reputation.
83 percent of country music listeners wish that more Women were played on country radio. Yeah, that’s staggering. Just as a side note, one of my favorite recent books, is called Her Country, and it talks about how women are excluded on the radio. And she did a study where the radio stations were never playing two female country artists in a row.
I mean, the stats are unbelievable and she says in the book, it’s changing a little bit with the newer stars, like Kelsey Ballerini, and Maren Morris, and things are changing now. So we’re all hoping and the downturn happened with. The Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, then came out with the political and so that’s when radio stations started to pull back.
Hopefully, it’s changing now. I distinctly remember when that happened and I’m still a huge Dixie Chicks fan. I had gone to their concert and. I remember where I was sitting at my desk at work, listening to my radio in my cubicle when the country station announced, we were not playing the Dixie Chicks anymore. It was a pivotal moment.
Inclusivity in Song Lyrics
Speaking more about the music, what are your thoughts on inclusivity in the song lyrics? I think that’s a huge part of it, because when you look at the numbers that we were just talking about, it’s not just, music’s not being played.
But the music that’s being created is very male-centric and that, you know, it’s not just in the types of genres that men prefer and everything, but it’s seeping through in the lyrics and the actual content of the music, and if you’ve ever seen a music video, women are for decoration.
They are, objects that just dance on the side, that’s the main purpose of a woman in a music video. So, yeah, as far as lyrics go, when I spoke about this topic at MEX, I put up a couple of really misogynistic rap lyrics on the screen. I just. Presented it to people by saying okay, who would feel comfortable playing a song where a white person called a brown person a beaner?
And everyone’s like, she said beaner, you know? And I’m like, yeah, I can’t believe I said, but you know what I mean? I’m trying to make a point. And then I’m like, okay, well, who would feel comfortable playing a song where a white person called a black person, the N-word? Right? And then I was like, okay, who feels comfortable playing a song where men call women bitches?
And then everyone was like, oh, oh yeah, I do that all the time. We all do that. Women do that. We all do that. It’s just so acceptable for women to be devalued and this misogynistic rape culture that’s just so prevalent in our music. It’s just so prevalent. We don’t even see it. See it. It’s like air. It’s a problem.
Well, I think what you’re saying, is that we’re getting so used to it, that we’re accepting it. And that’s what the challenge is. I think that I’m trying to portray in this podcast episode that you should be thinking about that. We always think of wedding songs like, Oh, it can’t be a breakup song.
Well, that’s why we’re bringing up that. Let’s take it one step further and listen to the lyrics that are played. Yes. I was, at a wedding once playing Runaround Sue, which is so upbeat. And someone came over and like, you can’t play this. It’s about cheating. And I’m like, but it’s so upbeat, you know?
And then I’m like, gosh, I have to think even deeper about what I’m saying because people are listening to the lyrics. They are hearing the lyrics. Yep, exactly.
Cultural Dominance In Music
Getting a little bit away from the lyrics. Not only are many DJs set on gender dominance, but they are also commonly culturally dominant.
Why and how can you represent your audience in the music that’s played? Again, this is coming from a perspective of living and DJing in Southern California. My entire DJ career has either been living here in Southern California or living in Mexico doing predominantly destination weddings.
When I was out there. So, for me, when my main concern with this is that Mexican people and Mexican culture are just completely non-existent in any sort of public setting whatsoever. If I go to the grocery store and I’m, listening to music or any kind of retail store in Southern California where half.
Half, half of the people here are Mexican. They do not exist musically. They are not being represented at all. And I feel like, there are some misunderstandings, and misconceptions, Oh, I play reggaeton all the time. I always play Bad Bunny. I put on Danza Kuduro. I play Suavemente. None of that music is Mexican.
None of that is from Mexico. And I remember when I was presenting this at MEX, I kind of jokingly said to people is anyone realizes they’ve been serving Taco Bell musically at Cinco de Mayo gigs, right? Mexican music is cumbias and banda. And that music is just not being played anywhere in a retail setting.
Private events are a different thing. so I’m mostly just referring to retail stuff. But, you know, just a quick takeaway for people, Mexicans are the biggest group of minorities in the country. So even if you don’t live in Southern California or Texas or wherever, it’s probably still a good idea to familiarize yourself a little bit with some Mexican music. That’s never a bad idea. I agree.
Music Preference by Geo Location
We talked about this on a Latin episode and it’s the same thing as playing Latin music. Well, that’s so broad. You have to know what your audience is and where they’re from. I would say even in Mexico, what part of Mexico because it could be different styles of Mexican music.
Yes, so once, and this must have been gosh, 5 years ago or more, it was my 1st year going to the DJ Expo and I went to a seminar that was about Latin music and I was super excited because, again, having lived in Mexico and I’m like, oh, my gosh, I’m going to learn some great new songs. I love throwing in, Latin music in the set wherever I am.
And, when I got there, I quickly realized the presenters were from New York. Which is a predominantly Puerto Rican area. So, in this entire one-hour seminar, the word Cumbia or Banda was never mentioned. Because Mexican people are just not represented well in their geographic area. I completely understand it was an insightful lesson for me on like, Oh, I should learn more about Cuban and Puerto Rican music, and which genre is from where, so I can be a better DJ, but it was eye-opening.
And again. Yes, not only is there diversity in different countries, but in regions of the country. Like for example, one of the most popular kinds of music in Mexico is called Norteños, which just means Northern. It’s just music from the North. That’s all. So, it is important for sure.
And knowing your music, so most people, when they think of Latin music, they always think of Bad Bunny and you have to realize when you are playing Mexican music in Mexico, Bad Bunny is number two.
Peso Pluma is number one. So if you don’t know that music, you have to be more inclusive and make everybody feel comfortable for takeaway. Yeah, absolutely. I lived on the west coast of Mexico, in Puerto Vallarta, and then I lived on the east coast of Mexico in Cancun. And when I got to Cancun, I was like, oh, it’s house music here.
It’s reggaeton here. And, it was very, very different playing music for local people than it was on the other side of the country where, over there, if you put on a reggaeton song, you clear the dance floor and people will give you snide looks you’re making some side eyes, in Cancun. If you put on Banda, people are going to be like, is my grandma here?
What? Why are you playing this? So, yeah, just like anywhere else, there are regional differences. Absolutely. I talk about this all the time, even in country music, there are different types of country music. You have to know your audience for sure. It’s a process.
Going along with that, do you think that DJs have a social responsibility to play more inclusive music? I feel like, yes, of course, absolutely we do, but I think if you take a step back and think about how powerful what we do is, I can put on a song right now, Matt, and I can change your mood.
I could make you cry. I could make your heart sing and feel love, just like that, just with a touch of a button. And there’s all kinds of statistics and, research backing up like, oh, music helps your health and it can lower your heart, all this kind of stuff.
And I think we’re all aware of that, but we need to remember just how important it is. When we’re at an event, and again, particularly events in public, if you’re at a corporate event, especially retail events, but 1 thing I hear, obviously, as a woman, I follow a lot of other female DJs.
And 1 thing that never. Never loses its grip on me is when I hear other female DJs talk about the little girl who walks up to her during the set and it’s like, you’re a girl, I could do this. Like, I could be the DJ that’s at the store or at, universal city walk or whatever. And it’s such a powerful feeling and when you’ve been in that position where you’ve seen that young mind, connect with, Oh, Oh, I could, I could do that.
She’s up there. I could be up there. And of course, again, there’s all this research backing up, if you’ve never seen somebody else do it, then you just can’t imagine yourself there and how important that is. But there is just something inside you when these little girls recognize that and, for me as well, I do a lot of Nordstrom gigs and of course, it’s this very upscale establishment and they have, a well-known brand that’s, fairly conservative and a niche market.
And, one of the things that’s important to me, regardless of where I am, is playing Spanish music. And a lot, a lot of Hispanic, Spanish-speaking people have never heard, ever in their whole lives, a cumbia or a banda song, a song that would be played at their backyard family event. They’ve never heard that song exist anywhere outside their backyard.
And there’ve been so many times where I’m at the bottom of the escalators there at Nordstrom and I am playing, a cumbia from Mexico. And I will see a kid. Walk around the corner and see me and just be like, not only am I here, like, someone is playing it on purpose. It’s not just some accident on the shuffle on the playlist of the store.
Like this music is in and the person playing it isn’t brown. You know, and to me, I just feel like that never gets old. So as a DJ, once you’ve experienced that, you will understand why this is so important. Thanks. I love that.
Female Artists on Playlists
And not only for culturally, I think even for female artists to where you’re thinking you’re planning out your playlist. You know, the 2 biggest concerts are Beyonce and Taylor Swift. But not only that, you have Katy Perry, you have Britney Spears, all of these people, molded girls as they were growing up and that’s the music that they love. I don’t want to stereotype, but why not include the influential female artists in your sets instead of always playing the popular male artists?
Yeah, I think, too, a lot of DJs are well aware of the fact that 99 percent of the time, if you’ve got a dance floor in front of you, the people opening up your dance floor and saving your behind because they’re getting the dancing going for you, those are always women. So why aren’t we playing music that caters to these people who are doing us such a huge favor by getting our dance floor going?
And one of the things that I said at MEX, too, was like, hey, what if, I’m throwing this out as a challenge to everyone in the audience, what if you took the songs That were in your girl’s night, or your diva jams, or your femme jams, crate. What if you took those songs copied them and put them in your dance floor bangers crate?
Yes, you can still have them separate for when you’re at that all-female entrepreneur conference. Sure, of course, have them over there. But what if they also existed in your mainstream crate? And they were just part of that, just a challenge to throw out there. There are more artists than just Shania Twain. Yes.
Mixing Different Cultures
So do you have a strategy then for seamlessly mixing the music from the different genres and cultures? Yeah. So, when I was thinking about this before the interview. I feel like, let’s dismantle this. As DJs, I think we’re all well aware of the fact that 80 to 90 percent of our success is song selection.
It doesn’t matter how great the transition was. If everybody hates the song. Okay. So the vast majority of people having a good time from what we’re doing is playing the right songs. So I think it’s important to just have that perspective. If you’re worried, how the heck am I going to play a banda song at Nordstrom?
How am I, just please keep in mind that what we do is we play songs that resonate with people, that people like, that are favorites, and the transitions, and the word plays, and the loops, and all that seamless stuff, that’s something that we do you could mess the transition up it could be a train wreck, but if it’s a song they like, they’re not gonna go sit down, I feel like I’m sure there are plenty of DJs who feel like when I played a certain song, it wasn’t seamless. However, I feel like the people on the dance floor didn’t give a rats. Do you know what I mean? So I think just that’s something to consider, but having said that, when I’m playing a corporate dance event, a military event, a conference event, where largely it’s public, I’m dealing with just a vast demographic of people, right?
In those kinds of circumstances, I will try to play music in blocks. So I’m not just going to play one Banda song and then go back to oldies or, you know, whatever I was doing. I would try to play three songs in Spanish then three oldies and then three, country or whatever it is. I try to do that and then also just so that the people kind of trust, well, if I get up for my Spanish music.
I better not be getting up for just one song. So I want to respect their investment in getting out of their chairs. if it’s a retail event, I just keep it on shuffle. I’m not looking at a dance floor, so I want people to stay in the store longer.
That’s my whole goal. That’s what I’m trying to do, right? So, if every song that’s coming up next, you’re like, Oh my gosh, what is she going to play next? Because she just went from funk to salsa too, if you keep them, entertained like that, it’s the world’s best, shuffle player. I think that we have accomplished.
Keeping people interested was Oh, who knows what could be next? She’s just doing everything here. Even in a shopping scenario and your music’s never played, I think that that would keep me there shopping longer. Let’s say you’re from India and you play a Bollywood song, that might keep me there longer to say, Oh yeah, this DJ gets me.
And I think that that’s what we’re trying to say here is that, people that are relating are just. I’m going to be more invested in the music. Absolutely. And there have been, multiple times when I’ve been at retail gigs. In my career right now, I’m only DJing corporate events.
So when I say, retail gig, I mean, that’s just all I’m doing. Almost every weekend I’m at a retail gig. I do plenty of conferences and stuff like that too, but, I have had numerous people come up and tell me. They stayed in the store longer because they enjoyed the music or they left Nordstrom.
They went and got something to drink and then they came back to Nordstrom because they were enjoying the music and I just feel like, what that works, but it does, it does, and, that’s powerful. That’s very, very powerful. I love it. Just as a side note, did you ever think 10 years ago that you would be?
Paid to play in a retail setting. I love that. Yeah, no, I, I feel like in a few years, it’s going to be a normal thing to be like, well, I got to go to my residency at Nordstrom. I got to go to my residency at Sephora. That’s going to be a thing because we’re doing it. We’re getting it done for them.
We are making sure that people stay in the store longer, engage with their products, and line up outside, waiting to get into a VIP sale. And all of that is on our shoulders. And that’s fantastic. So something that I would have never thought of, but I can see it working just to keep people interested and, it’s kind of the alcohol of the retail store.
Yeah, no, I think that’s a really, really good comparison. When I do the VIP events, for Nordstrom, or I’ve done a lot of grand openings for Nike, they bring in food, they have promotional models. So just pretty people to greet you. And you know what I mean? It is a complete red-carpet experience.
And that also wasn’t happening 10 years ago. 10 years ago, you were out in the parking lot under an easy up on a folding table, but now, you are this integrated fixture in the store and they wouldn’t dream of having a sale without you there.
I want to mention too, that there’s a really, really amazing article from Forbes, it’s called The New Consumer Gatekeepers.
This article is, it quotes the president of BPM Supreme, guys from Scratch Music Group – Scratch provides retail DJs throughout the country they just talk about how extremely powerful and impactful DJs are in the retail atmosphere. Anyway, this article just blew my mind, but it hones in on the power that DJs have, not just to elevate people’s mood and make them feel included, but to make people buy more stuff.
I like a brand more and become like super fan of a certain store versus just being someone that walks through on the way to the parking lot. If you’re an event planner or a DJ, this is a huge opportunity for you. Yeah. Every time I’m at Nordstrom, you can always see a cash register from wherever you are, or when I’m at Tommy Hilfiger too, cause I play there a lot.
I look at the people buying and I’m like, I’ve only been here a half an hour and I’ve already paid for myself. I know I’ve already paid for myself, you know what I mean? It’s all emotional, buying, and they get that little influx of hormones, of, oxytocin after a purchase, and it all plays into that. That’s fantastic. That’s a great story.
Can you share an example of a playlist that you built that was particularly diverse and well-received? Sure. I have a ton of playlists everywhere, to be honest with you. I have multiple different websites and I got YouTube and, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
But I looked through all of my playlists because I wanted to give you a good answer. On my website, thecorporateeventdj.com, and my blog, there’s a playlist called the Nordstrom VIP Sale playlist. So I’ve mentioned Nordstrom several times during this interview, so you can see the exact music that I’m talking about and really this same playlist gets used.
Of course, it gets updated and everything, but it gets used over and over again at almost every retail gig I do. It’s gonna be very, very similar to what’s on that playlist. So it’s the Nordstrom VIP Sale playlist on The corporate event, dj. com. Thank you very much for sharing that. And I’ll add a link in the comments of the show notes. So that way people can directly link to that as well.
Reading the Crowd for Inclusivity
How do you read the energy and preferences of the crowd on the dance floor or just around you just to ensure inclusivity? Again, as a sociologist, I’m always, reading the crowd, reading people, and obviously, other DJs are the same.
During the walk-in music or during the dinner music. When am I seeing toes tap? When am I seeing people singing along? We’re constantly observing. Right? So. I don’t think it’s any different. You want to just continue looking at the crowd. I’ll give you one example.
A couple of years ago, I had a corporate holiday party where everybody who worked in the office was white. , it was like a dump truck or trucking company, something like that. But all of the drivers and there were more drivers than office staff, right? That would make sense. So when I did the planning call with the white person from the office, she was just like, oh, yeah, you know, we, we want to hear this and that some country.
It’s going to be at a ranch and it’s country-themed. So, you know, definitely a lot of country music. Well, and then I get to the event and I’m like, oh, Country music? No, no, no, no. Yeah, of course, we can do some of that, but I’m gonna need to play some bandas and cumbias here because I’m just simply looking at what’s in front of me and, I’m sure her intentions were good she had largely, overlooked a huge portion of the company and the music that they were hoping to dance for.
So I just have to switch gears. That’s fine. Just, be prepared for that. One other thing that’s also helped me a lot. Initially, when I would do planning phone calls with clients, I would ask, what kind of music do you want? Okay, you want hip hop, you don’t like disco, whatever.
I’m writing all that down. Now. I, for any kind of corporate or retail or, any kind of businessy type of event, my question instead is what’s the demographic of your crowd? And I don’t ask any more about what genres you want, because it’s just not the same. And one of the examples was when I talked about this at MEX.
One of the examples I gave, and again, I’ve got an audience of 90 percent men in front of me, is I was like, all right, who knows what NBA Team Pass is? And of course, ooh, that’s, that’s up my alley, right? So NBA Team Pass is this thing that you can buy from your cable company where if I’m a Sonics fan, Cause I’m from Seattle when we used to have the Sonics in Seattle.
If you’re a Sonics fan, you could buy this NBA team pass. And even though I have moved to California, I can still get my hometown coverage of my team. Why would someone pay for that? Because it’s not about basketball. It’s about my team. That matters to people. So, if you’re a woman, yes, you want to hear some woman’s music.
You know what I mean? If you’re this color or that color or this age group or that age group or whatever your demographic is, It’s not a real big gamble to play music that reflects that demographic. Absolutely. That’s a huge point that I want to hammer home during the reading-the-room process demographics are probably the most important thing that’s going to determine what music you play.
Absolutely. And I think once you get more comfortable thinking like this and doing this. You’re going to find just like we have I love to transition this into that. And I have a little trick I do when I do this song into that song, you develop these parts of your, repertoire.
And you will come to develop those same bits that you can use for these situations. So, let me give you an example. When I am at a conference that’s predominantly women, which I just had one last weekend. One of the songs, one of my little bits that I like to do is I’ll play Jumpin Jumpin by Destiny’s Child.
And in that song, it says, leave your man at home. So when that song comes on, I’ll be like, who’s man’s at home, and of course they’re at a conference. They didn’t bring their husbands, and the crowd went wild because women never got a chance to dance without their kids and without their men there.
And you can just be as crazy as you want. But you’ll find those little things that you can do to really resonate with people. And again, everything we do, we keep learning every event being the constant entertainer.
Requests For Offensive Music
So let’s get a little bit tricky and I’m going to ask a hard question. Not that we haven’t covered some hard questions already. How do you handle situations where guests request potentially offensive or exclusive music? Again, let me give you a couple of. Real-world examples. So, I have played before at a lesbian bar in San Diego. It’s probably my second time playing there. So I’m not super, super part of the team yet and comfortable. I’m just kind of getting used to being there and what the atmosphere is. And again, it’s a lesbian bar, so it’s mostly women.
That’s what we’re catering to, right? A man who happened to be at the bar came over and asked me if I would play Chris Brown. Now, my first thought is this is a man who beat up Rihanna. Well, as soon as he beat up Rihanna, I’m kind of like, I’m not too interested in playing your music anymore. Right. and people like poo poo cancel culture or whatever, but I just feel like if you’re going to beat up Rihanna, I’m not going to play you anymore.
And I don’t feel bad about it. I’m, there are consequences. So anyway, I don’t really know the managers well at this place yet, but just instinctively I thought, you know what, probably no, I just think it’s a no. And obviously, I’m taking a risk, anytime as a DJ where you just flat out tell somebody I’m not going to play your request.
You are well aware of the repercussions, you can have some serious tension going on there. but I just told him, I, I don’t really, I think that’s the vibe here. And is there something else you’d like to hear? After I was done with my set, I talked to the manager and I asked her, did I had made the right decision.
Should I have said no to this Chris Bown request coming from a man at a lesbian bar? And she was like, Oh, Chris Brown. God, no, no, no, no. Yeah. You do the right thing. So. It was really risky. It was, but, ultimately I felt like I just went with my gut, and then, another situation is, with R. Kelly music, I think it’s so polarizing for people as well.
But anyway, another example is, that I play at my alma mater because I’m 2 miles away from the school and whatever. So, when I do, their new student party is every August and it’s all 18-year-old people.
Coming in and they want to have this ripping party where it’s your first time being away from home and you’re free and like it’s just such an awesome moment in their lives. But I was well aware before the event going into it, there’s a high likelihood, that I may be asked to play offensive music because of the music that’s coming out now in the trap genre, a lot of it is very misogynistic and that’s the kind of music that will be played for a group of, everyone’s 18 years old.
There’s not a lot of diversity in this group age-wise. They’re literally all born in the same year. I anticipated that in advance, and I asked during the planning call, hey, how do you feel about misogynistic lyrics? Because I feel like a woman. And these are young women in front of me who are impressionable, and they’re here to get an education.
I don’t really feel comfortable playing just overtly misogynistic lyrics. Would it be okay for songs that I felt were misogynistic, if I play a clean version? Because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nowadays, on clean versions of songs, it’s not just about taking out those F-bombs, it’s about taking out the suck my, you know, and misogynistic undertones have to be removed as well because there’s so much rape culture in the music.
That’s not radio-friendly, even though it wasn’t a curse word necessarily. So I just had that conversation with her in advance. So I would already know going into it. And she was like, Oh, yeah, no clean versions. We want to have. This adult party for these kids. We want it to feel like a nightclub, but also be safe because it’s on campus.
So we want dirty versions. We want them to be able to be like, F-bomb and and have that really fun college experience. But at the same time, yeah, we don’t need to be pushing misogyny down their throats. So, if you can anticipate those kind of situations and work it out in advance, that’s helpful too.
Female Raunchy Music
What are your thoughts on the raunchy music, that’s out right now from female artists? So I’m going to flip the script a little bit of where you have WAP, you have Megan Thee Stallion songs, and you have Sexyy Red, what are your beliefs on that style of music too?
Are we incorporating that in your talk as well? Sure. I think that’s a really good question. And, you know, let’s, let’s talk about those hard questions. So, first of all, one thing to understand is that male DJs, when they play female artists, all of those songs that you just mentioned tend to be the go-tos.
Male DJs are like, Oh, I need to play a woman. Let me play Meg Thee Stallion. Let me play Nicki Minaj. Whereas I’m thinking, oh, if I need to play a female artist, I got to play Taylor Swift. It’s got to be Britney Spears. Or even Harry Styles. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a person with a vagina.
Or Justin Bieber. Okay, another example. Men are really not listening to Justin Bieber. Women are listening to Justin Bieber. So, if we take a look back, like thinking about those statistics that I originally mentioned, think about what it takes. To break into a man’s industry, the more masculine I am, the easier things are going to be. Right.
Hip hop, and rock music are the most gender skewed of all genres of music with the least amount of women. So, yes, of course, if you’re going to get your foot in the door, and you want to be a rapper, you’re going to have to.
Understand the culture of that music, and that is the culture of that music, which is fine. I’m not saying to change that culture, but if it’s hard to understand, well, why would women be talking about, their waps? Well, that’s why because that’s the culture of that music. And, there are certainly plenty of songs by Meg Thee Stallion, by Nicki Minaj, Nicki Minaj has one called Moment For Life, and Meg Thee Stallion has one called, Her. And those are female empowerment songs. A hundred percent through and through are the songs we’re hearing on the radio, but those artists have those songs as well.
It’s just their b-sides, I think exactly what you’re saying is that just because you’re not playing those popular songs that first come to mind, there are still other great songs that you can replace those with that have the right messages. Yeah, and I have nothing against being, raunchy or, having a dirty, adulty party.
You know, there’s nothing against that. Shoot, I’m out there fist-pumping along with everyone else. I think that’s a really fun time. And I think, Seeing, a conference full of housewives or whatever, getting to have that one. Oh my gosh, that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. And I’m so happy to provide that.
But again, it’s just simply having an awareness. And, just that little switch in your mind can make a big difference. You mentioned rock music, shout out to Greta Van Fleet. Love them. Yeah. Tough to be a lady rocker. And, you know, Joan Jett to me is just a huge, huge inspiration. Huge inspiration. Pat Benatar same timeframe. Yep.
Advice to Event Planners
So just kind of to close things out a little bit, what advice would you give to event planners that want to incorporate elements of inclusivity in their events? It starts from the ground level up.
For example, as the event planner, if I’m like, Oh, well, I’m going to hire a man DJ at this woman’s conference, or I’m going to hire a white DJ at this conference for, black CEOs or whatever. Then I’ve already kind of given up, on really putting in that effort. It does make a difference.
Representation matters. So if I’m at a conference for all Hispanic people, I’ve DJ’d some of those. And, people walk in and they’re like, Hey, one of us. Our team resonates with people positively. So I think give some thought to who you’re hiring for the event.
I know, I just a few weeks ago did, an event called Women and Heavy Civil Engineering. And that’s all. Women pave roads build bridges and, make subways. it’s crazy. The amount of awesomeness in this room. So it was my, it was our second annual lunch. And so my second time being there and, I just feel like they made a conscious effort that the photographer was a woman.
The DJ was a woman. The videographer was a woman. The sound tech from the production company was a woman. That didn’t happen by accident. It was because a planner said, This is a woman’s event. We will have women on the team. We are out there. If you look for us, you will find us. So I think just being intentional about it and, we would not be sitting here having this conversation right now if this was already happening by itself.
It has to be intentional. So if we don’t put thought into it, if we don’t make it a priority, it’s not just going to work itself out. Unfortunately, I agree. It’s it’s not second nature yet. Yeah. We have to work on it and that’s fine. We’ll work on it.
The Power of DJs
Is there anything that we didn’t talk about today that you wanted to talk about? I think. One of the things that I mentioned when I talked about this at MEX, is that I think impacted people, a lot of people have seen the Elvis movie that just came out, 2 years ago. And it’s prominent in the movie, especially at the beginning, that, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, was like, wait a minute, a white guy making black music?
That is a moneymaker and it shows in the movie how important it is that Elvis has white skin, right, because he’s singing the songs of all of these black artists in Memphis, but when he sings it, it’s a hit, and when that person sings it, it’s in a bar with 40 people on a back alley, so. 1 of the things that I think is important to consider is how the role that DJs have played in robbing black people of generational wealth because in the 50s in the 60s, black music.
Was systematically not being played on radio stations. There was this huge scandal. It was called the payola scandal. All these DJs were called into Congress to testify. And this includes Dick Clark, all of these major people. Think about it. When is a wedding florist? She was called into Congress because she has hurt our culture and robbed a generation of people of wealth.
DJs, we are different. We have a ridiculous and tremendous amount of power over not just the people in front of us, but over the culture. Think of what we could do. Moving forward to right that wrong, every time you pick a song to download or to not download or you decide I’m going to play this or I’m not going to play this, it does make a ripple on the pond.
So be aware of that 100%. I’m reminded of a story that I read recently where Ray Charles released an all-country album. I’m not sure if it was the 60s. That’s kind of what I remember. It was the number 1 R&B album. But guess what? It was never played on country music radio. And that’s what we’re talking about here.
That it’s the travesty of things like that. Just consider the music that you’re playing. Yeah, that’s an excellent example. And even now, today, really there’s like two black people in country music. That’s it. And, and, and one of them is the former frontman of Hootie and the Blowfish.
So someone who already had a high degree of expertise in navigating the politics of the music industry. Someone who already had a PhD. He had his stripes already, yeah. Something to think about for sure.
Follow DJ Track Star Staci
How can people contact you and find you? I want to make it clear. If you need help. with Mexican music. I can help you. I lived in Mexico for 10 years. I have a Dropbox file with a bunch of songs in it that I have shared with all kinds of different people that have kind of some like 25 go-to Mexican songs and I’ll be happy to share that link with you if you need some help with Mexican music.
So yeah, you can reach out to me on Instagram at @trackstarstaci, S T A C I. And then, my websites are thecorporateeventdj.com and palmspringscorporatedj.com. Well, thank you very much, Staci, for being on this show and talking about, I think a very important topic. Hopefully, we’ve opened some minds today.