Pack the Dance Floor with Mike Bonaventura – E118

Pack the dance floor with Mike Bonaventura of Trans Audio

Matthew Campbell of My Wedding Songs and Mike Bonaventura of Trans Audio chat about packing the dance floor at weddings!

Mike’s career has taken him to a 40-year career as a broadcaster, voice-over artist, and performing DJ & event planner for weddings and events in Northwest Indiana  Chicagoland. In 2022 he acquired Trans Audio Mobile Music in his home state of Indiana and books top quality DJs & Photobooth events across Northern Indiana.

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Show Notes:

  • Memorable Wedding
  • About Mike and Trans Audio
  • Relating to Couples as a Seasoned DJ
  • Questions to Ask Couples
  • It’s Not About The DJ
  • Building Momentum
  • Common Wedding Vibes
  • Popular Music Packing The Dance Floor
  • Getting Guests To The Dance Floor
  • Sing-Along Songs
  • Songs Not To Play
  • Read the WeddingMusicLetter and My Wedding Songs Website
  • DJs – Get Experience
  • What If the Dance Floor Is Empty?
  • DJs – Educate Yourself
  • Contact Mike & Trans Audio

Welcome everybody to the Wedding Songs Podcast. I’m Matt Campbell.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to pack the dance floor at your wedding or want to pack the dance floor at your wedding? Well, today’s guests, Mike Bonaventure coming to you from the Chicago, Illinois area and Trans Audio, the DJ company. Welcome to the show. Mike. Hey, Matt, my pleasure.

Let’s have a little fun here for a while. That sounds awesome.

Memorable Wedding

I have to start every episode out can you just share a heartwarming or memorable moment at a wedding? I had, a bride and groom two years ago. They were having a ceremony and a reception, at a place that I work a lot, out in Valparaiso, Indiana called Aberdeen Manor. And, I, was talking to the groom and he had said something about, this is early in the planning process, something about my parents using Trans Audio 35 years ago or something, and it was like, Oh, really? Wow. So I went back in some of the records, see if I could, find the name and I couldn’t find the name. and we weren’t even really sure quite where they had their reception.

So, We cut to the wedding, and it was a fun wedding from the get go. It was an absolute blast, and dad had come up to me and he says, Hey, Mike, you DJ’d My wife’s wedding out at a place called Broadmoor Country Club in Merrillville, Indiana. he gave me the date, which was 1985. which was right on with it.

He told me what I was doing. I was about a year into my radio career at that point. And I told him that, and he knew that cause he listened, he goes, you know, it was such a great time. We still talk about it. And here we are many years later. Now I’m DJing for a son, which I thought was so cool and so special and so fun.

So we had this amazing party. And at the end of the night, we took a picture, all four of us, his wife and himself and, his son’s new bride and his son. I thought it was just such a cool story. It was a cool ending to a really great night. I love stuff like that.

I run into those kinds of things all the time as a 40 year performer, in the DJ business and it’s so cool for me to hear those things. Hey, you, you did our wedding 10 years ago. Great job, it’s fun to be able to be a part of people’s lives in a way. That they really are going to remember. In my head, I just want to say this, that when I go into a job, I tend to approach the job, like, it’s my first job that I’m working.

I try not to repeat things that I typically might do from wedding to wedding. I try to mix it up a little bit, it starts with announcements and introductions and how could I make this a little bit better and a little more fun for the people that I’m working for. The one thing that I do want to say about that is, if a DJ is starting out and starts there, starts there with the fundamentals, the nuts and bolts of what it is you have to do as a wedding performer, the other stuff later on for the final three hours or whatever it is, won’t be so hard.

Because people are gonna have respect for you, if you goof up the early stuff, believe me It’s not gonna be easy for you down the road. I’ve been there I know what that’s like But you’ll get to the heartwarming part of your career and people will begin to recognize you and have respect for you If you go in do your homework and do a good job. So the heartwarming aspects of all these jobs that I’ve done over 40 years, comes to me and it’s great to have that.

And it’s great to have that in a market that I really never had to move out of I’m really lucky. Our company has a great, rating on all the services. We have a really solid reputation. We’ve worked for families, so many families in Northwest Indiana and suburban Chicago, and even into Eastern Indiana and Southwest Michigan over the years that, people call us, people just call us.

So it’s nice to have that. That’s a great story. It would be nice to have the picture of the first wedding you did with the kids now that would be phenomenal side-by-side because we didn’t have Facebook and social media you don’t have that backtrack of those events on online.

Right, that’s true.  But still, if you’re in the middle of nowhere Boy, you have the opportunity To become the go to person in the wedding business the go to person you have to work at it.

You have to do your homework. You just can’t go out night after night and say, well, I’m going to wing it because it doesn’t work that way. And I think one of the things that I experienced a couple of times of potential brides calling me is they would say, you’ve done so many weddings in this area.

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to hire you because you’re doing them all. Yeah, that can happen to sometimes we’ll get a phone call and a bride will choose somebody else simply because maybe we did her sister’s wedding. Maybe they don’t want that. then again, I just had that last year where we did one sister’s wedding and then another sister’s wedding like two months later, and they both worked out awesome. So it just depends who they are and what they want, For sure.

About Mike and Trans Audio

That’s a great transition. And could you tell me a little bit more about you and your company? The company was started by Mark Lindemer. out of Crown Point, Indiana, Mark was a pharmaceutical salesman in the 1970s who decided he was going to risk it all and become a DJ.

And, he, he did, he started in, tiny restaurants, in bars and stuff here in, in the Northwest Indiana area, in 1982, just as I was graduating high school, he decided he wanted to do weddings exclusively.

Bands were big around here because polka was still a thing. And the polka band would try to play all the other stuff that everybody else wanted. But the problem was that the generations were starting to part, meaning that the 40s generation didn’t really mesh with the 80s generation.

and the 40s generation didn’t really want, believe it or not, even the Beatles or Jerry Lee Lewis. They certainly didn’t want Kool and the Gang. Or Bon Jovi or whatever, so Mark took a gamble on the business. It took him a while, but he grew the business into, one of the best known DJ companies in our area.

And I really would say probably in mid America. Two years ago, he, wanted to retire. So I acquired the company from Mark, and decided that I just wanted to keep it going, the best way I knew how, and that was really, to be honest with you, to keep the employees that we have, because they’re all really good and I trust every single one of them and they do a wonderful job for us. I also am a broadcaster. So I started broadcasting in 1984, at a station in Crown Point, Indiana.

It was 1039 FM WWJY. I’ve worked for 40 years, solid. And, it’s been fun. It’s been fun. I work for a great rock station. X Rock 1 0 3 9. I’m on their pop station, Z 1 0 7, midday nine to three, Monday through Friday.

I do some of their news as well. and also I work for their, flagship, which is Indiana 1 0 5. Out of Valparaiso. That station has been there since 1963, playing country music . So, we’ve got quite a reputation and, I love to have that also within my own company and personally myself. I don’t want to spoil that. Well, cool.

Relating to Couples as a Seasoned DJ

Let’s talk about packing the dance floor. That’s a great transition into the age of the DJ. Do you think that that’s a factor into relating music to the couples and to the guests?

Not really, I’m probably a lot freer and a lot more experienced to be able to mix in any music anyone wants. I don’t suffer from confidence. I don’t suffer from what do I mix with this? I don’t. and I think that’s one of the natural aspects of being a little bit older, is experienced and confidence.

You’re in Vegas and there’s a duo out there called Penn and Teller. I was listening to Penn Jillette. He was on one of the radio stations in Chicago for a while on Saturdays. This is back in the nineties, I think. And he was talking about being a performer and an entertainer and kind of, drawing a thread of that with being an airplane pilot and saying that you really need to have long flight time to be able to be really good.

And that’s true. You do. And I think in our business, Matt, where customer service always plays into it because you’re not just on a stage, you’re dealing with people to you have to know how to do that and how to do that in a smooth way. So people feel at home and comfortable with you. Because if they feel that way about you and about your personality, you know what, that’s probably half the battle of what you’re going to go through.

You got to be liked. People have to like you. I don’t think age really plays that much into it. And you know what? with the systems that are put in place today, I think with most successful DJs, where, we have them fill out a playlist. And I tell them put down the stuff.

That’s really important to you or put down the stuff that you think I may not know. That’s an important phrase for me because it lets them know, well, I may not necessarily know everything you’re going to ask for, but I know how to mix it. I think that’s one of the benefits of being a little bit older is just experience and asking the right questions of the couple.

Questions to Ask Couples

So let me ask you then, besides the question of what songs do you think I may not know, what other questions do you commonly ask them? And not only your couples, but maybe the guests that are at the wedding. Absolutely. What kind of vibe do you want? That’s a question that I have on our planner for every couple.

What kind of vibe do you want? What is it? Not every customer that I have wants the same vibe. I’ve got brides and grooms sometimes who are a little on the shy side, so they don’t want to have all the attention on them. Now, of course. Meeting them.

I know that. but I kind of want to see what they put down so that I get a crystal clear idea of what they’re looking for with us. The good part, I think, is that, when I sit down and take a look at their planner and kind of go over everything with them, we have that discussion. I want to know things that are important to me are their shout outs to people, because invariably maybe there’s a song on that list.

I might look at and I might think to myself, why is that on the list? That doesn’t even make sense to me. Well, maybe it’s a song that they like to party to. Tuesday’s Gone from Lynyrd Skynyrd came up a few months ago, and I know the song, and I love the song, and I love Skynyrd, but it’s kind of like, what’s up with that?

It’s Not About The DJ

Well, just turned out that somebody in the family had passed away, and for 10 years, that was their song to sing around campfires and stuff, or weddings. and it made, it made a big difference to me, because then I understood where to put that song in the night. I don’t want to put it in a spot where it’s just going to be awkward and weird, and I have to put it somewhere where I can call people up and tell them what we’re doing. I think that’s another facet of packing a dance floor. So many couples think that you’re just kind of pressing buttons and mixing this music, and they don’t understand the interaction that takes place between what I’m doing and what I’m having them do.

I have to have that interaction. I have to have some sort of personal reason to give a shout out sometimes or to at least make it seem like it’s a personal reason, and make it friendly so that everybody comes up and says, this is cool. Let’s do this thing. and that’s the other funny thing about it too.

I think, I’ve had so many people come up to me over the years and just say that to me, just say that, like, it wasn’t about you. Right. It wasn’t about me. I had that a couple of weeks ago from a dad who said, I am so grateful that you were here to do my daughter’s wedding and I just loved how you didn’t make it about you, you made it about us.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s never about me. It’s always about the couple. I’ve always maintained that over 40 year period. You know what? I learned from the best because Mark Lindemann was the guy that taught me that. For years we would bring couples drinks when they showed up to the reception, which I thought was a really cool classy move and we kind of stopped doing it because the covid thing and all that.

But, that always set a tempo for a welcome. To have welcomed them to their wedding and let them know that we’re going to take care of them. It’s that simple. One of the things that you said is the timing of the announcements.

Building Momentum

I think that. What I would call momentum is so important where you’re building this momentum. You have your knowledge of when am I going to make this announcement? Because it could totally blow the momentum that you’re building up on the dance floor. You have a three song set, everybody’s getting just started dancing.

And now to have this announcement. It’s kind of like having the bouquet toss. Okay. You’re putting that in the middle. Why have that in the middle of dance time? You’re getting everybody dancing and now you’re breaking this up. Oh, what a party killer as they could say. Well, it’s interesting.

The announcement thing, as a wedding DJ, you never know what people are going to ask you to say. And I don’t mean introductions and scripted things that I would read. I just mean, you’ll get a banquet manager coming up to you to say, Hey, you know, the late night snacks are ready.

Announce it now. Announce it now. I’m doing stuff. Hold on. I’ll get to it. It won’t take me lOng. And sometimes I think for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience, that kind of verbiage or that kind of action can really throw them for a loop and ruin the rest of the night. Because they think all of a sudden something’s wrong.

Like it’s their, they’ve been blamed for something. I think a good way around that is just to say, yeah, great. Thanks. I’ll take care of that. That’s it. Leave it at that. Don’t even say anything else. When you get that opportunity, tell them, Hey, there’s hot dogs and hamburgers over there in the North ballroom.

Go ahead and help yourself. At least you’ve done that or make a joke about it. sometimes I’ll do a conga line to the buffet. It just kind of depends on the night and it depends on the crowd. It depends on the bride and groom, depends on the banquet center, all that stuff kind of factors in. But I think that, you’re absolutely right about announcements and about things that you can’t plan for, sometimes just have to take it on the cuff and just kind of go, okay, I’ll take care of it. And the worst announcement you can make is last call at the bar.

Nobody’s going to be on the dance floor. It’s so funny, I’ve had bartenders come up to me over the years and tell me, don’t announce that. That has been. I think a natural, a natural outgrowth in 1970s, 80s, 90s, when parties were just boom. Parties were big back then.

People think they have big parties now. Way different, way different. And, part of that was that people went to the bar 10 minutes before it was closed at last call. And as a DJ, I remember announcing those. then all of a sudden it just kind of became no don’t say anything. and and I get it I do I understand why so I don’t i’ve had moms and dads come up to me and tell me To give me last call and then i’ve explained to them.

Well Actually, the staff just told me not to, so you’ll have to go talk to them. but I’d be happy to do whatever you want me to do after you go talk to them first, in that way, it’s a way around that I don’t have to get involved cause I don’t really like to get involved with what the catering staff is doing or what the banquet center is doing.

I think it’s just a bad precedent for a DJ to get involved with that. It’s cool though for a DJ to take some instruction on what maybe they want you to do from Banquet Center to Banquet Center. I think that’s fine.

Common Wedding Vibes

I think there’s another point that you made that I want to get back to too is the vibe. What are common vibes that couples are saying to you in their response of what vibe they want?

Oh, we’re getting a lot of, we want everybody on the dance floor. We want a happy vibe. We want an exciting vibe. I get a lot of those kinds of things. But at the same time, We had a wedding not long ago, in 2023. I was looking through the planner and, the bride or groom or whoever it was put, to start quiet to end wild.

And it was kind of like, Oh, okay. Nice quiet dinner into a wild night. And that’s pretty much what happened. The DJ read it perfectly. I think a lot of people really want that big, happy vibe to be able to come from us. And, admittedly we start that for them. We call them up and We want to get them going.

We want to get them rocking and rolling as quickly and as often as we can. That’s the whole idea behind being a DJ and it’s fun. We get paid to party. , it’s hard to believe sometimes that we actually get paid for what we’re doing. We’re talking about party time. You want everybody out on the dance floor.

Popular Music Packing The Dance Floor

What type of music are you finding that’s packing the dance floor for you right now in your area? Well, I would say right now we’re kind of late 80s, into 90s. Early 2000s. That kind of 25 year period there. That people are really responding to, and by that, I mean, Whitney Houston, I’m gonna dance with somebody to, Something that’s a little more hip hop like Run DMC and then maybe into the early 2000s.

Well, you know the Usher’s The Nelly’s things like that then you also have the rock component of stuff, you might have more alternative style music, like Blink 182, those kind of things are hitting really good right now out here. new music? I don’t know.

I would like to tell you that I played a lot of new music lately, but you know what? I just haven’t had those kinds of crowds where now we’ve got one coming up in April, the first Saturday in April, where it’s going to be A little heavier rap influence, a little heavier hip hop influence.

But that’s the first one of those I’ve seen in a little while. we seem to get those weddings where it’s just a big giant mix of all kinds of stuff. We’ve talked about this in the past on the podcast, but I just wonder if just having the access that kids have to any song at any time in their hand, that, that’s fueling that, that they’re not listening to one particular style of music.

And actually I love that because that gives you such a wide variety as a DJ to now you can pick the sleepers that, that are. Great dance songs that people forgot about, you’re saying 90s. So then maybe you have the late nineties of, I consider it the greatest dance time in my era where you had C+C music factory and, Real McCoy and other groups like that, that dance music, I think it’s great that you can pick those songs out.

Getting Guest To The Dance Floor

So once the dance floor is packed, what’s your philosophy to keep everybody out on the dance floor? Boy, play familiar music as much as possible. If you get a playlist and I’ve had them, where it doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of familiar music for people.

Well, you still have to play the music. You got to figure out a way to keep them there. DJ. A lot of what I see on some of these DJ Facebook groups and stuff, people have a real hard time understanding, you don’t have to play the whole song, you might only really want to play.

The familiar chorus or two of a song, which is going to be good. if somebody comes up and says, Hey, play Billy Jean from Michael Jackson. Well, I played it a million times on the radio too. It’s four minutes and 56 seconds. I am not going to play four minutes and 56 seconds of Billy Jean, not going to happen.

Now that said. I certainly might whittle some of those songs a bit. Pour Some Sugar On Me comes up a lot, certainly still. People love the song. They want to sing along to it. they want to put their fists in the air and use their air guitars and all that stuff. and that’s really cool.

We love playing it for them. But I’ve got a version that’s about 2 minutes and 11 seconds long. And it’s perfect. I wouldn’t ever ever ever play the whole song. I wouldn’t do it. Now a lot of this has gotten certainly easier because of digital. There’s no question. I can buy those cuts. I can make those cuts.

I can mix them on demand. I don’t necessarily have to, buy something that’s pre made or whatever, but for the DJ that doesn’t really understand that, oh man, there’s lots of services you can get that stuff from. It’s really helpful to keep a crowd on the floor.

What I like to do, I don’t know that I’ve really changed my philosophy on it. I remember when I first started doing this, Mark Lindemer told us in a group setting, there were four DJs and him sitting in his basement in Crown Point, Indiana. , We were kind of talking about sets and how to put these sets together, and he said something that I’ve always really kept in my head for most parties, about 20 minutes or so 20 to 25 minutes for fast dance music.

You can keep them up there, and then shift and do something different, and then shift 20. That’s kind of where you need to be. That’s really my philosophy of time. I’m hyper aware of that as I work the night. I don’t like time to get away from me. so what I mean by shifting might be, well, I see on my playlist that I have a slow song from Perry Como.

It’s early in the night. I just started dance music, but I played my 20 minutes or so, and I see the crowd kind of, maybe they want to go get a drink. Maybe they want to go to the photo booth. I don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s clear to me that I could figure out something else to do right now. So I’ve got that Perry Como song.

It’s 9:30. Grandma and grandpa are still here. Play the song and invite people up to dance to that song. Don’t just play it, invite people up, tell them couples come on up and dance. This is for you. That is extremely helpful. And, sometimes. You have to be a little bit of a grade school teacher.

I’m not, never have been, but I know what that means. You have to instruct the kids in the crowd to do stuff. And that’s kind of what I do a lot. the slides, the shuffles are wonderful to have. If it’s not on their do not play list, play them. If it is figure something else out, there’s all kinds of other things to do at a wedding to keep that dance floor rolling and, and they know that, and I know that. So, it’s kind of my philosophy on the idea of how I do what I do and why I do it.

I think it goes back to, for me, the way that you’re describing it is timing. You could have the best songs, like you’re saying the Perry Como, you’re not going to play that the last hour of the reception. So I think timing and experience comes in with that. And I was reading another Facebook group and they were talking about, mixing in, Having the experience of not to confuse the dance floor of, let’s pretend that you were on the dance floor.

You don’t want to go from semi charmed life to come on Eileen to Dua Lipa. It’s just going to confuse people. That’s like, Oh, okay. I know you want unexpected. Maybe you do that from three songs into another one or you’re going from, come on, Eileen to the conga as an example, and then you’re going into that set, but to go from one to, genre to genre to genre, it’s just going to confuse the dance floor.

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. and genre playing is a lot of what I do. now in the middle of a rock and roll genre, let’s say we’re playing, AC/DC I might throw something like, Yeah, from Usher or Yin Yang Twins or something in there that really does match up with that rock and roll feel.

I think Lil Jon is kind of a frustrated rock and roll front man. a lot of times he’s great at what he does, but I feel that way about him. So I will use those songs in that rock set sometime to give people a little bit of a break on rock and roll and then take it back again and do another rock tune.

That always worked for me. That’s, that’s a given. I will do that. every single night that I work . Exactly. Or you have maybe an artist that crosses over from pop to rock. So, I’m thinking of Stevie Nicks. Somebody that crosses over from to rock that you could kind of ease out of it. That’s a lot of the ladies are going to be singing along to, but now you’ve got your transition in from rock to pop that crossover. Yeah. And then you also have.

The crossover to the boy bands following that, or spice girls, oh my God, if you got girls out there, play spice girls, they love it still, but. Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, New Kids on the Block. It’s still stuff that, the younger generation knows, because I’m going to assume their moms were probably playing that when they were growing up, right?

It’s really interesting. I did a middle school dance a couple of weeks ago. It was for Valentine’s Day. It was on Valentine’s Day at a big, big middle school. Out here in Indiana, what I mean by that is, I think there are like a thousand kids or something. I don’t know if that’s big wherever you are, but, but that’s big out here.

Actually, that’s really big out here. but, I had about 400 kids in front of me and I hadn’t done a school dance in a long time. but it was so interesting with them because to be honest with you, they were too Just reacting like wedding audiences react, they were dancing to the same music. Some of the stuff they were asking for, I wouldn’t play, and I was told not to play, but that’s okay, I get that, I was a rebel too when I was a kid, but at the same time, They knew all the stuff that I was putting out there and they were asking for some of that music as well.

And I’d asked, one set of girls came up to me and they were saying, Bruno Mars, Bruno Mars. It was like, cool. Well, at the end of it, they came up just to tell me, just to thank me for the effort. You know, they did a good job, blah, blah, blah. And I say, Hey, wait a second. I’m curious they were sixth graders.

I said, is your mom and dad listen to some of the stuff that you listen to? And they said, Oh yeah. Oh, we all listen to it. So that tells me right there that it’s mom and dad who still have an influence on their young listening ears as they’re growing up, just like mine did.

Sing-Along Songs

I definitely wanted to ask you today about, we did cover line dances, but what about singalong songs? Are you finding that they’re still popular today? Oh, heck yeah.

Sweet Caroline, number one, sing-along song ever. Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s so funny to me. about 20 years ago, I was doing a wedding. At this place in Chesterton, Indiana, that isn’t around any longer. and it was the strangest place on earth. You had a little space about maybe three feet wide that you had to put your gear inside of.

And the speakers had to go outside of the space where you were. it was very uncomfortable, always hot. People smoked at the time. , but I remember in our meeting, the groom said to me, he says, I have Bohemian Rhapsody on that playlist as last song for reason. Make sure you play it as such. I said, okay, fine.

So, of course, I love the song, I love Queen. At the time, I’m thinking to myself, Oh my God, they’re going to put me into DJ hell here with this song that you can’t dance to. What is this? I always announced last song and I always say, good night.

Play that last song and Freddie Mercury starts singing and they literally all got in a big giant circle on the dance floor. There must have been 80 of them there. It was enormous. And they started singing along that song. That was a day I was taught a lesson about sing alongs. it was kind of like, wow, I just never thought about that.

I was like, I don’t know, probably 20 years into this. And I just, I never really for a moment thought about that. But that’s what opened my eyes to the singalong. So now, oh yeah, every night, I do something it’s,Bohemian Rhapsody, Sweet Caroline, Piano Man,

On and on and on. Bon Jovi. I will always do that at some point. Things like that tend to really work and it energizes that crowd immediately. You can feel it. You could see it. You could see the energy particles moving around that dance floor when you have a sing along like that.

And then it preps you for that next 20 minutes. Absolutely. percent agree. With the energy and, coming from Montana, a lot of country is popular. So friends in low places, there’s nothing like having everybody singing along that it doesn’t have to have everybody dancing.

It could just have that high energy, keeping that, excitement and hype on the dance floor. Yeah. At that point, it’s nothing different than. Seeing a crowd of 40, 000 people at Wrigley Field singing Thunder Road with Bruce Springsteen, it’s the same thing.

But, it adds such tremendous power to a wedding. And especially if it’s that one song that ties that whole group together. Boy, I’ll tell you, it’s absolutely amazing. Honestly, I really don’t think anything’s off the table these days. I really don’t. There’s not a whole lot that I won’t play or don’t want to play for adults.

With kids, it’s a much different story. Or if I know that I’ve got a couple of flower girls on the dance floor, and somebody is asking for two live crew, I’m kind of like, eh, not right now, you have to be a little judicious about those things, I think sometimes, that also can really ruin the mood.

I’ve learned that in my life too. We all learn our lessons of what, when not to play at some point. I remember somebody requesting, why don’t we get drunk by Jimmy Buffett? Should have played that at the end of the night. You make another great point too.

Songs Not To Play

I think one of the important questions to ask couples is, are there any songs you don’t want played at your wedding?

Because maybe this is their second marriage. Maybe There’s bad blood with the song that you think of a past girlfriend. Of course there’s going to be songs. I’m tired of hearing usher. He was just in the Super Bowl. Don’t play any Usher. Okay.

Yeah, that’s fine. But there’s specific songs. I think that that’s why you need to ask that question. I agree. Yeah. And we of course have a, do not play feature that I activate. I think recently I could think of, I don’t know, maybe a few instances last year where people really filled that out.

A lot of what I’m getting are couples that are really kind of making us help them with the music. In other words, we’re only going to give you 10 songs or 5 songs. We’ll dance and have a good time. Just fill in the rest. Okay, cool. You know, that’s easy. We can do that.

But you’re right though, that do not playlist, when it comes to somebody who has had a second wedding, who knows, maybe it was, grandma’s favorite song. grandma’s not around anymore and they just don’t want to deal with that at their wedding. It’s going to bring up, tears or sadness or whatever the case may be.

I get that. So yeah, I tell people if there’s anything like that, make sure you put it down on our list so that we don’t play it. You know, what invariably happens sometimes with those songs. Guess what? Best man, maid of honor, somebody comes up and says, Hey, can you play that song that the bride put on the do not play list right now?

Not happening. It’s an interesting business and it’s a lot more complicated, but it sure is easier if you’re experienced and you’re confident.

DJs – Get Experience

Might I add that people who see this video but don’t get your newsletter should subscribe to it because I sort of feel right now that with a lot of younger guys?

They don’t know early music. They don’t know the forties, the fifties, and the sixties. Maybe they know a little bit about the seventies. They know Dancing Queen. That’s probably about what they know, but they really need to look at your lists and hear that music and absorb it for a while before they go out and play for people.

And honestly, I think that anybody is hell-bent on making a six-figure income when they have zero experience. are fools. Get the experience. Don’t worry about the money. Go get some other job somewhere. Go work at Pizza Hut. I did that, I had to supplement my income in all kinds of ways.

I wasn’t paid a million dollars to be on the radio. Practice in your garage, invite your friends to dance at a party on Saturday night, whatever. But get that experience, understand what to do. Understand how to talk into a microphone. Oh my gosh, that is amazingly important.

People just don’t think about those skills, do they? No, that really takes me into one of the things that you mentioned is you learn when somebody comes up to you and says, I want you to play, That’s, Spirit in the sky.

And you know, that’s on your do not playlist. What you have to learn as the professional DJ, you never turn that back on to the wedding couple, because you don’t want that person going back to them saying, you told the DJ not to play this. You need to play this song. This is going to be awesome.

Whereas you as the DJ need to be professional and say somehow do not. But that focus is on the wedding couple. So that way that person goes back to them. And what I just say is very simple. Hey, cool. I’ll take your suggestion. If I have time, I’ll play the song to end a discussion. Now that person knows that I didn’t have any time to play their song.

I know that there have been songs in the past where I’m like, I don’t even know what that is. I don’t even know if I can have that, but sometimes if it’s kind of a one off song I’ll just kind of say, I don’t have it, here, let’s look for it.

I don’t have it. Sorry. and that ends the discussion too. Then it’s just kind of like, Oh, you know if they bring their phone up, I never have my cord visible for an iPhone or whatever. So I’m just like, I can’t really do that right now. Sorry. Try to get through it without causing a ruckus with that person.

But I will always say to them, is there something else that you want me to play? Then that usually puts them At ease. They don’t really care about the request that they initially asked me for It’s become a non issue with them. It’s not important all of a sudden, is a good way to go about it. Awesome. Great tips.

What If the Dance Floor Is Empty?

The final question about packing the dance floor. What do you do if the dance floor is not packed? How funny.

If it’s not packed, you have to find a way. You gotta find a way now. the best thing that I always, always, always know to do is let’s do an event of some kind. I know that it’s going to work, let’s do a chicken dance. Let’s get 50 people in a circle. Come on, let’s go, let’s get them in a circle.

Walk out on the floor. Make sure that you get the bride and groom out there with you, maid of honor, best man, whatever. Get somebody out there with you. to make sure they understand it’s going to be a fun event. We’re not there to embarrass them. Do a cheap conga line. Oh my God. It’s like the cheapest thing in wedding entertainment.

Do a conga line. They’re so easy to do. and it doesn’t really take a lot of action, get 10 people in a line, and have them go around the room. You’ll pick people up as you go along. even a slide or a shuffle or something along those lines is cool.

I do, when I know that it’s a really loose crowd, I will tell people, something similar, on-demand requests. Do you want to dance to your music? Let me know what it is. We’ll put it on right away. that works a lot because and it’s true, they’ll come up and tell you a song again.

It’s got to be a loose night. No, do not plays. Nothing like that. Bride groom have given you complete authority to do whatever you want. I always suggest that’s a good way to go. But I got to tell you, those events always work for me. The easiest thing a DJ can do is play slow dance, a lot of slow dance, you know, pull out Luke Combs or, you know, the righteous brothers or whatever your thing might be and play a slow song or two, it will get people, up on that dance floor.

Another thing that I’ve been doing forever. I see on these DJ forums, and I get it, a lot of guys want to get the party rolling now. They want to do it now. Well, some crowds won’t let you do it now. So what you have to do is, you got to start a little slow. after those opening dances, play a slow song for the couples.

That’s going to fill your floor now. Then go ahead and start working. I might also say sometimes crowds aren’t ready to dance at eight o’clock. They just ate. The bar’s probably not really quite open yet. and they’re not really quite there. So you have to, you have to massage that first hour 45 minutes.

That’s why I say use some sort of a line dance or some sort of an event to get people accustomed to being on that dance floor. If that’s what you think is going on. I don’t know about anywhere else in the country, but in Indiana smoking is still sadly a big deal and none of the banquet centers, of course, wants you to smoke inside.

And I get that. I don’t want them to smoke inside. I don’t want them to smoke at all. and I’m a 30-year smoker who quit. 14 years ago. but if you have a lot of distractions, you’ve got smokers out front of the banquet center. You got a photo booth. You got dessert bars and pizzas and God knows what else these days.

You have to control what you can control. You can’t control any of that stuff. What you can do though, is you can tell people at the photo booth, when you’re done with your photo, come on up here. I want to do something with you guys. They’ll do it. They’ll come up. I think those, instead of battling the photo booth, those kinds of things work.

Just having a personality and joking around with a couple of people on the microphone to warm them up a little bit. Hey man, what’s your favorite song? Hey, I saw you got a cupcake over there. What’s that cupcake? Is that good?

Blah, blah, blah, blah. Somebody bring me a cupcake. Blah, blah, blah. But just to get them comfortable with you sometimes is what you have to do. Now, I’m also going to tell you, this isn’t for crowds of 300 plus crowds of 300 plus. I’m pretty sure anybody, most anybody can get out there and have a big dance floor.

These are 40 people, 50 people, 100 people. These aren’t the kinds of crowds that I seem to be seeing more and more now. I just want to hit that home a little bit as far as momentum in music.

So if I’m thinking of country music and nobody’s dancing, you want to warm them up. You don’t want to go straight into a jitterbug. You want to go to a waltz. You want to go into a two-step, then you go into a country two-step, and get them used to being on the floor. And then you get into, the jitterbugs or the faster songs, you can’t just start off with that.

And then like you were saying earlier to the recognizable songs, of course, everybody plays September, but Boogie Shoes and The Emotions song, because Lil Boo Thang is popular, you get into those familiar songs. Dua Lipa who maybe they’re going to dance to.

Maybe they’re not. Get those familiar songs anyway. I think she’s great. She’s really talented, but I don’t think her music is as inspiring as Whitney Houston right now. , I think you have to look at it that way and you have to figure out where to place those newer pop songs.

Now, I’ve had weddings where they dance all night to newer pop songs, but, it’s going to be that generation’s, style of music, it’s not a big mix of people. If it’s a big mix of people, you really have to think about all of those people in the room.

And it’s like, I tell every customer that comes through our door, we try to hit every person we can in that room with something. We’re probably going to play 100 songs during the night or something like that. we’re probably going to play 35 dance songs, maybe, I don’t know, somewhere around there, depending on the mixes and what they are and all that stuff.

Hopefully, everybody gets something at the wedding. But you’re right. Momentum is huge. You, have to figure out a way as a DJ to build the momentum. And unfortunately, the only way you figure that out is by doing it and failing at it time and time and time again. That’s really how you learn, you don’t learn any other way in this business.

That’s how you do it. It takes a special person to really want to be able to do this. And to be successful at it, because I’m telling you, it’s really hard. You’re only good as your last show.

And it’s just the truth. You have to work on yourself. You have to think about what you’re doing before you go to that wedding and don’t go to that front door at that banquet center in a bad mood. Don’t let them see you in a bad mood. I don’t give a crap if whatever broke on you on the way in, don’t let them see that. Figure out a way around it.

DJs – Educate Yourself

Is there anything else that we didn’t cover today that you’d like to share? When I met you at the Wedding MBA, I didn’t go this past year, but hopefully, I’ll go next year.

when I met you at Wedding MBA, I was a little skeptical about not you but about going there and about what was I really going to see? What was I going to experience? for anybody to go there. Go there and learn some stuff. I learned all kinds of things. , the one in Chicago, the Marquee show.

I haven’t been to that, but everybody, everybody I know that has been to that tells me that’s a wonderful opportunity for DJs to learn stuff. There’s so much information on the Internet, whether it’s YouTube or just hunting around. DJs can find all kinds of information.

What I would say is that really before you learn about, mixing and beat-matching and all this other stuff, if you’re new, you got to learn the music and you got to learn how to talk on a microphone. Those things are paramount to almost everything else and learn customer service, read a Disney book about what they do with customer service.

Cause that’ll, that’ll give you a lot of great ideas too. But you have to be really smart and really open to going into this business to try to make money and make a living at it. If you’re in it for 300 bucks every Saturday night, go for it. Cool. That’s great. I’m not going to stop you from doing that, but if you really want to make a living out of it, you have to learn it.

You have to learn it. It was whatever it was that 13, 14 years that I spent in the office at our business. Learning what really was going on behind the scenes. That’s what made me a better DJ. there’s no doubt about that. It wasn’t all the mixing stuff and the formula stuff.

That came easy to me. It was all the other stuff that was going on. Learning to talk to a customer, what to ask them, and how to deliver on that. I hope I helped you out. Absolutely. That’s a great way to end the show.

Contact Mike & Trans Audio

So how can people follow you and contact you? If they want, they can go to our Trans Audio Facebook page. it’s at Trans Audio DJ, or they could even go to my personal Facebook page. That’s an easy way to do it. Or go to our website, trans-audio.com. There’s a contact button. You can contact me there. Fantastic. And if you’re in the Chicago, Illinois area, make sure that you follow along with Mike and his business Trans Audio.

Thanks, Mike, for being on the show. Stay tuned for next week for another interview with another wedding pro. Thanks for listening and have a great day. Thanks, Matt. Take care.

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