Taking Song Requests: A DJ Guide

Taking Song Requests: A DJ Guide

A DJs primary goal is to entertain the crowd and create unforgettable moments on the dance floor. They conduct the party and provide the vibes. The skill is to select the right music for the right time and keep the crowd eager for more. DJs often compare DJing to curating an art exhibition, but in this instance people are not standing by idling in thought, they are active and moving on the dance floor.

A great DJ is someone who can read the crowd and deliver a sensational party atmosphere. Someone who can adapt the different types of people in the crowd and their taste in music. At the same time a good DJ knows how to educate the crowd and take risks.

Many DJs will take song requests during their set, but not always. You have to decide if your that type of DJ or not. Most of the time DJs who play small bars and smaller clubs will take requests but more established DJs who play as headliners or at music festivals and concerts will not.

This blog reveals some of the best ways to take song requests and mould them into your set seamlessly. There are some important 'Dos and Don'ts' included in this guide so bookmark it for later.

If you would like further reading on the dos and don't of song requests and song request etiquette click here for our full guide.

1. Know Your Audience:

If it's your first time playing for this venue do your research. If you can, visit the club before your performance. You can then watch and learn from the DJs about what music works and what doesn't. You can also research the DJs and listen to their online mixes. In addition, you an see what the sound system is like and how busy it is at certain times. Try and figure out when the peak moments are and save your best tracks for the right time.

You can also research the crowd who attend the event by looking at photos and content on social media. Often club nights and venues will have an Instagram or TikTok account with lots of photos and video content. This will help you get to know your crowd before the gig.


  • Be friendly & approachable: You are the face of the night. Make sure you smile and welcome conversation and interaction with the customers.
  • Be direct: Make sure your audience know upfront if you're open to song requests or not and how they can place them.
  • Prioritise: If a request fits the vibe and you have the song in your library you may to choose to play it at the right moment. However, if you think the song won't work for that night or time politely refuse to play it and explain with a polite tone it doesn't work for this particular performance.
  • Have a clipboard: Keep a notebook, clipboard or tablet to hand. Ask the audience member who is making the request to write it down.
  • Know your boundaries: Make sure that customers don't take advantage of you. Know your red lines and if they are abusive or rude you can refer them to the venue's security. Never get into a confrontation yourself, that is what security is for. You are the face of the venue so always remain calm and control yourself under pressure. Far better to outsource a situation to the management or security.


  • Don't be patronising: There is nothing more damaging to a parties vibe than a patronising DJ who looks down their nose at the audience. The DJ is there to facilitate a good nights partying and not lord over the crowd. Make sure you are polite and service-driven. They are the ones paying your bills! If their music style is not to your taste learn how to politely decline the request. You might employ a white lie and just say there are simply too many requests already in the queue.
  • Don't be defensive: Some customers can be quite rude when making a song request and demand you play their favourite track. Don't let them get to you. Always take the high road, be polite and simply decline them if they are rude to you.

2. Maintain Control:

While taking requests can enhance the overall experience for clubbers and party goers, it's crucial to maintain control of your decks and the quality of your performance. Learn how to politely distance yourself from the audience and perhaps use a rope or barrier. Bigger DJs will have their own security guard or manager.


  • Focus on the mix: Make sure you have the DJ skills to mix between genres of music and different BPMs flawlessly. If you're looking for advanced one-to-one DJ training consider joining our DJ courses either in our studios or online.
  • Keep it relevant: Only play tracks that work in your DJ set and don't disrupt the flow of your set.
  • Know when to say no: If a song request doesn't work with you set learn how to politely decline and defuse the situation. Explain to the person that you goal is to create a coherent set and that song simply doesn't fit well and you have to think of what the venue wants.


  • Don't sacrifice your style: You want to keep everyone happy but at the same time you are the artists. Don't undermine your own artistic expression by selling out to every song request. Make sure your style stands out. Only play song requests if they work well with your intended set.

3. Handling difficult requests:

Occasionally, you'll encounter challenging requests. Here's how to navigate them:


  • Offer alternatives: If you don't have their favourite song offer an alternative that closes matches but still works with your own DJ set.
  • Educate: Try and reason with the person and educate them in a non-patronising and polite manner. Make sure they realise the reasons for your decision. Always win them over with a smile. Perhaps offer them something instead, like a photo with you in the DJ booth.


  • Don't ignore customers: Even if you're fed up of dozens of requests remain cool and acknowledge every request. If you're getting many requests it would be wise to use a clipboard or tablet as above.

4. Read the room:

One of the most essential skills for the DJ is to read the room. Ideally, you want to play the songs they want before they even think of them themselves!


  • Be plastic: Make sure you a flexible and ready to adapt spontaneously. Have an organised library of music and experience playing in the open-format style.
  • Trust your instincts: If you're a well-versed DJ you will learn how to trust your instincts and go with the flow of the evening.


  • Don't pre-plan your set: Once of the worst rookie mistakes new DJs make is planning their set list. This might sound great in your studio but it won't work in a real party. The vibe and energy of an audience changes from second to second and it's best for DJs to work on the go. Sure, have some set lists prepared but be ready to adapt on the spot. Learning how to mix professionally is paramount for seamless spontaneous DJ sets. Consider booking advanced DJ lessons with us to build your confidence.

In conclusion, song requests can be difficult for DJs to manage. It takes experience to be able to DJ spontaneously adapting to what the audience wants in real time. The key here is to be such a great selector that you're playing the best tracks before they even think to request them. Make sure you're on the forefront of music and build a strong library of tracks to choose from. As always, open-format DJ skills are very important for DJs who take requests. Make sure you learn how to mix any genre of music or BPM flawlessly with our advanced DJ tuition.



Want to Receive DJ & Production Tips?

Sign up to our newsletter to get regular tips, tricks and discounts from DJ Gym