Music Questions

All your music and playlist-based questions are answered here!

What if I forgot to put a song on my playlist?

posted May 1, 2014, 1:24 PM by Jeff Ilardi

This is a question that comes up frequently.  Actually, the issue is not what you forgot to put on your playlist it is what you don't want to be on your playlist.  

With music accessible on just about everyone's phone, you can get just about any song you want in just a couple minutes.  It might cost  $1.29, but you can get it.  If you forgot a song, it is pretty easy to get.  

You should be more concerned that this is true for all of your guests as well.  If they really want the Chicken Dance to be played, just to be funny, they will also pay the $1.29 to get the song (actually it is probably only $0.89).

With Just Press Play Productions, if you hire our MC Service you have the ability to tell us how to handle requests.  We take how you want your music played very seriously.   If you do not hire our MC Service, you should think about having someone watch over the music player so that someone does not plug their phone in and start playing their own music.  

When do I start making playlists? And how many playlists do I need?

posted Feb 11, 2013, 2:30 PM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 11:59 AM ]

I have touched on this in other posts on this website but here is a slightly different take on the question.  Normally it is a question about how many playlists but this bride asked me when she should start making these playlists as well.  Here was my answer:

Many ask their guests to include a song suggestion with their RSVP card.  If you have done this obviously you need to wait to get the RSVP's back to finalize the playlist.  Otherwise it is never too early to start.  Always leave room for the new songs that come out early in the summer.  You don't want to exclude Gangnam Style for example.  If you had made your playlist early in 2012 for a wedding in August of 2012 you would not have even known about Gangnam Style.

Here are the basic playlists you will need.

Special Songs (Introductions, First Dance, Bouquet Toss, Last Song, etc.)

That is the least amount of playlists you will need.  Here is what I suggest you should have...

Pre Ceremony
Special Songs
Fast Dance
Slow Dance

If you want to go one step further you could make separate playlists for the special songs.  So a playlist titled "Introductions" with your song or songs in that playlist.  A playlist titled "Cake Cutting" a playlist titled "First Dance" a playlist titled "Father Daughter Dance" etc.

For the dance portion some will create an "Early Fast Dance" playlist and a "Late Fast Dance" playlist.  This way they can put the songs they want played later in the night in the "Late" playlist when hopefully the older guests will not be too shocked to hear a song like "Sexyback" or "Teach Me How to Dougie."  In the "Early" playlist you would put songs your grandparents and the children would like to dance to.   

As I say always say, you can never make too many playlists.  The more playlists the better for everyone involved.  I had a bride and groom not get their macbook to me until a couple minutes before the ceremony was to start.  Thank goodness they made a specific playlist for the parents processional, the bridal party processional and the brides processional because I had no time to ask questions or figure it out. I opened their macbook, saw the playlists, looked up saw the parents ready to go and started the song in that playlist.  Had it just been in a playlist titled "Ceremony" I would have had a little more difficulties making sure I was playing the right song.  

Just for the record, always try and get your music players as early as possible to the venue.  This will allow whoever is connecting your player to the speaker system time to get it connected, sounding good, and also have some time with your player and playlists before the event starts.

Number of songs and song selection for a Wedding

posted Aug 20, 2012, 9:15 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:02 PM ]

I have another post further down that covers some of this as well.  It is a little more general based and I get many questions about this subject for weddings.  So this post is more guided towards wedding receptions.

Below I suggest about an average of 20 songs and hour.  Here I am going to break it down for the different parts of a wedding.  

Pre Ceremony.  I suggest about 20 songs.  Regardless if you are planning 15 -30 minutes for your pre-ceremony it is always good to have extra songs in case things get delayed. This is usually music the bride and groom will not hear so pick music your guests and family will enjoy, not your favorite music.

Cocktails.  I suggest at least 25 songs for cocktails.  Again, this is normally a time for pictures so the bride and groom will not hear most of this music so again pick songs you think the guests will like.  I suggest up beat music, to keep guests in a good mood while they wait to be fed.  Many guest come hungry to weddings and can get a bit grumpy while waiting for dinner.  Upbeat music will help keep them happy.

Dinner.  I suggest at least 40 songs for dinner.  This of course depends on how many guests you have and what type of dinner you are having.   Larger numbers take longer to serve.  Plated meals generally take longer than buffet style dinners.  If you are having a buffet style dinner with over 100 guests I would always inquire about a double sided buffet.  double sided buffets always go faster.  If it is a buffet that is manned by servers then this will take a little longer too. For plated meals, unless you have a small group, under 100 guests, I would suggest at least 50 songs for dinner.  This is the time of the reception to put all your favorite songs.  Sometimes the parents have a say in this and want calmer music and that is fine too.  It is going to be background music so for the most part people will hardly recognize the type of music you are playing for dinner.

Cocktails and Dinner are two ares that generally go longer than you expect them to go.  Cocktails is dependent on how long the pictures take sometimes for example.  If it is raining or there are other unforeseen elements that get int he way this can sometimes take longer.  For dinner, brides and grooms often forget about the visiting tables part.  This generally happens after you have eaten.  In a buffet situation this can happen sooner than a plated dinner which means you can get to dancing faster.  The table visiting needs to happen before dancing because the success of the dance floor is dependent on how much time you spend on the dance floor or by the dance floor.   

Dancing I suggest about 17 songs per hour.  For two hours of dancing it is about 35 songs.  For 3 hours of dancing about 50 songs.  Typically weddings usuall end up with an average of 2 1/2 hours of dancing and get through about 40 - 45 songs.  This is where you want to pick songs that will make you and your guests run to the dance floor.  Do not put your favorite songs in the dance music.  Just because you like the song does not mean you want to dance to it.    

As for the slow versus fast, this is a little dependent on your crowd.  If you have a lot of couples and very few singles coming then more slow songs might be nice.  Otherwise, I normally suggest 1-2 slow songs an hour.  A slow dance eliminates anyone from the dance floor that does not have someone to dance with so you don't want too many of these.  If yo have three hours of dancing time you will need about 6 slow songs.  I suggest picking 10 slow songs, and put your favorite 6 slow songs first in the list.

Music for Cocktails and Dinner? Pre-Ceremony?

posted Jun 5, 2012, 8:38 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:02 PM ]

This is a question I was just asked this morning.  My answer was Yes!  It is a pretty dull party without music during the cocktails and dinner.  Assuming you have access to the volume control or someone watching the levels for you to make sure guests can still have conversations.

This leads to the question what kind of music?  For weddings, if you are the bride or groom, you probably will not hear most of this music.  Neither will your family.  So pick music you think your guests will like.  I would suggest something upbeat for this period as you want the guests to get in a party mood.

For dance music I always tell customers "Do not pick music you like, pick music that will make you run to the dance floor."  The music you like can be used for Cockatils and Dinner.  Dinner is also a good time to play instrumental music.

Pre-Cereomny Music.

This is something most wedding couples forget about. But I feel it is important.  Guests will arrive at least 30 minutes early to your ceremony.  For venues that take longer to get to or parking is an issue, they may show up even earlier.  Usually you will have chairs setup in advance, flowers in place, etc., the final touch is to have some music playing as people arrive.  Many customers pick songs that mean something to them and their fiance.  Again, this is a time perfect for instrumental music.

Be sure to pick more music than you need.  It is really hard to get all the groomsmen, bridesmaids, parents, wedding officiant, photographer etc. to all be on-time.  So many times the ceremony starts a few minutes late.  Don't add another level of stress by not having enough music to cover if things are running a little late.  Just plan for extra music or at the very least put your playlist on repeat.  

Order of Songs in the Dance Playlist for Weddings

posted Apr 25, 2012, 2:10 PM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:04 PM ]

One of the great things the iPod DJ service is you get to do something unique and different with your song order.  However, if you would like to have some idea of the general flow of the songs in your dance playlist, this is for you.  Once you know the general formula you can vary from the formula however you think will best work for your party.  This is also assuming you are not having anyone at the controls and you are just going to press play and let it go.

I must put a disclaimer in here for all of my DJ friends.  The art of mixing like songs and keeping the flow going through your dance period is something that many DJ's work very hard at for many years.  I do not mean to simplify what it is they do, only to help give you a beginners guide.

At most weddings there is a large range in ages.  This is what makes weddings more difficult than most other types of dance parties.  This is just one of the reasons why DJ's charge more.  You want to make sure you appeal to all ages with the music.  

Start off with older songs, fun songs for the kids and dance song classics.  I generally will start off with 3-5 of these type of songs and then put in a good modern dance song.  Something that is less than 10 years old.  Then back to the oldies and classics.  About song #6-9 you are going to want to have a slow dance.  

After this you can start to play more modern songs, mixed in with the occasional oldie or dance classic.  Generally by the time you get to the last hour of the night you are going to be playing mostly modern dance songs and this is most likely where the majority of the bride and groom's favorite songs are going to be.

I usually try and slow it down about every 35-45 minutes, especially in the beginning of the night.  Keep your slow dances limited to one long song or two short songs.  And if you love to a dance to a particular song, don't be afraid to put it in there twice.  There is no rule about not playing a song twice. 

Matching like genres.  Some people think this is really fun to do.  Putting two 80's songs together is ok, but usually the novelty wears off pretty quick. Also, be careful of going from a 50's or 60's song to a 90's or current day song.  This is usually two different audiences and you can cause a lot of turnover on the dance floor.  Fun ageless dance songs are the best to put in between two drastic genres.  Michael Jackson has many of these ageless dance songs.

With that information you should be well on your way.  (DJ note here: I have been DJing for over 25 years and I have seen this formula not work many times.  So this is not a 100% guaranteed formula.)  What is so great about the iPod DJ Service is you have the ability to do whatever you want.  I had a customer put a slow song for every fast song on the playlist.  The order was, slow-fast-slow-fast the whole night.  And the dance floor was packed the whole night!  I am glad they did not use my formula.  Some weddings have less single guests than others and so more slow songs are important.  An audience that is mostly single is not going to want as many slow songs.  You really have to think about your audience.  

And as I tell every bride and groom, if you select songs you love to dance to then you will be dancing and enjoying yourself.  And your guests came to celebrate your marriage, not to cut a rug on the dance floor.  If they see you up on the dance floor having fun and enjoying yourselves then they will be happy and enjoying themselves regardless as to if they dance or not.  And that is the ultimate goal.

The First Dances

posted Dec 27, 2011, 7:46 PM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:04 PM ]

Many couples spend more time picking the first few dances than they do the rest of the songs.  So here are some suggestions that might help.

First you need to think about how long you want to dance for.  Many couples will select a song that is 5 minutes long and after a couple of minutes on the dance floor by themselves it gets a little awkward.  Unless you have a dance routine planned for the entire length of the song you should look for a shorter song or plan on fading out of the song early.  

Another option others have chosen was to have just one song for all three of the first dances.  Or choose just one song for your dances with your parents.  Now you have shortened your song search down to one or two songs.

The other suggestion is to pick your songs last.  Make your song lists and then look through your lists and often you will realize there is a good song already in your lists.  Again, remember you only need a couple of minutes of the song.


posted Nov 17, 2011, 10:57 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:05 PM ]

As an iPod DJ, you have the ability to pull up a request pretty easily. And even if you do not have the request, someone else probably does on their phone or an iPod they broguht with them. Usually the person requesting the song has it.

First I have to tell my favorite "request" story and then you will get an idea of how I feel about requests.

I have been in the DJ business, in radio and mobile, for over 25 years. And I had never had anyone request a song that really was a complete hit. Until this one fateful night. I was providing iPod DJ Service for a couple who was celebrating their 25th anniversary and they were renewing their vows and having the whole reception and everything all over again. And they wanted the same music from 25 years ago. So here we are with Bob Seger, Rolling Stones, The Who, etc. and along comes their teenage daughter who requests, The Hansen Brothers "Mmm Bop." I spend 5 minutes with her explainging that it does not fit, I don't have it, every excuse in the book I could think of. She had it on her own iPod and swore up and down that it would be a big hit and her parents loved the song. I could not shake her. So I finally gave in and plugged her iPod in and played the song.

This was it, that big hit request I had been looking for! There was not an empty seat, the dance floor was completely packed, people were yelling and screaming and throwing their hands up in the air like they just didn't care! Finally a truely great request. One minute into the song the girl comes back to me and says "give me back my iPod!" "What!" I exclaimed. "It was supposed to be a joke," she said. and then my heart sank. I was back to where I was before, still in search of an actual genuine request that would be a "hit."

Requests are a touch and go situation.  First you must realize that people want to hear their request right now.  If at all possible stop what you are playing and play their song right now.  Many don't understand the flow of the music and how one song fits with another.  This is really more of a DJ thing and is not as big of a deal as many make it out to be.  Still, it is pretty hard to go from "Jump Around" to "Unforgettable" without really shocking the guests.  So be honest, tell them if you want to play their song or not, and tell them when it is going to be played.

Song Lists

posted Nov 17, 2011, 7:55 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Jan 25, 2017, 4:13 PM ]

Here is the Just Press Play top songs that show up on playlists...
(There is over 4 hours of music here!)

Etta James: At Last
Sir Mix-A-Lot: Baby Got Back
Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl
ABBA: Dancing Queen
Frank Sinatra: The Way You Look Tonight
Michael Jackson: Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough
Outkast: Hey Ya
B52's: Love Shack
Justin Timberlake: Sexyback
Beyonce: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
LMFAO: Party Rock Anthem
Beatles: Twist and Shout
Louis Armstrong: What A Wonderful World
Commodores: Brick House
Isley Brothers: Shout! Part 1 & 2
Journey: Don't Stop Believin'
Bon Jovi: Livin' On A Prayer
Four Seasons: December, 1963 (Oh What A Night!)
Michael Jackson: Billie Jean
Black Eyed Peas: I Gotta Feeling
DNCE: Cake By The Ocean
LMFAO: Sexy and I Know It
Michael Jackson: Thriller
Young M.C.: Bust A Move
Lady Gaga: Just Dance
Dexy's Midnight Runners: Come On Eileen
Usher: Yeah!
Black Eyed Peas: Boom Boom Pow
Katy Perry: Not N Cold
Taio Cruz: Dynamite
Harry Connick Jr.: It Had To Be You
Frank Sinatra: Fly Me To The Moon
Queen: Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Earth Wind and Fire: September
Pitbull: I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)
Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline
Teptations: My Girl
Miley Cyrus: Party in the USA
AC/DC: You Shook Me All Night Long
Kenny Loggins: Footloose
Cupid: Cupid Shuffle
Elvis Presley: Can't Help Falling In Love
Justin Timberlake: Rock Your Body
Lady Gaga: Poker Face
Rihanna: Don't Stop The Music 
Jackson 5: ABC
Beyonce: Crazy In Love
Bob Seger: Old Time Rock and Roll
James Taylor: How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You
Usher: DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love
Al Green: Let's Stay Together
Daft Punk: Get Lucky
Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
Pharrell Williams: Happy 
Cake: Love You Madly
Mark Ronson (Feat. Bruno Mars): Uptown Funk
Eric Clapton: Wonderful Tonight
Pitbull: Don't Stop The Party
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: Can't Hold Us
Natalie Cole: Unforgettable
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World
Kool & The Gang: Celebration
Village People: YMCA
Bee Gees: Stayin' Alive
Sister Sledge: We Are Family
Katy Perry: Last Friday Night
House of Pain: Jump Around
Haddaway: What Is Love
Train: Marry Me
Bruno Mars: Marry You
Stevie Wonder: Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours
Kesha: Tik Tok
Mr. C: Cha Cha Slide 
DJ Snake & Lil' John: Turn Down For What
WALK THE MOON: Shut Up and Dance
Justin Timberlake: Can't Stop The Feeling!
Wild Cherry: Play That Funky Music
Andy Grammer: Honey, I'm Good
Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
Will Smith: Gettin' Jiggy With It
P!nk: Get The Party Started
Pitbull/Ke$sha: Timber
Bruno Mars: Treasure

Song Quality

posted Nov 17, 2011, 7:30 AM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:07 PM ]

When using digital music files, especially for a party where the music is going to be amplified to loud levels, be sure to get good quality files.

If you download the songs from a CD, these are usually the best, depending on what format you are converting it to. Second, if you purchase the song from iTunes, Amazon or other reputable companies, you are generally getting the next best digital music file. Once you start getting songs from free sites and passed on to you from friends etc., that is when you start to get in the area of questionable quality. It may sound good on your computer but not amplified through big speakers.

For Just Press Play Productions, we get our songs from CD's, iTunes and Amazon.


posted Jul 21, 2011, 7:33 PM by Jeff Ilardi   [ updated Mar 23, 2014, 12:07 PM ]

Yes, make lots of playlists. If you check out my Blog Post about iPod DJ Tips For Success you will see I mention this there too.

My motto is the more playlists the better. Make a playlist for every event at your party. It makes locating the songs during the party that much easier and faster.

For weddings, make a playlist for your special songs like first dance, cake cutting etc. You can even make individual playlists for each of those special songs.

Label your playlists with the same name and numerically. Example: Wed1-PreCeremony, Wed2-Ceremony, Wed3-Cocktails, Wed4-Dinner, Wed5-Specials, Wed6-Fast Dance, Wed7-Slow Dance. You can then create playlists in between like this: Wed2.1-Processional, Wed2.2-Recessional, Wed3.1-Introductions, Wed4.1-Cake Cutting, Wed5.1-First Dance, Wed5.2-Father Daughter, Wed5.3-Mother Son, Wed6.1-Last Dance.

In the end it would look like this:

Wed1-Pre Ceremony
Wed4.1-Cake Cutting
Wed5.1-First Dance
Wed5.2-Father Daughter
Wed5.3-Mother Son
Wed6-Fast Dance
Wed6.1-Last Dance
Wed7-Slow Dance

Even for a general party you could have playlists like this: Party1-R&B, Party2-Oldies, Party3-Rap, Party4-House Music, Party5-Pop Music, Party6-Rock and Roll, etc.

This just helps you from having to scroll through one long list of songs.

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