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Music & Entertainment

Not Just Background Music

April 17, 2009 By: Michael Harrelson Night Club and Bar Magazine

Tune Town
Is Barton a DJ in disguise? No. In fact, he turns to the experts to help him make the right music mix appear effortless. Toronto-based Hitmen Entertainment Services creates music playlists for Jack Astor’s, and advises the company on the music programming format, essentially delivering a secret weapon to compete in the city’s vibrant hospitality trade.

Finding the right vibe to fit the room is just the first step, says Hitmen Entertainment president DeMarinis. What separates the amateurs from the pros in stacking the music, he explains, is the ability to control the dynamic of the entire room and maintain the energy level throughout the night.

“Seventy-five percent of the job has nothing to do with the equipment or the way you look,” DeMarinis says. “It’s about picking the best songs, playing them in the right order and playing them at the right time. You want to keep the flow going. The worst thing that can happen is to play something that takes patrons out of their vibe.”

As DeMarinis advises clients that include bar, club and restaurant operators in Canada and the United States, live DJs as well as music derived from playlists each have their own harmonious place on the musical roster.

“On a Friday or Saturday or a Thursday, you are probably better off hiring a live DJ,” he says. “A live DJ has presence. The person is actually there. What that also means is, a DJ can actually pinpoint the mood and atmosphere of the room.”

The artistry and skill of a DJ is not just measured in his or her ability to read a crowd, however, DeMarinis adds. It will also be apparent, even if only on a subconscious level among guests, in the seamlessness of the house’s music tapestry.

“If you are playing Sinatra for an older crowd and for whatever reason, the next song is Justin Timberlake, and then you jump to AC/DC, there is no rhyme or reason. You are not going to enhance anyone’s stay. A good DJ will be able to get from playing Sinatra to Justin Timberlake. It might take three or four songs to get there, but the difference is, you are not taking people out of the moment.”
Still, DeMarinis suggests operators be circumspect in how they select a DJ for a special event or a weekend kickoff.

“You should consider your options,” he says. “Not all DJs can play for every type of crowd. They don’t get into it. Some guys love music and some love a specific kind of music.”

Above all, DeMarinis cautions, management needs to communicate openly with the DJ selected for the gig.

“It is very important to be straightforward about the kind of music you want played and the kind of clientele you want. And you should also listen to what a DJ has to say, because they have music expertise.”

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