I am pleased to publish the results from the first survey that Dancers Say What has conducted. I reached out to as many dance event organizers as I could to ask them to take a short survey about DJ’s and their events.
First of all, I must note that this survey exposed my own biases. My network is very much skewed towards the Blues and Swing worlds.
For the next survey, I desperately need to expand out into the other dance worlds. Does anyone want to help me with this? If you are knowledgeable and passionate about some of the other dance styles, and are interested in contributing to this project, please email me. Let’s chat!
Now on to the results of the survey. We had 79 respondents, which I think is quite solid for a first survey. Listed below you will find the results, along with some of my own commentary on them. Lastly, I closed this post out with a selection of responses to the question, “What do you wish DJ’s would do more often?”
Most of the respondents organize events in the Blues and Swing worlds. Brazilian Zouk composed the majority of the “other” responses. In general, responses tended to fall into “families.” There is the “Swing family,” the “Blues & Fusion family,” and the “Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba family.”
Looking deeper into the data, Lindy Hop events tended to be the largest, with over 65% of 200 plus people events dancing Lindy Hop. This being said, there was a lot of diversity in the sizes of events across the spectrum of dance styles.
I’m speculating as to why most organizations are non-profit, but my guess would be because most people do it for the love of the dance, not as a job. Maybe in the future, I should ask DJ’s if they DJ because of a profit motive, or because of the love of the performance?
One take away from this question was that the dance style that hired musicians the least was Zouk, of which 75% said they never hire live musicians. I admit that the sample size was smaller than the other styles, but it makes me curious to learn more about the live music dynamic in the Zouk scene.
For me, this was one of the most important questions. In talking with my DJ friends, getting paid for their work is always an issue that is brought up.
Out of all of the styles of dance who had more than 10 responses, the style that almost always hired DJ’s was… Balboa, with 95% of organizers saying that they pay for DJ’s services. Cheers to them!
Comparing whether organizers hire musicians and/or DJ’s, we can see that while live musicians are often hired, DJ’s are much more likely to be a part of the event. Which leads up to the next question. If DJ’s are more likely to be hired than musicians, are they promoted the same?
Interesting, no? I guess this also gets into the classic dilemma of picking the headliner for your event. Promotion can be tricky stuff.
It seems like the local community is the big winner here. The logical follow up question for me is if you are a DJ, how do you be a part of that local community?
Are there ways that organizers encourage the development of DJ’s in their local communities? How often to DJ’s travel to other communities? How do DJ’s develop their reputations in local communities outside of their own? Do organizers have tools to find DJ’s from other local communities? Lots of potential future questions here…
And finally, a selection of answers to the question “What do you wish DJ’s would do more often?”
“Play for the audience, not for themselves, listen to organizer.”
“Pay attention to the audience.”
“Pay closer attention to the floor.”
“Promote our events as we are promoting them.”
“Producing usable promotional images of themselves instead of stupid selfies with thumbs up.”
“Highlight some of their songs and tell us a little bit about what inspired their set or if there’s an artist or song they are really excited about sharing.”
So yes, I hope the results of this survey helps both DJ’s and organizers with their events. As I mentioned at the start, this survey process has illustrated some weaknesses in my dance network. I really need to find some help with someone who knows the dance scenes outside of my expertise. Please contact me if you want to help me with the next survey!