DJ Mark Green: Know Your Audience Before Anything
By Jason Li
To say DJ Mark Green knows how to throw a party is an understatement. With nearly 20 years of experience DJing around the UK and Europe, Mark Green understands better than anyone that becoming a successful DJ is, by no means, a stroll in the park. We decided to have a chat with Mark to figure out how he alters his music to cater to different types of events, as well as what advice he has for aspiring DJs...
What made you want to be a professional DJ?
I love music and I love to entertain. As soon as I realized I could make a living doing what I love, there wasn't another career for me more fitting than music.
How did you learn DJing at first?
Around 1995-1996 I worked (not DJing) in various clubs and bars around Birmingham. All of them were heavily DJ-centric, so I was constantly watching and listening to what the pros were doing. After my shifts I would regularly sneak behind the decks and have a go at the turntables and mixers, practicing what I had just seen and heard. Then I started to pick up bits of old equipment and play around at home. And so it began...
What did you find the most challenging when you first started your music career?
Knowing what to buy on a limited budget was always a challenge. I didn’t have much spare cash back then and the Internet wasn’t as prominent as it is today, so making the right choices about what music equipment to buy was always difficult. I admit that I did make a few bad decisions...
From an artist’s point of view, how do you define a successful performance?
It all comes down to the audience and the reaction and interaction they give you during your last track. For me, a bouncing dance floor hollering for more at the end of the night is the epitome of a 'successful' gig.
What’s the main difference between working as a club DJ and wedding DJ? How much do you have to alter your musical approach to suit a particular event?
In general, people go to a certain club consistently because they like the style of music being played there. So, if you deliver them that type of music fused with a large dose of flare and personality, they will have a good night. On the other hand, wedding crowds are normally a lot more diverse and people’s expectations of 'a good night' can differ a lot.
For each gig, every performance starts with the preparation work, where I always try to read the audience before anything else. For clubs and bars, I normally find that I can construct around 75% of my set based on the type of night and vibe the audience is looking for. I can then practice certain elements of that set beforehand and put my own stamp into the mixes. I still do this to a certain extent with weddings, but you have to be a lot more fluid in your approach and be able to switch things on the fly. As soon as I walk into the scene of a wedding, I can’t help but start checking people out. I mentally put people into different boxes, figuring out what tracks I think will 'get them going'. If I have the time, I will even go and have a chat with some of the guests and find out who is who and what music they are into.
And then there’s the physical side. These days you can rock up at almost any club with a flash drive by plugging it into their CDJs and then you’re 'good to go'. Yet, there is a lot of equipment involved in setting up for a wedding and by far the worst part of the job is... packing and taking everything away at the end of the night.
Which musicians and tracks did you like the most growing up?
To name a few, the likes of Jeremy Healy, Alistair Whitehead, Brandon Block, Boy George, and Pete Tong have all been highly influential to my career. I used to love 'The House Collection' and the early 'The Annual' complilation albums published by the Ministry of Sound. I still listen to them from time to time.
You probably have numerous unforgettable music performances throughout your career; can you name one experience that you deem the most memorable?
That’s a tough one. I have had a couple recently that I would definitely rank in my top 10.
For sheer excitement and experience, I’d go with a gig back in April this year. A couple flew me out to Marrakesh, Morocco, for a 2-day wedding in a stunning walled palace. The whole trip from start to finish was incredible and I was treated as if I were a king. We originally planned to run the evening party from 9 p.m. to midnight. In the end, we wrapped things up at 6 a.m. the following morning – the people just couldn’t stop dancing!
You’ve been around the industry for almost 20 years, what advice would you give to young musicians who are just starting out as DJs for private events?
Become knowledgeable and well versed in mixing different music genres – don’t just stick to a style you’re comfortable with.
Be ready for a call. Party hosts, event companies, and venue owners get let down by DJs all the time, so be ready to drop everything and help them out. You’ll not only be their hero/heroine, but you’ll also most likely to pick up some more gigs off the back of it.
Finally, don’t ever stop practicing. Play with lots of energy… and always smile!
You are one of our most frequently booked musicians on the Headliner platform, how would you suggest your fellow peers to better navigate the platform?
The key to securing bookings on the platform is responding promptly (preferably within 1 day) and asking bookers the right questions. As artists, we should always be professional, direct and friendly. Additionally, it definitely helps to ask clients to put reviews up on the platform, as I recently secured a booking because the client was pleased with my listed reviews.
Imagine if you hadn’t become a DJ, what profession you think you would be in currently?
My wife and I are expecting our third child in November and I've become a highly efficient 'nappy changer' over the years. Surely, someone would pay me for that service?