Meet the Profit-Maximizing DJ (and field researcher)

Yale Fox, a professional DJ, has applied a more scientific approach to his job than most: he studies nightclub behavior and tries to respond in a profit-maximizing way. His undergraduate thesis aimed to “determine a format that provided maximal amount of customer satisfaction and highest bar revenues.” So when he’s working, Fox plays a carefully calculated mix of songs balancing genre, gender, and so on. Check out his blog for more on the psychology of music, including a discussion of a paper on the “Manilow Method — a technique used to deter local youths from late-night loitering and noise-making. Essentially, a combination of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits and classical music were blasted from a local parking lot that was typically overrun with loitering teens.”

Club goers, including patrons, bar staff, disc jockeys, owners and management all agree that music is an integral part of the club experience. Music contributes to the (i) overall club experience, (ii) bar revenues, (iii) how late customers stay after “last call”, (iv) and overall customer satisfaction at the end of the evening. This paper will examine the role of the DJ’s and his or her musical selections on the nightclub experience and his or her influence on club revenues via music choices.

A number of the world’s top DJs suggest that people want to dance and party to music which they are familiar with. The “Billboard Pop 100 Charts” (Nielsen Business Media, 2008) the “Billboard Hot 100”1 and the “Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs” (Nielsen Business Media, Billboard Charts – Singles – Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, 2008) are used here as reference points. The Pop 100 charts are more relevant to the general public, whereas the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs are more specific to the Elixir Nightclub’s particular demographic.

  • Types of music:

The following is a description of the type of music that is used in the Elixir Nightclub and the degree to which the general public is acquainted with them;

  • The “Big Song”. This is the song typically is rated #1 on one of the billboard charts. It can also be rated as #1 on multiple billboard charts. ”Fresh” songs they have a clear pronounced effect on the dance-floor. Their energy diminishes as the song gets older. This study will explore the optimal time to retire these tracks from the DJ’s repertoire.
  • “Club Tracks” have songs which have ranked high up on the charts within the past year. They are not as popular as the “Big Songs” and are therefore were not played as dramatically. These tracks are typically not retired after a given length of time, but are played in rotation in most clubs.
  • “Classic Tracks” have typically ranked within the Top 10 charts after 2002. This year was is a mid-way marker because it was roughly the time when the music industry started to embrace the Rap/Hip-Hop style music. This style currently makes up the large majority of the Pop 100 charts as well as the Elixir’s particular demographic. These songs are used as markers in order to identify music.
  • “Super-Classic Tracks” ranked high on the music charts before 2002.
  • “Sinkers” are tracks that have been falling off the charts.
  • “Duds” are tracks that have a negative effect on the dance-floor, make people stop dancing, look around, and create a generally negative feeling.
  • “Bubblers” are tracks that appear to be rising quickly and may make it to the top of the charts.
  • “Unrated Positive” are those that that have a positive effect on the dance floor but never made it onto the charts. They are typically “house” tracks which are considered “clubby” but not mainstream.
  • “Unrated Negative” tracks have a negative effect on the dance-floor, and were never charted. These are also usually “house” tracks.
  • Stereotypical Male & Female Tracks are special types of tracks created by the artist and label. They clearly favor one gender over the other. This is accomplished primarily through content, but also influenced by the gender of the artist.

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