At a previous Christmas do, some of my then-collegues set up an iPod mixer and allocated three-song DJ slots, so we decided to open up the music to the whole company. Crowdsourcing is very 2009, and it was in no way a desperate attempt to cut costs by dispensing with a DJ.
In a schoolboy error of epic proportions, I forgot to measure the cable required, and as the serious hedonism got underway it became clear that the democratic DJing wasn't going to happen. Fortunately there was a plan B: I'd made a collaborative Spotify playlist and shared it with other members of the party-planning committee -- sans ads: I'm Premium, baby.
Having taken down a brew or two, it occured to me that with Wi-Fi access and the wonder of Spotify playlists, the democratic decknology was back on. All we needed was a second laptop for people to fill with their choices.
We then shared that playlist with our master laptop in the venue's office, and we were free to go back to our drinking, dancing and fighting with large inflatable fruit.
It brought home to me what a game-changer Spotify is. I used to have to pre-plan my DJ sets when I rocked the dancefloor (Let's Go!, Beckton's premier student indie night, every Monday 2001-2004) and cart about bags of cracked CDs. It cost me a fortune. iPods cut down on the backache, but you still have to get the music in the first place.
The canny DJ will fill an iPod with stuff that isn't on Spotify, but if you keep Metallica and the Beatles in your pocket, Spotify can make any DJ set totally spontaneous, able to go almost anywhere. The only downside is that when someone asks for a really awful record, you can no longer get away with looking pained and saying, "Sorry mate -- haven't got that with me..."