“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Just about everybody enjoys some type of music. The right song can get you feeling in the right mood. That’s why the type of soundtrack you choose for an event (just like personalised merchandise) can set the tone and either make or break the occasion. Whether it’s subtle background music at a conference, or rock and roll at an anniversary party, choosing the right tunes is essential.
We’ve put together some ideas for music at events that are guaranteed to bring in that feel good factor.
Music for corporate events
Background music works best here. You’ll generally want something subtle that guests hardly notice, but that makes them feel calm at the same time. You can use music at meetings, business dinners, conferences and trade shows to enhance the atmosphere. Soundtracks help smooth over mingling and chatting, and can give a corporate event an air of sophistication.
Instrumental music works well at business events too, especially during breaks or pauses while people move from one event to the next. A string quartet, a solo piano player, or even a live singer can all work, just so long as they’re quiet enough that people can hear their conversations.
You might think live music equals stages and high volume speakers, but this needn’t be the case. There are many musicians available for corporate events whose singing will not make attendees run away to the nearest toilet whenever they need to answer a call. Music is also a great option for a break between talks – I don’t understand why events don’t do this more often – it gives you a chance to relax and take your mind off work.
For example, TED Talks! They’re always a good one to look to when you’re talking about event planning, as their series of short but engaging talks have spread like wildfire online. They actually have a whole set of events dedicated to music, which includes speeches about music and performances. You can see some examples here.
As with weddings, the possibilities for a party soundtrack are endless. They can range anywhere from the house going through K-Pop to classical. It’ll definitely depend on the theme of the party, as well as who’s going! Some popular party themes and music are:
- Songs from the era – 20’s through to current day
- Love songs – great for anniversaries (what about playing the couple’s first dance song from their wedding?)
- Caribbean – reggae, calypso, steel bands…
- Dance – salsa, Latin, tango, merengue, cha-cha, waltz, flamenco, ballroom, twist, swing, rock ‘n’ roll…
- Country and western – bring on the line dancing, y’all!
- Sports – official anthems, pop, commercial…
You don’t need a band or a DJ to have an unforgettable party. Create your very own playlist using music platforms like Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music. And if you don’t have the time to put one together yourself, choose one of the many that are already featured. Just remember to get a good stereo system!
Playlists.net has two great resources for people hoping to put together an awesome party playlist with minimal effort. First, they have a “Playlist Generator”, where you can enter how many tracks you want and up to three artists you like. Their program will create the perfect playlist for you.
Music isn’t just played at awards shows like the Oscars for fun. It also helps keep the event running by letting people know when it’s time to come up to the stage — or to wrap up those thank you’s sharpish.
It’s also great for creating tension and excitement. For example, during the build-up to the announcement of the award anticipating music can be played, followed by a blast and fanfare on the announcement. This theme can also be used at corporate events.Your music choices will be dictated by what sort of awards you’re passing out.
Here’s a lot of variation here, because there are lots of different types of awards shows! You can check out what the MTV Movie Awards played for an idea of what an event for young, pop-culture savvy people could sound like. Or, listen to what the Oscars theme song sounds like to get inspired for a high-end event.
The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games was a theatrical spectacle that was watched by 900 million viewers worldwide, making it the most viewed Olympic kickoff event ever! These types of occasions, like the Super Bowl half-time show, tend to offer musical breaks in order to bring pop culture and sports together.
Another major tradition at the beginning of sporting events is to sing the national anthems of the playing teams’ countries. Not only does it officially begin the activities, but it also boosts morale and evokes national pride. In general, “Go big or go home” is pretty applicable to sports events, too! Blaring rock music and top 40 hits are always a good standby, along with any special team chants or songs. Throw in a few classics like Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, and you’re well on your way to a fantastic event.
Note: Now that you know how what music to play at events, it’s time to learn how to serve alcohol.
So…how do I hire a musical act?
Give yourself plenty of time, especially if you’ve never hired live entertainment before. There are always things that come up, and especially popular performers may be booked months in advance.
Also, know that it may be up to you to negotiate arrangements, including prices. Do your research and ask around to figure out how much performers usually cost in your area, as it can vary. You should also know how long you want the band to perform for, what time range you need them to be for, and so on. If you give the band or their representation more details, it’ll be easier for you both to come to an agreement you like.
You’ll need to be clear about logistics. Is your event outdoor or indoor? Night or day? Do you have lighting and sound equipment? Where do you need them to perform? How loud do you want the music to be? Will you want the band to perform with other performers, like dancers or acrobats?
Don’t be afraid to talk to the band about what you’re looking for. Lots of bands are more than happy to work with you to get exactly the right experience for the occasion.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to figure out payment somehow, too. You’ll probably want your performers to be able to send you an invoice. Most musicians are independent contractors, but you will want to check on this ahead of time so you don’t run into any snags later.
Still not sure how to book a live band? This piece on LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for everything you need to know about hiring musical acts for events!
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