Music exists all around us and, whether we know it or not, it influences the way we feel and, at times, the decisions we make. It helps shape the way we think, defines our personal tastes and draws us to those who share in these same tastes. By recognizing this power, music becomes as equally important to an event, as the venue choice, the catering, the keynote speaker and the decorations. When done right, harnessing music’s potential to create a unique ambiance, that resonates positively with an intended audience, can leave a lasting impression on the attendees. Having said that, if its decided music will play an important role in an event, there is much to consider.
What Music Systems Do You Need?
Before the music selection can be considered, having the right music systems in place is very important. Nothing is worse than spending a great deal of time and energy selecting the right music only to have these selections ruined by technical difficulties. When thinking about music systems, the right partner is crucial, ensuring a flawless experience. Many venues will have an in-house A/V team with an expertise in setting up speakers, mixers, and microphones and operating them on the day of your event. Ideally, choose a venue with one of these in-house teams, this decision will avoid the extra time spent sourcing a knowledgable, third-party who can ensure the right sound for the venue. If an in-house team, however, is not available at the venue, there are many knowledgable, third-party, A/V experts who will offer clear guidance, installation and operating staff the day of the event.
Another music system consideration is the business music provider. Business music providers are usually fully-licensed, music solutions that cater to retail, commercial and hospitality clients for background use. Different providers each have their own benefits, but when choosing a provider for a live event, the ideal system should be portable, allowing full-control over the music from a tablet or smartphone, it should be reliable, there should never be a dropout in service, and finally, the service should be on-demand, allowing access and full-control over the music selections.
Are You Playing The Right Music?
Once the systems are in place, thought can be given to the music selections and there are two different options for this: DIY (do-it-yourself) or work with a music consultant. Similar to the above recommendation about selecting a venue with an in-house A/V team, it is best to work with a music provider that also offers in-house, music consultants. This way there is a network of support should a last minute change to the music be required.
Music consultants are people who work in the music space, defining brand identities and creating the right sonic identity, with music, based on demographics, intended ambiance, and brand personality. Moreover, music consultants monitor the ever-changing musical landscape and can keep the auditory component of a event new and exciting. In the same way a music consultant works with a brand, ensuring the music messaging is complimentary to the overall brand messaging, they too can define the right sonic landscape for an event.
The music consultant is armed with a deep knowledge of the different genres of music from different time periods and has access to a limitless database from which they curate their selections. Most times it takes more than one type of music to create different moods and, because of this, the music consultant’s knowledge is invaluable. Additionally, a music consultant will organize and schedule the music based on a event’s itinerary and can create added dynamics to the overall impression of an event.
It is important to note, a good music consultant knows the music is, by no means, the draw to an event and that music serves the purpose, in these physical spaces, as it does in movies. Like a movie, the music creates a mood in a passive way. When we watch movies we actively focus on the visuals, the characters, the dialogue and the plot but, passively, we are instructed how to feel about the scene by the music. In drawing this comparison, a movie and an event can be very similar, with regard to music. During a networking session you may want to set an upbeat, relaxed mood. Before a keynote speaker you may want to create tension and anticipation that is released only when the speaker arrives to talk. There may be a themed dinner or luncheon that requires a nostalgic, Rat Pack type of mood. This all can only be accomplished with music. The possibilities are really limitless and the right music consultant can assist in unlocking this potential.
If you decide to go the DIY route, try and think like a music consultant. Define the subtle shifts in mood as an event progresses and think creatively to match these moods with songs. If pairing moods with music is a little too abstract of a concept, try an exercise – think back to when a movie made you feel a particular way, revisit that scene and take note of the music playing. Though it may be time-consuming, I’m sure you could come up a playlist of music for your event by defining these moods and matching them to parts in movies.
Whatever you decide for your next event, take the liberty of shattering of the mold, breaking the rules a little and offering something new and exciting. If the goal of is to create a lasting impression, one that will retain your current attendees and attract new ones as well, then there is a lot opportunity to explore the power of music to meet these ends.
Music sommeliers for experiential brands