Event music is one of those elements that can be tricky to plan. It’s typically a “background” kind of thing (although not always), but it’s powerful in that it creates a mood or sets the stage for the energy of the event. Your venue may already have their own policies/procedures about choosing music, but if not, we have some ideas for you.
Whether the music is in the background or the highlight of the gathering, it’s definitely worth planning ahead to choose just the right mix, playlist, band, or DJ.
Choosing Music for Your Event
• When do you need music? You don’t really need music on the show floor (there’s enough noise there already), but you could include background music for event happy hours, meet-and-greets, end-of-event parties, or in the main presentation room as people are gathering before the keynote kick-off. You might have some private dinners or intimate gatherings where music could enhance the mood as well.
• What kind of mood do you want to create? Music before a kick-off keynote should be upbeat and energizing, while happy hour or dinner music could be more subtle and classic (jazz standards, maybe?). A formal reception or a fundraiser will have yet another vibe to them, and celebratory parties still another. Decide what the mood is for the gathering and go from there.
• Who is in your audience? If you’re a garden club with members who are 50+, that will dictate some of your music choices. Or if your venue is hosting an event specifically for up-and-coming horticulturalists in the industry, you’ll want to have that energy reflected in your music. Make your music choices relatable to your audience to create the best connection and vibe.
• Choose live music. Granted, this is a pricier option, but it’s ideal for fundraising receptions or formal events. You may even opt to include live music at the wrap-up party at the end of your multi-day event to close things out on a high note. Look for local bands or jazz trios to appeal to most of your audience; they are typically prepared to play traditional, easygoing music that many people can relate to.
• Hire a DJ. This is a less expensive option, and one that is affordable for most venues if your gathering is large enough and you want to include dancing as a part of your evening schedule.
• Go for karaoke. Yes, we’re serious. One of our industry’s annual conferences includes a karaoke night on the last night of the event, and it’s looked forward to with much enthusiasm (we hear “Love Shack” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” are two favorites) using your own members’ voices as entertainment. You’ll need to hire a company or individual to come with the equipment, but it’s a fun way to add music to your gathering while encouraging interaction.
• Offer an open mic night. You might be surprised at how many attendees or members are budding musicians or who love singing in the shower and want to brave an audience for the first time. Set up a microphone and encourage them to bring their guitars or other instruments, and plan to have a piano on hand. It’s a fun way to experience another side to the people you’re sitting in seminars with.
Tip: You might be tempted to use that amazing Spotify playlist that goes for 3 hours at the happy hour reception, but you’ll need to be sure you are complying with the streaming company’s policies before you connect to the speakers. Spotify playlists are generally only for non-commercial use, but there are other options like Soundtrack Your Brand that help you create playlists for your events for a nominal monthly fee.