Play that Funky Music: Best Practices for Music at your Event
MOST, IF NOT ALL EVENTS WOULD FEEL PRETTY FLAT WITHOUT MUSIC. WHETHER THE MUSIC IS THE FOCUS OF THE MAIN STAGE OR QUIETLY PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND, HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR TIPS FOR MUSIC FOR YOUR EVENT.
MATCH IT TO YOUR THEME
Maybe this goes without saying, but you wouldn't play Polka music at an upscale French-themed event. Would you? No. No you would not. Explore something outside the box, sure, just make sure it references the style and fits with the decor of your event so that the context feels complete. For instance, if you want to take that fancy French theme, mix it up and make it a little more modern, hire a DJ to play French rap and hip-hop or ambient music instead of what might otherwise be expected.
CHOOSE YOUR TYPE
You may be considering everything from speakers and an iPod playlist, a DJ, or a live musician(s) or a band. Your budget is probably a big part of what you choose (see below) but your choice might also have a lot to do with the ambience you're trying to create. For fancier or more elegant affairs, live music is almost always the best choice. A more rollicking party might call for a DJ to play great dance music or to help create a carefully curated ambience. If all you need is some cool background sound, a simple digital playlist may be enough.
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR BUDGET
If you have champagne taste and a beer pocketbook, think through all of the expenses connected with your music aspirations. There is a lot to consider, especially if you're hiring live musicians: the season, number of musicians, how long you want them to play, travel time and distance, set-up and break down of equipment, time of day and date. You probably also want to tip them. Make sure that you discuss all of the above factors as part of the budget so there are no surprises.*
*A special note about high-profile performers: they come with strings attached. Be certain you have a big budget and a clear understanding of the many extra considerations like security, tour bus parking, non-disclosure agreements, and performers' riders (dressing rooms, specific snacks and drinks, etc.)
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
Having an industry pro, like a sound engineer, in charge of your music is an essential consideration for almost any event. If the volume is too low, or microphone or speaker balances are bad no one will hear anything (or worse, that eardrum shattering microphone reverb squeal). Likewise, if the volume is crazy high, everyone will be yelling to talk above over-amplified tunes. Either way, it would be terrible to choose everything so carefully, to spend all that money on your music and have it ruined by bad balance. A pro will help you get it right and protect the investment you've made in your music by making sure everything sounds the way it should.
Like any vendor you hire, know what you're getting into. Get and check references, make sure you meet the musicians ahead of time and understand the choices being offered to you. Make sure that you get a demo reel (for a live act), song lists from bands & DJs to be sure that you are totally happy with their performance style and their set list well before the event. Talent agencies can be helpful here as often they have a large roster of performers that they represent and can assist you with many of the small details. Your event planner also likely has a long list he or she has worked with successfully before.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
Be sure that your music vendor thoroughly understands your theme, the ambience you are trying to create and how you specifically see the music fitting into and helping to create the feeling of your event. Make sure they are clear about songs you definitely want and songs you'd be livid if you heard them coming out of the speakers. (Just say NO to the Bunny Hop). You can always give them a playlist of requests, highlighting any special songs you want played at specific times. Beyond the music, though, be sure that your music vendor knows exactly what is expected of them: dress code, arrival time, and location of your event.
SO, WHETHER YOU'LL BE MAKING A SPOTIFY PLAYLIST FOR YOUR COMPANY PARTY OR HIRING MAROON 5 FOR YOUR MILLION-DOLLAR GALA, WE HOPE WE'VE HELPED YOU COVER ALL THE BASES HERE. THE BEST PART OF HAVING MUSIC AT YOUR EVENT? GETTING OUT THERE TO DANCE!
P.S. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND KARAOKE, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE'S AN OPEN BAR. HERE'S WHY.