part of the vibe

Have you ever noticed that when you hear a certain song you automatically feel better? Your mood lightens or you become more energized. This happens to me on an almost daily basis. For the record (no pun intended), Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” do that for me.

It really doesn’t matter what mood I’m in. When I hear certain songs, my mood shifts and I start to think about things a little differently, sometimes a lot differently. Music has power. There is a reason why music is so important to nightclubs, weddings, movies and more. Music sets a vibe.

So, here’s a question: Are you using the full power of music to set the vibe at your events?

At a client’s recent convention, we used music to set a vibe each day. Sure, we had walk in and walk out music for the full-audience plenary sessions, but we also had an actual professional DJ spinning tunes outside the plenary session room in what we called the “Hub”. The Hub offered high tables with stools, food and drink and of course, that DJ setting the all-important vibe. In the case, it was the vibe of a “new day” representing this organization’s new leadership. It was imperative that the music set the tone for this new optimism and this new management philosophy and that it matched the messaging and branding of the new leadership. It also helped that the convention was located in Minneapolis, home to the late, legendary Prince. We opened the doors to the plenary session to Prince’s high energy hit “1999” and participants walked in to the auditorium to music by his protégé artists Sheila E, The Time and Tevin Campbell. Right before the start of the session, we closed our music segment with Prince’s hit “Let’s Go Crazy”, featuring a purple spotlight on the stage as tribute to the Purple One.

Before I go any further, in order to use music at your event legally and properly, it’s imperative that you ensure your organization and events have proper ASCAP and BMI licenses to remain in compliance with copyright laws. You can learn more about that from a short Biz Bash New York article here. All this music is fun and uplifting, but it won’t be fun at all if you get slapped with a fine.

OK, back to the fun.

My client’s recent event in Minneapolis featured music everywhere within the three-day program and included music from just about every genre. We took cues from Minneapolis and Prince of course, but also took inspiration from the plenary session themes (global music one day for a session on global trends) and from the participants themselves. Where were they coming from? What was the primary attendance demographic? All of these factors contributed to the playlist development, and it certainly contributed to the overall vibe of the convention: fun, optimistic and a little edgy at times.

Here are some tips to creating an awesome musical vibe at your next program:

  1. Think carefully about the event’s brand messaging. What’s driving your event’s theme and is there music that can support it in an uplifting and positive way?
  2. In what city will you be located? Can you use the destination to support your musical vibe? Some destinations like Austin, Nashville and Detroit are obvious, but what about educating your audience on artists from the region they might not have known about?
  3. Who are your speakers? Can they inspire your musical selections based on their talk topic?
  4. Can you crowdsource your playlists prior to the event? Not only is this a great pre-engagement tool, you can share the list post event online and your attendees can remember the good times!
  5. If you can afford it, hire local live musicians or college or high school students to play each morning as attendees walk in, have lunch or move from space to space. You’ll be amazed at how unexpected live music puts a smile on people’s faces.

Taking the time to carefully think through your music selections is just one aspect of creating vibe at a program. In a future blog, I’ll talk about other elements that impact your event vibe and what you can do change the attitude and experience of your participants with a few simple shifts and adjustments.

Talk to me!
How are you featuring music at your events? If you are creating playlists, I would love to know what kind of feedback you receive and how you select your songs. What’s your favorite way to incorporate live music into your program?

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