How to Choose Music for My Upcoming Event

How to choose music for my event

Photo courtesy of Powers Studios

Music is so important to setting a mood. The right soundtrack has the ability to make or break a moment. Would Star Wars be the same without John Williams’ brilliant music? Or what about date night without the right playlist? The same is true for your events. I’m sure you’ve been to parties where the music just didn’t seem to fit and made it awkward. Or maybe you’ve experienced the opposite – a DJ who picked just the right songs to get the crowd moving. No matter what, it’s important to know what your musical entertainment options are, and how to choose music that will fit your event best.

To start with, you have three main options to pick between:

  • Live Music: A band or performer who has their own equipment and arrives ready to put on a private performance just for your guests. You can expect to communicate with the musicians beforehand to have an understanding of what songs will be played and how the event will flow into the musical entertainment.
  • DJ: A professional DJ comes ready to mix a set of songs unique to your event. By communicating with you and reading the crowd, he or she will select songs based on our goals and how your guests are responding.
  • Playlist: This is the complete DIY approach to music for your event. All you need is an iPod (or iPhone, iPad, Computer… you get it) and the ability to put together a playlist. You’re completely in charge of what songs are played and when they are played. Hint: if you go this route, it’s highly recommended you designate an MC (master of ceremonies) to keep your event moving along and manage the music as necessary.

As you weight your options, go through this checklist that will guide you through how to choose music to take your event to the next level:

  1. What is the goal of your event? For example, if you want to encourage your guests to talk over a leisurely lunch, it’s probably best to stay away from a live band performing classic rock hits. In fact, live music might be too distracting altogether. On the other hand, if you really want the after-dinner entertainment to include some lively dancing, a live band or professional DJ will be your best bet to make that happen.
  2. What location have you chosen? The acoustics of your venue matter! Small rooms don’t work well for live music. A simple iPod playlist over speakers is likely to be unimpressive and go unnoticed at an outdoor event. Ask your contact at the venue what they recommend, and find out if they have their own sound equipment or if you’ll need to rent what you need (or make sure your band has their own).
  3. What kind of budget do you have? The cheapest option is definitely to do your own mixing on a device. To get a truly professional DJ or live band you’ll pay for it. When determining how much of your event budget to spend on entertainment, make the decision based on how important the music will be to your event. At a wedding reception where you hope your guests will spend a few hours dancing and making memories with you, the music rates pretty high on the importance scale and is therefore worth spending the money to get someone who will make the memory awesome.
  4. What theme and pace will your event have? If you’ve chosen a specific theme for your event, select music that compliments that theme. Likewise, choose music that will add to – not distract from – the pace and purpose of your event. Just because you love country doesn’t mean it’ll be a good idea for your company picnic!

Every event has a purpose – sometimes it’s communication, sometimes it’s connection, sometimes it’s simply for your guests to have a good time. But whatever your overall goal is, knowing how to choose music that helps you accomplish those goals will make your event a success.