Photo by Stephen W. O’Bryan / SmackSmog. Used with permission.
Music has a beautiful way of bringing us together! When the goal of an event is to let people connect with each other, to celebrate or to relax, the right musical talent, coupled with the right staging, and a solid mix, will help. Why is music so important at an event? Because it’s important to people, and events are for people.
During the September 23, 2016 airing of the Late Show, host Stephen Cobert interviewed Bruce Springsteen.
Stephen mentioned being intimidated when talking to great musicians because there’s a magic there that he doesn’t understand. So he asked Bruce, “What is that magic to you?”
Springsteen’s response was so poignant and relevant to what we all do as event professionals:
“… You’re there to manifest something before you go in. It’s an empty space, it’s an empty building. So the audience is gonna come and you’re gonna show up and together you’re gonna manifest something that’s very very real, that’s very tangible. But you’re gonna pull it out of thin air. It wasn’t there before you showed up … It didn’t exist. It’s a real magic.”
Community Leads to Happiness and Happiness Leads to Productivity
Creating magic is what good musicians do. We want to create that magic with you and help make you look like rock stars to your clients. While music brings people together, making music matter at your event is not automatic. The quality and capability of the musicians, the design of the space, and the event schedule itself are key elements for gathering people together. It is a fact that people will linger where music is being made.
Music is important to any event, and live music even more so. After the speeches have been made and the awards accepted, after dinner has been enjoyed… the energy can drop dramatically. Music keeps people hanging around and engaged. It energizes a space. It encourages conversation. Event planners cannot underestimate its importance. Just think how your favorite TV show or film would “feel” without background music. Events that lack the atmosphere created by musicians and DJs will fizzle early.
We offer these tips to increase the effectiveness of your events through live music:
1. Know who you are speaking with. When you contact a live music company, ask for the Music Director or Executive Director (not just a salesperson). The director is someone who understands music design as well as business, and will deliver the right talent for your vision and your client’s success.
2. Be sure to book A-listers. In music we say, “You’re only as good as your weakest link.” You want to book skilled musicians who understand the genres of music they play, cover appropriately, and really enjoy making music together. More than simply having their instruments in tune, skilled artists blend their individual sounds into a unified voice that is properly modulated for the space where they perform.
3. When hiring bigger variety bands be sure they are personable and friendly. Will they take requests? Can they gauge the audience and adapt their set list to pick up or calm the mood when necessary? The talent should be comfortable in interacting with your guests to help them have a great time, and not make it about them.
4. Avoid diva clauses. Always read the rider. The team should ask for only what they need to put forth the best product … and not ask for what they want, such as bowls of green M&M®s and white roses in every corner of the green room.
5. Put the bar in the same room as the band. It is proven that guests always disburse to the bar. When the band is in one room and the bar is in another, people will leave the band for the bar. Dancing and group interactions stop. Musicians have a bird’s-eye view from the stage, and can see the energy flowing away from them to the bar. If your client wants a party, put the bar near the dance floor. This will keep people together.
6. Good cover bands cover their material with integrity. Book cover bands that emphasize the sound of the original pieces. They are not there to reinvent popular tunes written by headline musicians. True cover bands play music the way it was meant to be heard. There’s no need to do vocal jumping jacks all over a melody that doesn’t call for it. You want your guests to leave the event relaxed and upbeat, not talking about how their favorite tune was butchered.
7. Know your audience and choose the band that fits. At any event you will have guests representing different generations with various preferences in music. A variety band will have an extensive repertoire and can play all genres.
The music agency you work with should be able to orchestrate the style of music, number of musicians, and staging to be most effective in creating the desired atmosphere for your event. In addition to putting together the right ensemble of musical talent, it should provide a stage manager so that you are not having to wrangle musicians in addition to producing the event. Another thing to look for is if the agency’s talent is regularly in the studio recording, rehearsing or educating the next generation of musical monsters. You want to work with dedicated musicians, and this kind of dedication is one thing to look for.
Because music is so important to the culture of an event, it’s a key component to your reputation as an event producer. You want to create the very best experiences for your clients and their guests, so work with people who are passionate about creating magic through great music.
Veronica Puleo is the Executive Director, vocalist, guitarist and co-founder along with Music Director Mike Holowatch, of The Replicas Music, a Los Angeles-based talent agency providing live music in a wide variety of genres for weddings, corporate and private events.