Background Music is More Important Than You Think
Why You Need Background Music For Your Next Event
The other day I was in the grocery store. As I was putting my milk into the cart, I suddenly felt a bit more energy, a bit happier. I decided that I didn’t need to rush right out of the store. Instead I went over to the huge holiday display and discovered a few things that I didn’t really need but which seemed fun. Into the cart they went. It was then that I noticed that I was humming along to the canned background music which was subtly controlling my mood and shopping behavior.
I made that particular experience up. But scientific research suggests that it happens every day. Music has a profound impact on our emotions and can even affect the choices we make. Retail psychologists (yes, that’s really a thing) have spent a lot of time researching how background music influences shopping behavior and they’ve found some surprising things. For example, the kind of music that plays in a store can make you think that the merchandise on display is more valuable. Or retailers can keep you in a store longer if they play upbeat music that features a slower tempo. (Fast tempos give shoppers a sense of urgency – even if they’re enjoying the music – and moves them through the store faster and so they purchase fewer items.)
Music also gives us cues about how we should feel about things. Movies and TV shows use scoring to make sure the audience understands how they should react to a scene. Try watching this training sequence from Rocky without its triumphant music signaling to the audience that this is anything other than a boring, exhausting work out.
Here’s the scene as it is in the film, with Bill Conti’s score playing majestically in the background. Rocky is transformed from a schlub in a sweat suit to a warrior.
I’ve buried the lead here quite a bit, but what all good event planners should understand is that the music we choose and when we choose to play it can have a tremendous impact on the emotional responses of our guests. As a result, the musical atmosphere of an event can actually motivate our guests in ways that can help us achieve the goals of the event.
Here are some suggestions for how to create the perfect background music motivation at your next event.
At a wedding, there tends to be a lot of waiting around. This can make guests start to feel awkward and unsure about what they’re supposed to be doing. But some soothing, upbeat vocals crooned softly in the background during transitions between the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner, cues people to relax and enjoy the down time, maybe even strike up a conversation with a neighbor. By including this mood music, you create the warm, friendly, and celebratory tone any couple wants on their big day.
Check out Mimi Valentine and the Gentleman’s Club for a fun, style-bending take on some music you’ll immediately recognize.
For a more intimate event, Will & Dave’s guitar/vocalist and trumpet duo will dish out smooth hits to keep your guests smiling.
In contrast, say you’re throwing a casino night fundraiser with a silent auction happening in the background. You’ll want to create a specific mood that keeps your guests in high spirits – because happy guests are generous guests. But you also want to convey an upscale vibe to convince your guests that what they’re buying is totally worth it. An ipod plugged into a speaker can’t get the job done like an up-tempo jazz combo.
At a corporate event, you’ll have very specific networking goals in mind. You’ll want to establish just the right ambiance to keep attendees mingling and talking. Your music needs to be electric, exciting, but definitely in the background. String Love is a fun variation on the typical classical quartet. They can do the classical music on the periphery, but they can also add some energy to your event by playing recognizable pop and rock hits in a classical style.
If your corporate event is less mingle and more party, then you may be interested in booking Electric White Orchestra. The EWO plays a variety of music styles and the song list is versatile, but the energy is high voltage.
There’s a reason that they call no music playing “dead air.” Music, even when it’s playing in the background, brings life and emotion to whatever we’re doing. Make sure your next event succeeds by making sure that the background music isn’t just an afterthought.