programming event music

5 Tips For Programming Event Music

dj acapella

Years of experience in programming event music has taught us that while getting the music right every time is not an exact science, with great preparation and a solid understanding of the event your are managing, a magical guest experience can be forged with a great event soundtrack.

We’ve spent the last few weeks reviewing the impact of music within the event sector and have pulled some of our findings below.

Whether you’re planning a brand activation or an office party, we’ve broken down our top 5 tips for programming event music.

make a dj mix in ableton

1) Don’t underestimate the value of music at your event

Unfortunately, music can fall quite far down the priority list for event planners and we understand why this often happens. Venues, visual entertainment and catering are all common event essentials and are often given the most amount of time and budget.

We’ve always understood that the music at a particular event should be considered as important as the aspects mentioned earlier , whether it be a front and centre live performance or a discerning background soundtrack.

With that in mind, we’ve highlighted some key ideas from leading event industry and music professionals.

Eventplanner wrote a piece a while back on the impact of background event music.

“Music has a powerful influence when it comes to our emotions, mood, learning ability, and energy level. By thoroughly understand how background noise affects your event, you’ll be able to design an emotionally charged experience that will empower and engage your attendees.”

studio acapella

Last years U.K music census report really does back up what we’ve know for a long while and underlines the key benefits and role of music in live environments. Here’s a quote form the report

“Music enhances social bonding, is mood-enhancing, is inspiring, and forms part of people’s identity”

Eventbrite also wrote a fantastic piece on programming event music, pinpointing the uses for and overall significance of getting the music at events right.

“We mostly think of music as pure entertainment, but marketers have been using it to influence our behaviour for decades. It’s a particularly prolific strategy in consumer goods industries, but the principles can easily be applied to the event industry.”

music for events

2) Booking a DJ or band isn’t always necessary

The last thing we want to do is downplay what D.Js & bands do or their role in the success of an event. However, we often find that booking live music can often be a knee-jerk reaction in the mind of an event producer.

When booking live acts, its important to ask yourself some key questions.

  • Is having a dance floor at my event necessary or suitable?

We’ve all been to an event where the DJ is banging out the latest house remixes of the top 40 and the attendees are standing around, unable to hear themselves and everything just seems a bit forced. Remember, just because you have the space and budget for live music, it doesn’t always mean you need it.

make a dj mix in ableton
  • Can a well thought out, pre-programmed soundtrack capture the mood of the event and engage attendees?

A playlist can often create a more organic soundtrack for your event and is often more in line with the event branding than a front and centre DJ or band set-up.

  • Is live music going to complement the style of my event?

Sometimes booking a DJ is a no brainer, especially if the event in question is an award show afterparty or a summer ball, but some scenarios are best suited to a discerning playlist or mix.

Brand activations, conferences and catwalk shows are all great examples of events that can be undertaken with astute music programming.

3) Align your music carefully with your brand.

It’s vital to make sure that the values of the brand are considered when programming event music.
Marketing dive wrote a great piece on music branding which we thoroughly recommend. This is what they had to say about it.

“It’s more critical than ever that brands consider their audio strategies … and music is clearly a key part of that,” Lauren Nagel, Pandora’s VP and executive creative director, told Marketing Dive. “There’s a really natural connection for marketers to start to see music as an additional pathway of communication and expression of their own brand in order to reach consumers.”

It’s now easier than ever to examine and draw from successful music and brand alliances.

A quick flick through Spotify will throw up some great examples, such as the Made In Chelsea playlist, which completely encapsulates the identity of the show with the use of emotive indie guitar music and electro pop.

Our own bespoke playlist for the Sunglass Hut brand is also a great example (if we do say so ourselves) of aligning the values of a brand to music.


booking music for events

4) Understand audience demographics and align your music accordingly.

This is one of those “easier said than done” pieces of advice and comes more naturally to some than others. Understanding who your audience is, what kind of music they gravitate towards and then sourcing that music isn’t always an easy skillset to develop. This can take years of experience to master and in fact brings us on to our final tip nicely.

Before we head to tip number 5, we have included some ideas for sourcing music for your event.

The Fantastic Eventbrite blog have a great booking bands checklist here:

MPI also have a great piece on best practices for programming event music here:

5)Collaborate with a music supervisor

For event planners who lack experience in music programming or lack the time needed to carry out an effective music strategy for their event, it may be worth the investing in an experienced music professional to help.

Music supervisors can save you a lot of time and resources when programming your event music. As we mentioned earlier, getting the music right can be a difficult task!

The role of the music supervisor is often quite varied with most operating within music sync and licensing, while others specialise in music for retail and hospitality.

We’ve included some options below along with our own web link for Soundtrack Your Event. We specialise only in event music and are always happy to discuss your upcoming event with you.

Here are some options to take a look at

Here’s a sample of a bespoke mix for our monthly event playlist