Planning a party has so many different elements – catering food, sending out invitations, organizing the guest list, thinking of fun games, and hiring some form of entertainment to keep the party going. Even if you hire a clown or special guest speaker as entertainment, you will always need some form of music during a party. Music serves as an additional form of entertainment and also creates the atmosphere and encourages guests to participate. Since music is so vital, it is crucial to choose the right music for your party. If your music selection is very dry or doesn’t have the proper flow, it will be a struggle to get people on the dance floor to mix and mingle, and this will eventually bring the entire atmosphere down. Don’t fear! Below, we share steps on how to choose the perfect music for your party.
Choose Your Event Theme
To choose the perfect music for your party, you have to choose the perfect event theme. Your theme will dictate what type of music you should play during your event. For instance, a kid’s party should have popular but appropriate versions of some songs (KidzBop anyone?). A party with a mixed crowd should have an eclectic playlist that includes classic throwback songs, Motown-era songs, Top 40, and line dances. This way, everyone has an opportunity to enjoy music from their era. A party with a holiday theme like Christmas or Halloween may also include holiday or “scary” music (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” comes to mind here). Choose your theme, and then you can begin to think about memorable songs that are appropriate for and align with your theme. The next step is to do some research on different music options.
Think About Your Venue and Your Guests
After choosing your theme, start to consider where you’re going to host your event. Are you hosting a baby’s Christening or wedding reception at a church? It may be inappropriate to play certain songs in the church’s reception hall if they have explicit lyrics. Is your party a classy affair for older executives? They may not expect to hear trap music throughout the night. It is important to think about your venue and guests when choosing the right music. If you hire a DJ or band, this is your opportunity to create a “Do Not Play” List. During weddings, some couples make a list of songs they don’t want to hear based on musical tastes and preferences; however, some “Do Not Play” lists include songs that are just not appropriate for guests or specific venues overall. When you think about your music choices, use your best judgment to consider that some songs may be offensive to particular guests, and some venues may find some songs inappropriate.
Also, consider that some venues and cities may have restrictions on the level you play your party music and how late you can play music. Venues with these types of conditions are usually spaces adjacent to private residences or located in cities that want to shut down by a specific time to cut down on drunk driving accidents. Be clear on those restrictions ahead of time and do your best to adhere to those guidelines – sometimes, there are fines attached to these rules’ violations.
Research Your Options
Planning a party should require a lot of research to gain inspiration and get leads on the town’s best vendors. Since music is such an essential element when planning a party, you must research your options. Start by thinking about other parties you’ve attended in the past. What was the music and atmosphere like during the event? Did they have a live band? Was there a DJ? Think about what you liked and what you didn’t like about those music options and try to align them with your event goals and objectives.
Sometimes working with professional agencies like Entertainment Exchange will help you make the best decisions for your event and budget. You can share your theme, goals, and event space options with your entertainment booking agent, and they may be able to guide you on what to do from there. The most important thing to remember is that you must book music acts early — all of your research could be for nothing if you don’t.
Book Your Music Acts Early
A general rule of thumb (and well-known practice in the event planning industry) is that when you’re planning a party, special event, or wedding, you should book your venue first and your entertainment second. The reason? The most popular bands and DJ’s are customarily booked 6-12 months in advance. You have to figure this: on average most people are competing to have a party or special event on the same Friday or Saturday nights within the year, which means you have to compete with tons of other party planners in your city for the same venues and entertainment acts. If you wait too long, you run the risk of losing your venue and musicians to another client. Book as soon as you can – the music is too important to run the risk of getting a second-tier or mediocre music option.
Let the Professionals Do Their Jobs
While clients should undoubtedly be hands-on when planning a party, sometimes clients can become overly involved with specific party details. When you hire a professional caterer, even if you’re the family’s Top Chef, it is wise to allow a caterer to do what they do best. You may be able to cook for 12 people at home, but cooking for (and serving) 1200 people is a different feat. The same thought-process should apply to your DJ or band. While you may believe that you have great musical taste, it’s likely that you haven’t been a professional musician and could be a little more biased to your personal preferences than choosing music that can make an event flow well. Making song requests or “Do Not Play” lists are fine, but if you find yourself walking up to the band to make song requests every 5 minutes, you may be creating more trouble than you are helping. You can distract your vendor by doing things like this, and you may unknowingly distract your guests from enjoying themselves. For an example, professional musicians think about BPM’s (beats per minute) when transitioning from one song to another because it helps to keep guests dancing without missing a beat – literally. There are other little tricks of the trade that only come with experience, so allow your professional musicians to do their jobs so your music can be top-notch. Bottom line – put in your requests, then let the professionals do the rest.
Use Curated Playlists
If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire professional musicians, you may have to create your own solutions. We do not recommend using the “shuffle” feature on Apple Music or Spotify – if your sleep music playlist comes on right after the “Cupid Shuffle,” you will have a buzzkill on the dance floor and throughout the party. A great option is to use curated playlists to play music.
There are two types of curated playlists – human-curated playlists and algorithmic playlists. According to Spectrio, “A human-curated playlist is one put together by a person that’s based on your input on artists, genres and songs. In the world of digital music providers, algorithmic playlists are like commercial radio – you get what you get, with little to no input – whereas human-curated playlists are similar to having your very own DJ spinning tunes that flow seamlessly from one song to the next to create a specific mood or theme.”
As you can imagine, a curated playlist will give you a professional and diverse experience with the music. We recommend finding different playlists named after your party’s theme or central focal point. Are you hosting a spa party? Choose a “meditation” playlist. Are you hosting an electro-pop dance party? Find a similar playlist. Not only will you stay along with your theme, but you may also even discover new music you didn’t even know existed. To be safe, try to do a “run-through” of the music to listen to the playlist to ensure all is well.
Music is at the heart of everything, and we are confident that if you follow these tips, your party will go off without a hitch.