Attendees Have the Music in Them

By Andy Sharpe

Music is always part of event design. This is especially true if the grand design behind your event is getting guests to let their hair down and connect to one another, and your brand, in a fun, meaningful and memorable way.

It works because it taps into a time when we were perhaps a little freer, a little younger. A time when we might have gone to loud concerts, listened to entire albums, fell in love with rock stars, maybe even played in a band with friends from college. But as time went on, the guitars went in the closet, the record collection gathered dust, and now we might only go to the occasional arena show … see you at the upcoming Eagles tour?

Sir Richard Branson channeling Kurt Cobain

Sir Richard Branson channeling Kurt Cobain

Music is a universal language so it’s no surprise that it is effective in allowing guests to enjoy themselves, just like it did when they were younger. We just need to create the right environment for them.

Sales execs at BARD being rock stars for a night

Sales execs at BARD being rock stars for a night

For the past 10 years, through my company, Song Division, I’ve worked with clients in more than 22 countries to create a time and place where their meeting and event guests can create and perform their own original songs. In doing so, I’ve found two truths:

One is that no matter what the demographic of the audience, pretty much everyone loves music and the other is that there are always guests with hidden talents that are often more entertaining (and less expensive) than hired entertainment.

Three Ways To Release the Music in Your Guests

1) Identify In-House Talent

Audiences love seeing one of their own up on stage. I recently attended a party at the massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Public Enemy’s producer Hank Shocklee had been a panelist early that day on a session about music licensing, so it was a nice tie in and thrill for the guests to have him in the DJ booth that night.

What made it even more special was when he was joined on the decks by the party’s host and music lover Michael Petricone, Sr. VP of Government Affairs at CEA.

Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee (L) and Michael Petricone, Sr. VP, Government Affairs at CEA

Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee (L) and Michael Petricone, Sr. VP, Government Affairs at CEA

Michael’s joy at being a DJ alongside the hip-hop legend was infectious, providing a warm, fun connection between the entertainment and the guests.

You might not have a famous music producer like Hank Shocklee attending your event, but there’s almost always someone — either from your team or one of your guests — with some real musical talent who can help you connect with your audience in a personal way. Remember – audiences LOVE seeing one of their own up on stage.

2) Crowd-Source Playlists

If you’re throwing a themed party, let’s say for Halloween or the Oscars, ask people to submit their favorite scary song or movie soundtrack as part of the invitation. If you are inviting guests via Facebook, this doubles as a fun social media campaign and gives your guests a personal involvement in your event. On the night of the party it won’t be just any music creating the atmosphere, it will be songs that they themselves suggested to get the party started!

3) Tap Into Your Guests’ Creativity

The photo below is an example of what music can do at a corporate event when everyone is involved in creating the music. We helped 1,500 Virgin employees write, record, then perform a song for their fearless leader, Sir Richard Branson.

branson mosh

Richard Branson getting close with 1,500 Virgin employees.

What was meant to be a 15 minute “meet and greet” at which only a few people would get close to the guest of honor, became a full-blown rock concert where everyone partied, got a photo and laid their hands on the bashful business icon.

This isn’t the first business leader we’ve seen crowd surf — and it’s never a result of a PowerPoint presentation! It’s the music that creates these unforgettable moments, especially when the guests have been an integral part of creating it.

There’s always musical and creative talent right under your nose, whether it be your guests or your colleagues. You just need to identify it and then let everyone have fun with the music!

Editor’s note: Check out Song Division’s free resource for event professionals, “Playlists For Events.” Download one, or make a request!


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A musician and entrepreneur, Andy Sharpe founded Song Division to share the thrills and benefits of songwriting with a worldwide community. Since the company launched in 2003, the world’s largest brands and multinational organizations have called on Song Division to help communicate key messages, both internally to workforces and externally to customers. Song Division has shared its one-of-a-kind process with tens thousands of people from all walks of life across North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.

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