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The Alternative Board Blog

The Perfect Business Conference Playlist

Jun. 11, 2015 | Posted by Dave Scarola
business conference

One of my favorite parts of planning our annual Facilitator Conference is selecting the music. We want the music to be upbeat. Create energy. Selecting the right music can be tricky. Just like good humor, selecting the right music should be subtle. Anyone could select the most obvious tracks. I aspire to find the right combination of tracks that reinforce the theme – while not being too obvious. As you think about your conference and events, here are some thoughts on great picks to accompany your events.

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As folks are gathering for the conference open, I recommend playing a combination of high energy music with upbeat themes. Story in Your Eyes by The Moody Blues is a great pick. The lyrics are complex but I’ve always found this to be an inspirational song. It sets the tone that teach attendee should work to take away from the conference what resonates best with them. If your conference or event involves change, how about REM’s It’s the End of the World (as we know it)? Maybe that pick is a little obvious. A great wrap-up tune for the intro series is Tamacun by Rodrigo y Gabriela. This one is all instrumental but has just a positive, upbeat feel to it. It puts people in a great mood.

Another good pick, especially for change-based themes, is Bob Dylan’s Times They Are a Changin’. We have a lot of Bob Dylan fans in the office and so this track has a lot of meaning to us. Another great session wrap-up tune is Santana’s Everybody’s Everything. Another high energy song about change: Get Ready!

If you're looking to get the attendees engaged for day two, consider this eclectic mix that spans 60 years as attendees file into the room. First, we start with I Hear Music recorded by Billie Holiday in 1940. Next, how about Sinatra's Fly Me to the Moon. Even if you have a younger crowd, this is a catchy and positive tune that attendees will be humming to themselves throughout the day. Finally, consider the infectious Just My Imagination from The Cranberries (1999).

One of my personal favorites for conferences is the sweeping and beautiful Praan composed by Gary Schyman. I first became exposed to this music from the Where the Hell is Matt (Harding)  2008 video. This music is so unlike what attendees typically hear at a conference that it would make some attendees think "now this is different". For the keynote address, go back to 1968 and select Classical Gas from Mason Williams. I think all keynote addresses should be proceeded by Classical Gas! Really sets the tone that something important is happening.

So, that’s my list. I had to run out for an errand right in the middle of writing this blog. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes was playing from Crosby, Stills & Nash on the radio. Well, there’s always next year.

Remember to discuss music licensing with your facility coordinator prior to the event to be sure you are legally covered to play copyrighted music. Many venues have built-in blanket agreements with performance rights societies, but if they don't you might be responsible to pay an additional fee as explained in this article on music licensing for trade shows and conventions.

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Written by Dave Scarola

Dave, one of our C-Level executives at The Alternative Board, has over 20 years of consulting, product development and technology experience across many different industries including telecommunications, hospitality, healthcare and financial services.

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