Background Music: More Effective Than You Think

I was shopping at a department store recently.  It was early in the evening, and there were other shoppers around, yet the store had a lonely, end-of-the-night, closing-time atmosphere that seemed to put a damper on things.  Then I realized the customary background music that we’ve all become used to was absent.  Without it, the store seemed to lack vitality and warmth.  Which set me to thinking about a blog post…

“Canned” music is totally inappropriate for a noteworthy social or business event, of course, but the fact remains: music is a key—often subliminal—component in setting the tone in social settings.

Planning a moderate to large-scale event, a client will occasionally suggest dispensing with live music for cocktails or dinner, thinking that since it’s background music no one will “hear” it.  That’s correct, if coming from ceiling speakers in a busy room.  But well-played live music adds a subtle, positive ambience in these social settings—an effect that you may not notice when it’s there, but that you would miss if absent, like my department store visit.

Your guests’ mood will be enhanced by the right live music as they first arrive and throughout the early part of the evening, in the same way that a delightful appetizer primes your palate for the main course to come.  It’s part of the wonderful mystery of music that I posted about previously (click here).  Whether a romantic Cole Porter song or upbeat Jason Mraz tune, played by an elegant string ensemble or a cool jazz trio, music in the early stages of a party plays as important of a part as the rockin’, off-the-hook dance music coming later.

And the presence of “real” performers gives the music a sense of immediacy, even if not elevated on a stage.  Sooner or later, your guests will pass by the musicians, and appreciate the thoughtfulness of their host in providing live music for their enjoyment.

Music doesn’t have to be “in your face” to work its magic—setting the desired mood for what’s to come is one of its many charms.

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