How to choose the ideal music playlist for your next party

August 17, 2020Lauren Windle

Whether it’s a bar mitzvah, an upscale holiday party, a corporate awards program, or a wedding reception, music helps establish the mood of every event.

The right soundtrack can help people relax and enjoy… fill in awkward conversational gaps, or get people up and dancing.

Different music played at varying times can also change the tempo of a party, such as when slow music is played at the end of a party signaling that the evening is winding down.

Wow, that’s a whole lot of party responsibility, right? Yes indeed, so it’s pretty important to choose the right kind of playlist!

While there is nothing wrong with hiring a DJ to take care of the music at your party, or set up a jukebox for a little retro fun, it can be very empowering to build your own musical ‘sets.’

Here are a few playlist tips from the professionals:

  • Before you begin your list of favorites, consider the age range of your audience and the type of event or theme you are planning.
  • Build your playlist from the ground up with tunes that are sure to play well, one after the other. This means you have to skip the shuffle feature and plan the entire flow of your playlist.
  • As any DJ can attest, parties tend to change as time goes by. Attendees are a little more formal and tightly wound at the beginning, gradually loosening up and becoming more festive by the midpoint, and get much more relaxed and lively in the last hour. (Liquor consumption does have something to do with this as well.)
  • With that in mind, aim to have at least three hours of music.
  • Since you will have control over the tempo, vibe, theme, and all other things associated with it, plan with a goal in mind. What tempo will you open with, as people are entering, moving about, introducing themselves, and getting a feel for the vibe of your event?
  • Consider the volume as well. In general, as the party progresses, people begin to get louder and laugh more. So music levels should also be adjusted to accommodate that.
  • Make sure the volume control is easily accessible for any speeches that may need to be made. And keep it low enough so that the police aren’t called to your door!
  • Work your way up to tracks with high BPMs (beats per minute) and Top 40 hits while you gradually crank up the sound.
  • Make sure you have a good mix of styles and genres. Don’t be afraid of mixing new songs with old favorites while not playing too much of any one kind of thing.
  • Keep things interesting by adding some jazz, down-tempo electronica, or acoustic classics to play at lower volume. Holiday party? Sprinkle in some holiday tunes.
  • Towards the end of the evening, music can begin to get a little softer and slower, perhaps even encouraging some classic partner dancing.
  • Be prepared to add some much slower songs – or music without any lyrics – to help signal “time to head home” without saying a thing.
  • Be sure you know what type of sound system is available at your next event so your music will play flawlessly on the equipment provided.
  • Lastly, share your music ahead of time with a few people who know many of the party invitees. Ask for genuine feedback. This is good to have, since what you like won’t be the same for everyone. Then adjust the list accordingly.

As a caterer with more than 15 years of experience with just about every type of party you can imagine, Jacquie’s Gourmet Catering can attest that the right music has saved quite a few parties, so your playlist is worth getting right.

© 2024 Jacquie's Gourmet Catering. All Rights Reserved.
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