First of all, why does music make us feel good? A new branch of research called neuromusicology studies how music affects the brain with recent experiments revealing that listening to upbeat music releases dopamine. Other studies have shown that music with a heavy baseline can make people feel more authoritative and in control. The bleach report ‘The Art of the Walk-Up Song’ looking at walk-up songs for professional Baseball Players says the best songs ‘combine a variety of factors, including reflecting the player’s personality, pleasing the crowd, showcasing good taste, amping up the home team, encouraging focus at the plate, intimidating the opposing pitcher and producing favourable results.’ And I believe it’s similar for any live experience. The song should show the presenters personality, give the presenter confidence, lift the audience’s mood, make a statement and leave a lasting memory. Let’s look at some tips and examples from the wider world of events:
Why not use music to show off your presenters personality and make them more personable. Everyone has an opinion about our Prime Minister Teresa May and of course her great dancing. Her walk-up song ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2018 showed she is not afraid to make fun of herself. Our tip here is to think how you show something about your personality through a killer song.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’ and ‘Power’ pop up on many ‘Music to get you pumped’ articles. With confident boosting lyrics and heavy beats his music may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it will build a bit of energy in many. Think about asking your speaker what song would make them feel powerful and use that as their walk-up sting.
Politicians know how to make a statement with music, take Barack Obama’s use of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ at his inauguration or Tony Blair’s Campaign song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ by D:Ream. These songs made a statement not only about the person but also what they stood for. Get your speaker to think about what statement they want to make and see if you can make a song work with that.
Now it’s not all about your presenter, the music you choose will also affect the audience, so think carefully. An upbeat song that your audience knows will lift their mood. Make sure it’s not one that’s been overplayed in the charts (unless that’s the statement you’re making) play it loud to get them to sit up in their seats and listen to you.
Last music tip from us, pick an event anthem that the audience will remember, use it for walks ins and walk outs. Your audience will not only remember how great your event was but also dance in and out of sessions…. A warning…. Your production crew will definitely not like the anthem by the end of the event! And finally, here are what a few members of the Live Union team would choose as their walk-up music:
Conor Howell-Harte: ‘Finally by Ce Ce Peniston because it has incredible beat to strut onto stage to’
Katarina Poznickova: ‘Firestarter by Prodigy because I love their music and it would get me pumped to speak’
Anthony Henry: Now Ant has already used his walk up sting in a recent white collar boxing match. The team wanted him to use ‘I’ve got ants in my pants’ (and I want to dance) by James Brown but instead the chosen song was ‘Let me Clear My Throat’ by DJ Cool. Ant used this not only to focus him but also to hype up the crowd.
And for me…. it would be ‘1,2,1,2’ by George The Poet. It’s a real feel good song/ piece of spoken word that would focus me and the audience.