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What's the best music for....?
  • Jun 2, 2021
  • 2 minutes

What's the best music for....?

"I need to come up with the right music." I hear that a lot. Even from people like this guy, who's a pro in the industry. He's got access to every song library he wants, and yet he's stuck. He needs just the right intro to set a mood, then the right outro to conclude the event. And along the way, there needs to be flow: slow burn all the way up to that big climax. This is a guy who's been to how many live shows? Hundreds? Thousands? He's auditioned bands, singers, players on every possible instrument, even composers. This is a guy knows music...and yet he's stuck.

We brainstorm. We try some ideas, test the flow between songs, like a choreographer experimenting with the arc of a dance. We try hard and soft segués, flash cuts, silence. Music that upregulates and music that downregulates. Music he loves and music he doesn't. Randomly-ordered ambient stuff and purpose-driven pop playlists. Finally, ideas start to evolve, and the event takes on a new kind of organic energy. "Much better than letting anyone else have control," he tells me, as the shape of the music begins to capture his imagination.

When it's finally right, he thanks me. "I know I wanted something more," he says, "but I had no idea how important getting the music right could be. It's just something I've never really considered doing before, like this. I mean, random playlists have always worked in the past, but not for this one!" We ring off, and there's something in his eyes that wasn't there an hour earlier, like a lively sparkle of excitement to come. He's ready: he's got the right music.

The best music is out there, waiting for you to curate it around a purpose. It's not hard to do and, with some practice, almost any purpose can meld with music that just enhances that purpose in powerful ways. Like the guy in this story, to get it right, the expertise you need is available. Silence is golden sometimes, but for the times where the music matters most, let's work on that music together.

By the way, the guy's son had an AMAZING birthday. And he now uses purposeful music for musc more than relaxation and exercise. Last we talked, he'd even made a playlist for a family member with dementia. He has a playlist for sadness, distress, anxiety, joy, and pre- and post-business meetings, with a different kind of music that depends on how challenging he thinks those meetings might be. He even told me a bit shyly, "lovemaking has never been better than when I use the playlists I've made."

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