Monday, January 18, 2010

Tom Antion: Background Music

Background music playing when participants enter a room is a great way to set the mood for a NO ZZZZZs meeting or event. It also makes you look like a more polished presenter. The proper selection of music gets people in the right mood and adds a touch of drama to the presentation. You can also use music when the participants are leaving to give them a pleasant atmosphere as they exit. Avoid turning music on or off suddenly. It should always fade in and fade out slowly.

When selecting music, generally you would pick upbeat music for upbeat presentations and slower music for more serious ones. This is very subjective, but not usually too critical unless you're the type who would play loud rock music at a retirement home. If you have no clue how to pick music, get some expert help or buy music designed for presentations from a training supply company that has labels that tell you when to use it.

If you are on a tight budget and can't arrange for professional sound equipment, don't worry. In small rooms a decent boom box will suffice. If you are in a larger room, you can put the microphone that will be used for the presentation in front of the speaker of the boom box. This will send the music through the room's sound system.

DO NOT PLAY COPYRIGHTED MUSIC WITHOUT THE PROPER LICENSING OR YOU WILL BE SORRY. THE MUSIC POLICE WILL GET YOU. Don't worry though, I'll explain below how you can still use music without the threat of a lawsuit.

There have been many lawsuits between meeting planners and organizers and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) and The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). If you want to use copyrighted music, make sure you tell your meeting planner. At the time of this writing, the sponsoring organization is ultimately responsible for the proper licensing of music played at an event. However, the real life story says that you should clear your use of music with the sponsoring organization well in advance of the program. If you don't, you may be the one responsible for a lawsuit against the organization that hired you. Better hang up your laser pointer because you won't last long as a speaker pulling those kinds of stunts.

If you are doing your own public seminars and you want to use copyrighted music, you must obtain your own license. Call BMI or ASCAP in New York City for details.

The way to get around this hassle is to play copyright free music which, for use as background music, is just as good. This music is available through production music houses, or you can get prepackaged music for meetings from a company called Resources for Organizations (952) 829-1954.

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