Music is an important element of any event, whether it’s in the form of a playlist, DJ or live performance. We’re not just talking about parties and product launches: conferences can benefit hugely from music.

It’s probably not the main type of event you associate with music, but entertainment during seminar breaks and background music played in exhibition areas are both popular choices.

To help you use music as effectively as possible at your next conference we have collated a list of the most popular songs, and will also talk you through how to use them to your advantage.

Using our pool of professional artists, we sent out a questionnaire to 1000 bands, DJs and acts asking if they had played at a conference in the last 18 months, which songs they played, and if any of the songs had been requested by the organisers.

Here are the Top 10 songs played at conferences last season:

  • Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
  • Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Stevie Wonder
  • Happy – Pharrell Williams
  • Get Lucky – Daft Punk
  • Rather Be – Clean Bandit ft Jess Glynne
  • Treasure – Bruno Mars
  • You’ve Got the Love – Florence + the Machine
  • Forget You – CeeLo Green

And here’s the full playlist if you want to listen to all Top 10 songs!

Reading through the list, you most likely had a few “love that song” and “hate that song” moments.

Chart-toppers are fickle things, and whilst some people get ready to jump on the dance floor the moment a song starts to play, it will rub others up the wrong way. Music is cyclical and heavily trend based, which has its pros and cons. You also need to consider how these songs work in different settings to ensure that they’re right for your event environment.

So, how can you use them to create a great atmosphere at your conference?

Break entertainment

Live entertainment during breaks can be a good energy booster for conference attendees. Chart toppers like the ones in our ‘most played’ list can work well in this environment, and can easily be played over an in-house speaker system at a reasonable level.

Having said that, this is also a great time to leave your attendees with an experience they will remember, helping you to stand out from your competitors. If this is the angle you want to go for you should put the chart toppers aside.

Here, a live band or DJ can really add something to your conference. Stay clear of big sounds and opt for a smaller set-up, as delegates still need to be able to network and recharge for their next seminar.

Whether you go for a swing band, a-cappella group, mariachi band or maybe a classical quartet, opting for something out of the ordinary will definitely catch your audience’s attention.

Related: the conference director’s checklist: everything you need to know (and do) on the day

Music in exhibition halls

Using music in large exhibition halls can be a great way of creating a good vibe.

At the same time the room is likely to be very noisy from all the delegates networking with each other and talking to exhibitors. The latter of course, is exactly what you want.

Whilst the music should be played at a very low volume, this is the perfect time to bust out the most popular tunes, as delegates will recognise the tunes despite the noise around them. If you run very large conferences you can get away with using a live DJ or band placed in a corner where people can go to hang out and enjoy themselves.

This way delegates can seek out the entertainment without it being imposed on them. Create a small bubble by using a low-key PA, and play the music over the in-house speaker system at a much lower volume at the same time. This is a nice way to add something extra if your conference is celebrating an anniversary or if you’re having a big product launch.

Related: what are the right metrics for measuring corporate event success?


Out of all the areas of your conference where you might add music, this is definitely where your delegates will be most relaxed, and might even venture out on the dance floor.

Afterparties are all about networking and having a really good time. This is also where the ‘most played list’ will feel most appropriate. You can have a superb party band or DJ who incorporates them into their usual set-lists, or you could go for a more tailored option.

If your conference has a theme you can enhance the experience by choosing entertainment to go with it. For example if your conference has a retro theme, you could opt for a band playing modern tunes in a vintage style. This way delegates get to enjoy songs they know well at the same time as they have a great and unusual experience.

Related: why top speakers say yes (and no) to speaking at your event

In conclusion

In conclusion, you can certainly use the ‘most played’ list to your advantage and inject music across many areas of your conference. However, don’t be scared to be a bit creative with your choices. Mix it up a bit and make sure you create a memorable experience for your delegates by tailoring the music to your event.