We’re so excited to feature SongDivision – the world’s premier Experiential Music Agency! Since 2003, they’ve pioneered music-based team building programs, conference openers, and experiential marketing campaigns around the globe, with clients such as Microsoft, Pfizer, Coca-Cola and KPMG calling on them in over 20 countries to engage, educate, and entertain their audiences. Our special guests are Angus Clark (General Manager, Americas) and Sam McNeill (General Manager, UK & Europe). Topics will include music and how you can incorporate it into an event to make it epic, as well as getting the inside scoop on how Angus and Sam got into this business! We’ll learn how they are leading the way with music in events, and they’ll be sharing a few secrets about what’s next on the horizon! Ever heard of a Selfie Song? You want one! Ever heard of a Carpool Karaoke Booth? You need one at your next event! This is the episode to tune into!


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Laura:Welcome everybody to another episode of Event Icons. I’m your host, Laura Lopez of Social Tables. I’m super excited for today’s show, it’s going to be a good one. I’ve always, for every episode of Event Icons, it is the time for you to have one on one time with some Event Icon, so if you could just take a quick moment and share with your social networks that we are live right now. It’s an hour long show. We are at event-icons.com. That’s where everybody can sign up, so if you want to take a moment to Tweet, post it on your Facebook. Take a quick snapshot of it with the link. I would highly recommend doing that, but without further ado, lets get started here.
We have two folks from an amazing company called Song Division and so my favorite of Event Icon and one that we ask with every show is what got you both into the events industry and if you could answer that question and do a little intro about yourselves. Let’s start with Angus. Who are you and what got you into the events industry?
Angus:I am General Manager for Song Division USA. Song Division is a global company, so I manage the USA and run most of the events in the Eastern part of the US and we also do Canada and we have done stuff in South America and Islands, so on and so forth. In the role as General Manager of Song Division not only do I do a lot of client facing activity designing programs. Running programs, so on and so forth, but this is really my first job in the Events Industry. I come to this from being a guitar player and song writer. What Song Division … Song Division does a myriad of interactive musical activities for events. Everything from programming playlists to interactive musical game shows … What else have we got Sam? We have a million of these things.
Sam:We have a million, well yeah. I mean a lot of …
Laura:I’ve got two million questions later on.
Angus:But our calling card product, our original product that brought us to the Events Industry is an interactive song writing program that allows non musicians, with no musical inclination whatsoever, to participate in the writing of a completely original song which is then performed with the help of a band A-list musicians. That was our first product that brought us to the Events Industry. I got a call one day from a studio over in New York where I live, saying, I need a guitar player for a session. It’s kind of unique. Let me tell you about it. I go down. I go down to this session and it’s me and a base player that I have toured with professionally and a drummer.
The guy who owns the studio is a well know drummer. He has played with like a bunch of well known acts. I guess it was just the three of us and we were the band and I met the Founder of Song Division Andy Sharpe and Andy then explained to me what we were going to do. We were going to bring in these people from [Neemand 00:03:35] Brothers, I believe it was.
Laura:Oh Wow.
Angus:Before the Stock Market. I think we’re an O6 or 07 at this point. We did this whole program and I really enjoyed it . I had done a lot of professional touring as a guitar player. I played for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra which is a …
Angus:Hard Rock holiday act for tourists here in the States. Between tours I’m always doing sessions and this and that and the other thing and this just was really a lot of fun because the folks kind of … It’s like teaching somebody in their first guitar lesson. The worst thing about teaching guitar lessons, is that you have to teach them their second lesson when they didn’t practice. Then you’re like, “Oh man, you didn’t practice anything. I will have to show you the same again.” Whereas on a Song Division session, all of our musicians get to share the joy of making music with a non musician in a very fun, you know, non-pressured way.
Then they have a great time. They get a song out of it. We leave a lasting impact on them about how they can participate in music. How they can have fun with it and how musicians aren’t from Mars, we’re just normal people and stuff like that. Then we say goodbye and I don’t have to chase them up next week and find out if they wrote three more songs or if they started taking guitar lessons or anything like that.
Laura:Oh wow.
Angus:As long my introduction in the Events Industry, I had a background doing data-based programming for a division of L’Oreal, for the Kiehl’s Company.
Sam:Now that’s Rock and Roll.
Angus:It’s the most Rock and Roll [stint 00:05:20] line and in that I had seen where music could be plugged into events that they had run, so I was like … I had some familiarity with how we were going to be able to implement ourselves in the States in what I saw as being the big sales meeting, the kick offs, all these kinds of things. That was it, I put all that together and Song Division was my first job in the Events Industry. My only job in the Events Industry and I love it that way. That’s my story.
Laura:Awesome, Sam what about you? How did you get yourself …
Sam:Like yes …
Laura:And what do you do? [crosstalk 00:06:02]
Sam:I’m the General Manager of the UK Europe office. I guess my story was. I was a  … I’m a classical musician by trade, so I studied Classical Voice, a little Opera at University and I … All my music offering was choral. Musical theater, Opera. I did five years with Opera Australia when I was younger, but I always played in bands as well. Just original bands and for fun and the owner, Andy who … The owner of Song Division. He came to a gig my band was playing in Sydney at a venue called The Basement. At the time Song Division had booked a big job with Microsoft writing an original song as the staff came into their car park one morning.
They just needed a few extra set of hands. I would have been, I don’t know, 25, 26. This was six, seven years ago. My role was just to sort of help set up, you know, motivate people that write lyrics. Help perform the song at the end and just be, I guess, an extra set of hands. I did that job and I was just like the greatest concept ever. I need to get … If you ever need me, I’d like to be more involved. Whatever you need. Just wanted to find out how I could be more involved in the company. Then over the next, I guess two years, I did odd jobs here and there and then I took over a very small part of the business. We used to do Bachelorette parties. We’d go to a Bachelorette party with another musician and we’d write a song about how the Bride and Groom met, as something fun for the party to do, other than eating fruit off guys bodies, I guess, I don’t know what you girls do. You crazy girls do.
I was doing that every weekend and then doing the odd job for the big corporate as they came into Australia and Andy said do you want to have a go at doing the sales for the Australian region? I said, “Yeah, I’ll give it a go? I knew nothing about events, sales marketing. He just well, cool. I’ll teach you everything you need to know. I just need someone who is passionate about music and understands what we do and the power of what we do. From there it was going to be, I think, a totally more slower more gradual progression towards me being the MC and …
I guess sort of handling a big chunk of that business, but it all, for whatever reason, it all moved very quickly to me pitching the jobs. Designing the jobs with the client. MC-‘ing the event. Organizing the musicians. Sort of just doing everything. Yeah, I was Creative Director. Then last year Andy asked if I’d moved to London to set up a UK office, to which I said yes, because I have a British passport luckily and I was just up for a new challenge. Yeah, I’ve been in London for the last nine months and absolutely loving it, even though I am in New York right at this moment in time.
Laura:Oh cool. Wow. You just earned the job right there. You guys haven’t … That is so cool. Well that brings me to an interesting point here, so you both sort of picked up on the importance of music at meetings and events. My question to both of you is, why does music matter at meetings and events. Especially the events that you’ve been to where maybe it’s a repeat event they’ve been to and one year they didn’t have music or they had really bad music and how did they improve it? Why does music matter at events?
Angus:Sam, you ought to go with that.
Laura:Yeah Sam you go with that.
Sam:I’ll give it a shot. I think music is … Everyone knows it’s a Universal language, so we have been really like … We’ve done events in 30 countries and we’ve written songs in fifteen different languages, so in that sense, it’s something that is you know, a very real event to most countries and cultures and it can be universally delivered. It’s also very well linked to memory, so obviously what we’re doing generally is writing original songs about things, often really dry content.
Things like sales targets and cultural re-brands and things that normally, I guess are quite heavy and can be considered boring by some people. When we get to use those … Use music to communicate those messages, it’s a much more exciting affair and of course like I said, with memory … We’ll odd people coming up to me three years later saying, “I was at an event with Spotify and singing me the chorus and the song we wrote, which is, as far as rights go, it’s return of investment.
Angus:They stick with you.
Sam:Yeah, they really do. I don’t know about you Angus, but I’m not waking up in the middle [inaudible 00:11:00] Like singing mid-tronic sales targets. It’s crazy so yeah I guess. I don’t know, that … Also music is a great leveler. Often we’d be doing stuff where we put people to write songs and you’ve the CEO writing songs with like the Receptionist or the Interns and everyone’s opinion and everyone’s input is as equal and as valued as everyone else’s, so that’s a really cool element, I think. Anything else Angus?
Angus:All right. Those are all the key points. Everyone has music in their life. While they may talk to each other all the time, they may have no idea what this person appreciates about, or what that person appreciates about music. They unified in the fact that they think the music at last years conference was terrible. You know, I’ve been thinking that. It so it creates a resonance with everybody that’s outside of just the work life. It’s humanizing and people connect over it. We do a segment in Song Divisions sessions where we have people share with each what was either their first concert they ever attended, or the first album they ever bought.
I did this … I came over to London just a couple of months ago and did an event for a medical group. The CEO, the woman who owned the meeting, told me that Pink Floyd was like her favorite band ever.
Laura:Oh cool.
Angus:I was like, you know … Their guitar player David Gilmour is the reason I started playing the guitar, so we had these instant connections and everything. That’s one of the main things. The other thing is, its so easy to get it right and we’ve … Sam and I, we all, and you. We’ve all watched people get it so wrong at events. It’s like not that hard to get it right if you put some thought into it or you engage a professional organization like Song Division to help you make some decisions or at least think ahead into it.
Then I see people that are essentially, the Event Producer, the top level owner, they have a million things on their plate. Like making sure the key note Speaker showed and all this stuff and they want to micro-manage the music, like down there. I was like call Song Division. It will put that level and care and attention into it, just to get it right. Just to make sure its not … If you leave it to certain [media 00:13:33] who shall remain nameless to just boot their, to boot up there playlist, you suddenly have like house dance music for what would definitely be a classic rock crowd or something like that. Just open your eyes and make the right decision. It’s easy to get it right. It’s just as easy to get it wrong.
Laura:Wow, so then how … What are the different ways that you can incorporate music into a more traditional corporate event, so how do you meet the crowd and know what kind of music they would be into if you all don’t know a single soul in the room?
Angus:Well, we ask them. That’s one thing we do.
Laura:Also the thing, having the quality of musicians. The guys have to be able to read the room on stage, so we very rarely are doing pre created set lists of songs, even though the client always wants this. Like I need to know exactly what songs, in what order and so. Well, we’re not going to play … If the dance floor is dead or people are trying to talk, then we are not going to play an ACDC song and being flexible and versatile on stage is a big one too, I think.
Laura:Mm-hmm (affirmative). My next question. In prepping, whenever I prep for Event Icons, I always just do a little bit of online digging, aka online stalking.
Sam:[inaudible 00:15:06]
Laura:No, no it’s not really that.
Sam:If you got that at Photoshop, I swear to God.
Laura:(Laughing). There is this really cool photo and I think that this was definitely from a Song Division event or Song Division had some hand in this one event, but there was an event where Richard Branson is on stage. His singing. I think he has a guitar in his hand. Can either of you tell me how you all got that gig and the story behind it.
Sam:Yeah, so that was …
Angus:Sam got a kiss on the cheek for this.
Laura:What …
Angus:I got [pashed 00:15:44] by Branson on stage. I appreciate that photo. If you want to go to my Linked profile, you can see it on there, so what happened, so we met … That was a job I pitched on and [Ron 00:15:59] in Australia. We met with Virgin and we explained what we did and they’re obviously an amazing organization and fit in well with what we do, because they really trust the people that they work with. We met with them and we explained what we did.
They said great, you know, we’ll be in touch which is generally the response, you know what it’s like at sales meetings. We’ll let you know when we have the right event. We thought okay, that was good. Keep our fingers crossed. Then two or three months later they emailed me and said. “We’ve got the event for you guys” They said Richard Branson’s coming to Australia for a meet and greet with 1500 Virgin Australia staff and rather than him just flying in in a chopper and waving and then getting out of there …
What can we do to create, to do something that they’ll never forget. That he will never forget and that the staff will never forget. We pitched a concept whereby a month before the event an email went to everybody attending, saying, “Richard’s coming to town. Send in a four line poem about what you love about working for Virgin Australia and we are going to perform the song when he gets there as a surprise. If your lyrics make the final song, you’ll get a private meet and greet with him, plus a signed copy of the lyrics and a photo and you’ll get to be up on stage for the song. Yeah, I think we got like 400 entries.
Angus:Yeah, talk about people who love where they work. There were people sending in photo’s of their Virgin tattoos. There were really great lyrics. I think the first lyric of the song is like, “My Parents told me I should be a surgeon” I said, “No way, I’m working for Virgin”. Really cool fun stuff. Yes, so we got they lyrics. We picked the best ones. We created the song. We went into a studio, we recorded. Then the song went out to everyone attending, saying, “Right learn this song, we are going to be performing it” in two weeks, or whatever it was.
Then at the Virgin Head Quarters in Brisbane in Queensland which are quite big, we threw like a mini festival. We had … There as  barbecue. We had a band playing all day, all afternoon of guys I toured with, you know INXS and written songs with Kylie Minogue and [CR 00:18:09] and our best Australian musicians. We played a few cover sets and we rehearsed the song a few times and we made a few actions. Yeah, then he came in and it was … It was like the Beatles  [inaudible 00:18:23], he got absolutely mobbed.
Walking, even just getting to the stage was quite scary. Then we did the song for him and he got crowd [surfed 00:18:32], during the song and yeah. Then at the end he started pashing everyone on stage or he said, “Who wrote the song?” I said, well “All these people up on stage. Your staff”. He started pashing them and I obviously said, “Well I actually wrote a couple of lyrics as well”, so he gave me a nice big kiss on stage too, which was nice. Yeah, it was good.
Laura:That was when you peaked in your career.
Sam:Yeah, a little bit into downhill from there. Yeah, yeah I was like, so now we need to do another one.
Angus:What’s fascinating there is that program has been replicated. That just speaks to how Song Division operates.
Angus:The needs of the job, we can transform our process in any number of ways in order to meet the needs of the specific event. We strongly believe in the dynamic creation of a song in real time. We’ve done that in under 15 minutes, like we’ve done it crazy quickly. We’ve done those sessions where … We strongly believe in that. However, some folks they want … We really want to get it ahead of time, so we’ve done this thing where you solicit lyrics. We’ve also done it where we just use a questionnaire that may prompt people like, if you want to make your answer rhyme, go for it, but you don’t have to. Then we just get a lot of information from them and we create a custom song, which is a longstanding product for Events Industry.
Laura:Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Angus:Just a sort of custom song to back the event, but we crowd source the content and/or the lyrics as done in the Virgin example, so that they really get their own song and then we present it interactively in some way. There where Sam did it, it was presented interactively so that the folks that really read the email and participated in the lyrics, they got on stage, but then everybody was there, got to hear the song like three times. You rehearsed it with the crowd of thousands, before he got there. Whatever the needs of the event are, you go with found elements.
You plan accordingly and you plan and you plan to [win 00:20:46] and it is the same for what you do for Events and what any vendor does for an event. It’s like you have to just get the scope of it in your sights and make the right plan and we just modify our process.
Sam:I think Angus and I love that. I do, I assume Angus is the same. That’s my favorite part of what we do, is sitting down with the client, going well okay, what’s the details of your event and what can we do that we’ve never done before and how can we make any of the challenges happen. We turn them into something really cool, because one thing we … You know, we’re not off the shelf. We have processes. We have offerings and we have processes, but no two events are the same and I love like coming up with …
Sitting down with the client, going let’s do something that we’ve never done before and something crazy. Obviously we do it around our process and what we know works, but that is the fun part, coming up with something and that’s what they, you know, everyone talks about them these days … Events it’s about making them unique and unforgettable.
Laura:Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sam:That’s what I love about it.
Laura:Music and event is just such an intangible that makes such a big difference and event, so I know for the Planners who are watching the show and who will watch the recording of the show, I know that one thing that is huge in the Events Industry, is the fact that a lot of events budgets will be shrinking or [a lot 00:22:11] that’s one of the big predictions is that a lot of the times people look at events as a cost center, so for a Planner who is watching this episode today, how can that event Planner show the return on investment of music, for their Boss or for someone who needs to approve the budget, how do you show the ROI?
Sam:YOu can handle that Angus.
Laura:Angus. Or maybe if you’ve ever had a client that was, you know, maybe it was a dream client that you all were trying to land and they were just really on the fence. What was the way that you were able to show the value?
Angus:Well you see its … There are a couple of things that are interesting about that question. One is that a thing that we’ve … We have had to try and thread the needle on is, where is the budget. Like, you know, when you’re going across the entire event. You’re looking at and it’s like … Because we full band programs that wind up fulfilling the entertainment end of their programming. You know there is going to be a certain amount sitting there, but then because we have the … Well because we have the processes to make it a full blown team building/conference energizer/key notes speech.
You know it sits in the same spot as a key note speech, that kind of thing. Maybe they’re that kind of organization, where they’re like we just really want to know that everything that is happening at our event is connected. We use that to … That approach on both budgets in order to show them that there is probably a cost savings by getting it all together in the overall. Then at the same time they … All the things that Sam just said and the answer to one of the other question regarding the resonance of music and how it sticks and it stuck with you know, our clients over the years. People use the songs in like their highlights reel.
Laura:Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Angus:We do events where, you know they’re not … They’re as not for release to the public. It’s a work for hire provided it’s you know, internal to their organization. Thereafter its separate, if they want it. You know, what? I love that song. It needs to be our jingle for national release. Well that’s a separate conversation.
Laura:[inaudible 00:24:59]
Sam:That’s never actually happened for us itself. [inaudible 00:25:05].
Laura:Because you’re waiting for your big break. [crosstalk 00:25:09]
Angus:They can use it for whatever they want internally and we’ve had these events where like we literally write the song interactively with the group, then record it and put it on a video clip and they use it and it’s already, ready to go by the next morning. Like here’s that song that we wrote yesterday. It’s already the soundtrack to our highlights reel from yesterday, from, you know, on the next morning.
Sam:Yeah, or it’s on the [air 00:25:41] yesterday which goes in the “goody bag”, the “thank you” bag to everyone that was there.
Angus:Yeah, it gets sent out afterwards. It becomes a keepsake for the event. The songs are usually in some way, linked to the event itself, so it’s not only something about their company or their association or resonates between users and a kind of a [B to C 00:26:07] there’s an experiential marketing element to some of our programs.
Angus:It has all that connectivity and those are the things that we try to sell them on that end, when they that type of client. When they are more like, “Well, we always have the band budget, so if you guys can do your thing towards the end of the day. Your interactive thing, and then we’ll get all of that, yeah, lets go for it”, so we’re that one element different than hiring just a regular cover band and we’re that one thing different than hiring, you know, just another team building activity or key note speaker.
Laura:Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sam:Or they so lucky that generally, well 99% of the time we blow it out of the park and the client’s really happy to actually share just a manual, like a video on or just the manuals which is really good to show other clients and we have been really lucky to work with super big brands like MacDonald’s and Coke and the major banks. That helps a lot with getting client’s over the line and we do the post events surveys and every so often the client will share their post event survey which might be upward with 400 attendees and that will both be a specific part about what they thought about Song Divisions part, yeah, our part and …
We generally score like the top of, in terms of all the content going on and that’s just because like I said, we’re generally the fun part of the event, so we always score high on that. Those kind of things will really help to get clients that are on the fence, over the line. You are going to get that every time you know. We hosted an event in London for about 100 sort of 50 plus year old men. All Engineers. You are going to get … You’ve got the bosses before, like they are pretty wide about how a skinny 30 year old Australian is going to get them to write and all of the original songs about.
Yeah then you get the testimonial and they just like can’t believe that you pulled that off. That comes back to A, the process and B, the musicians that we use, so there is a real sense of authenticity and rock star, yeah, I guess authenticity so.
Laura:Wow. Angus you eluded to something really interesting which the legality of music. Before we went live I know that we were … I think we, or maybe it was after we went live, but sometimes people just want to whip out their Spotify playlist and just hook it up to the speakers and just have that at the end as their entertainment for the night, but is there any … Are there any legal implications in using music at events, either just in general that you can maybe inform some of our newer Planners about and men and I guess there is some basic do’s and dont’s when it comes to music and events.
Angus:Well regarding the legality, Song Division’s Founder, Andy Sharpe wrote a very formative piece as a blog entry, or it’s in a magazine.
Sam:I’ll see if I can find the link while you’re talking.
Angus:That’s because we wanted to … People are interested in making sure they’re not doing anything wrong. Spotify is awesome. We use it … We design playlists on it. We use it. Most of the venues are Pander, ASCAP, BMI, SESACK, licensing, so anything that’s licensed through those organizations is legal to play have the rights to sing, to pay for the venue and you can play it from whatever playback option you have. Event to event, sometimes you need to … That certain specific restrictions concerns and so forth, but for the most part the licences are in place and so whatever is best for you on your event. I think the hardest thing with most events is like making sure that the WiFi in the bar room is …
Laura:Ooh, and that’s a whole other show.
Angus:There are infrastructural elements that wind up being of a concern to an organization like ours. Sorry, the second part of the question, so I recommend that we shoot a link to Andy’s article.
Sam:I’ve just added that to the window or to the …
Angus:It’s more complete. What was the second part? It was just do’s and don’t ‘s
Laura:What is the do’s and don’t’s of music at events. This is more for any of our newer Planners who are watching our show. What are some basics?
Angus:Well you have to be savvy enough to … You have to think ahead to workplace appropriate. That’s like … It’s huge and it’s really interesting, because we notice Lip Sync battles and stuff like that and some of the stuff that’s been like the most successful songs on late night TV, do not pass the litmus test for workplace appropriate.
Sam:Baby got [inaudible 00:31:32], not really.
Angus:Yeah, things like that, so you really want it but it’s like … And this is part of what we do with our song writing activities and everything, it’s that we know why you enjoy it while you’re listening by yourself, but you have to think forward to what is that … How is that going to play out in a room full of co-workers or an association.
Sam:Yeah, and it might be funny on the night, but two week’s later everyone sort ooh.
Sam:So we’ve seen that and we know that that’s.
Angus:We never around … Do’s, other than like if people are talking, you can’t play and ACDC song, but really you can always play an ACDC song. People want to listen to music.
Angus:100%, it’s like … I’ve had people [inaudible 00:32:26], it’s just like guaranteed, you will fill the dance floor. Doesn’t matter, go for it.
Sam:Or Michael Jackson, he’s a good guy, so .
Laura:Oh yeah.
Angus:Yeah, so right. We’ve all got … We’ve got our winners. It’s interesting to watch as we … You know we work with bands all over the world. Our music, you know in the States, we’ve got Vegas, Southern California. Florida. New York area. Seattle. North West. We’ve got events everywhere and I look across the playlist and I like … You know, suddenly 5% of the same material, like these guys know what’s working, but the thing that’s important and that we stress with them, is that you have to have a portion of your sets that rotates to appeal to the younger set.
You are going to watch a list of about 10 of 20 songs that has to keep rotating and then one may stay for the next ten years, but you are going to keep rotating that, but you are still going to have this classic rock set … That dance-able classic rock that is going to still be there.
Sam:Yeah, the young people will always dance to the Summer of 69, but the older people may not necessarily dance to dark punk, so it’s one of those situations where …
Angus:It’s very interesting, but it is … It’s very much like … We’ve seen this a lot in what we get requested to do, is … The Planners know that most of their demographic are in the 40 to 55 range. They are actively seeking to hire in the 25 to 35 range. They don’t want the new hires to feel like, “Oh man, I just took this job with a bunch of oldies”.
Angus:It’s absolutely true, so you have to walk the seam on that and figure out, you know, what of the new stuff is going to have enough appeal for everybody and so be welcoming to the new hires so that they don’t feel like they’ve just walked in on a club that they’re not really welcome at. Then what’s also just gonna keep, because I mean lets … I mean for the … In the 40 to 55 set, like that party is like, you don’t have to agree if the kids aren’t here … They are going to stay in the bar room and party.
Angus:By the end of the last set, the classic rock is like still pumping because you know the other guys, they’re sticking it out. Anyway, that’s some of what we’ve seen. I don’t know if Sam?
Laura:Sam, do you have any do’s or don’t’s?
Sam:Well one thing that happens at Song Division events is in that … What we’re obviously really proud of is we very rarely er, like band and entertainment. No, sorry, audience and entertainment … You know we’re the band and you’re the audience and we’ll play the song. Normally we’re working with them throughout the day and we’re working with them very closely at times, you know, in small groups. You build a bond with them, because you are creating a song with them. Then you get up and you perform them and you share this bond of performing on stage which is quite special.
Then add 8 to 12 drinks to that and a party [stint 00:36:01] at the end of the evening and all of a sudden everyone in the audience thinks that they’re either in the band or best friends with the band and they can do whatever they want. It starts getting a little bit scary because the stage is getting stormed and people are just jumping up and grabbing a mike and singing along. You need to sort of control the energy and let people know like, you’re welcome on stage.
At this point and we’ll identify people that are really good singers in the group and we’ll ask them back up to sing a song with the band, but there needs to be a point where, okay, we are the pros and as much as we want everyone to feel like rock stars up on stage, there is 90% of the audience who will like, okay, “Now I just want to watch the band play some songs”, and I’ve watched, you know, Kelly from IT, do Mustang Sally and it was funny, but I just want to watch. I just want to enjoy the music now.
That’s always a challenge, because I’m always really encouraging, you know, come up on stage and lets sing a song. Then you get the venue going … Stage is going to collapse. Can we get 30 people off the stage now. I was like, so …
Angus:Always check the weight restriction.
Sam:Always check the weight restriction.
Laura:Have to do. Got it, always check the weight restriction, got it.
Angus:To bring it back to a more, to the team building, like the interactive song writing. One specific don’t is … I’ve said this in like magazine article interview before, is never ever put a bar or a buffet station at the back of the room during a team building activity.
Angus:People love to get some drinks going on when they writing a song, like if we’re doing like at the 5:00 hour and something like that. It has to be, beer and wine already placed on the table, or … Usually that’s the best. It should just feel, because all of the best songs are written around a kitchen table or something, like you know the guys were just sitting there. Guys and gals were sitting around. That’s a think. If there is ever this thing where people are going to the back …
Sam:Wondering off you know.
Angus:Lining up, it’s just … That’s a death knoll to team building or anything we really want to engage with. That’s what, that’s our pitch is, you know,  engagement and the key thing to engagement is that, what are you going to make happen at this event that they could not … It’s not like something like, “Oh yeah I went to San Antonia and there was this thing that we wrote these songs”, blah blah blah … The next time that person goes back to San Antonia with their wife and kids or family or whatever, like they can’t have that same experience again, because it’s not, you know what I mean?
You have to … If you get them engaged to doing this thing, like it’s money can’t buy in a certain sense.
Angus:Nobody would do it in like … Yeah I’m going to go back to wherever the destination is, but if you don’t have the Song Division team and the whole thing, you don’t have the same experience of the place, so.
Laura:Oh, speaking of experiences, Joan whose logged on. Hey Joan.
Angus:Hi Joan.
Laura:Thank you Joan, thank you so much for this amazing comment. It says it’s Joan from  LIMRA and LOMA. “As an incredibly happy customer who worked with you in Bangkok and Las Vegas, I can honestly say you brought a magic to our events that was beyond our expectations and ended our event with an energy unsurpassed by any closing production that we’ve had in the past.
Sam:Wow, or just shoot through your bank details Joan, and we’ll get that payment off to you.
Laura:I’m going to just stop [inaudible 00:40:06]
Angus:Thanks Joan.
Sam:That’s cool yes, so that was awesome, because what actually happened there, so we do key notes as well. We’re a bunch of different offerings we haven’t … The key notes are, you know, like [ten 00:40:18] talks, interactive talks. One is around music and innovation. One is around music and leadership and one is around music and sustainable story telling, so we get into that. We, Nathan our US, one of our US Sales guys. He won an Event with them in Bangkok which I went over and did and that would have a year and a half ago. They wanted to use us again with the … In Vegas, was it Vegas, right Angus?
Sam:Yeah, and it was really cool, because it is the same key note. It is a keynote on innovation and it was really nice. I think there’s always that pressure there. ‘Cause they go, “Well, that was great. We want you to come over and do it again” I sort of said, “Well I won’t do it. I don’t live in the US, but Angus will do it and he is far more accomplished musically than I am. He will be great”, but the fact that she would say that, you know, two different people delivering a similar experience in them, you know, that’s really nice, so thank you Joan.
Angus:They were terrific to work with and everything and it’s just classic. As Sam was saying, we are process and content driven, so if you getting it delivered in Bangkok. Sam you were with Christo when you delivered.
Sam:That was just me, it was just me. It was a one man show and coming back to, you know, I guess challenges, that was six different languages. There were people in there that was Indian, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese. English obviously, so they were people that sort of very little English but there was live Interpreters in little booths around the room and people had head phones in, so like again. A little bit concerned about how it was going to go.
I just said at the start … These people, they are some association, they don’t all work together. No one knew each other. Very reserved audience. Very quiet room. At the start I just said, you know … Firstly I’m going to speak very clearly as possible, but please let me know if you don’t understand a word I’m saying and secondly, I’m going to put you all out of your comfort zone for the next hour. I promise you that you are only going to get out what you put in. We are going to have a bunch of fun and I’m not going to embarrass anyone or make you do anything that you don’t want to do, so we can all just go for this and enjoy it. They totally backed it.
These guys and girls. It was awesome. It was potentially, probably  going to be one of the most challenging events that I’ve done and probably one of the most rewarding. I will get something in a second out of my guitar case. Someone came up to me from Sri Lanke and gave me a framed little Sri Lankan, I guess a gift, saying how much he loved it and it’s being in my guitar case since that event. It’s my little good luck charm, so I’ll go and get it. Just to prove to you how good it was.
Laura:Wow, that’s awesome.
Angus:We had an international … We did an event in London for a direct selling organization and it was a recognition event for people who have kind of sold the most. This is a different client. I’m over there and we’re doing our Rock and Roll Game Shoe. There’s a bunch of challenges. There’s music trivia. There’s kind of “Name that Tune” done with a live band. There’s … Oh look at that.
Laura:That’s so cool.
Sam:That is my little [inaudible 00:43:49].
Laura:What is on it?
Sam:It says, okay so … I have just discovered that the trip to America hasn’t been good to us and that’s a bit sad, but it is framed Sri Lankan [crosstalk 00:43:59]. It travels in my guitar everywhere I go and it’s my good luck charm on events and this guy just came up and said, “I love that. I want you to have this as a gift to say thank you”.
Laura:That is so cool.
Angus:Sam, I was telling the story of this event that I did in London about a year ago for a direct selling company where we did the Rock and Roll Game Shoe. At one point in the Rock and Roll Game Shoe, there is a lot of things to get people up on stage. One of the segments is called “Sing me Something”, so if you can sing me something, you get a bonus point for your team. It’s like the floodgate opens sometimes. It’s like you start getting all these people and what’s really great about it is that the Rock and Roll Game Show gets people on stage and singing way earlier than they do in Karaoke.
Angus:So there’s always those events where it’s like, “Oh I missed the Karaoke. I always leave at 9:00 o’clock”, but if you put the … If you flat load the evening with the Rock and Roll Game Show, you get these Mama’s when we do the “Sing me Something”, so I mean you get these people up and then suddenly everybody gets the richness of it, “Wow, that person can actually sing”, so we go to that and because it is a direct selling organization, hugely international, somebody comes up and sings their National Anthem.
Then before you know it, I have a line of like 20 people ready to sing their National Anthem. I was just like … Then you can’t anybody no at that point.
Sam:And that’s a whole night [inaudible 00:45:36]/
Angus:I shouldn’t have gone ahead on that one.
Laura:Yeah, that was like the whole thing was just … Nationally [inaudible 00:45:40].
Sam:We do … I asked five guys and five girls separately when I’ve done it lately and I don’t tell them what the song is but they have to do a verse of a famous song and it’s hysterical. I get the girls up first and they do something like, “It’s Raining Men”, or “Girls just want to have Fun”. Then I’m like, all right guys, your turn first. First give guys up here, lets go and then these five big blokes normally rock up on stage and I make them do, “I will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. It’s just so funny making them do a verse each of that song. It’s nothing better than like tricking people in that real situations.
Laura:I’m sure they have fun regardless, because everybody knows the words to that song.
Sam:Oh, 100%, nothing better, you know a big burly guy whose had a couple of beers singing about how he will get over the lost love of his life. Great.
Angus:That’s a little trick we’ve done with the Lip Sync Battle. Deliver Lip Sync Battle person requests their jam, but you put up the Chipmunks version of it.
Laura:Lets do it. I love that. [crosstalk 00:46:46]
Sam:We are nice people. We are nice people.
Laura:Professionals don’t get at twisted folks. That brings me to another good question here, is can you guys tell me about maybe what is currently trending right now in music and how that is delivered at events, if at all. Any trends in music.
Laura:How music is delivered. Is there anything that’s trending in that way?
Sam:In terms of … You mean in anything or the corporate world, or events or?
Laura:Also Angus you brought up a good example, so the Rock and Roll Game Show. That’s kind of an interesting thing, but is there anything that you see that’s trending and like the Lip Sync Battle, that’s huge as well.
Sam:That’s super popular right now.
Laura:Are there any other trends that you’re seeing in how music is delivered at an event.
Laura:Well this gives me a great opportunity to talk about our two newest products..
Sam:Just in time for Christmas.
Laura:Oh my goodness. That was not a set up. That was not a set up, but do tell, do tell.
Angus:We’ve got very good at delivering Lip Sync Battle and I think a lot of people are trying to deliver it as well as we do and that’s cool and we appreciate it. It’s a hot item. I think that additionally what we’ve seen now that we’re about to roll out is a carpool Karaoke that you can do in about the same footprint as a photo-booth would entail. On a … You know these events with multiple activation stations. We see this a lot for people like … We want to get the whole club and then we’re gonna have a Fire Breather and we’re gonna have a photo booth and we gonna have that and we gonna have this and we gonna have that.
We want to put Song Division in these rooms. What are the most effective ways? So one is, Car Pool Karaoke with like a just a you know, kind of …
Laura:Like a windshield almost.
Angus:Your five and dime store version of a backseat and you know film yourself … Film like 30, 45 seconds of the song and then you know you have it. Somebody’s footprint to that is something that we came up that is … Merges the idea of a photo booth with Song Division’s super quick highly interactive song writing activity which we call the “Selfies Song”.
Laura:Ooh, okay.
Angus:The “Selfies Song” is a lightening quick song writing session with you and maybe you and your friends. Walk up, you answer like three questions like … What’s your name. What’s your favorite kind of music and what do you like best about being at this event … Sponsored by … Sort has, again has some experiential marketing to it. Our Facilitator with the acoustic guitar. Electric car, whatever we can fit in the space … Says okay, gets about six lines of lyrics, so it sounds like a verse in a chorus and then it’s performed. You put on fancy sunglasses whatever, you get literally a 20 second long thing filmed on your phone. You can hashtag it and share it.
Angus:All you want. It’s your “Selfies Song”, so instead of a Selfies, you have a Selfies Song.
Sam:[inaudible 00:50:22]
Laura:That’s cool.
Angus:I think that’s the best answer to your question about what’s trending in music and events.
Sam:And making music. I can’t wait to see that. I just need some examples.
Sam:Yeah, I will share the link so we … IMAX is coming up obviously in [crosstalk 00:50:40]
Laura:Yeah, are you going to be at IMAX?
Sam:We are at IMAX and we’re doing the back seat. We’re calling it Back Seat Karaoke, so we picking up Industry heavy weights from their hotel and we’re driving them to IMAX every morning and driving them back to their hotel afterwards and I’m interviewing them and we’re going to do a Karaoke and interviewing them about what they like about the Events Industry and IMAX and then they pick a song and we all sing it together in the car and we’ve done a couple of preview episodes. We’ve done one with Karina and Miguel from IMAX. Karina is the CEO.
Sam:We did one down in … I did one with her in Brighton a few weeks ago, so that’s up online. I’ll find that link as well. It’s just a way to promote the event, to promote the Events Industry. To have some fun. Obviously IMAX is an event for … Event planners and what not, but that can be done at internal conferences where you might have the Senior Leadership Team wants to see … being interviewed in a pre-recorded car pool carrier, [starts 00:51:40] a video to open the conference and then they come up on stage and while our band is playing the song they were doing Karaoke to live …
That they were doing in the car and our band is playing that live as a big high energy opener, that the CEO fronts the band for. Stuff like that which is really fun. Then also with the trending stuff, obviously the innovation, key note came because innovation was trending so heavily within the Events Industry and then the one I’m launching next week is a a leadership key note, because that’s a hot topic, obviously that’s our music but I … We take trending topics and trending things and we try to come up with something that we can use music to relate to.
Laura:Very cool.
Angus:I think that as far as what’s happening in music in the greater market place, live music. People are going to see live music, because Artists are completely invested in performing live right now, partly due to the economics of the Music Industry. I don’t know for certain, but I think if Axl Rose can reliably show up on stage on time for an entire tour, he must be highly motivated. He used to be a problem. It used to be a challenging spot for him and they’re an amazing band because, and I just saw that Sia and Aluna George are like doing a double bill.
Angus:They great singers and I think they’re doing a [Garden 00:53:28] or something like that here in New York .
Angus:I encourage people to just go and see live music at their events as much as possible, because there is so much talent out there and you really get something great.
Laura:Do either of you have a favorite show that you’ve ever been to?
Sam:Sorry, a TV show?
Laura:No, no like favorite gig.
Sam:Oh, favorite gig, sorry. I misheard you, oh goodness me. That’s a hard question. I think we both go, or I go to a lot of gigs, we both do. My first concert was Billy Joel and Elton John, back to back, playing like together. That was pretty mental so we’ll never forget that. Oh, what’s been good lately that I went to. I saw Bruce Springsteen for the second time this year. He never fails to impress.
Laura:Oh wow.
Sam:I think, obviously everyone loves their own, different styles of music, but like when you see a guy whose clearly so grateful for his life … Like I don’t know, he does like 300 shows a year or something ridiculous and no show is the same. He doesn’t have a set list. He pulls out live … He pulls songs out of the audience. She holds up signs and he just turns to the band and does that for three hours and to see someone whose is not going through the motions, which comes back to the musicians we use. We want guys that are passionate and grateful and happy and really love what they do.
That’s the most important thing about a live show for me. Watching someone going through the motions just doesn’t do it for me at all, so … Angus is probably thinking pretty crazy stuff, up close and personal, I’m sure.
Angus:I don’t know, there the things that … For me like, there are so many things that … I spend a lot of my you know, 13 to 25 buying back catalog, so I was already buying stuff that was old, like oh, I can’t really go see that, in this context, but I probably saw Black Sabbath by the time Ronnie James Dio was the lead singer. I saw the Bob [Rool 00:55:41] tour, so I’ve never seen Ozzy, Tony and Geezer like all playing together and when I finally saw them at an [inaudible 00:55:50] Fest and then I just went to see them on this last tour, that day, I just, it’s like it just … You well up because you’re like … There they are, you know.
Sam:I think they are the best band, I love them as well, that’s like [inaudible 00:56:03] the last ever time.
Angus:Yeah, it’s … These things are tremendous and they are not going to happen again and more and more there is this generational shift going on and there are Artists that you need to see now, if you ever want to see them. It didn’t impact me that much when I went, but I went and saw Nirvana play …
Laura:Oh wow.
Angus:On their Europe tour right, so it gets this reaction and like I never … When I saw it I was like … Everybody knew, smells like teen spirit and there weren’t really any hits from the new records yet, it was just out and it was at the New York Colosseum which has been torn down, it’s like where they used to have the boat show. I saw that and then I remember telling a cousin of mine, whose  younger than me, she made some reference to Kurt Cobain, I was like, oh I saw Nirvana. She said, “You saw Nirvana?” That was the first time I felt like really old. I was like, okay.
Laura:Wow, that’s so cool.
Sam:You Laura? First ever concert?
Laura:Oh my gosh.
Sam:Favorite concert?
Laura:Favorite concert, I would say … The one that immediately comes to mind and you’re right, there’s different concerts for different genres, but I would say one of the big blow out shows is that I saw [Cigarros 00:57:27] the … Icelandic band.
Sam:That was going to be my answer but I didn’t know if anyone would know who they were?
Laura:I don’t know if anybody who is watching now knows who they are. Check them out. It’s this very ethereal, like I can’t even describe how they sound but they are this amazing Icelandic band and I saw them in this really, really big auditorium and actually it was the auditorium of where I graduated college and surprisingly it wasn’t sold out, like at all. We got pretty good seats and just the whole experience of it all, was just … It was so incredible. It was just … Couldn’t describe it, but yeah, it was just a unique experience, I’m sure of that. They do that every day, but yeah, it was this really, really great experience.
Sam:Yeah, I remember seeing them in a music festival, an outdoor festival in Australia and this huge Marquee, I think about 10, 000 people and for some reason, I still don’t know to this day, half the audience on one side was lying down listening, looked like asleep and half the audience on the other side was all standing up kind of just enjoying. I was in the standing up side and I had to go to the bathroom and it was real dark and I would walk out of my area. I was halfway across the tent and I looked around and it looked like everyone had passed out. I was like, what the hell, what’s going on.
That’s why a lot of Cigarro, some people are going, you know loving it, other people just lie down and just, you know, just contemplate. They’re incredible.
Laura:Awesome. Well, we are almost at time here folks. This is a great show and the last question we ask on every show is… Do you have any new awesome cool resources that you all want to share for the folks who are tuned into today’s show … Websites, blogs, books, gadgets, podcasts. Spotify playlists. What have you got?
Sam:Well, we’ve got our line so if anyone … Its a free resource  If anyone needs playlists for events [inaudible 00:59:33], but doesn’t have the budget for a band, or whatever the reason is, you can go to our Spotify channel. We’ve go about 15 of them, like some are playlists. Every season. Cocktail event playlists. Gala dinner playlists. Instrumental, so they  cover most standard events just so people don’t have to do it themselves. A lot of stuff that isn’t involved with us, you know I’d love to do a plug to Sylvia Peregrine at Events Uncovered, I love her. She has a great weekly interview with industry heavy weights. Mike Mcallen. Do you know Mike Mcallen.
Laura:Mike Mcallen, yes, he has … Doesn’t he have a podcast?
Sam:He has a podcast.
Laura:Yes, Grass Shack Media.
Sam:Correct. I think that [inaudible 01:00:17] and he is just an absolute legend. Ooh, what else? Angus, any other guys?
Angus:Event Icons.
Angus:Is an awesome [crosstalk 01:00:30].
Sam:[inaudible 01:00:31] at Event Icons.
Laura:Yeah. [inaudible 01:00:33]
Angus:No, I mean, those ones that Sam referenced are awesome. I mean, just keeping abreast of things, it’s what we do, so we’ve seen all of that.
Sam:It’s so cool to see people that just champion our industry and do things like this … There’s the [My Spot 01:00:56] as well who do a live … Yeah they are on [inaudible 01:00:59], so they do, I think it is, maybe every Tuesday from 9:00 till 10:00 pm. It’s a live tweet up Q & A, so anyone can, you know, things about the Event Industry. Just, I don’t … A lot of the people care enough to do that, you know, to do these things that are just about promoting the industry and how awesome it and so like [inaudible 01:01:21], so yeah. Like yourself of course and like Will, so we do genuinely do a pre-shaping inside of this and doing this.
Laura:Oh thanks. Thanks for being a part of it. Yeah, all right. Thank you both for joining today’s show. This was incredible. Can’t wait to unleash some ACDC at my next event. I let you all know how it goes and for all of you who joined us today, thank you so much. This is indeed a weekly show Event Icons and if you want to get notified, just be sure to sign up at Event-Icons.com and if you can’t join us live you can always join the hashtag which is #eventicons on Twitter and this show happens every Wednesday, so if there is an Event Icon you’d like us to interview or bring on the show, please Tweet us.
Be sure to Tweet Will Curran who typically runs the show. He is at @itswillcurran on Twitter and I’m @1aura1opez on Twitter but the L’s are 1’s, so there’s a little twist there. There is a lot of Laura Lopez’s our there I guess. Thank you again, both Sam and Angus for joining us and we’ll see you all next time on Event Icons.
Sam:Thank you so much.
Angus:Thanks and thanks to Will.
Laura:Thank you.
Sam:Thanks guys.

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Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will Curran. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels.

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