by Tom Isler | September 01, 2007

Kathy Heasley, for one, loved the ending of The Sopranos, HBO’s series that slammed to a close in June in the middle of the final scene, silencing the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’?” in mid-lyric. “That was an absolute stroke of pure genius,” says Heasley, founder of IMS Inc., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based marketing communications company that produces meetings.

Heasley is known for paying close attention to music. She never plans an event without a good sound track, and she’s as sensitive to the tone of songs as she is to their lyrics. For a Cold Stone Creamery event, Heasley selected “More Than Fine” by Switchfoot before a general session to reinforce the idea of striving for excellence. For a fantasy football draft, she chose Alice Cooper and AC/DC to set the mood.

Music can extend the theme of the meeting, energize the crowd or get attendees in the right frame of mind. Prime times for tunes: as attendees gather before sessions, while a speaker takes the stage, during breaks and in video presentations. If Heasley attends an event and notices an awkward gap that could have been plugged with music, “the silence is deafening,” she says.

When selecting tracks, “throw out the obvious,” she advises. Songs shouldn’t remind attendees of their high school prom; they should create a new memory. More advice: Be careful to heed music-licensing laws; don’t skimp on your audio system; and find songs that express their essence in a few seconds -- all you usually have time to play.