questionswhat's some great background music for events?

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Mogwai - they have some real nice beats with no vocals (usually) and goes well in the background.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUaCxx5npko - When I first heard this track a couple of years back it made me think of Cali.

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some Red Hot Chili Peppers. just turn it low

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INAL. Be careful of the laws. Technically, playing copyrighted music in a public place is in violation of laws. Public places have been defined by courts as:

Radio stations
Bars, restaurants, night clubs, and juke box operators
Hotels that play the radio for guests through speakers or headphones
Stores
Telephone intercom systems that play music while callers are on hold

The Fairness in Music Licensing Act draws a line between private and public use by defining in terms the type of public establishment, the size of the public establishment, and the stereo equipment being used:

Restaurants and bars that are under 3,750 square feet or retailers under 2,000 square feet are considered exempt from paying fees for playing music for their customers

Public places that play the radio are exempt from paying fees if no more than four speakers in each room are being used to play music

Charging admission may make you subject to a license fee

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While I love the RHCP idea (truly!), that's probably not what you had in mind.

Howabout some old Jackson Browne, Poco, Santana, Joni Mitchell and the Eagles?

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Snuffy Walden, his classical style guitar music makes great background music. I have a CD of his music that he wrote for the movie "Stephen King's The Stand" and I love it. We also have a CD collection of jazz music we bought at BevMo cheap, good mood music.

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Jock Jams.
Don't act like you don't remember that CD.

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@wilcononomous: I totally agree! They are outstanding!

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Thanks for all the suggestions. Some will definitely work better than others. I should have mentioned, since we are a history center, our guests are more often on the older side. I'm excited for our next event to try some of these out. I had never thought of some artists that really would fit well that you've mentioned and I am happy to be introduced to others. Thanks so much.

@cengland0: I am not too worried about those laws as I think we fall into the category of a space it doesn't apply to. We are a small nonprofit gallery and only have 2 speakers we hook up during events. Thanks for the info, though.

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what part of california history? If the mid-to-late 20th century is part of your displays, I'd suggest some WWII/early 50's stuff, particularly if, as you say, you get an older crowd. There are a lot of good multi-disc compilation sets out there with music from that era, and it may directly link to any 30's/40's/50's exhibitions. That music had a big role in California history as well, California was a central part of war industry in the 40's & 50's.

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@kat9: The Hotel Costes albums are some of the best albums designed for background enjoyment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmUTvXa245o

@wicked365: I think we all want to forget.