Booking a band for your wedding, party or corporate event is never an easy task. When you type into google, “hire a band north west” or “hire a band for my wedding London” you are bombarded by an endless tirade of options. How do you pick? How do you decide on who is best for you? How can you guarantee without seeing this band that they are the best one that will achieve the results and atmosphere that you want, especially if they haven’t been recommended.
I hired a band for my own wedding in November 2014, being in the industry of course I had many options and great knowledge at my leisure, especially having seen all of the artists, groups and bands that we work with, but actually deciding upon one was a tricky affair, even for me.
We know that this can be a daunting task for anyone and we want to help shed some insights and guidance for anyone who is wanting to hire a band for their special event.
1. First you need to confirm with your venue that they can accommodate a live band.
Usually the majority of venues are very helpful and extremely accommodating when it comes to live entertainment. But it is always wise to double check, just in case there are restrictions to what you can and cant have. Party bands for example are loud and lively, they do require a certain level of sound to achieve the perfect dynamic for your event. This doesn’t mean to say it will be extremely loud and overbearing, but it wont be the same level as say for example hiring a solo vocalist or duo.
2.Check with the venue whether they have a sound limiter.
If the venue advise that sound levels may be an issue, it may be wise to think about hiring a smaller sized group, like a duo or even a soloist, which will make it easier to achieve the ideal sound levels. Sometimes an acoustic group will be ideal for venues with sound limiters, however if you want that “drum beat included,” a duo with backing tracks can often turn the sound levels down enough to accommodate for a sound limiter without the sound cutting out in the middle of an all important song. We would usually advise on speaking with the artist, band or an entertainment agency expert to discuss how this may effect the options would be available for you.
3. What are you wanting to achieve from having a band perform at your event or wedding?
Are you wanting everyone to get on the dancefloor from the start of their performance for the rest of the night? Or are you wanting to create a spectacle show that your guests can watch, enjoy and join in with? Either way, there are many options available to suit and create the atmosphere you want to achieve. Many bands tailor their sets to suit you, your event and what atmosphere you want to create. You just need to know this and relay it onto the band or the entertainment agent you are wanting suitable options from.
There is no point hiring a 12-piece swing band if the venue or performance area is tiny and the dance floor just as small. In the same instance, I attended a wedding once where the room held up to 500 people, it had a huge stage, an enormous dancefloor and a tiny Dj Booth with some disco lights in the centre. It had “zero” atmosphere and the wedding guests seemed dispersed! So have a look at the size of the room/venue and the area that you have to use for entertainment before considering what size band or entertainer to hire.
5. Hiring through an Agency versus Hiring Directly.
Hiring through a respected entertainment agency gives you many added benefits, importantly security. A professional entertainment agency will issue full terms and conditions and contracts to the entertainment or band in question, along with yourself. The contracts are legally binding and creates an official booking. You should always check through the terms and conditions and pay attention to cancellation terms and any contingencies that they have in place for emergencies. An Entertainment Agency can usually provide back-ups in case of emergency. The additional bonus is that you should be dealing with a company who has expertise in the industry who can provide you with professional help and advice. A good entertainment agency will have vetted the artists and bands that they represent and will have the experience to know and recommend the bands, groups or artists that will be perfect for your wedding or corporate event. Agencies have access to a vast and varied selection of entertainment and will be able to send you options quickly, providing expertise and good communication throughout the booking procedure to your event date. An entertainment agency will ensure that the artists have the necessary insurance certificates and should even be able to liaise with the venue on your behalf should the venue require the documents. Hiring through an entertainment agency can ensure that you receive the best prices too.
6. Book in Plenty of Time!
The best live bands will be booked up to 1 year in advance. So to avoid disappointments ensure that you hire the band you want by booking at least (at least!) 12 months in advance.
We all have to start somewhere of course, but hiring a band for your wedding or corporate event requires more experience and knowledge than what a band just starting out could give. Whilst your event can be made to be bespoke to suit your requirements and needs, often an experienced band or entertainer, who has performed at hundreds of weddings and events previously will be able to advise you on what songs for example will fill your dance floor, if that’s what you are wanting to achieve. They will have an excellent PA system, they will arrive looking the part and their stage attire will be ideal for your prestigious evenings affair.
8. Electricity Supply Indoor or outdoor
Check that the venue has at least 2 standard plug sockets in close proximity to where the band or entertainment will be performing. Professional acts will have extension leads and adapters, but it is ideal to check with the venue first to make sure they are readily available.
If your event is outdoor or in a marquee, make sure that you arrange with the Marquee Hire Company for a sufficiently powered generator to be provided or that an outdoor electricity supply is made available for the band.
9. Arrival Set up & Sound Check
It is important where possible that the band or artist who has to set up equipment or sound-check, does so before your guests arrive. It is important to know what time your guests will be arriving, or what time if an evening wedding reception, the room will be changed around, so that you allow enough time for the band to unload, set up and sound check their pa system. It may be worth checking with the venue to see what time the room/venue will be accessible from first. Sometimes other events and functions may be taking place at the venue and therefore the venue may not wish for entertainment to sound-check until a specific time. Whether you hire through an entertainment agency or directly with the band, either should be able to inform you of how long it will take approximately for the Set and Checks to be completed. The band will need close access to the venue so that they can unload and load their equipment without carrying it for too long a distance. It is important for the band to know if the nearest entrance located to where your event is taking place is up 8 flights of stairs and along 3 corridors as they will need to either be provided with trolleys and loading equipment or be able to bring and provide their own to achieve set up as swiftly, safety and effectively as possible.
10. Changing Room and Refreshments
Most bands will require some food and soft drinks be provided for them. When you take into consideration that they may have driven for over 2 hours, unloaded heavy equipment, set up and sound-checked, then after their performance take down, reload and drive home for possibly another 2 hours, it would be inhumane to leave them without any food or refreshments. The better you treat them, the more energy they will have to ensure that your event receives the very best performance possible. The band will require somewhere to relax and change whilst waiting to go on stage and between performances. Their belongings will need to be left securely when they are out on stage performing. It is always worth checking to see if they do have any specific requirements or ryders.
Final Wedding or Corporate Band Checklist:
1. Confirm with the venue that you are able to have a live band
2. Check with the venue whether they have a sound limiter
3. What are you wanting to achieve from having a band perform
4. Confirm how much space Is required
5. Decide whether you want to hire through an Entertainment Agency or Directly
6. Book in Plenty of time!
7. Ensure that the Band/Entertainer has experience and check testimonials and publicity
8. Confirm Electricity supply indoor or outdoor
9. Confirm Arrival / Set up and Sound check Times
10. Ensure Changing rooms & refreshments are arranged