5 Proven Tips For Booking Bands For Events or a Party.
If you are planning a corporate event or a party, here’s a few tips and live band entertainment ideas to get you started.
1. How do I select the band size?
There are a few rules of thumb to choosing the band size. You should only use this as guide however. You can choose the size of the band based on the number of guests. Here’s a guide to go by:
- Under 50 guests: Solo artists or a duo;
- 51-150 guests: duo – 5 piece band;
- 151 – 250 guests: trio – 8 piece;
- over 250 guests: 5 – 12 piece band or perhaps even a 17 piece big band.
Other factors that could influence the band size is the size of the stage or performance area as well as the size of the entire room. As a guide a 5 piece band can fit very comfortably on a stage 5 metres wide and 4 metres deep. A soloist or duo could fit on a stage easily on a stage size of 2 metres x 2 metres. Don’t forget to allow space for a dance floor if you are booking a dance band.
The amount of your budget is probably the third and final consideration in selecting how big the band will be. Prices can vary on a band’s popularity, professionalism and performance ability. An example price range for a 5 piece band in an Australian capital city on the eastern seaboard is $2500 to $4000. Some provide the cost of a PA within this price range and for others a PA (also referred to as audio production) plus a lighting show may be extra.
2. Choosing the style of music the band will play
A band’s playlist is one of the deciding factors of why you would book a particular band. The question before looking at any band’s video or playlist is to first decide on the type of music that you want a band to perform at your corporate event.
There are many different types of bands. Some play a broad mix of music from the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s right through to the dicso from the 70s, 80s pop, 90s, 2000’s and the latest dance tracks. There are bands that perform niche music styles like jazz music or Latin music or even world music from other cultures.
Do you have a theme for the corporate event? Could the use of music support that theme and solidify it in the mind of your guests.
How well do you know your guests? You may have an idea if your guests are the staff members of your company. In that case you’ll know age ranges and group interests. What music do they like to listen to? … dance to? If the guest attending are clients or associates and you are unsure, then it may be a safe option to book a band that plays a broad range of music.
Experienced bands know how to ‘read’ an audience on the night at the event and cater the music in their sets accordingly. In this case then you just need to do 2 things:
- Book an experienced, professional band; and
- Tell them to “read the crowd on the night”. (regarding the style of music to be performed)
3. What performance space does a live band require?
The performance space varies from event to event and venue to venue. Ideally, a band should be on a stage. Ideally. Sometimes this may not be possible or affordable, so once again it depends on the venue and your budget as a stage may need to be hire if the venue does not have a built in stage.
As mentioned earlier a rough guide for a 5 piece band is a stage 5 metres wide and 4 metres deep. Allow a stage size of 2 metres x 2 metres for soloists or duos.
Hired stages have varied heights. Minimum stage height is 300 mm. Taller stage heights are 450 mm, 600 mm and above.
4. Event timings, band performance sets and running sheets
The first step in getting this right is to make a list all of the things that need to happen at the event. Here’s an obvious start – entree, main course, dessert and pre-dinner drinks. Then add, welcome speech, keynote speaker, main presentations / speech(es) and a perhaps a closing speech. Are there any raffles, auctions, fund raising activities?
Now the fun stuff – Is there an opening entertainment stage show? Roving entertainment at tables or in the foyer is popular. The band is performing 3 x 45 minute sets which needs to be timetabled and perhaps you have booked a feature stage show for after dinner entertainment.
All of these items now need to be grouped and placed in a logical order that is conducive to an event that flows seamlessly. A spreadsheet or document is best to use.
START – Add these items to you running sheet first:
- Guest arrival time
- Guest seating time or Doors open time if it is a stand up event
Now insert entree, main course, dessert and pre-dinner drinks and then approximate the time it may take. You’ll need to keep in mind the number of guests and the time taken for the venue to serve all of the guests. Eg Entree 25 mins. Once you have allocated the start and finish times along with the dinner courses, you’ll have the skeleton of your nights proceedings.
For there you can then add the others from your list and include the entertainment spots including the band sets. Easy! You’re done. Except for one simple but huge secret…
PRO TIP – The secret to a writing or planning a great running sheet is being accurate and realistic in allowing time for each item. Avoid over budgeting time but allow enough to comfortably get the job done.
5. Band requirements or band hospitality riders, audio and lighting
Bands have requirements which can form part of their booking agreement. It is common practice to provide the band with a hot meal if they are booked for a performance time over 3 hours or more. Most venues have staff meals which can be organised for the band, but some of the top end bands are used to clients providing a full guest meal for them. A band can have such a huge impact on the success of an event and by comparison to other service providers, live entertainment can be a bargain when you compare the actual return you get for your investment. Most bands will be appreciative if you provide a full guest meal for them and you’ll reap the rewards when they’re on stage with extra energy and ‘vibe’. This is a ‘real thing’ – musicians and entertainers do respond in kind if you treat them with kindness and generosity.
Musicians may assume that if a meal is provided for them, that a table will also be set for them with condiments and cutlery. Always provide a set band table for the band – always. Whether, the table is set in the room next to the stage along with the other guests or set in the band dressing room will depend on either the band’s suggestion or your wishes.
PRO TIP – If you decide to seat the band in a dressing room, keep in mind that you will need a liaison to co-ordinate communication with the band regarding their set times. Eg: You are running ahead of schedule, the band is in another room and the MC announces that the band will now be commencing their next dance set. The MC may do this because it was next on the running sheet, but because it was an earlier time, no one has informed the band. Exceptional bands have great band leaders who, in any event, will keep in touch with event managers to get constant updates of event timings. In this case, these landmines are always bypassed.
Celebrity bands will have a hospitality rider that will form part of their contract. It will generally include:
- The food to be served and at what time with respect to their performance time;
- Number of meals required including their crew;
- Alcohol and drinks – it will be very specific;
- Other items like a dressing room with full length mirror, towels, coat rack (for costumes), hair dryer;
- No# of Dressing rooms with table placings.
Bonus Tip: Are bands booking prices negotiable?
In a word – yes! But that’s entirely up to the band. Here are some scenarios where a band may be negotiable on price:
- Your event is less than a month away and you have left it late to book your band. If a band is available, they may prefer to work for a little less than not working at all;
- You have booked the same band before. Instead of paying a yearly price increase, the band may opt to take the repeat booking at the previous years price;
- Your event is on a week night which is ‘off peak’ for most bands;
You could also simply ask for their best price and see what comes back. Don’t expect too much of a price reduction from a popular band who is busy with lots of bookings. In lieu of a price discount they may offer to add value to the bookings. eg Extra performance time, MC service for a reduced rate, providing extra equipment like extra lights or microphone for speeches.
PRO TIP – If you are looking for a great band, pay them what they are worth. A great band will be one of the highlights of the event and may possibly be the most talked about thing about your event. Why haggle for just a few dollars?
Bonus Tip: Should I book a band directly or use a booking agent?
Bands these days have really improved their customer service and client experience. Bands do take bookings directly and some prefer this. If you find a band like this and you are comfortable to book with them, then yes, book the band directly.
Other bands, while being amazing performers on stage, only work through booking agents as they prefer not to deal and negotiate with clients directly. In any event, most band booking agencies provide an honourable and friendly customer service experience that is reliable, timely and accessible during business hours. Some musicians also teach and may not be available to talk when you want to.
A band may also want to please the booking agent by doing an exceptional job as an agent is a steady source of work for many bands. This turns out to be nothing but a distinct advantage for you, the client, as your event is the recipient of the bands enthusiasm, energy and effort.
And in case of dire circumstances like illness, accidents or unfortunate circumstances, an agent will be able to move quickly and replace a band at a moments notice – giving you peace of mind.
If you have events every year, like a staff Christmas party or end of financial year party, using the services of a reliable booking agency will end up saving you a lot of time, as the agent will get to know your event, your requirements and needs and will be able to provide a variety bands that will each ensure a successful event each year and you get to deal with just one point of contact. That alone may make it worthwhile to use an entertainment agency.
- How Much Does It Cost to Book Your Favorite Band? An article at Huffington Post about Celebrity band costs
- How to Book a Band. A guide on WikiHow
- Celebrity band fees. Fun Blog Article.
More about booking a band for your corporate event
There are other factors that may decide which band to book for your corporate event. Call Vogue Entertainment on 1300 296 133 for some free and friendly advice or ask us a question.