Organising an event is exciting.
It could be a corporate event, an anniversary, a birthday party, or even a wedding.
No matter what the occasion is, or how classy or trashy you want to make it, the main objective is to make it super fun for everybody.
And nothing brings the party-energy up like good music. From a string quartet, to a rock band, each performing group has its role to play.
Some events need more than one band.
A traditional Cyprus wedding, for example, often has a duo of lutes and violins separately playing for the bride and groom as they “get dressed” at home (stolisma), all the while playing traditional songs about future marital bliss.
Later, after the ceremony, it’s common for there to be a jazz trio or classical quartet to keep guests entertained during the cocktail reception.
And finally, during the after party, there will be a full-on party band or DJ keeping the guests on the dance floor late into the night!
So, if you are looking for some live entertainment, you can easily book your band through bandster.me.
Nevertheless, here are 5 things that you should know when you are booking a live music band:
1. What you pay for
What you pay, is not just the 1-2 hours of live music that you will enjoy on the day.
For the band to be able to perform to your event, it means that the band members:
Have built up a skill over the years that allows them to perform for you
Have spent hours of personal study to create a 1 to 2-hour long setlist
Have spent hours and travel time on group rehearsals
Have spent thousands on equipment to make sure they sound good on stage
Not only that, it is common for them to turn up 3 to 6 hours (or more) beforehand to set up their equipment, sound-check and be out-of-sight long before the first guests arrive.
Here's a tip: asking a band to play a shorter time just to drop the budget will usually not get you the result that you are expecting.
Playing for just 20 minutes will still require the full set-up and sound-check, and the band being at the venue for several hours.
Also, on the day of the performance, the band has:
To take care of travel expenses to get to the venue
To do manual work by carrying equipment to and from the event
To work hours ahead of the performance to set up the stage and sound-check
If the event is big and a sound and lights company is hired, that company will usually set up the stage and carry the equipment. The larger stages normally require longer setup times, so the musicians may carry less but the days are long.
The sound system is commonly an additional fee (unless specified).
Whether the band will bring its own system or hire a company, sound equipment is an extra cost.
Consider it part of your overall entertainment budget, as it’s necessary. If the event needs a sound engineer that’s another salary.
Many companies combine the sound engineer's’ fee with the equipment hire.
If you are someone who is organising a private event, whether a cultural or a corporate event, a wedding or an anniversary party, you will most likely agree a flat fee with a band, ahead of time.
Many bands will ask for a deposit in advance (sometimes up to 50%) and some of them, will have a contract ready for you.
Don’t let that scare you. The clearer the terms and price are, the better for you, too.
It's also a good idea to make sure the musicians are fed. It's smart to agree on food and drink beforehand, as expectations sometimes differ.
If the event will incorporate food and drinks, it’s common to offer 1 or 2 meals to the musicians, depending on how many hours they will spend, in total, at the venue setting up and performing.
In Cyprus, it’s very common to offer their alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks them for free too. Make sure there’s plenty of water for them!
2. You usually get what you pay for
Quality is subjective, what one person likes in music differs from another’s.
A good band, though, will always lift the energy of your guests, no matter what they play!
As Bob Marley once said ‘It’s a feel thing’.
When you're trying to decide on which band to choose, start planning early and ask bands to send you 1 or more videos of them performing.
A picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is worth… oh well, you get it.
By checking out their video samples you will see for yourself their stage-energy, their sound and their character.
If a band doesn’t have a video to share, ask for a recording.
Ask if it is a live or a recorded sample, meaning was it recorded while the band was playing live?
If yes, expect minor flaws and a raw sound.
If the recording is recorded in a studio, expect a high quality sound and no mistakes. You can judge the band accordingly. At the end of the day, choose a band that you like!
Performing artists, DJs and bands can all have their own price.
That price depends on skill, experience, good reputation, or even personal achievements, like winning esteemed competitions.
Sometimes, it also depends on how big the artists’ fan-base is!
Therefore, if you are a venue, organising an event, it makes sense to invite a band with a high following on Facebook or other relevant platform.
A bigger fans following, usually means more customers for you.
Another influencer is the date.
Some dates have a year-in, year-out high demand, and the prices might be higher on those days. Just think about how much a plane ticket can fluctuate according to demand and you get the picture.
Generally, keep in mind, though, that talent is not always measured by price or experience.
Therefore, you might get lucky and spot a young, inexperienced band that will rock the house and is not charging a full price in order to gain experience and a following.
3. Size matters
Forgive me the pun, but knowing how big your event is going to be will help the band know what kind of equipment they will need on the day.
The amount of guests and the size of the venue can make a huge difference in the amount of sound equipment needed to amplify the music.
There’s nothing fun about a sound system too small for the venue, that is overworked and gives out a distorted sound.
Bad sound can tire your guests or customers fast.
It can also make a difference to the performance effort for the artists. Think about it.
How tired would you be after taking care of 20 guests and how tired would you be if you had to curtail for 400 guests.
Performing artists need to transfer their stage energy to the crowd accordingly, too.
No need to go nuts finding how many square meters the venue is. Giving a ball figure of guests or ticket sales, usually will do.
The best thing to do is to let the band know the venue.
The busier bands will be familiar with most venues and will know what’s best from experience.
There are some extra questions you would need to ask the venue to facilitate a smoother event.
For example, how big will the stage be? Will it fit the band? Will the event be indoors or outdoors? Will there be a dance floor or a raised stage? Is there lighting? Nice lights can increase the guests’ fun levels by a lot!
A phone call to the venue or some googling may give you answers to the above (or just assign the booking to us and we will take care of it ;) ).
Again, don’t go nuts, but if you know the above information ahead of time, you amend for the risk of things going wrong on the day.
And the last thing you want to think on the big day is, where to fit the double bass!
4. It’s all about the sound!
Classical musicians can perform in a concert hall with zero or very little help from microphones and speakers.
Therefore, you might be able to hire a string quartet for the reception of your event, for example, and not need to hire a sound system.
In contrast, hiring a 5-piece pop band is a totally different ball game. Singers need microphones, guitar and bass players need amplifiers and the whole band needs monitors, so that they can hear themselves play and sing in tune for you.
They just can’t hear from the speakers that you will be hearing them from, as they face the opposite way from the stage.
Therefore, sound equipment is needed both for on and for off stage.
Some of the equipment needed for a band can sometimes be brought in by the musicians themselves, as some artists prefer to work with their own equipment.
If you are organising a big event, hiring a sound and lights company, would be a good move:
It will free the band from carrying all the bulky and heavy equipment to the venue and on stage
Musicians don’t have to stress out about technical issues; they only have to get ready to perform. They will be more rested and ready to rock the house for you!
5. It’s ok to ask for extras but don’t overdo it!
A band will understand that there’s a special song you would love them to perform on your wedding day.
Adding one or two songs it’s something the band might be willing to do (not all of them are).
Try not to ask for many extra songs.
Learning a whole new set of songs means hours and hours of extra work and rehearsals for the band, making the job non cost-effective for the band.
If you absolutely must have all the songs that were playing on the CD when you had your first kiss, then don’t be surprised if it bloats the price up!
Some bands may not want the extra behind-the-scenes work! Ask for a sample playlist, instead, and get a feel of what the band usually plays.
If you don’t like most of the songs on the playlist, it might be easier to look for another band. Alternatively, you could ask the band if they are familiar with the extra songs you would like.
Who knows? You might get lucky and perhaps they already know them!
Planning an event can get super stressful, but hiring a band doesn’t have to be.
By knowing what you pay for, when you hire a band, what to ask for in order to match the right entertainment to your event, how important good sound is for your guests, but to the musicians as well, what you are expected to do for the band and how to customise the music to your liking it takes the guesswork out of the process.
Now, if only someone could do it all for you, ay? ;-)
Natalia is the co-founder of Bandster, a tech company that is revolutionising the entertainment industry one product at a time. She's an entrepreneur and an avid tango dancer.
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