Booking a Band for Events: The Checklist

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Music has a huge impact on how we feel and behave, something which brands have known for decades.

There is a reason why certain commercials pull at our heartstrings or make us feel jubilant or joyous. It’s the combination of powerful, emotional sound with perfectly paired visuals.

This is exactly the same when it comes to event entertainment.

Live entertainment marries great sound with engaging visuals, and can make an event memorable, inject fun and help pull a theme together. Whether it’s a Christmas party or maybe a seasonal product launch, live entertainment is in demand.

One of the most popular forms of live entertainment for events is the band. Why? Because bands are dynamic, fun and versatile, suitable for just about every kind of event from a corporate product launch to a conference after party, weddings to gala dinners.

This mini-guide gives you all the information you need to finding and booking a band quickly and safely, and in time for your event.

Step 1: Deciding what type of entertainment you want and need

Make sure to have an idea of what you want from the get go. Are you looking for a particular style like jazz, swing, funk or maybe a tribute band?  Niche bands like these can be fabulous, and if your event is themed niche entertainment can help you accentuate it. Whether it’s Bond, Tina Turner or ragtime tunes you are looking for, there will be a perfect match for your event.

However, you need to know a few things before you go searching for your dream entertainment. The location, shape, size and technical specifications of your venue could impact on your final choice of band. Here are a few things to  ask your venue:

  1. Is there a dedicated space for the band, and how big is it? Will it fit a 3 piece, 5 piece or maybe even a 9 piece band?
  2. Is there a changing room for the band? This gives the entertainers somewhere to get ready, and means they don’t have to hang out in the main venue before going on stage. They may also have a few hours of travelling behind them, so it’s in your and the band’s best interest that they can freshen up a bit.
  3. Does the venue have any constraints like sound limiters? A sound limiter is a device installed to control the level of sound, and the band needs to know the details of the venue’s specific sound limiter.  
  4. Is there a loading area so the band can quickly and easily get their gear into the venue? Is there somewhere they can park afterwards?   
  5. What level of PLI is required and do they need any documentation from the band? The standard level is between £1m and £5m, but some venues might ask for up to £10m. All Headliner acts are required to have PLI as part of the quality screening they undergo when joining.  

Step 2: Choosing and booking the perfect act

Now that you have armoured yourself with lots of information it’s time to wade into the sea of entertainers and choose your preferred act. Although there are other services out there, we obviously recommend Headliner as the best place to look. This is because we have quality screening, replacement acts for unforeseen artist cancellations, and in addition the entire process, including payment, all happens on one site.  

Once you have found a selection of bands within the style you want, and supporting the overall theme of the event, these are the things we recommend you do:

  1. Listen to their audio tracks. This might be obvious, but the most important thing should come first.
  2. Look at their videos. You want to make sure that they can deliver visually too. This can also be a good way of checking how they perform live. Although you can ask, actually seeing the act live can prove tricky as many function bands play at private and corporate events only.
  3. Look at their pictures. As with point no. 2, presentation is important and you want to make sure that they look the part.  

When you have decided on the act you want it’s time to secure them! We always recommend booking through a trusted platform or agency, like Headliner. If you book the band directly make sure there is a contract in place as it will protect both you and the band. For agencies and platforms their T&Cs will act as the contract, so be sure to read these.  

Step 3: Sit back and relax

Good news, most of the hard work is now officially over! Now you hand over the big stack of information provided to you by the venue as well as any other practical information, sit back and get ready to enjoy.

Well, most likely you will be rushing off to sort the catering, sending out invitations and enticing press to attend your product launch event. But at least you can rest assured that the entertainment has been sorted!

Make sure to download the handy checklist for booking live music.

Booking a Band Checklist

The Headliner Checklist for Booking Live Bands

  1. Style: Decide what type and style of music you want so it matches your event
  1. Size: Decide how large the band should be based both on what you would like and the space where the event will be held
  1. Budget: Set yourself a budget. If you don’t know what to expect, browse around a bit first to get a rough idea of costs. The larger the band the more expensive they will generally be. Many charge by the set or hour, and will add extra costs for long journeys.
  1. Search: Now you can start searching for bands and artists. We obviously recommend using our Headliner platform, as all our artists are vetted and have insurance (and are simply great at what they do).
  1. Rule of three: Don’t make a booking based on just one audio file. Take time to listen to a few different tracks, and look at their images and videos. This is the point where you make sure the band or artist fits your event.
  1. Watch them live: A video is the next best thing, but if you can watch them live go for it. Don’t expect or demand it though, as many function bands mostly play at closed functions and private parties. However, it never hurts to ask.
  1. Insurance: This point is a must. Check with your venue the amount the insurance needs to cover and ask the artist/band about their Public Liability Insurance.
  1. Book Safely: Book the artist/band and choose a safe way to process your payment – such as the Headliner platform. This makes it much more secure for both you and the artist.
  1. Communication: Stay in touch with the band/artist. Ask them any questions you might have and make sure you give them as much information as possible to make everything run smoothly. Look at the next few points for specifics.
  1. Logistics: Is the venue a bit hard to find? Let the band/artist know how to get there, when they need to be there by, where they can park and so on. Musicians often have very heavy gear and always appreciate if there is an area just outside the venue where they can unload everything before parking.
  1. Technical Specifications: Let the band know where they can plug everything in. Are the wall sockets far from the stage, so that they will need extension leads? Check with the venue whether they have sound limiters (these caps the sound at a certain volume level to avoid disturbing neighbours), which will impact how the musicians set up their equipment.
  1. Courtesy points: Provide the band with a space to get ready, as they will probably want to freshen up a bit. It also gives them somewhere to relax if they are not on from the start of the event. At a minimum, provide them with water, but if you have some light food it is always appreciated.

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