This is a guest post by Steven Robertson, Marketing Manager at Entertainment Nation, one of the UK’s top entertainment agencies based in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Entertainment Nation are dedicated to matching event planners with their perfect entertainment, and here Steven talks us through how to hire the perfect entertainment for your event.

Hiring entertainment is one of the crucial elements of planning a successful event that’s often overlooked by organisers. It’s easy to see why. How do you know where to start? What represents value for money? Can’t you just stick a playlist on? What if the band don’t turn up?

Faced with all this doubt, it can be the easy option to just go with the first act you stumble across, leave everything until the last minute, or avoid planning the entertainment altogether. Yet, choosing the entertainment can be the difference between a good event and a great one. The band, DJ, or performer you hire can be the difference between guests looking for an excuse to leave early and calls for an encore from a dance floor that doesn’t want the night to end.

A dedicated entertainment agency is one simple way of taking the pain out of hiring professional entertainment for an event. A good agency will be experienced in supplying entertainment for everything from surprise wedding proposals to international conferences, and can be a trusted adviser throughout your event planning process.

Having experienced and overcome pretty much every entertainment planning pitfall possible, we’re here to offer you our comprehensive guide to making your event one to remember – for all the right reasons.

Match the entertainment to the event

Before you even begin your search, you need to think about what you want from your entertainment, and about what will work best for your venue and your attendees.

Different types of entertainment lend themselves to different events. A surprise burlesque act might not go down too well at a street food festival, for example, but could be a highlight at a big product launch.

Consider who will be attending your event – their ages, tastes, and expectations – and make sure you’re not alienating anyone with your choice of act. Even if you’ve got the most exquisite taste in music, the blank stares of mystified guests isn’t worth an evening of headbanging on your own to a heavy metal band.

A solid choice for most evening events is a live band. Professional event bands are experienced in catering to diverse crowds, and no matter their genre specialisation, the best bands will always be able to adjust their set to cater for any audience.

Don’t fear the function band

If the phrase “event band” conjures up images of function bands in sequined suits, you’ll be pleased to learn that things have come a long way since the days of the Wedding Singer. The burgeoning event band industry is drawing in the best young musicians with the guarantee of plentiful gigs for the most talented performers.

This increase in competition has driven up standards and forces bands to offer something unique. This means you can find a great band in almost any genre you could wish for (always keeping in mind your attendees!). Whether you’re after a folky band for your country food festival, a jazz band for a soiree at a swanky hotel or New Orleans style brass band for a street carnival, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Entertainment agency websites are a great place to start your search. They give you a range of acts to peruse, all itemised by genre, price, line up, location and availability, making it quick and easy to draw up a shortlist.

Entertainment hire essentials

A huge part of our job is to keep stress levels down by assisting in the smooth running of the planning stages of an event. The key to this is communication. Whoever you choose to work with to hire entertainment, you’ll want them to be readily available and responsive so they can give expert recommendations, help you negotiate tricky planning pickles and assuage any fears. 

You’ll want to work with performers you know you can trust to arrive on time, act professionally (even the hard rock band you’ve booked should be pleasant to deal with when not on stage), and ideally who’ll go beyond simply turning up and strumming a few chords. You’ll also need to know your booking is safe and secure. 

So how can you be sure of all this? Fortunately, we live in the age of the online review. Entertainment agency websites feature reviews of their acts, but to be certain, you should do some independent research on the agency you’re booking through. Facebook, Google and Trustpilot are great sources of independent reviews and will give you an idea of whether you can rely on your chosen act. 

At the very minimum, you should be offered a secure contract that ties your act to performing at your event, and your act should have full Public Liability Insurance and fully PAT tested equipment. A good agency will offer these as a matter of course.

Money Saving Tips

If you’re planning an event on a budget, then you’ll be keen to learn how to reduce your entertainment allocation without compromising on quality.

Our advice is to book early, book local and book small. 

  • Book early – As well as giving you the pick of the best acts, booking early guarantees you this year’s rates, even if your event is a year or two away. Professional bands and entertainers are in the same position as any other business; they need to gradually raise their fees in line with inflation and increased demand as their reputation grows.
  • Book local – Booking local keeps travel expenses down. A big van, fully laden with heavy instruments, speakers and lighting, plus assorted musicians churns through a fair amount of diesel. By reducing the amount of time your act spends on the road, you’ll cut down on the fee you pay, with the side-benefit of limiting nasty emissions.
  • Book small – If Ed Sheeran can enrapture a stadium audience with just a guitar and a loop pedal, does your event need a 10-piece band to keep your audience entertained? The fewer performers you hire, the lower the amount you’ll pay. You could even ask whether a band that’s taken your fancy would be willing to reduce their line-up to meet your budget.

Don’t panic!

There’s plenty to consider when hiring entertainment for your event, but there’s no need to get overwhelmed. There are tons of resources out there to help and, to eliminate the stress of entertainment hire entirely, entertainment agencies can do all the hard work for you.

If there’s one tip that you should follow above all others – book as early as possible. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with an act and then finding out they’re already booked.

Thanks for reading and happy event planning!

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