Booking a Band For an Event – The Definitive Guide

Booking a band will liven up any event. Live music creates an atmosphere that cannot be rivalled by recorded tracks. It’s engaging, entertaining and mesmerising all at the same time.

However, finding a good band to book can seem daunting. Especially if you’re starting your research “cold”.

To help you out, in this article we’ve listed everything there is to know about hiring a band. The advice we give here is relevant for a small family event, a wedding or even a big corporate event.

The golden rule is to start looking for a band as early as possible! A band can only do one performance per day and there is a limited number of bands on the market.

If you want to be able to choose, start planning as early as possible. This is obvious advice but it generally gets overlooked.

1. Hiring a Music Band – The Basics

Before you make a list of all the bands in your area, make sure you understand/agree on the basics. This is especially important if you’re planning the event as a team.

It’s all about understanding your event needs and then finding a band that can meet these criteria.

Who is the audience?

Good bands won’t go down well if they’re playing in the wrong setting. It’s key that you find a band that suits the tone of your event.

For example, a wedding will have a very different feel to a corporate event.

Consider who your audience is, why they are there and what atmosphere they will feel the most comfortable in.  

What genre of music do you want?

Rock? Blues? Jazz? Decide what type of music your audience will enjoy the most.

Once you’ve established the atmosphere you want at your event, you should have a  general sense of what your guests will like.

You can’t make everyone happy, just take an educated guess. Don’t overthink it either. Most professional bands will often play songs from a variety of genres to cater to everyone in the audience.

As long as the atmosphere is right, the music genre will naturally fit in.

Fun tip: If want to discover new songs you like, check out Gnoosic.com. It’s a website that helps you discover songs based on your preferences.

What type of band do you want?

Bands come in all different shapes and sizes. It also depends on how you classify bands. Rather than making an exhaustive list, we’re going to group them into 3 categories. One option isn’t better than the rest, it’s all about what appeals to you and your future guests. 

Regular bands

When you think of music bands, these are the ones that come to mind. Usually, they have 3 or 4 members usually with a lead singer, such as tribute bands.

Big bands & Orchestra bands

These are bands with a larger number of people. Usually 6 plus. They often play a broader variety of instruments than small bands do.

Solo singer & One-person bands

As the name implies, you can book a singer rather than an entire band. Most often, the singer will sing over a backing track. 

What is Your Budget For Hiring a Band?

Bands aren’t cheap. You’ll need to plan a budget for it.

When you book a band, you pay for the performance but you also pay for transport, the set-up and the rehearsal time.

All else being equal, bigger bands tend to charge more than solo singers as they have higher operating costs. However, the reputation of a band is usually the most important factor in the price. Experts charge more. It’s as simple as that.

To get started, scope out your area to get an understanding of what the price range is. For example, here in Ireland, prices range from €400 all the way to €2000+ for 2 hours of live music.

Most platforms don’t operate with price transparency but you don’t need to find an exact price yet, just an estimate.

If you’re based in Ireland, on PartyWizz you can see the prices for the different singers and bands directly on their profiles.

Photo by Peter Okwara

2. Establish What You Expect of the Band

Now that you have a general understanding of the type of band you’re looking for, it’s time to clarify what you require of them. Remember, you’re booking a service. It needs to meet your needs.

How long do you want the band play for?

Bands usually play for around 2 hours. However, this is just a rule of thumb and it depends entirely on the band.

Clearly outline in your event plan, when you want the music to start and when you want the music to end. If you have speeches or other stage activities, make sure you fit them in the planning too.

Making this schedule will help you hire a band that meets your event needs.

If you have special requirements (for example if you want 2 x 1h sets) it’s worth chatting with the band directly about it. Some can be more flexible than others.

What service are you looking for?

1. Ambient music

This is background music for your guests to enjoy without having to actively listen to it. It’s ideal for receptions and other similar types of events.

As a rule of thumb, booking a band for ambient music is cheaper than the other options. See the following section to learn more about the cost of a band.

2. Ceremony music

This is music for a formal ceremony. For example, a wedding or a funeral. It’s a very specific type of service which some bands and singers specialise in.

3. Party & celebration music

This is when the band is hired as the main attraction of the event. It’s a show. For example, bands are often hired to perform after dinner at weddings to get all the guests dancing.

It’s very different from ambient music. Depending on your venue, you might not be able to speak over it. It’s a great way to get your guests dancing or to liven up the event.

Usually, bands are booked to perform this type of show later on in the evening. However, this is, of course, entirely dependent on your event.

4. After-hours DJ services

Once the band finishes their live act, they can be hired to act as a DJ for the rest of the evening. This is an add-on service that some bands provide as an extra. This means there will be no downtime once they finish their set.

Don’t take this for granted. If you’re interested in this service, make sure it’s something the band can actually do.

Otherwise, you can book a DJ specifically for the late hours of the event.

5. Can the band learn specific songs for your event?

Many bands will learn a song for your event if requested. But it dependents entirely on the band.  Once again, start planning early! It takes time for a band to practice. 

Some bands might charge an extra fee, depending on the amount of work required to learn these new songs.

If you have a “popular song” in mind, it’s more than likely that they will already know it. Bands usually have a broad repertoire for that very reason.  

Photo by Dan Burton

3. Searching For a Band to Hire

Now you’re ready to start looking for bands.

If you’re based in Ireland, you can check out the bands & singers we partner with directly on the platform. We group them in four categories: corporate events, weddings, private parties and family/kids events.

Otherwise, do a local search and Google will give you a list of options. You’ll need to manually sort them by relevance. It’s time-consuming but as long as you live in a city, this should be easy.

Pro-tip: Add modifiers to your search phrase. For example “Booking a band for a fundraiser in London” as opposed to “Bands in London”. Try different variations and keywords.

If your event is in the middle of nowhere, you’ll need to broaden your search and make sure the bands travel to your area. This information might not be online so you may need to call the bands directly.

Don’t waste time making your list too long. As long as they meet all your criteria, 5 or 6 options should be enough. If possible, sort the list by order of preference.

Before you contact the bands, try to make sure they’re reliable and can deliver the service they promise (see the vetting steps in the following section). This will save you a lot of time!

4. Vetting the Quality of a Band

When you’re doing your research remember that not all bands are created equal. You need to make sure they have the skills and the equipment required for your event.

To vet the quality of a band we recommend you take the following steps:

Try to See Them Live

Ultimately, the best way to vet the quality of the entertainment is to see them first hand. This isn’t always possible but if it is, don’t miss the opportunity. Keep an eye out for:

  • Band show reels: this is where different bands demonstrate what they can to
  • Public events: try to attend a public event where the brand you’re considering is performing.

Find Pictures & Videos of the Band

If you’re unable to see them live, this is the second-best option. Check out their website for pictures and reviews.

At PartyWizz, you can view pictures and videos on the profiles of the individual bands and singers.

PartyWizz Singer Kristin Kapelli

Read Testimonials & Reviews

Find third-party reviews and testimonials. On PartyWizz, you can view reviews for all the entertainers on their individual profile.

If you aren’t based in Ireland, search for reviews locally. You can always find reviews on Google and Facebook. Just keep in mind that these can be manipulated. Take the time to read through to make sure they are authentic.

Check for Referrals

If someone you know and whose opinion you trust recommends the band to you, that’s ideal. Again, it’s not always possible. 

Check if the Band is Part of a Vetting System

Check if there are any vetting systems for the band. For example, at PartyWizz, all of our entertainers are hand-picked and vetted to make sure we only work with the best.

Check Who Will be Performing on the Night

For a single band name, there can be many different players (and “sets” of players). That means, the one who is coming to your event might not be the ones you saw live (or the ones who got all the good reviews).

This isn’t too much of a problem if the quality of service is the same and if they are equally good at what they do.

Photo by Kobby Mendez

4. Does the Band fit The Venue?

You now have a few likely candidates, It’s time to make sure they will fit in with the venue.

If you’re hosting your event in a popular venue, chances are the band has been there before. They will know the answers to all these questions already.

Does the venue have the space for the band?

Most venues will have a small stage for performers but, depending on the band you book, it might not be enough. Double check with the band and the venue.

Does the venue have the electricity set up required?

If the venue regularly hosts events, this won’t be a concern. If you’re worried, contact the venue directly.

Do they have the right equipment for the venue?

Check with the band what audience sizes they usually play to? Does it match your audience size? Will they need bigger speakers for the event?

Does the room itself have special requirements? Most modern rooms are fine and don’t need any special equipment. But this isn’t always true. For example, some rooms will have an echo that distorts the sound. This happens usually happens when the room is large and empty.

Speak to the venue owner, they will most often have solved these problems in the past. If you’re still in doubt, you’ll need to do a test with the band before the day of the event.

What is their set-up time?

How long does the band take to set up? Do they set up before the event or during the event?

Setting up mid events if common practice. However, you need to make sure they do this without upsetting the flow of the event. For example: how will they bring the equipment in? Will there be tables in the way?

Do they travel to that venue?

An obvious one to check. Just make sure you have an exact address to give so there are no confusions. 

Make a list of all the venue questions that are relevant to you. Then it’s time to contact the band.

Booking a band
Photo by Spencer Pugh

5. Getting A Quote from the Band

At this point, you’re ready to contact the bands. Make a list of all the questions you have and contacts the bands.

  • Availability
  • Pricing
  • Service-specific questions
  • Venue specific questions
  • […]

Pro tip: A phone call is usually the quickest way to get an answer. Second is email and last is contact forms… you never know if the information goes anywhere.

Ideally, you want to contact the band during normal working hours… they are less likely to be at gigs.

Depending on the band, you might land on a booking agent or a band representative. As long as they know all the answer, it should be fine.

If none of the bands you listed are available, repeat steps 2, 3 and 4. Otherwise, you’re pretty much done!

6. Noise Considerations

This is a bonus step to you might want to consider.

We’ve all attended parties that ended prematurely because the neighbours couldn’t stand the noise. You don’t want this to happen at your event. Especially when booking a band.

This is especially important to consider if your event will be outside or partially outside.

Check Local Legislation

If your event is in a professional venue, they should know how to handle the noise. They will most likely have recommendations and guidelines for you to follow. Just reach out to the venue and ask.

It gets trickier when there is no one to give you advice. You’ll need to check your local legislation directly.

If you’re based in Ireland, you can check the citizen’s information page to get some information. Additionally, you’ll want to get in contact with the local town hall to ask them about noise restrictions.

Check if the Venue has a Noise Limiter

Some venues have a sound limiter or noise limiter. In fact, it’s a legal requirement in some countries. These devices will cut the power if the music or the noise gets too loud.

Bands can usually reach up to 100 dB when playing. However, if the venue has a sound limiter set 85 dB and 95 dB they can usually accommodate for it. Definitely check with the band directly for his.

Photo by Andy Lee

7. Paying the Band

Now that you’ve made your choice it’s time to part with your hard-earned money. Hopefully, you’ll feel that the band was worth every single cent of it.

Deposit & Save the Date

Most bands require a deposit to book the date. This can be anywhere from 10 up 30% of the total fee. For example, at PartyWizz we operate with a 15% deposit fee for most entertainment partners.

Most often this deposit isn’t refundable or is only partially refundable. Bands operate this way so that their customers don’t cancel on them last minute.

Check What Payment Type They Accept

When making your deposit, the band will usually let you know how & when they want to receive the rest of the fee. This might be after the event or a week before. These terms are unique to each band.

If they don’t tell, just make sure you let them know, 

Always get a contract

This is key. Ask for a signed contract that outlines what they will provide and what you’ve agreed on. It sounds overkill but spelling it out really avoids any confusions and will prevent any “bad surprises”.

Check for Hidden Fees

Sometimes bands have an extra fee that isn’t part of their “base price”. For example, a fee for traveling long distances or a fee for practicing a “special” set for your event.

These aren’t malicious fees but it’s always a bad surprise if they slip through the net during planning. Once again make sure it’s all in the contract you sign with the band.

That’s a Wrap

For some general tips about hiring an entertainer, check out our kids, weddings and corporate blogs.

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