This article can help to guide you so that you know the do's and don'ts of choosing a band that is perfect for the type of event you are planning.
Here are five typical mistakes to avoid when booking a band for your event:
1) The band is not the right genre for the purpose of your eventWhether you are looking for the perfect band for a wedding, a corporate office party, a dance party, your child's birthday party, or your grandparents 50th wedding anniversary, you have particular needs based on the type of event you are organizing and the venue in which you will host it. You want to make sure the type of band you are hiring matches the mood, the size, and the atmosphere of your event. A funk band with lots of horns may not be the best choice for a small and sweet wedding anniversary where guests will want to talk with each other throughout dinner. And an acoustic Jazz trio may not be the best choice for an outdoor dance party with 350 guests who want to dance the night away.
2) You hire a band who does not have enough material for a 3-4 hour evening, so they repeat a lot of songs and you end up hearing "Free Bird" or "Heartbreak Hotel" one too many times.
It's important to sit down and have a conversation with the band leader about the band's repertoire and how long they can play before you discuss logistics like price and venue. Of course, professional bands are often expected to have enough material for a full-length set of 3 hours, but it's good to make sure right away they can deliver the kind and amount of music you are asking for.
3) Paying too much for a well-known band that doesn't suit the particular needs of your event.
Even if everyone at your event will know the band's name or have heard them before, if they don't suit the atmosphere or theme of your event, it's better to get a lesser known band that does. A well-known band that adds cred to your event because of their name and popularity but doesn't fit the atmosphere you are trying to create could make you look like a poor host and inconsiderate of your guests, especially if your guests don't enjoy themselves.
4) Not getting enough information about the bands specs—do they have their own PA and sound system? Do you need to hire a sound company to set one up?If you don't have enough of this kind of logistical information, it will make the night of your event very stressful indeed! It's best to get all the logistical information about the band in your first sit-down meeting with them, at the same time you sign the contract. This way, both parties know what they are expected to do, what gear they are expected to provide, and role they are expected to play. So when the special night arrives, you can relax and know exactly the things the band will provide and the things you will provide, including the PA and sound system, lights and power source if it's an outside show, or a stage and seating for the guests.
5) Hiring a band too large for a small venue or room—the visual effect of the band does not fit the venue.
It's essential to know how big the band is, exactly how many members it has, and what the band will look like when they perform. Do they wear matching uniforms? Or all they in all black? Do they have sequined costumes? Or perhaps fishnet stockings and miniskirts? Are they looking casual in t-shirts and jeans? (well, let's hope they are better dressed than that!) It's best to have their size and attire fit your venue as much as possible, so you don't wind up with a 10 piece swing dance band in solid bright orange suits at a wedding where the theme is pale and subtle pastels in a small backyard reception.
If you can make sure to cover these five points with your potential band BEFORE signing a contract with them, you will have a much better time at your event, and so will your guests!
By Carolyn Arnold
Carolyn is a singer, songwriter and voice teacher based in Berkeley, CA.