Today’s article is a general one about booking live music for an event. We’re going to look at first principles – what kind of music, how the type of event can determine the type of music, as well as the venue, number of guests, location and other factors.
Firstly, let’s look at the obvious but sometimes overlooked factor of what type of event matches particular kinds of music. There are safe options in almost all types of events. For example, if you have a reception for the opening of an exhibition of romantic art, a harpist playing romantic music will obviously be a safe choice. It’s not likely to divide the room in any way but rather just be a suitable musical backdrop to the event. It’s very easy to almost literally match the music to the event.
More thought-provoking is the interesting ways in which you can incorporate music into an event in a way that will draw more attention – possibly even make a statement about the kind of event you’re holding. You could match the history of a building, for example. A lot of the design and features of Claridge’s in Mayfair are Art Deco. So you could hark back to the jazz music of the 30s – the heyday of Art Deco in historical terms. Or if you were holding a 30s themed event and wanted to be even more location accurate, you could hire a band to play British dance band music of the 1930s – very specialised! Then there is the joy and modern fascination with juxtaposition. So you could have a very modern group – maybe a post-modern juke box act in a very traditional venue (as long as the venue allowed, it’s always worth checking before you make any plans as some venues have sound limits and can only allow acoustic instruments). The sky’s the limit otherwise – don’t be afraid to consider unusual choices of music for certain events, especially corporate and branding events.
Next up to consider – how many guests and how much space do you have? We’ve lost count of the number of clients who’ve initially told us they can probably only have a solo instrument as their venue is not that large. Whilst this can be accurate, it could also be the venue trying to save space for service. If you let the musicians you’re interested in hiring know the dimensions of the room(s) and number of guests, then they should be able to help with what can work best. If they’re worth their salt, they will not try and encourage you to book more musicians than needed in the space but it’s worth bearing in mind that a trio will sound a lot more fun and engaging than a duo or a soloist often (even just for background music). And if they’re professional, they’ll want you to hire the best combination possible in order for you to have the best possible event and for the music to be a talking point. On the other hand, sometimes simple and clean is best – and a solo guitarist or cellist may be the best way forward. If lots of guests are crammed in to a room, then 2/3 musicians in a corner near the bar will not take up too much of your available space and may create that live atmosphere that only live music can. So it’s good to think about this and do a bit of practical planning. If you’re unsure, then ask experts who’ve performed in all kinds of venues and can let you know how much space they require. The fear that in a smaller room, the music will drown out conversation is almost always unfounded. Unless the musicians are playing through amps and turning the dial to 10, this simply won’t happen. Background acoustic music is not loud enough but will still have that wonderful ‘live’ quality that stands out.
Finally don’t be afraid to be bold with choices. Especially for corporate events, something that enhances an already powerful brand message can work best. A DJ who drums and can activate large video monitors with your brand messages is going to be talked about afterwards in a way that a solo saxophone player probably won’t be. Yes this usually involves spending more, but if the event has a healthy budget, then allocating a decent portion to the entertainment will pay off. It’s not always the case that this happens, so that’s a starting point in terms of a more balanced approach to the whole event. Yes food, drinks, venue and all the visual stuff is essential. But don’t forget – people love music and it can bring another much-needed dimension that will elevate your event well above anything average and work really well.
Contact us for some inspiration and an informal chat about your event and the music that will best serve it.