Five Tips to Find The Right Band for Your Holiday Party

It’s an unusually cool August week in St. Louis, so that must have people thinking about Corporate Christmas parties because The Kevin Mitchell 4 is suddenly getting a lot queries to play in December.

A great classy fun jazz band - just what your corporate holiday party needs?

A great classy fun jazz band – just what your corporate holiday party needs?

In my 10+ years as a professional musician, a pattern has been apparent in the selecting of bands to play the corporate Christmas party: If it’s not a tradition, an executive or owner usually says to a secretary or assistant, “let’s have a band play at our party this year, something not too expensive or big and loud, but classy!” Said assistant or associate typically has little or no experience booking bands, and goes googling away on the Internet.

Pressure! It needs to be the right choice – a wrong one could bring down the entire party.  The right one can seriously enhance your already strong reputation for making things happen at the office. To you, here are some things to think about:

  1. Expense. Any decent, worthy band generally earns $125 to $175 a person to perform a four hour set. For Corporate Holiday parties, that number leans toward the higher number. So if you have a budget of $200, you’re looking at a duo, maybe a trio. If you’re budget is $1,000 or more, you can get one of those big seven or eight piece bands. If it’s in the middle, you’re looking at a quartet.
  2. Professionalism. The bands best suited for the corporate environment are professionals themselves. Do they have a quality website? Do they have song samples on it? Do they come up in search engines? Do they seem to have been around for a while? Do they respond quickly to emails and phone call queries?
  3. Equipment. Do they have professional, quality speakers, mixers, amps and instruments in good shape that look good? And do they have what is needed to play either that big ballroom or that small hotel meeting room?
  4. Appropriate Set List. Seems obvious, but do they play Holiday songs? Not all bands – even good ones – have a set of holiday songs to dust off and add to their December song list. Also, too much of a good thing? Groups that JUST play holiday music tends to be tedious, especially if they play more than two hours. Finally, if your hosting an inter-religious crowd, inquire about sticking to just secular holiday songs as that is likely most appropriate (most bands do anyway but ask if necessary).
  5. Flexibility. The quality band playing any corporate event understands that it is not about them, that they are their to add to the festivities, not be the center of it. Ask about volume and if they play at a level that people can talk and hear each other (you don’t want any blasting coming from those PA speakers). Also make sure they know your program – speeches, highlight videos, awards handed out, whatever – make sure they know the program and can not only abide by it, but also roll with the inevitable changes that happen once the event starts.
  6. Fun. Are they fun? Engaging? You can get a sense of this usually by listeningBring out the holiday cheer to their music and speaking to the leader. After all, isn’t that the point, to have fun!

Otherwise, don’t risk blowing the big company party by hiring someone’s cousin (or worse some guy in the office who’s a drummer )who will do it for the meal, someone who can’t offer up audio samples and photos, or an obvious novice with no track record.

If you’re still overwhelmed, there are several great respectable agencies in town with excellent professionals in their barn. We work regularly with Millennium Productions and Penny Moon and they have great options and will be glad to help.

Then once you made the right decision on a classy band, don’t forget to enjoy yourself at the party!

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