Event Planner Tips

by : Dan Gillogly

Written by Dan Gillogly. President of Glo Glee Music, Inc.

Guaranteed! You'll Look Good B'cuz We Sound Good! Involving live music into any corporate event is not as easy as it seems. Besides deciding on the band, there are 4 aspects you must consider in order to have a hope of having a successful event. They are, in the order of importance:

1) Venue
2) Agents
3) Technical Set Up
4) Band Character

In a moment I'll tell you the details of the crucial issues that can aggravate and potentially ruin an otherwise beautifully accomplished occasion. It will just take a few minutes, but as you read this page, more and more, you will start to feel better and better about hiring live music for your next corporate or social event. Most importantly is . . . . .

Venue Selection

As an event planner, your ability to keep numerous things in mind when hiring musicians. Selection of the perfect venue is the first ingredient you will need. This ability alone may distinguish you as a professionals in an industry filled with amateurs.

When choosing the venue, be certain the room size is in proportion with the number of guests who will be attending. I got into this business as a singing piano player. When I am performing I need to connect with the audience. If the room size is proportionate to the crowd size, I can do my job successfully. If the room is too big and there are not enough warm bodies in attendance, the audience will feel too intimidated to approach the band. When you keep the band close enough to your guests will feel comfortable enough to interact with the musicians and vice versa.

Have you noticed yet that keeping the venue small so the band can be close to your guests will increase your chances of having a successful event? Depending on the act, you can leave a little dance floor in front of the band. But all in all, keep the crowd near the band and allow the band to be an integral part of your event.

I have frequently worked with party planners who are clueless when it comes to what size stage is needed for a band.

"If you fail to plan ahead, then you are planning ahead to fail."

Here are the stage specs for various sized bands:

3 Piece - 8 feet by 16 feet
5 Piece - 16 feet by 24 feet
12 Piece - 16 feet by 32 feet

With the is newly acquired information, experienced event planners will always prefer to go with a room with a stage rather than just placing the band on the same level as attendees. Proper planning for stage requirements avoids major headaches the day of the show. Also, having the band on a stage allows them to be seen by everyone even by the people in back. When selecting the venue, you will also need to keep in mind the acoustics of the room. High ceilings and flat walls with lots of windows and no curtains to muffle the sound are not optimal environments for bands. Work with an experienced sound person to mix the band and equalize the room and eliminate feedback.


There are only a handful of very few good professional bands anymore. If you don't know a good booking agent, you will be hard pressed to find them. A good agent will be the one to help you thru the minefield of mediocre, amateurs with amps that have no volume control knobs. As an event planner you need to figure out your event theme and then contact a talent booking agency to see if there are bands that fit.

The most popular bands play a wide variety of styles. A good group of musicians knows songs from the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s. Frank Sinatra has never gone out of style. So make sure the band plays what we call "Jazz Standards". Depending on your event and your geographical location, it is either "Country Music is King!" or "Classic Rock Rules!". Know your demographics before hiring a band.

As with any vendor, you get what you pay for. Let's talk about budget. I wonder, even as you continue to read this report, if you realize the amount of time a band puts in before receiving a paycheck to practicing their instruments, learning and memorizing repertoire and coordinating lights and choreography. Most bands require anywhere from $1,200 to $45,000 per gig. Experienced booking agents will be able to place the right band for the party. With any event, experience wins every time. Ask for references and testimonials.

Technical Set Up

Once your musicians are booked, you now need to cover logistics. Tech setup includes the movement and placement of equipment and sound checks. Bands usually bring their own equipment.

Amplifiers, instruments, a PA system for vocals, lighting towers all the way down to carpet for the drums need to be set up and placed and checked and moved and double checked again. Allow enough time for all of these details to be adequately addressed well before show time. Because it is not IF something goes wrong, it's WHEN something goes wrong. And it always does with a band. Give them enough time to fix it.

Sound check must take place no later than 3 hours before the performance start time. Load in should occur 1 or 2 hours before that. The sound check should take no more than an hour, and after that, let the band go back to their rooms, freshen up, take a nap, grab a meal. They should return NO LATER than 30 minutes before their performance.

Band Character

Musicians have traditionally had a reputation for being evil practitioners of any number of very colorful vices. It has been my experience, however, that we are no different than any other industry be it stock brokers, medical personnel or city workers.

Use these simple rules and you will notice you can keep any group of performers in line.

- Band members should not eat any food in buffet lines or inside the ballroom area. They should have a separate area or a "Greenroom" where they can eat, drink, warm up their vocal cords, stretch out and generally prepare for the gig.

- During a performance, bands should not consume alcohol or smoke. If they can't wait a few hours to partake of their favorite libation, fire them on the spot. You will avoid headaches and embarrassment down the road. In addition, you will get the reputation you will not tolerate any such behavior. Trust me. Word will get out you are a professional party planner.

Finally, remember: Treating musicians with dignity and respect translates into a happy band which brings you happy clients and guests who enjoy the entire event no matter what the occasion.

You are now armed with the 4 seriously critical ingredients for success that you did not have before. If you have learned this information through the school of hard knocks, you can feel assured that you are a true professional.

Now picture the night of the event. Following dinner (if it is served), lights should be dimmed, the band is introduced, they hit the first chords and the excitement ripples through the room. People move towards the dance floor and the smiles appear on everyone in the room. Why? Because you did your job and provided an exquisite ingredient that every corporate party needs: Live Music.