Entertainment can play a big role in the success of your events.
You want the attendees to get involved, have a memorable time, and
enjoy each other's company. Functions with a cocktail/dinner/party
type of format require musicians to be flexible and to change their
approach as the event progresses.
How do you choose the right entertainment for your group?
How do you do all you can to insure a positive interaction between
your attendees and your entertainment? Who are the people in your
group who will most likely enjoy and welcome that interaction? Why
do entertainers have "riders" that make demands?
These questions can be answered by simply doing a little homework
and being in close communication with your entertainers.
How do you choose the right entertainment for your group?
It is best to begin
your search for entertainment a year before the event, or as
soon as your venue and event dates are solid. Most of the better
entertainment acts book at least four months to a year ahead in
their schedule. When it comes to choosing and working with the musical
entertainment for your events, the key words to remember are quality,
reliability, and flexibility. Your events will usually need music
that fits into one of three categories: background, show, or cocktail/dinner/party
entertainment. When choosing your entertainment, request
a video. Contact some of the other
clients they have entertained in the past to make sure you understand
what you are getting and that it will satisfy your particular needs.
Make your needs known. Many musical acts can alter their presentation
to satisfy your needs. Make sure you get a contract in writing and
that you understand your entertainer's staging
Many functions call for a hybrid of these categories. In these
cases, it may be best for the music to start out as background while
the attendees socialize and find their seats in the ballroom or
other venue. The musical ambience created at this time can make
a big difference in the feel of the entire event. Then, as the function
progresses, a more show or entertainment style of music may be more
appropriate with sensitivity to appropriately changing volume. Later
in the event, music geared more toward dancing may be a great way
to round out the occasion. This formula can prove to be a big winner
at many of your functions. Don't be afraid to communicate with the
entertainers throughout the function if you have special requests
about audience recognition, event programs, volume, or other concerns.
How do you do all you can to insure a positive interaction
between your attendees and your entertainment and speakers?
At the beginning of a function, background music can be the perfect
touch while everyone is getting comfortable with each other and
the room. Just because it's background music, doesn't mean it can't
be fun, light, and happy. When everyone starts to make it to his
or her seat, it is a good time for the musicians to incorporate
more entertainment with some audience acknowledgement. This can
also be a good time for any opening announcements from an official.
Using the bandstand for these announcements can be a good solution,
but you may want to consider using the house sound system instead
of the band's PA system for these announcements. Usually, the house
system reaches the far portions of the ballroom or other venue with
When the food starts being served, the attendees may be more in
the mood for some light entertainment, which sets the flavor of
audience acknowledgement from the entertainers. People like to be
acknowledged in a positive way and they also enjoy seeing other
people being acknowledged, especially officers, VIP's, dignitaries,
bosses, and special guests. This can be a delicate issue, as some
people prefer not to have attention drawn to them. The important
thing is for the entertainers to be sensitive to this and use it
in a fun way, which in turn will translate into fun for everyone.
This all has to happen with the end result of a positive reaction
from the VIP's as well as the other attendees. Find out which of
the "bosses" have special favorite songs and see if your entertainers
can help you make the event more special by including those songs
in their show. Be sure to give them any such songs in advance to
give them time to find and rehearse the tunes. Close communication
between you, the planner, and the entertainer will assure success.
Who are the people in your group who will most likely enjoy
and welcome that interaction? One way to make this happen
is to give the entertainers a list of some extroverted people that
would be fun to "pick on". The individuals who you think would enjoy
playing along will help get the crowd involved. Perhaps there are
some singers in the audience, birthdays, other special occasions,
or you may have special song requests for a variety of reasons.
The audience loves to get involved, both passively and actively.
Using hula-hoops, line dancing, prizes/give-aways, drawings (real
or fake), and trivia questions are just a few ideas that work to
create a "fun" and memorable event. Most entertainers will welcome
this kind of involvement and information as it only makes their
job easier and it is a sure winner with the audience.
Why do entertainers have "riders" that make demands?
Many of the "rider" issues are technical such as stage
and power requirements, rehearsal and setup needs, or other
technical expectations. Some of the other "demands" such as refreshments
or lodging are based on the fact that the entertainers do not know
the area and usually do not have time to "scout-out" the area for
the things they need. Insist on getting hotel confirmation numbers
to insure there will be no problems at check-in. Make sure your
entertainers know where to unload equipment. Give them an on-site
contact person's name, and make sure you both know how to contact
one another in the event of a problem. If you feel a requirement
stated in the rider is inappropriate, don't be afraid to question
it. Perhaps you could leverage some of these requirements to enhance
your negotiating position.
In managing an event, your tasks as the planner cover a very wide
range. Communicating your vision ahead of time to your entertainers,
as well as during the event, will insure that your vision is realized
in a positive way. Making the right choices ahead of time will make
your job a lot easier, and the decisions you make about your entertainment
are as important as any in this area. Don't be afraid to ask questions
and speak your mind. This is your event!
Chris Hudson and Doug Saleeby are the performers
in Hudson & Saleeby, America's Keyboard and Vocal duo. We make our
living performing for conventions and other special events.
Working with the many meeting planners and
agents in our career, we have seen how hard you work to put your
events together and we appreciate all you have done to include us
in your functions. The purpose of this article is to address some
of the issues important to you and to keep the communication lines
open between us on improving our service to you.