picking a live music act

Hosting Live Music Pt. Two: Picking an Act for Your Venue

Kavina Kumar
Kavina Kumar

Picking a live act for your venue or special event has never been easier, especially with all the insane and diverse talent out there. 

From the all-rounder DJ, live band, and even a string quartet, each live act can set an inimitable vibe, help bring everyone together, and create an unforgettable experience at your venue. Whether your aim is to find the right musician for an event or to spotlight a diverse array of local talent, check out how these 12 acts can help you achieve your goal. 

1. The DJ 

The multi-faceted party icon. The DJ has a simple, no-fuss setup, can play any genre, and switch up the vibe in seconds. Whether they are tucked away in a corner, setting soft moods to accompany the night, or leading the crowd in an epic dance party, they have you covered. 

While they can be the main event in their own right, they are also well-suited and well-used by smaller venues. DJs play an array of familiar music and remixes, and charge a lower fee than a live band because of the minimal setup(unless they provide their own equipment).

  • Perfect for: Cocktail lounges, weddings & receptions, functions, anywhere really!

2. DJ + accompaniment

If you want to bring some live showmanship and energy to your DJ booth while saving space, then adding a solo instrumentalist such as a saxophonist or drummer is the way to go. An accompaniment such as the African drums or a saxophone can also enhance a certain vibe from the music to enhance a tropical or Mediterranean theme. 

  • Perfect for: A cocktail lounge, networking events, where the music is appreciated but not the sole focus. 

3. Acoustic Act

picking a live music act

The stripped-back sound of an acoustic guitarist brings a grassroots feel that is perfect for a mid-afternoon session, pre-show, or opener for a fuller act. They also save on space with minimal setup while providing an intimate experience in a small-capacity venue where a full band may be too loud. 

Acoustic acts can also build as an accompaniment by adding a singer, bassist, or harmonicist if you want some Folky Bob Dylan or Country Neil Young. Get tropical with a ukulele, or switch it up by showcasing local Hip Hop groups. The possibilities are endless!

  • Perfect for: Afternoons at the pub, pre-events, outdoor courtyard gigs, and spaces with noise restrictions.

Live Bands:

The more musicians you add, the more performance you get with multiple instruments, personalities, and singers working in tandem. A live band will require a larger space, potentially with a stage that is secure from the rest of your customers and is guaranteed to make a whole lot more noise! – Otherwise, what’s the point, right? 

By bringing in a live band, you’re looking to steal the show and will definitely be gunning for main-attraction status! As well as the band itself, you will need to factor in how sound, lighting, energy, and genre will complement your venue offering. Customer preferences will also be crucial because the band will be the standout feature of your hospo experience. 

  • Perfect for: A music venue, the main entertainment, to add excitement. The wow factor. 

4. Rock band

picking a live music act

The most popular choice of live bands, which is no surprise as Rock music continues to be a universal live genre of choice for most people. Rock bands will be the loudest of the music acts, and will therefore have the most impact on energy and atmosphere, with multiple electric guitars, thrashing drums, and emotive singers all vying for the limelight. 

5. Blues band

Bring on the deep soulful groove that accompanies the Blues and makes your mark as a New Orleans-adjacent, art-filled cultural destination in no time. The sexy and mysterious genre pairs well with fine spirits and refined, eclectic spaces that embody culture best experienced through dark sunglasses at night. 

  • Perfect for: Dark blues bars, late nights, Whiskey bars, and atmosphere. 

6. Mariachi band

The vibrance of regional Mexican music, with up to 9 members decked out in the full magnificence of a charro suit – Yes, Sombrero! Accompanied by trumpets, guitars, maracas, and even the violin, it’s an entire feast for the senses that pairs well with dinner and a show! The band will even serenade individual guests and hand out roses. – Romantica!

  • Perfect for: Mexican-themed bars with a stage, restaurants, festive feasts, celebrations, and gatherings. 

7. Drum ensembles 

African or Cuban bands with multiple drummers deliver energy and showmanship to boot! They’ll even encourage guest participation! Just watch out for enthusiastic flame-throwing. 

  • Perfect for: Pre-dinner entertainment, an event highlight!

8. Covers and tribute bands

A crowd-pleaser for any event with guests of all ages, tribute bands are the best combination of smash hits and live performances. Expect an engaging band that interacts with your guests, sing-alongs, and loads of dancing. Make sure to book and set song requests well in advance because these acts are bound to book up! 

  • Perfect for: Pub gigs, weddings, and parties that want to get people up and dancing and having an all-around party!  

9. Jazz band

picking a live music act

Jazz is an art form and a whole mood, so get ready for insane amounts of atmosphere and class. As an acquired taste, Jazz could be considered a niche experience based on its experimental structure and wild and ever-changing journey. You’ll need a troupe consisting of a saxophone, percussionist, guitarist, bassist, and pianist to put on an authentic show, and each night will bring something different. The classic, laidback style of Jazz music will keep regulars returning to your door and pairs effectively with dinner and a show.

  • Perfect for: Moody cocktail bars, late-night haunts, dedicated Jazz lounges, and piano bars. 

10. Country band

Country music is making a hardy comeback with its infectious vibe and warmth! Country bands mean Southern twang, line dancing, boot scooting, and dancing till the cows come home. Best served with Luke Combs’s “A Beer Never Broke My Heart,” heartfelt singalongs, and unassuming and authentic good times, you’ll be diving down a whole other rabbit hole when picking a country live music act for your next gig. Imagine Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers belting out “Islands In The Stream” and you see where we’re heading with this. 

  • Perfect for: Barn dances, festivals, weddings, pubs, dedicated saloons, and a place with room for dancing! 

Other live music acts:

11. Cabaret and performance

Costumes, dancers, a band, light shows, and intermissions! There is a lot is going on here, and it’s awesome! If your live entertainment dreams have brought you this far then you’re ambitious, have the space, and we want tickets to your next show. 

12. String quartet & other instrumentalists

Nothing says fancy like a string quartet. Instrumentalists such as harpists, pianists, or a violin duo can add a touch of elegance to a pre-event or Melbourne Cup function and completely transform your venue for even a day. While you may think it sounds a bit stiff, a beautiful arrangement of strings can bring inspiration to fine dining, class up the atmosphere, help customers relax, and put the focus right where it belongs. Whether it’s on the art for admiring, the exquisite dining experience, or the view. 

  • Perfect for: Exhibitions, brunches, weddings, wine lunches, and destinations with a view.


As you can see, you’ll be spoiled for choice when picking the right live music act for your venue. Whether you’re contending with an equipment budget or a smaller space, there’s no need to compromise on sound quality or the live feel. There are many brilliant and diverse acts out there, waiting to rock out for your guests.  So start dreaming up your next epic show! 


Keen to learn more?

Check out pt. one of  our “Hosting Live Music” series to learn more about what to consider before picking a live music act to play at your venue or event. 


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