picking a live music act

Hosting Live Music Pt. One: What to Consider Before Picking a Live Music Act

Kavina Kumar
Kavina Kumar

Live music is always the highlight on a night out or at a special event, and picking the right band to play at your venue is just one of the reasons why. 

Before musicians even hit the stage, someone has considered which music their guests would have the best time hearing, the equipment to make it sound primo in the venue space, and many other factors that pull a perfect night of live music together. 

So before you get to pick the right music act for your venue, take a few of these factors into consideration, the choice might seem obvious by the end of it. 

1. Your guests

Your customers, a.k.a the main characters are the number one consideration when choosing the right music for your venue or event. The aim is to entertain, but figuring out how to do this will be different for a one-off function versus a weekly music night, especially with so many different preferences to consider. 

Looking into your customer demographics will help you gain insight into customer tastes so you can curate talent accordingly. In a non-creepy way, study your venue’s age groups, backgrounds, and what they do for a living, and you’ll soon be able to guess whether they get down to Bowie or Bruno Mars(or both). 

2. Venue logistics

You’ll narrow down your music selection pretty fast once you figure out what size speaker or drum kit can fit through your venue doorways. Do the musicians live locally, or will transport be an added expenditure to get them to the gig? Is there enough parking or space for them to change if they require costumes? 

How the musicians interact with your space is just as important a factor as the type of musician playing. If they arrive on the day and put their back out while attempting to cart equipment up ten flights of stairs for a rooftop gig, then costs and complications will start to rise. 

3. Type of event

Is the live entertainment for a special event or part of your weekly music roster? The music will be one of many considerations that will pull an event together, complementing the food, service timing, decor, and other activities for the day. In contrast, a weekly music roster will provide ambiance during business hours or act as the main attraction for your gig-goers.  

With events, consider how the music will fit into the theme of the event, whether it will be the post-dinner entertainment such as a wedding reception, and what your guests will be hoping to get out of it. For most big functions, anything facilitating nostalgic sing-alongs and boogie-downs is a winner, so a rock covers band or DJ would knock it out of the park. 

4. Live or recorded music?

A seemingly simple choice, yet a DJ vs. a live band offers an entirely different feel to the atmosphere of your event. While a DJ is a cheaper and simpler choice in terms of space and setup, they won’t have the same energy and wow-factor aspect that comes with a band performance. 

A DJ has the flexibility to play any genre and comes equipped with a substantial library of recorded music and can switch it up at any time. On the other hand, a band will be limited to the songs in their originals and repertoire of covers, and will need to learn any new songs for the event in advance. A live band will also play a shorter time slot and require breaks between sets, whereas the DJ can play all night. 

  5. Space requirements

The band will need a stage or performance space located in safe proximity to your guests, bar, and food service areas, which will vary based on the size of the act and your venue. Ideally, you will have a stage with mapped-out standing points, but if you are creating your own space for the event, here are a few guidelines to consider. 

Of course, It always pays to ask the musicians themselves, and don’t forget to factor in the dance floor! 

All measurements are in metres and width by depth. 

  • A solo performer (2.5m by 2m)
  • Duo – 3.5m by 2.5m)
  • Trio – 4.8m by 3.6m)
  • 4-5 piece band – 6m by 3.6m)
  • 7-8 piece band – (5m by 3m)
  • 10-12 piece band – (4.8m x 8.5m)    

6. Sound levels

Noise travels, both within and surrounding your venue, therefore sound levels will play a part in your choice of music act. For example, a compromise between an acoustic act for dinner or networking events will save a battle between conversation and an energetic performance from a full band. Consider any sound restrictions in your local area and how the noise will affect neighbouring venues and residents, and it never hurts to give them a heads-up before the event. 

You may even hire a sound engineer to help set the parameters for your venue to ensure that your performers sound as good as they play. A sound engineer will ensure that sound is kept within safe and enjoyable limits, and even make it louder or quieter for certain rooms and outdoor spaces

7. Equipment

As we’ve mentioned a few times now, equipment is the number one factor when considering which type of music act to book for your venue. Gear is both complex and expensive, and takes up space. Besides added gear insurance, manoeuvring it and ensuring it’s safely connected and running is a dedicated job.

Luckily, we have a whole other blog post on equipment and setup to help you out.  

8. Budget

The bigger the band, the larger the cost. The more difficult the request, commute, or manoeuvring of equipment, the steeper the bill. The more acclaim the act carries, whether they are playing original or recorded music, and the length of the set time is all food for thought. Who’s paying and how often will you be hosting? Is it for a quiet evening to help bring more customers through the door, or a dedicated main event? Will the event require extra expertise or a dedicated sound engineer? A temporary staging area to be added or songs to be learned by musicians? 

Extra costs can pop up when you’re hosting live music, so it pays to factor in the cost of the semantics while you are budgeting how much to spend on your live act. It may take a 10-piece big band out of the running pretty quickly. 

9. Surrounding venue offerings

If you’re considering live acts for your venue(yay!) – then it’s worth checking out the competition in your area before you commit to your live music path. A bit of research will save you from becoming one of the three cocktail lounge bars on the same block featuring DJs, so branch out and claim your own niche! Turn your whiskey bar into a saloon with the addition of an acoustic country artist or blues band instead. Or switch it up by hosting an array of different live acts. 

10. The day of the week

 Various musicians can maximise your venue offering on different days of the week if you’re trying to get service numbers up on a quiet night or keep guests in your venue longer on on the weekend. Hosting an array of acts on different nights, or rotating them through the evening can help to keep your venue fresh and exciting. 

For more info on making a music roster that gets the most out of your entertainment,  check out our 7-day gig calendar

11. Booking in advance 

It’s simple, book your dream entertainment in advance, or miss out on your favourite bands, which will result in a total buzz kill for your customers, especially during peak event season or for special functions. If the band is for weekly gigs at your venue then at least one month’s notice is polite to help musicians manoeuvre their gig schedule and put together any fresh songs and playlists. 

Now that you’ve mastered all the extra considerations that make live music the epic success on the night, you’re readt to choose the right act for your venue. There’s plenty of different acts to consider so take your time and browse the selection of diverse talent waiting to grace your mainstage.


And since we knew you’d ask, we’ve put together a list of 12 different music acts to help you choose.  

Happy gigging! 


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