This page provides a few useful tips that will help to make the process of organizing live entertainment an easier, less painful and more rewarding experience.
Before selecting a venue, we strongly recommend checking if there are any noise restrictions or sound limiter devices installed at a venue. At best, noise restrictions might influence the type of equipment the band will bring with them or you might have to consider a smaller line-up. At worst, some venues will insist that the bands have to use their in-house equipment (in-house PA systems are usually fine for a small DJ rig but often totally unsuitable for a live band) and in some cases they wont allow any amplification at all, which means you would be restricted to using artists that only use unplugged acoustic instruments (typically string, wind or percussion instruments). It's also worth bearing in mind that in-house PA systems can also be connected to a sound limiter device as well. Sound limiters are usually connected into the mains supply of the room and are designed to trip the electrics if the volume exceeds a certain preset db level. This effectively cuts the power to the stage when the volume exceeds the limit and means the power has to be switch back on every time it trips. If your venue insists that the artists use an in-house PA system or they have a sound limiter device installed in the function room then please let us know. Act Sharp will contact the venue to investigate the type of equipment they have installed at the venue and make suitable recommendations for you.
Always check access and parking. Some venues are more geared up towards having live entertainment. They offer good access for loading in equipment so bands can park their vehicles close to the entrance and they don't have to carry their equipment through a maze of narrow corridors or through crowds of people or up flights of stairs etc. A few small steps at the loading entrance shouldn't really present any real problems but other more difficult hurdles can substantially delay set up and, on rare occasions, it can even mean that the band are unable to get their equipment into the venue.
When planning the layout of the room it’s always a good idea to leave a little space between the stage and the seating area. Its not ideal for guests to have large speakers positioned just inches away from their ears. Also, it's important to try to create a clear path for the band to load in equipment. Bands tend to arrive after tables and chairs have already been positioned, dressed and laid. If the entrance to the room isn't immediately next to the stage area then the band will need to carry their equipment across the room and through the tables and chairs, which isn't ideal as they may have to move things to get the equipment in so it's to create a clear walk way for them to use (around the sides of the room is often easiest).
It's also worth bearing in mind that most professional bands and DJ's will provide all their own equipment (PA's, stage lights, dance floor lights, instruments etc) and rig sizes can vary significantly so its' important to check that there's sufficient floor space and head room for the band and all their equipment, as well as an adequate and safe power supply close to the stage area. To avoid any disappointment, your Act Sharp agent will be able to advise you on floor space and power requirements for any of the bands you might be interested in. Alternatively, you can check the available floor space at the venue and ask your agent to recommend suitable band sizes.
Try to keep things simple! Consider the amount of time you have to work with on the day and be aware of how much time your service providers are going to need to set up and prepare. Most artists will need time to set up and sound check and the more acts you book, the more time you may need to allow for this. Remember only one act can sound check at any one time. Also, if you're booking an act for two locations - e.g. you might want an acoustic guitarist to play during your wedding ceremony and then also for your drinks reception but the drinks reception is in another room or even another venue, then you need to consider how much time it might take the artist to pack down their PA equipment, relocate and then set it all up again and whether this can be factored into the schedule for the day. One possible option might be to have the artist set up their PA equipment at the 2nd venue (i.e. for the drinks reception) and ask them to play completely acoustically at the first venue. Playing acoustically at a ceremony is not normally a problem as guests don't tend to be too noisy and the acoustics in a church can be very good but you can expect a lot of chatter and ambient sound at a drinks reception so its more important to have amplification there (especially if the drinks reception is outdoors).
Remember to consider the fact that different suppliers may need access to the function room at the same time. Always check how much space and time each supplier might need to set up their equipment, dress the room etc and whether it would be practical or even possible for different suppliers to work alongside each other. Some suppliers do ask for exclusive access to the function room before the other suppliers arrive but if the room space is large enough to accommodate more than one supplier at the same time then it shouldn't be a problem. However, we would always recommend checking with your suppliers first to be on the safe side.
When choosing a band, it's always worth considering the typical age range of your guests and what sort of music you think 'they' might like. Picking a band solely based on your own preferences can result in alienating a large number of your guests. Ask your friends, family and/or colleagues for their opinion. If you find that the feedback is varied then it might be better to pick a good all-round party band that does material across different decades and genres. Asking for input is now a lot easier as you can simply share a bands profile page via social media or send a link via email. Each band profile on the Act Sharp website has a list of share icons under the enquiry button so you can share a band profile with your facebook and twitter contacts, or add it to your Google+ or Pinterest, or simply send an email with a link to the bands profile page.
Most good venues expect artists to carry public liability insurance and ensure that that their equipment is in good working order and safe to use. Even if the venue doesn't mention these requirements its generally good practice to check that the band can provide proof that they carry up to date public liability insurance and that their electrical equipment has recently been PAT tested and approved as safe to use. Most professional function bands and artists will carry the right documentation. Some venues (typically listed buildings) require a specific level of PLI cover (e.g. a minimum of £5Million, where as some basic policies might only offer £1Million), so it's worth checking if the venue has any specific stipulations and then checking what type of cover the band actually carry. Please note, only full band cover will be valid. Some artists have personal PLI cover as members of the Musicians Union or Equity. This covers them as an individual, performing as a solo artist. It does not cover that individual if he or she are performing as part of an act involving two or more people. The only exception to this rule, outlined by the Musicians Union, is where all the members of the band are also MU members and therefore each are covered under the MU umbrella policy.
Asides from adequate floor space and power supply, some bands & artists may have other requirements and its important to check what they might need in advance of booking the band. For example, many bands require a changing/waiting room (often referred to as a 'green room'). In fact, most bands do not arrive in their stage wear as they expect to be loading in heavy and often bulky equipment when they first arrive. This is obviously sweaty work so it important to ensure that they have somewhere to go where they can get changed and freshen up if needs be. This can also double up as a waiting room / chill out area for the band to use. Its worth bearing in mind that most bands can expect to be at a venue for an average of 8 hours - arriving early (often before guests) to set up and rarely finishing before 12am.
Certain artists will have stipulations regards access. A few shallow steps at an entrance rarely present a problem when loading in equipment but a steep flight of stair or a narrow door way can be a very real obstacle that may well prove insurmountable. If you feel that the access might be difficult then it can help to take some pictures of the entrance and measure the width of a doorway. Our agents can then check the details with the bands and let you know if there are any concerns to be raised. It's also worth mentioning that some artists can bring instruments that can also be rather heavy and bulky (harpists for example). It's not possible to lift these instrument at all so even shallow steps might present a problem.
If performing outdoors, most artists will insist on suitable cover and a safe power supply. This is a health & safety requirement for any band that uses electrical equipment. Performing outdoors can also be a concern for any artists that use antique wooden or string instruments (harps, violins, cellos, oboes, clarinets etc) so it's likely that they may also require suitable cover if the weather seems a little unpredictable.
Each act is different when it comes to their own personal set of artists requirements. You can check the specific requirements of each band directly with your Act Sharp agents. A list of artists requirements are also provided immediately prior to booking to give you the opportunity to check if any special arrangements might need to be made. We recommend that you discuss these requirements with your venue prior to confirming the booking.