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Category Archives: Corporate Events

What to ask before booking a Wedding Band

Your wedding or civil partnership is one of the most memorable events of your life and it should be celebrated in style! Many couples can spend up to 12 months planning the big day and so we thought we’d help out a little when it comes to hiring perhaps us or any wedding band. Live bands for weddings have become an essential part of the celebrations and add a fantastic focal point to any party. But, not everyone has experience of how to book a band and the things to look out for and check. So, we thought we’d provide a basic set of questions to what to ask before booking a wedding band:

  1. How many weddings have you previously performed at? Performing at a pub and performing for a wedding are 2 very different things and so you should always check how much experience a band actually has of performing for weddings specifically.
  2. Can we see some references from previous wedding customers? Always ask to see testimonials from other weddings where the band has performed.
  3. Do I need to hire any equipment? Most couples aren’t sure of what they need to provide in order for a band to perform and the best people to advise of this are the band themselves. Pop of Ages are fully self-contained and bring all their own PA equipment and stage lighting.
  4. What happens when you aren’t playing? Be sure to check this as the last thing you want is deathly silence as the band finish to take their first break. Most bands will provide some form of recorded music through the PA but it’s always wise to ask just in case.
  5. My venue says you need insurance and PAT certificates, do you have these? Just about every venue will need Public Liability Insurance and PAT certificates for electrical equipment that the band are using so you will definitely need to make sure the band has these.
  6. Is there anything I need to check with the venue? A band will advise you specifically what you will need to check for but it will normally consist of asking your venue if they have enough space for a band to perform in, if there is adequate power located near the performance area and if there are any restrictions on noise levels. This last question doesn’t mean that the band are looking to play at ear-splitting volumes, but, some venues have decibel limiters installed that make it impossible for some bands to perform no matter how hard they try.
  7. How long will you play for? Again, this can vary with different bands and different styles of music. For example, high energy acts such as a Latin band may only perform for 2 x 45 minutes, whereas a rock and pop cover band will perform for 2 x 60 or 3 x 40 minutes. Finding this out will help you to plan the running order of your evening.
  8. Do you have a rider? A rider is a list of things that the band will need extraneous to the performance itself. For example, a band may require a meal, soft drinks and a lockable changing room for the duration of their stay at the venue.
  9. Do you have a contract? Great question! A contract will give you peace of mind and reassure you that you have the band secured for the day. Just make sure you check all the details of the contract to ensure that they are correct and read through any associated terms and conditions.
  10. What happens if someone is ill on the day? Musicians are only human too and it could easily be the case that one of them falls ill and can’t make the wedding. Many bands will have deputy (or ‘dep’) musicians who can cover but it is always worth asking the question.

Hopefully, these questions and gaining the answers will help you pick the perfect band for your wedding or civil partnership celebrations. However, if you want to avoid this work and just jump straight in and hire one of the most popular, experienced and best wedding bands in the UK then just get on touch.

wedding-band

At Pop of Ages we ensure that we have answered all of the above questions and we go above and beyond to answer even more of them!

You may also like visit our FAQs page to see answers to other common questions or just contact us any time for free expert advice.

Full STEAM ahead for Swindon Charity Fundraising Event!

Party band Pop of Ages were ‘chuffed’ to bits (couldn’t resist the pun, sorry!) to provide the live music and entertainment at a fantastic charity fundraising event on Saturday hosted at STEAM, Swindon’s Museum of the Great Western Railway.

Born and bred in Swindon, we are all very proud of our local history and heritage, so it felt incredibly special to be performing in the ‘Old 20 Shop’ of the Swindon Railway Works where our fathers and grandfathers earned their livelihoods.

STEAM is housed in a beautifully restored Grade II railway building in the heart of the former Swindon railway works. Situated right opposite the Swindon Designer Outlet, the museum tells the story of the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the Great Western Railway, often referred to by historians and railway fans as ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’. The pioneering vision and engineering genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel led to the Great Western Railway network becoming regarded as the most advanced in the world, and this treasure is right on our doorstep.

Full of character, elegance and history, STEAM offers the perfect venue for Charity Fundraising Events, Weddings and Corporate Dinner Dances.Attended by over 170 guests, Saturday’s Charity Fundraising Event was a black tie Masonic Ladies Festival dinner dance hosted within the visually stunning exhibitions of the Steam Museum. Demand for the event was so great that tickets were sold out almost instantly! Luckily Steam could easily accommodate a greater number of guests and so additional tickets were made available making it, apparently, one of the best selling Masonic Ladies Festivals held in Swindon.

A welcoming champagne reception was enjoyed in and around the museums’ main exhibition hall prior to a sumptuous 4-course dinner in The Great Western Hall. Then guests danced the night away to music and entertainment from our party band Pop of Ages.

Guests of the event (organised and hosted by Temple Lodge) helped raise money for the Swindon based charity ‘TWIGS’.

About TWIGS

TWIGS  (Therapeutic Work in Gardening in Swindon) is a charity project based at Moredon Community Gardens on Cheney Manor Industrial Estate which aims to provide meaningful occupation, training and rehabilitation for those recovering from mental health problems.

TWIGS Community Gardens are a colourful and vibrant set of gardens in the heart of Swindon.

They are managed by TWIGS as a resource to give people who experience mental health problems the chance to regain confidence, self-esteem and to learn new skills.

The gardens provide plenty of different ideas to take home to your own garden, along with plants and craft goods to enhance it.

TWIGS is affiliated to MIND – the leading mental health charity for England and Wales – and provides places for up to 100 people -people have the opportunity to work on projects across Swindon, linking us with the wider community. The Garden Site is ever changing, as is our dedicated and skilled team of people who contribute to this special place.

More information about TWIGS and how you can support this important charity can be found here – Learn more about TWIGS.

Live Music for Events at STEAM

We arrived at 4.00, loaded in our gear and were set-up and sound-checked prior to guest arrival at 5.30. The Great Western Hall looked absolutely stunning with all the tables laid out beautifully.

 

At 7.00 we played the specially selected entrance music for The Temple Lodge’s Master Bruce and his Lady Ida and then remained on hand to provide PA and microphones for speeches, background music as required and disco music during band breaks.

After dinner and speeches, Pop of Ages performed 2 sets of live music featuring our brass section which everyone seemed to enjoy!

It was a Ladies Night and as we all know ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ so we did our very best to give everyone, especially the ladies, a celebratory night to remember! We played a selection of hits to get everyone up dancing spanning from the 60’s to the present day.

We received some very kind verbal feedback from guests at the end of the night, and here are some subsequent Facebook comments;

“Marc u were brilliant as rest of band x you have a great rapport with public x great night thank you” – Ida Walker, TWIGS

“Band was great – everybody had a great night” – R. Smith, STEAM

“Brilliant band,  you had us all up dancing!” – S. Jones

“…a fabulous evening – loved the band!!! Great fun and lovely people xx” – C Montgomery

“…a wonderful evening really great night!” – C. Farnham

It was heart-warming to watch guests of all ages having a ball on the dancefloor from the first song until the end of the evening, bopping away to a great mix of old school hits and modern classics.

The whole event was a joyous occasion, and a fabulous way to raise much needed funds for a local charity.

Pop of Ages are based in Swindon and would be the perfect band for your Charity Fundraising Event, Masonic Ladies Festival, Wedding or special occasion at STEAM.

We can provide a completely bespoke music and entertainment package to suit your requirements.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require further information about our Party Band, or hiring our professional music services for your special event.

Special thanks to Ida, Bruce, Coots, John (and his fabulous catering crew) and the STEAM team for looking after us so well, and for making this Swindon charity fundraising event such a huge success.

 

How much does it cost to hire a band for a party?

how much does band cost

Our most frequently asked question is how much does your band cost? – obvious of course but if you’ve never hired a band before for you wedding or party then this this blog will help you make the right decision at a price that suits you. How much does it cost to hire a band for a party.

The Pop of Ages band have been performing professionally at weddings, parties and corporate events all over the UK since 2000 and offer band line ups from a compact trio to a full 6 piece band with brass section and all options in between. This flexibility allows us to provide great live entertainment at a cost that fits nicely into most budgets.

Number of band members

This is an obvious one and can be one of the major pricing factors. If there are less people to pay, that will of course be passed on to you. 4-piece function bands are the most popular, expect to pay between £800-1200 for a professional band with a varied repertoire. Not only will they present and conduct themselves in a professional manner they will know how to fill your dancefloor and entertain your guests. Duos and trios are also popular, most will use some kind of backing to ‘fatten’ things up on stage typically drums and perhaps keyboards or bass guitar. This option will not only be cheaper at around £400-750 but will take up less space at your chosen venue and still provide a full live sound. If you’re looking for a larger band, you may consider a function band with a brass section, this quite often means a 6+ piece band and can increase the price so it’s really down to budget. As a good rule of thumb expect to pay between £200-250 per musician, this is cheaper per head than most DJs charge plus you are making your party that extra bit special by having live music (rather than some guy playing MP3s from a laptop with a few flashing lights!)

Seasonal prices / Last minute bookings

Friday’s and Saturdays in the summer are the busiest time for every wedding and party band and so there isn’t usually room for a discount. If you’re getting married in February and March or perhaps October and November some bands may quote slightly lower than they would in the summer months. Similarly, if you’re organising a last minute wedding and need a band in say, 4 weeks time, then you can expect bands without a booking to go in lower. Weekday or Sundays bookings can also save you money.

Travel Expense / Time Travelling

We are used to traveling and realise it’s not always easy to find a band in the same town, although diesel prices have fallen recently the cost of fuel is unfortunately passed on to the client. Most band will charge around 50p a mile outside of their local area.

Another thing to consider is that a couple of hours traveling there and back again can mean 4 extra hours work for 4 to 5 people. As with all professions musicians will take this into consideration before quoting therefore if possible try to find a band based in your local area as this will save you money.

Arrival Time / Finish time

With travel time taken into account, a band can often expect to work 12 hour days. This is based on a 5:30pm-6pm arrival time and so any earlier will often mean an increase in price. Quotes are almost always based on a midnight finish and so you can also expect to pay more for the band to stay until 1am. Remember you are not just paying for two hours of music.

Length of Set / Performance time

Bands generally perform 2 sets of around an hour. That’s just an average, some only do 2 x 45 minutes and some might do 3 x 45minutes. Some bands start their prices slightly lower for 2 x 45 minutes and then add on a supplement for longer sets. All good bands will also provide as part of the package a quality sound system (PA) lighting for the band and dancefloor plus recorded music in between the live sets. Pop of Ages can also supply professional ‘Black-Tie’ DJs to compliment the live music and play any requests.

Top tips

If you want your party to be a success only hire professionals, people who’s livelihood depends on providing a great service (don’t risk hiring that pub band you saw for a few hundred quid or a mate of a mate who plays a bit of guitar and drums – it will only end in tears!)

Try and keep local – this will save on expenses.

Communicate with the band leader – tell him or her what you expect and be clear about what you want.

Trust the band too – experienced bands really know what they are doing and are only interested in entertaining you and your guests – most bands get repeat gigs by recommendation so its in their interest to do a great job.

Look after your musicians – a little hospitality on the day will pay dividends, tea or coffee, a bite to eat and most importantly arranging a private dressing room for the band will keep them happy, energised and willing to go that extra mile for you (at no cost!)

If you would like a quote for your event or have any questions please get in touch

Corporate Function Band

Corporate Function Band Pop of Ages are a great choice for companies looking to hire a professional band for staff parties or for any special company event.

Recently we were delighted to be booked again to perform in Bournemouth for oil and gas company ‘Perenco’ at their annual staff corporate event. The company parties took place over two successive weekends on the 14th & 21st February at the Marriott Highcliff Hotel.

This is the fourth year in a row they have booked us, it’s always a lively affair with great food, awards, presentations and of course live music and dancing.

To kick off the evening’s entertainment, Kirstie and Mat our piano and sax jazz duo provided some cool tunes during the champagne drinks reception in the bar and then later moved into the ballroom to continue during the meal.

Once the guys had finished the cocktail music a well earned break was in order. The client kindly provided the band with a nice dressing room and a hot meal of lasagne and chips along with plenty of coffee and soft drinks – the fuel of champions!

They had chosen to hire our 5 piece line up for their evening party and at 10pm we kicked off our first 1 hour set playing a selection of stonking tunes from our setlist

At around 11pm, after a very lively set, both the band and guests took a much needed break. We tend to play most of our songs as non-stop medleys in group of 3 or 4 songs joined together, this is the best way to ensure the dancefloor is full all of the time.

After our break we hit the stage again for our second and final set, we played some old school classic party favourites as well as some of the biggest chart hits of recent times including ‘Get Lucky’, ‘Blurred Lines’, ‘Happy’ and of course ‘Uptown Funk’.

Mat Sibley our superb sax player – we are also able to add trumpet making a 6 piece band with brass section, sounds and looks superb!

A bit more about us…

Pop of Ages provide a reliable, personal and bespoke service that simply cannot be offered by large corporate entertainment agencies. We promise to work hard to ensure your corporate event, party or celebration is exactly how you want it, and, of course, to provide the very best in high quality live music entertainment.

Our standard entertainment package includes a professional sound system (PA) suitable for up to 200 guests, LED lighting for the band, Disco lighting for the dance floor area and pre-recorded music on either CD or iPod during our breaks. You are also welcome to provide your own music for us to play through our PA if you wish.

For large scale events We can also supply sound systems for up to 2000 people, state or art concert style lighting systems, LED dancefloors, mobile festival staging and professional and recommended ‘black tie’ Disco’s and DJs.

If you would like to more information about hiring us for your corporate event or party please get in touch…

Ever wondered what’s it like to be in a band?

These photos are from a typical gig – travelling to the venue, unloading, set up, crew, sound checks, changing room and finally the performance and the travel home…enjoy!

driving to the venue

Here is band manager and guitarist Dave driving our trusty VW Transporter on the way to our gig for Bunn Leisure guests at Selsey.Being a Friday we had to leave pretty early to avoid the worst of the traffic.

arriving and ready to set up

We arrived safe and sound at the mighty Embassy Club in West Sussex one of our favourite venues. Greeted by the very lovely Sara who had the coffee on hand. It really makes a difference to the band when we receive a kind and friendly welcome as you can see by Marc’s happy face!

Entertainment Manager Marc

Soundcheck

We have set up our equipment now and Dave is getting serious about his sound…

Sound engineers

It’s always great to work with a professional sound and light crew – Jamie and Tom are top blokes and this is just the monitor desk!

Kirstie and Marc4 piece band

Here is our changing room – OK so it’s a caravan but it’s very important for us to have somewhere private and secure to relax and get changed into our stage clothes before we start.

Backstage

Here we are backstage behind the curtain waiting for the go, Marc and Kirstie making a few last second checks then its ‘Showtime!’

Dave tuning

Dave says ” I don’t understand this, it was in tune when I bought it”

Sound tech

Here is Tom the sound monitor engineer literally seconds away from the start now…

Andy drummer

Great pic here of Andy counting us in for the first song …1,2,3,4 and we’re off!

on stage

Lead male vocals Marc, with Kirstie on keys and Andy on drums.

live on stage

Four piece band live on stage…Dave on guitar is looking happy, which is good thing!

Kirstie vocals

Our fab female lead vocalist Kirstie doing her thang – she’s the band Musical Director and is a bit good on the keyboards too!

Dave and Andy

View from the side of the stage – Dave on guitar and harmony vocals, Andy on drums

on stage finale

Final live pic of the band, second set towards the end of the night…it was a fab gig and the audience danced all night long.
Journey Home
The bit you never see…

We left our home at 2.30pm and its now 1am with a 2 hour drive home ahead of us.

Most gigs are a 12 hour day, really hard work but great fun. We love our job!

If you would like to find out more about Pop of Ages can do for your event please get in touch…

What is the REAL difference between an amateur band and a professional band?

KirstyFirstly, I would like to reassure any readers of this entry that I am not trying to malign any hardworking amateur musicians or bands out there. Far from it, and if you continue reading you’ll understand why.

Secondly, I would like to emphasise that I have a great love and admiration for amateur musicians – I was one myself until I was 14, and I probably will be one again for the last 14 years of my life, and I’m fine with that! Just because you’re an amateur does not mean you are unskilled or unprofessional.

Thirdly, my reasons for writing this particular piece are twofold ; a) to help anyone out there who is thinking of booking a live band for any type of event and b) to recount a story which made my blood boil and clearly highlights the difference between an amateur band and a professional one.

So let’s start with the story and we’ll go from there;

Rob (my friend & an excellent agent) received a phone call at 7.00pm New Years Eve.

A rather agitated gentleman (lets call him Jim) informed Rob the band he’d booked for his ‘do’ hadn’t turned up – he was phoning the agency to ask for an urgent replacement.

Rob asked Jim a few obvious questions including how much he had agreed to pay the band. Jim replied £300.

Rob responded he wasn’t surprised the band hadn’t turned up. “What do you mean”? Jim retorted. Rob explained that the price agreed was ridiculously low, and that any band willing to work on New Years Eve for £300 without a signed contract would more than likely not turn up, espcially if they had been offered a higher paid gig.

Angry manJim was offended and asked (in a fairly aggressive tone) if Rob would at least help out and phone around. Rob replied “No, I’d be wasting my time”. Jim became livid, and demanded to know why Rob was being so facetious.

Rob explained he wouldn’t be able to find any band that would perform on New Year’s Eve for £300, he wasn’t willing to offend his bands by asking, and the best he could provide was a local amateur DJ for £550. Jim slammed the phone down.

The story ends there.

There may be people out there who don’t understand the moral of this tale, so let’s re-ask the question ‘What is the real difference between an amateur band and a professional band?’

Mmm, I think we need some definitions from The Collins English Dictionary to help us along;

Collins English Dictionary ‘Amateur’; (n) A person who engages in a pursuit, esp. a sport, on an unpaid basis; (adj) Engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional; amateurish; dilettante; (syn) Dilettante – dabbler – lover – fancier.

Hang on- just because a person is an amateur, it does not necessarily mean that they are untalented, unskilled or unqualified. By definition, they just don’t earn any money from their pursuit, or make a living from it.

‘Professional’; Of, relating to, or connected with a profession; (n) A person engaged or qualified in a profession; (adj) vocational ;occupational (syn) pro – practitioner – specialist.

Aha, but with the glove on the other foot (!) just because someone is ‘a professional’ and earns their living from their profession, this does not mean they are ‘professional’. We’ve all seen Cowboy Builders and Rip Off Britain where so-called professionals have done shoddy work or have been unscrupulous in their business practices.

So where does that leave us in terms of bands? Confused I expect! Well, I guess the answer lies in the adjectives and synonyms, not the nouns…

An ‘amateur’ is a non-professional, a dabbler, a fancier, a lover of the pursuit, even perhaps a future professional, but ultimately is not a professional.

The ‘professional’ could be called a pro, a practitioner, a specialist. Their trade is their vocation, their occupation – their living.

In terms of bands, a “professional band” earn their living from performance, and provide a service by performing for the client. Therefore a professional approach is paramount. A professional band’s livelihood is wholly dependant upon their reputation and quality of service. Living in today’s social media climate, it’s even more important to maintain high standards and consistently deliver beyond client expectations. If they are amateurish in any area of performance or business, they won’t survive.

An “amateur band” may play for free, or for a fee, and may be good at what they do, but ultimately they will play for their own enjoyment and purposes. They are not in it for the money (as their main wage comes from elsewhere) nor to consistently provide a high quality service of any kind. They do it for fun, and for the love of performing. If they get paid, it’s a bonus, and if people enjoy what they do, then that’s great too.

Don’t get me wrong, professional musicians love performing too (let’s be honest – we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it), but it’s a whole different ball game when you ‘go pro’. I’ll save that for another day…

My advice is to do your research. And then some more.

If a band is cheap, ask yourself why. If a band seems expensive, ask yourself why. Don’t expect something for nothing, pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys (or not, as in the case study above) and don’t pay a stupid amount as high quality professional bands will always remain competitive in their market. Always ask for a quote, and always ask for recommendations.

At the end of the day, hiring a band is no different to buying any goods or services – you get what you pay for.

Sybil’s statement in one of my favourite classic ‘Fawlty Towers’ scenes sums it up perfectly; “Honestly Basil, if you want a professional job done, you should hire professionals”.

There’s plenty of us out there. 🙂

Thank you for reading.

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