How Should I Pick a Band For Our Corporate Event?

Do you need live music for your corporate event or convention? Whether it’s rewarding employees or entertaining clients, each and every convention has a primary objective for the social event. It’s important that the entertainment can work together with your business objectives.

So how do you pick great entertainment? These six tips will set you off on the right track.


First of all, check the band’s song list. Most bands post a list of songs on their website but the question to ask yourself is “what am I looking for”? A good place to start is by organization of the song list. Does it make sense? How is it grouped, by artist, by genre, by decades? Is it focused on the band’s original music? For most corporate events, original music is probably not what you have in mind. You’re looking for a band that covers the popular genre(s) that appeal to your guests. It may be a blue-collar good time country music party which can include old and new country songs along with cajun and zydeco music, or it might be classy jazz for a sophisticated affair.


It may be that you’re taking your corporate event to the next level and hosting an upper-end awards banquet that rewards top sales associates or divisions. In this case you may want Broadway style or Academy Award type theme music. Some companies will go even heavier down the “theme night” route (i.e. James Bond themed entertainment, Dixieland jazz band with a classic second line, etc.), which can be a fun way to make “just another convention” actually a pretty fun party. The point is matching the band to appropriate circumstances. You may want to consider a band that focuses on a wide variety of entertainment. These types of groups are known to play just about anything, anytime and anywhere.


After you’ve seen the song list and decided on the genre of the party, but what does the band look like? Or, what do they sound like? Check their photos and video pages of their website. Do they wear various costumes? Costumes is a term borrowed from the theatrical world, but in band lingo means a wide variety of things. Do they show up in boots to a black tie affair? Do they wear suits and long dresses, or do are they bluejeans/flannel/t-shirts to a formal event? There’s nothing that says you can’t mix and match these concepts in contemporary entertainment, but don’t forget that 1) it’s your decision, and 2) you should be aware of these variables as you book the entertainment.


Remember, the band is a major driver in the night’s atmosphere. The band is often on stage all night, and will at some point have the focus of every event attendee (including co-workers and your boss) at some point throughout the evening. The band you choose will also invariably drive the energy of the evening, which is something else you can check out secretly in the videos. You’ll want to watch for the general “feel” of the band, but also check out how the crowd is reacting to the band. Is this the one time each year when your company gets to let loose (Sue from accounting can dance all night, Joe from sales will of course get pulled up on stage, Chris will be orchestrating group line dances) or the only chance to have meaningful conversations outside the office (where Bob from the mail center can finally have that one-on-one conversation with the CEO)? It’s your choice, but remember that the band makes all the difference!


You’re right, no body uses press clippings any more. What an archaic term that has become. But most bands also have their online equivalent called “comments” or “reviews.” This is that peer review process that has come to work so well. Are they drawing good reviews on their website? How many followers do they have on Facebook? Are they on other social media sites? Do they have comments or subscribers on YouTube? This is not a tell all or end all decision maker for the band but it will offer you some guidance.


Be sure to ask the band if they are flexible in terms of set up, break time, green room accommodations and most of all, volume levels. There’s nothing worse than the band that won’t turn down the volume while people are having dinner conversation. Conversely, your party can be a dud if the band can’t take the evening to the next level once the crowd has finished dinner. That’s the time you want to kick up your heels and dance the night away!

To review, use these points to pick great convention entertainment. Does the band have a portfolio that includes photos, video, audio, and song list? Do they have recommendations or reviews from recent customers? Do they seem like they can provide exactly what you’re imagining in terms of dress, dance floor, and flexibility with logistics? If you take care of all of these points in the booking stage, you’re guaranteed to have a party that will keep business flowing all year long. Good luck and have a great time!

Jimmy Maxwell is a New Orleans bandleader, pianist, and founder of JMO – a cover band that plays everything from rock ‘n’ roll to jazz & soul. Jimmy prides himself on being able to provide the perfect music to each and every special occasion, whether it’s a band for a wedding or corporate event music.

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