For many years I have supplied music for and played in bands that provide music for corporate entertainment. Clients have included Audi, The Evening Standard, Sainsburys, P.C. World, Safeways, Large corporate clients at Henley and Ascot, I.T.V. and H.M. Treasury. Because of this experience I felt it would be relevant in putting down some pointers in helping clients choose the right kind of music for their particular corporate entertainment.
Interestingly enough, most corporate hospitality entertainment work tends to require music as an ingredient to a larger recipe. What I mean by this is a great deal of corporate events are offering a multi service package. Typically an organization may be putting on an evenings entertainment to thank its workforce for a particularly successful year. They may be offering music, food, comedy, a close up magician, a casino and a caricaturist. The corporate client organizing needs to decide what part the music has to play in the days/evenings entertainment.
Questions he or she needs to ask are:
Is the music specifically for entertainment or is the music for background listening?
Do we need one style of music early on in the proceedings and then a change of style later in the days/ evenings entertainment?
Do you expect the corporate clients to be networking and discussing business or are they just there for a good time?
What overall atmosphere do you want to project with the event?
Is there going to be a change of location for the music as the entertainment event unfolds?
Different styles of music bands lend themselves to different corporate hospitality situations. Below are a number of typical corporate hospitality events with music suggestions for suitable music entertainment.
Corporate entertainment model 1.
Evening reception with dinner and speeches.
In a situation such as this you will typically need music from the outset as part of the meet and greet of the corporate evening. A four-piece swing or Latin group is ideal with a larger ensemble for particularly large gatherings. A professional outfit can pitch the music at just the right decibel level so your guests can talk and enjoy the entertainment without it encroaching on conversations. The musicians would typically be dressed in Lounge Suits or Tuxedos (or the female equivalent) to mirror what the guests are wearing themselves. The music portrays an atmosphere of sophistication, which again hopefully reflects the evenings overall ambience.
It is rare for corporate clients to want to dance especially as clients there relationship is business not pleasure! In most cases it is more important that the band is flexible in when it is needed over the course of the evening i.e. At the top of the night for the reception, a smaller version of the band (The pianist maybe for the dinner), stopping for speeches and then after the speeches to play until other entertainment is put on for the corporate clients. In this situation give the band a clear idea of how you expect the evening to go. What to wear, when they will be needed, when they need to get their instruments in the building and be set up, when breaks will be required, let them know if it is convenient or not to feed them and then finally how they can leave when finished so as not to disrupt the rest of the entertainment.
Corporate entertainment model 2.
Still corporate entertainment, still corporate hospitality but a totally different set of requirements for the music. Ask yourself these questions: Are your work force the type of workforce who will want to dance at some point in the proceedings? If they are, then a professional band with flexibility is essential. My experience is that people of all ages will join together to dance to music from the sixties and seventies. Whatever background music you require earlier in the day/evening be it Latin, Swing, Rat Pack or Lounge, if you are hoping to provide entertainment that will get people dancing remember this fact. Sixties and Seventies. For some inexplicable reason this is the music that gets people up on their feet.
When choosing your music ask the band if they can cover this part of the corporate entertainment requirement. Get samples of their music if need be. There is nothing worse than an ill equipped band struggling through alien repertoire. However good the band is, if they do not play the right repertoire, the right style of music then the corporate entertainment will fall on deaf ears.
Let me at this point provide a caveat. Your workforce work together They are not always going to be the best of friends however professional their relationships are at work. Answer truthfully, will they really want to dance together or is it asking too much? I would say that in all the years of providing music for this kind of corporate entertainment / hospitality , as long as the music is right, the workforce tended to dance 30 or 40% of the time. It could be said that a workforce who will enjoy each others company in this way is a reflection on the talent of senior management to create a happy team!
Corporate entertainment model 3.
Company Fun Day.
These come in two types. The type to entertain your own workforce or the type to entertain prospective clients. Both types of corporate entertainment require music that is fun. This means that the music must be perceived as fun and the band must be perceived as fun. In both cases Jolly Dixieland Jazz or the summer sounds of Latin music are most suitable.
Ask yourself these questions: does the band need to be mobile? Meaning do you want the music to move around the site at various points in the proceedings? If so then the jolly jazz route is most suitable. A good professional outfit of four or five players can play acoustically and move around a site as directed.
If the band can be static and close to electrical power then either Jolly Jazz or Latin Music is suitable.
Is the event outdoors or indoors and do you have provision for bad weather? This is England, never trust to luck, assume the worst! Any band that needs power cannot play in the rain for health and safety reasons. At the first hint of inclement weather a band will have to breakdown their equipment. Build this situation into your corporate entertainment music decisions.
How do you want the band to dress? It is a fun day after all! In the past I and my musicians have dressed as Elvis, Cavemen, Circus Clowns, in fact all manner of characters in the name of corporate entertainment and corporate hospitality. Good bands will have suitable outfits for most situations but don`t hesitate in providing something off the wall for a special event. Most professional players have a strange urge to jump into such costumes at the earliest possibility! As someone who has played at a nudist camp and for a toga party, both dressed accordingly, take my word for it!
To draw this article together let me say this. Choose the right kind of music for the event. Brief the band accordingly but make sure you have a professional and flexible outfit, things can change over the course of the event and you want to make sure the band are both co-operative and able to fulfill your needs. Don`t hesitate to ask the band for any special requirements you have. Do it in plenty of time so they have time to prepare.
The corporate entertainment and hospitality you offer to your guests reflects directly onto your company. The music and musicians must be the type who are aware of this. Dont go for second best just to save a small amount of money. You need a well prepared, well dressed band who are both polite and charming to your guests. They need to play the right kind of music for the event in order to help make the day or evenings corporate entertainment a resounding success!
Jeff Williams is a London based trombonist and vocalist who has worked all over the world in most areas of the business. He also runs a successful, specialist, live music agency using the best of London musicians, servicing both private and corporate clients playing all over the country. He would be happy to advise you with your own event or party and offers bespoke solutions for the perfect occasion.