How to Hire Bands and Musicians for a Birthday Party - A Short Guide

28 JULY 2016 (Updated 20 OCTOBER 2023)
Blog post by Adam Southall

If you're hosting a birthday party or drinks reception in a bar or restaurant then you've probably given some thought to the evening's entertainment. FixTheMusic offers some guidance in this area.

Virtually all bars play canned music during opening hours. It helps to create ambience, keeps guests who are waiting for others entertained and in many cases ends up becoming the night's DJ -- once turned up and enough drinks have been consumed!

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So how to take the humble birthday party or surprise birthday party to a new level? High-quality live music is of course the answer, and it doesn't have to be expensive. Put simply, hiring musicians or a band can make the birthday party even more memorable and special. Here are some useful tips:

1) get permission from the bar or restaurant manager

There may be other events in the same venue or other music in adjacent rooms, and the manager will need to coordinate all of these factors. A party band playing upstairs, for example, may well interfere with a dinner party downstairs and it's better to find out about these things before you book your musicians!

2) satisfy the venue's requirements

They may require any musicians you book to have public liability insurance and PAT-certified equipment. Most of our acts on FixTheMusic come with this but you can check either way on their profile header. In return, the venue should provide a safe power supply (also PAT-certified), easy access to the performance space and advice on things like parking (if there is none on site).

3) negotiate terms with your bar manager

Bar managers will be well aware that decent live music encourages people to stay at the venue longer and spend more money on drinks and nibbles. If you're not footing the bill at the bar, or your live music will be heard by other members of the public at the establishment, you're in a strong position to negotiate a discount on the price of the room. Don't be afraid to ask for this or an equivalent deal, as then you can put more money into hiring the best musicians in the area. FixTheMusic specialises in locally-sourced produce!

4) book solo acts or acoustic duos

There are so many reasons why acoustic acts work best for bar events. They can play at any volume, slipping into background music or coming forward to put on a show. They can cover all musical bases. They will usually charge much less than a party band, and they can also fit into a smaller performance area. They often make an event feel more intimate. They can set up quickly and de-rig in no time at all! The list goes on...

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We’ve found a particularly popular option on FixTheMusic is to hire a saxophonist for a 30th birthday party. They can usually roam freely around the bar between your guests. An acoustic guitarist-singer or pianist (most of whom can provide their own digital piano if need be) are other possibilities. And for those wanting to pull out all the stops, some of our clients have hired a live band for surprise birthday parties at bars or restaurants!

5) visit the bar in person

This sounds obvious, but visualising where guests will come in, where drinks are served and where live music should go is much easier once you've seen the room yourself. It also helps when filling in the FixTheMusic enquiry form because you can include details relevant to the musician (e.g. where the PA is stored), whilst the recommended acts we send to you can be better pictured in the room itself.

It's all in the planning — and we love to make planning a breeze for our users!

Have a look at some of our most popular UK party bands performing live...

FixTheMusic is free to use – we're a secure platform for liaising with and booking outstanding musicians worldwide.

On their profiles, you can watch their videos, read their verified reviews from clients on FixTheMusic, view recent event photos and enquire with them directly.

Wedding bands on FixTheMusic have public liability insurance and PAT tested equipment.

View more videos and read verified reviews of Scintillate ➡️

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So how do I hire a party band for my birthday party?

If you’re looking to hire a party band, submit an enquiry on FixTheMusic to receive offers directly from our hand-picked bands and musicians. FixTheMusic is free to use – we just help you to discover amazing live music and provide a simple and secure platform for booking.

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Whether it's a band for an 18th birthday party, 40th birthday party or 50th birthday party, we have a carefully curated selection of bands and musicians who will be perfect for your special day.

Party bands on FixTheMusic have public liability insurance and PAT tested equipment.

How to Hire Musicians & Bands for a Private Dinner Party – A Short Guide

In the beginning, music was live. Before the phonograph was invented in 1877 and recordings became widespread (from about 1900), you had to hear a musician in person to hear music at all.

A more dramatic way of putting this is that music was performed in real-time for thousands of years and only recorded for 100 of them. When it boils down to it, music is essentially something that happens in the moment.

We at FixTheMusic want to encourage those moments to happen more often, particularly in the home. It’s not as expensive as you might think, and it can elevate a simple drinks gathering amongst friends to a night to remember. If you upgrade a dinner party to include live music, the performance may even become the centrepiece of the evening that everyone remembers.

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Live music should not be limited to one-off events like weddings, funerals and birthdays ending in zero. It should be enjoyed regularly, and the more innocuous the occasion the better; your guests will arrive unassuming and leave feeling elated!

Last year I hosted a Burns’ Night dinner, Scotland’s unofficial public holiday celebrating the work of poet Robert Burns. The guest list was small – a handful of friends and family – and the food was classic (cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps ’n’ tatties, and homemade trifle).

The highlight was hiring a London-based bagpiper to play outside in the street before the serving of the haggis.

It was a Saturday evening around 7:45pm when the bagpiper kicked off with Scotland the Brave.

Had it been a weekday or a later hour, our neighbours may have been less kind. As it happened the reedy tones and the uplifting medley caught the attention of many in the street, and one by one windows were thrown open to catch the tune.

Someone shouted ‘encore’ and the bagpiper duly obliged with a delightful uptempo folk number which gathered applause from both sides of the street.

We then invited him upstairs to play the Scottish smallpipes in our living room.

If the thought of enduring bagpipes indoors fills you with dread, think again.

The Smallpipes are a beautifully mellow instrument, well suited to indoor playing and background music, and the intimacy of hearing the instrument up-close, along with an explanation of how it works, made for a great break between our starter and main course.

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Sure, you can be your own DJ and searching Spotify or YouTube for your favourite songs has never been easier, but it’s not quite the same as making personal requests when a musician is performing live in the flesh.

Cover bands on FixTheMusic have public liability insurance and PAT tested equipment.

A Burns supper is usually held around 25th January, and is just one of many dates worth putting in the diary alongside those of the saints (e.g. Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day), traditional English public holidays like May Day (morris dancing anyone?) and a whole host of festivals from around the world including Germany’s Oktoberfest and Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

There are musicians to suit all these occasions from solo violinist, brought in to serenade during a marriage proposal, to Spanish guitarists who specialise in Mariachi songs and repertoire.

But it’s not just official dates that can be celebrated with music. The point we’re making here is that your favourite music is always worth celebrating.

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Try hiring a saxophonist or trumpet player to perform some jazz standards, or an acoustic guitarist or pianist to cover pop classics either in the background or accompanying a drunken singalong. A laptop playlist is all very well but it’s not the real thing. Why settle for a mud hut when you can bring the Empire State Building into your living room?