Over recent years, and particularly in the UK, tribute acts have become an increasingly popular choice for entertainment managers looking to hire for their events. Whether you’re an experienced concert event promoter or a first-time club or wedding event planner, you will possibly know how increasingly popular these types of acts are.
Live venues are turning more and more to tribute bands and solo performers to bring some live magic to their special occasions. That said, booking a good tribute act takes a little bit more insider knowledge than simply picking up the phone to your first search result online.
In this insider article, we’ll walk you through the major steps of the booking process. We’ll talk about how to choose the right act all the way through to completing the engagement of your tribute. It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a rocking summer festival, a corporate gala or a small private party, this guide will give you the inside scoop on getting the best tribute entertainment.
Why Choose A Tribute Act?
However, before we get underway. Let’s consider just why tribute-type acts have become so popular over the last couple of decades. If you’re familiar with tributes then you may know many of these but if not then here are some key reasons to explain their popularity:
Nostalgia. Yes, when it comes to live music nostalgia is a massive part of what audiences want. Tribute acts allow you to recreate the sound and look of favourite artists performing live on stage. Of course, this is particularly true if the original artists are no longer working, together or alive. Hearing those favourite songs played just like the originals brings back a lot of fond memories for audiences.
Exciting theme. If you engage a tribute act to perform this gives you the option of creating an exciting theme night event for your audience. The attendees will come knowing they’re going to hear the great songs of one of their favourite bands or artists while also seeing the sounds and energy recreated in front of them on stage. This brings an element of success certainty to your event as it is unlikely your audience will leave disappointed.
Production values. Because of the nature of tribute acts and the fact they look and sound like iconic performers, the shows normally entail high-performance standards. Top-tier tributes capture the look, sound and other visuals of the original performer. This type of attention to production standards raises the quality of your event.
Audience engagement. Whether you have seen them or not, you can be sure that tribute acts are very good at getting audience participation and engagement. The best performances are interactive and get your audience singing, dancing and laughing with the act. You can’t leave disappointed after that!
Accessibility. Booking original acts at the top end of the performance spectrum is just simply not cost-effective. Let alone whether the original artist is even available. High-quality tributes give you affordable access to the music and visuals of these elite performers.
So now that you know that booking a tribute band is almost certainly a sound decision to make, let’s talk through the process from start to finish.
Understanding the Booking Process
Securing killer tribute entertainment starts with understanding the typical booking process from initial research to signed contracts. Here are the steps:
Determine your vision. What artists do you want to musically and visually reproduce and what kind of experience do you want to create? Brainstorm a wish list of acts and how they’d vibe with your event theme and audience.
Research options. Once you’ve nailed down your ideal tributes, consider how to get them. Your first port of call should be a tribute act agency but there are also independent acts. Browse agency listings, watch videos on their sites and read reviews to get a shortlist of stellar options.
Check availability. Before falling in love with an act, make sure they’re actually available on your event date. The best tribute bands get booked up fast.
Request quotes. Reach out to your shortlisted acts via an agency or artist’s booking contact methods to inquire about typical fees and get a quote for your specific event.
Review proposals. Compare the quotes you receive and re-watch promo videos to determine which option truly best aligns with your vision and budget.
Handle contracts. Once you’ve selected your act, contracts need to be signed confirming the date and outlining performance details, fees and responsibilities.
Send deposit. You’ll need to submit a deposit, often 50% of the total fee, to secure your booking with either the agency or artist directly. Make sure your contracts outline refund policies.
Plan ahead. Create schedules, work through tech requirements, coordinate travel and marketing assets to ensure everything is set for showtime! Agencies can be immensely helpful here.
While this basic framework is helpful, insider tips can make a massive difference in booking the very best act for your occasion.
Insider Tips for a Successful Booking
After booking hundreds of tribute bands for events of all kinds, we’ve compiled our top insider strategies for scoring an incredible act:
Book early. Start reaching out to an agency or favourite acts 6-12 months in advance for the best availability and pricing. Remember this is especially true, for Christmas and New Year performances – think 12 months. The longer you wait, the slimmer the pickings.
Be flexible. If your #1 band isn’t available, keep an open mind about alternatives. You may discover an incredible option you wouldn’t have initially considered.
Vet variety shows. Some acts claim to impersonate multiple artists. Make sure they truly master each and don’t stretch themselves too thin.
Discuss details. Don’t be shy about asking for setlists, costume changes, riders, performance lengths and other specifics. Transparency is key. If booking through an agency then use the agency’s vast experience in the tribute act arena.
Negotiate Respectfully. While agencies and tribute acts have standard rates, some wiggle room exists for charity events or very large productions.
Get it in writing. Make sure every particular from the number of sets to accrued travel expenses appears clearly in the contracts.
Plan backups. Occasionally last-minute emergencies prevent performances. Line up backup options in case disaster strikes. Again, an agency can be immensely helpful in this situation.
With the right research and relationships, you can land incredible tribute entertainment for any kind of live event imaginable. Now let’s explore how your venue itself impacts the experience you create.
Your chosen venue arguably makes or breaks your tribute act’s performance and your audience’s enjoyment. To achieve tribute act nirvana, carefully weigh these key factors when selecting your location:
Size. One of the very first things to check, and it’s critical to the success of your evening. Make sure that the size available in your venue will suit the size of the audience you are expecting for the evening. Tip: Remember, as well, that intimacy generally improves the audience experience.
Acoustics. You will want to make sure that the hall or venue you are using has clear acoustics and its design doesn’t lead to muffled sounds or overbearing echoes. If not your usual venue then it’s normally well worth visiting beforehand to assess the acoustics at another event.
Stage dimensions. Confirm that the available stage area is suitable for the size of the act (your act will often ask you this prior to the engagement if you are in contact with him, her or them). Don’t end up with 5-piece bands stuck in the corner under a stairwell!
Power. Yes, this is a big one and we often find it is underestimated by promoters and live event managers. Inadequate power can dampen the best plan night and you can be sure this is one you want to get right. Again, you will often get information about power requirements along with the stage requirements from your act in advance. Our advice – err on the side of more power.
Parking. Check out the parking at your venue because free easy parking gets the audience off to a flying start straightaway.
The vibe. Different venues give a different feel to audiences so give some thought to the vibe of the venue. For example, a classic theatre with some old-time architecture will suit a Beatles or Elton John tribute act better than a sleek modern building.
Location. If not a usual venue or you’re using a venue you are hiring for the night then aim to make it central and easily accessible. If It’s convenient for the attendees to get to leave, then you’re off on the right foot.
So remember that while getting the right act is critical, choosing the right type of venue with the right type of features to support the show is just as important.
Wrapping it all up
When all is said and done, booking live entertainment for your live event comes down to a basic rule of thumb: the right act plus the right venue equals a memorable experience.
By carefully selecting the right tribute act that excites you and paying attention to other details such as venue and facilities you’ll be onto a winner. One thing is certain with tribute acts and that is that top-quality acts will always give you a spectacular night for your audience to remember. As long as you channel your inner musical genius and tackle the planning early and effectively then, with a little care, you’ll mark it down as one of the great nights at your venue. With a little help from your talented tribute performers of course.