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Your Complete Guide to Booking a Solo Musician
Finding the right Musician is easy with our unique and comprehensive guide. Bursting with essential tips and answers to all those niggling questions, we help you book with confidence, so that you and your guests can relax and enjoy a truly fantastic and memorable event!
- WHAT WILL A MUSICIAN DO AT YOUR EVENT?
- WHAT TYPE OF EVENTS ARE MUSICIANS HIRED FOR?
- HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MUSICIANS FOR YOUR EVENT:
Acoustic Guitarists / Vocalists
- BOOKING A MUSICIAN FOR YOUR WEDDING
- HOW MUCH DOES A MUSICIAN COST TO HIRE?
- HOW LONG WILL THEIR SETS BE?
- SUITABLE VENUES FOR MUSICIANS
Equipment and Set Up Requirements
- ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR BOOKING A MUSICIAN:
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I BOOK?
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE FOOD?
DO I NEED TO PAY A DEPOSIT?
WILL I HAVE TO COVER TRAVEL EXPENSES?
- CANCELLATION AND INSURANCE:
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ACT CANCELS?
WHAT HAPPENS IF OUR EVENT IS CANCELLED?
INSURANCE / RISK ASSESSMENT
CHECK & CLARIFY DETAILS IN ADVANCE!
- HOW TO BOOK A MUSICIAN
- HOW CAN I FIND AND BOOK A MUSICIAN FOR AN EVENT NEAR ME?
WHAT WILL A MUSICIAN DO AT YOUR EVENT?
Musicians attend events and perform live music to entertain guests. There are many categories of Musician, covering a wide variety of instruments and musical styles.
A professional musician will arrive at your venue, fully-equipped with everything he or she needs to perform. They will play a seamless selection of music perfectly suited to your event, providing the ideal backdrop or focal point for any occasion.
WHAT TYPE OF EVENTS ARE musicians HIRED FOR?
Musicians are hired for all kinds of occasions, whether big or small, indoors or outdoors. From corporate events and drinks receptions to birthday celebrations, weddings, fetes and festivals, a live musician will bring life and soul to the party.
Some of the Musicians on Entertainers Worldwide for hire in London that can be booked as solo instrumentalist, duos, trios and quartets
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT Musicians FOR YOUR EVENT
To start with, it’s best to think about what style of music will suit your event. Are you looking for elegant background music or do you need something more upbeat and energetic? It’s also good to consider the size of your venue and the number of people attending, as this may influence your choice.
We have a huge array of musicians available to hire in our directory, from harpists and pianists, to sax players and guitarists. Whatever your requirements, our versatile entertainers can cater to any occasion.
As there are so many instrumentalists to choose from, let’s take a look at some of the most popular act types in this category.
Acoustic Guitarists / Vocalists
Also known as Guitar Singers, this category of musician is very popular, partly because of the huge range of music they can play, from vintage rock ‘n’ roll to the very latest chart hits, and partly because they can pretty much play anywhere.
Acoustic Guitarist / Vocalists are great for trade shows, shopping centre entertainment, festivals and fun days, corporate events, weddings and other special occasions, where they can play everyone’s favourite songs and liven up the crowd.
Revel in stripped back acoustic versions of classics by Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac and John Mayer. Dance the night away to infectious pop and Motown hits from The Beatles to Stevie Wonder. Or sing along to the latest tunes from Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5.
Many acoustic guitarists will provide pre-recorded background music to play between sets and some even offer a disco service. If you’re interested in this, ask the act when you book.
This is a great option whether you’re looking for background music for a hotel, restaurant, drinks reception or after-dinner entertainment, or an upbeat atmosphere for a festival or outdoor party.
Solo Guitarists can play unplugged or amplified and they play everything from gypsy jazz and swing music to blues and country. They can also deliver guitar versions of your favourite pop hits.
A guitarist can perform solo or play along with backing tracks. Some use loop effects, to build up layers of rhythms and harmonies, for a bigger, fuller sound.
There are a great range of styles and techniques to choose from, so take a look at our selection of Solo Guitarists to find the perfect act for your event.
An exciting choice of entertainment for parties, family fun days, live music venues and corporate events, an Electric Guitarist can perform party hits and rock ‘n’ roll classics guaranteed to get the crowd jumping.
For a cocktail party or after dinner entertainment, they can play gentle jazz numbers, creating a mellow mood while guests mingle over the music.
Electric Guitarists will often have extensive performing experience and play at a high level, so this could be an inspired choice if you’re hoping to make an impression with new clients.
They cover jazz, Broadway standards, Bossa Nova, Latin music, pop, rock, folk and blues. They can perform solo, with high-quality backing tracks, and are often also available in duo, trio or full band formats
Classical Guitarists specialise in instrumental versions of classical masterpieces, while Spanish Guitarists are skilled at intricate finger-picking and fast-paced strumming, for that fiery Flamenco feel. Both are popular choices for wedding ceremonies and drinks receptions as well as sit-down dinner entertainment and hospitality events.
As with Acoustic and Solo Guitarists, Classical and Spanish Guitarists can also play covers of popular tunes or arrangements of favourite jazz songs.
Demonstrating impressive technique without being overpowering, Classical/Spanish Guitarists are particularly well suited to more intimate occasions, where they provide a warm and sophisticated ambience.
Bagpipers are a must-have at any occasion with a Celtic theme, from traditional weddings and Hogmanay parties to more official events. Not only will the unique sound of this extraordinary instrument instantly evoke the celtic spirit, a Bagpiper also looks the part, resplendent in full Scottish dress.
Bagpipers are very skilled musicians, as they have to play their instrument by squeezing what is known as the “bag”, whilst blowing on a pipe at the top. This is notoriously difficult to achieve!
So, to add some true Celtic flair and a touch of drama to your special occasion, hire a Bagpiper!
Harpists are often chosen to play at weddings, where they bring an unmistakable air of romance to proceedings, whether they serenade you as you walk down the aisle or pluck and strum beautifully during your wedding breakfast or drinks reception, enchanting and delighting your guests.
Harps come in different shapes and sizes including the large concert pedal harp, smaller Celtic harps (popular in Scotland and Ireland) and electric harps. If space is an issue, acoustic harps don’t actually take up as much space as many people think, and they don’t require amplification, so can be a great option for smaller venues.
Styles of music also vary, as many Harpists offer a range of genres, from the classical repertoire to arrangements of show tunes, jazz and popular music.
Not only does a Harpist bring exquisite music to your event, they also make a strong visual impact. In addition to weddings, they are perfect for quieter corporate events, cocktail parties and drinks receptions, providing an elegant backdrop and gentle tones, while clients and guests talk and mingle.
As well as performing solo, Harpists often accompany other musicians or vocalists, so if you’re looking for an ensemble, your chosen Harpist may be able to help.
Apart from the organ, the Piano is the largest of all the instruments and the one with the greatest range in pitch. Most modern pianos have 88 keys, spanning over 7 octaves. From delicate high notes to booming low notes and everything in between, in terms of power, dynamics and versatility, no other instrument comes close.
The piano also has the largest repertoire of any instrument (apart from the human voice), ranging from classical composers such as Beethoven and Schubert and jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Count Basie to the flamboyant Little Richard with his thundering rock ‘n’ roll riffs and current piano songwriters, including Diana Krall, Alicia Keys and the one and only Elton John. It would be quite a feat for any single pianist to learn it all!
The catalogue of music for Pianist Singers includes timeless classics by Ray Charles, Elton John, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Billy Joel as well as newer favourites by Coldplay, Jamie Cullum, Vanessa Carlton, Diana Krall and John Legend.
The piano is such a versatile instrument that a singing piano player can perform pop hits, dance tunes, rock songs, soul music, romantic ballads and much more!
Nothing creates a warm atmosphere on your wedding day quite like the tinkling of the ivories, so this is a great way to create a relaxed atmosphere while your guests socialise in between photos, speeches and cutting the cake.
A Pianist Singer is also an excellent choice for a cocktail party or after-dinner entertainment, where they deliver slow piano ballads and smooth jazz, adding elegance and flair to the occasion.
It’s impossible to imagine what life would be like without these amazing artists and their songs, so if you want to incorporate just a slice of that enormous talent into your event, we can help!
At Entertainers Worldwide, we have Pianists and Keyboardists based in different countries around the world. Some specialise in a particular genre while many offer a complete range of styles. They can either play solo, or accompany other musicians, or do a mixture of the two.
Perhaps you’re organising a smart dinner for clients, or an award ceremony, where high quality music is required to make the right impression. Or you’d like a Pianist to tinkle away gently as your guests mingle at a cocktail party or create a relaxed atmosphere in a restaurant or hotel lounge.
For a birthday bash or works do, a Pianist can energise the crowd with some up-tempo jazz, well known classics and current hits. This will be sure to break the ice and get people dancing, singing along and generally letting loose!
Piano players are also hugely popular at weddings, where they can create just the right ambience for different stages of the day. See the section below on How to Book a Musician for your Wedding.
In terms of size, acoustic pianos vary from uprights to the largest concert piano, measuring around 12 feet. All acoustic pianos are tricky to transport and require careful handling. A more practical option for many events is a digital keyboard. These days many use real piano samples, so that every note sounds just like it’s being played on a real piano.
If your venue has a decent piano in-situ, why not take advantage and book a Pianist.
The saxophone, with its sultry and seductive sound, has been a staple of jazz music since the early 20th century and there’s nothing quite like it, to look at or to listen to.
We have great artists including Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker and Lester Young to thank for bringing the instrument to the forefront of American music in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s. They were followed by pioneers of the avant garde jazz movement such as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Then came the era of smooth jazz, ushered in by Grove Washington and others in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
While still strongly associated with jazz, the saxophone is also firmly established in the world of rock and pop music, thanks to players such as Kenny G and Michael Brecker, who have recorded and performed with stars like George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Aerosmith, to name just a few.
So, if you’re looking to create a smooth and sophisticated ambience at a drinks reception or elegant corporate event, or you’re in need of some upbeat rock, pop and soul numbers to get people dancing, consider hiring one of our talented - and extremely cool saxophone players!
With a rich and powerful sound, the saxophone works well at outdoor events such as fetes, fairs and garden parties. It will bring life and soul to a birthday or bar mitzvah, give a warm glow to a work celebration and add romance to your wedding day.
Our Saxophonists can play with or without amplification and can perform with backing tracks or accompanied by other musicians. They take up minimal space and offer great flexibility – covering everything from jazz standards to Lady Gaga!
Violinists are in great demand for occasions where high quality music is required, such as weddings, private concerts, receptions, product launches and VIP events.
Organising a society party? Entertaining clients at a sporting event? Putting on a private reception for VIPs? If you want to make a real impact with a virtuoso musician who performs with passion and fire in their belly, a Violinist could be just the ticket.
If you’re planning to pop the question during an quiet dinner, a violin can serenade your partner with beautiful music, creating just the right romantic mood. If you require sophisticated background music for a cocktail party or after dinner entertainment, a violinist can play gentle classical music or jazz favourites, adding a touch of elegance to the occasion and soothing your guests, helping them to relax and socialise.
Of course, Violinists don’t just play classical music. Many violinists perform a wide range of music including bluegrass, country, folk, jazz, world music, show tunes, film music, rock and pop. Alternatively you might like to have classical music played with a modern twist. From Beethoven to Beyoncé, you can find a talented Violinist to play your preferred style of music and to cater to your particular event.
For the real wow factor, you can hire an electric violinist. Not only will the sound be amplified with an electric pickup but electric violins are also visually striking, with colourful or transparent bodies and parts that light up.
Sally Potterton - an electric violinist available to book for weddings and corporate events in London & Worldwide
Most professional classical musicians will have completed formal training at a music college or university, so you’ll find a lot of violinists have some kind of qualification. As you browse through our selection of violinists, you can also read their testimonials and see what kind of events they have performed at.
Violinists can perform acoustically or amplify their sound through a PA system. They don’t require as much space as a pianist, classical group or live band, making them suitable for venues large and small.
A violinist will often play regularly with other musicians, so if you’re interested in booking a duo, trio or string quartet, you can ask your chosen act what different packages they offer.
BOOKING A MUSICIAN FOR YOUR WEDDING
At Entertainers Worldwide we really believe that one of the best ways to make your wedding day extra special is to hire a Musician.
You will need music at various points of the day: to help warm the atmosphere as guests arrive and take their seats; to serenade you as you walk down the aisle; to liven up your wedding breakfast and to set the mood at your sit-down dinner or drinks reception - and let’s face it, putting on a CD or playlist just isn’t the same.
Whether you’re getting married in a castle, church, register office, hotel, garden or on the beach, our talented musical performers can be relied upon to set the right tone, playing the music that means the most to you with heartfelt emotion, and adding all the warmth and sparkle you need on your big day.
For the quieter parts of the day, an unplugged performer such as a harpist, classical guitarist, acoustic guitarist, pianist or violinist can provide a relaxed and intimate atmosphere with calming background music. Popular classical pieces for wedding ceremonies include Bach’s Air on the G String and Schubert’s Ave Maria. More contemporary choices are Marry You by Bruno Mars and Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. Whatever you have in mind, your musician will be keen to hear about it!
For your evening reception, you’ll want to set a party mood and get people dancing. A Pianist is a versatile enough to play a romantic ballad for your first dance and then kick start the party with some high energy tunes, filling the dancefloor and delighting guests young and old. Or why not have an electric guitarist or saxophone player busting out some classic party hits.
You can also mix things up a bit, with a combination of musicians. For example, you could have a pianist with a saxophone player or a guitar player with a violinist. See what packages the Musicians on our pages offer, in addition to performing solo. You might be able to get a good deal. Some Musicians also offer a disco/DJ service for an extra fee, which can work out cheaper than hiring separate acts.
You can request classical music, traditional pieces, romantic ballads, popular show tunes, inspirational songs, pop, jazz or folk - it’s up to you. You might have personal favourites you want included, or be looking for music to fit a particular theme.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Musicians will be happy to work with you to create a selection that is right for you on your special day, and will accommodate special requests if they can. Just make sure you give them a few weeks to prepare any pieces they might need to learn.
We hope that that gives you a taster of some of our most popular Musician categories and how they might suit different events. If you’re still not sure you’ve found what you’re looking for, we have even more Musicians available to hire, including Flutists, Cellists, Drummers, Bass Guitarists and Multi-Instrumentalists.
To get an idea of the different repertoires our Musicians offer, you can browse their profiles where you will also find sample playlists and see the types of events they regularly perform at. We encourage you to also read their testimonials and watch their video clips to see them playing live.
If you like the look of a particular performer but you’re not sure what kind of music will suit your event, feel free to ask them. They will be happy to help. Now the only question is, with so many wonderful performers to choose from, how will you decide?
HOW MUCH DOES A MUSICIAN COST TO HIRE?
Hiring a solo musician can be a great option if you’re on a tight budget, as it will usually cost less than a live band or ensemble. They can provide a live classical music vibe or whatever style you prefer. A solo musician can also be something of a talking point, being more unusual and distinctive than a group.
As with booking any act, it’s worth paying for a reputable Musician who can be relied upon to deliver great entertainment as the focal point of your event. See our Essential Tips below for information on booking terms and conditions.
Musicians spend years studying and developing their technique, often paying a great deal of money for courses and private lessons. Then there’s the cost of instruments, printed music, recording studios, marketing, clothes, equipment and travel. Musicians need to factor in their costs when setting their fees.
A professional musician not only needs to be highly skilled at playing their chosen instrument, they also need to know how to perform with confidence. This takes practice and is the reason why an established, experienced performer can charge more than someone who is just starting out.
Most musicians have a standard fee and will add a bit on top for longer performances, longer waiting times between sets, playing after midnight, special requests and providing extra equipment such as a PA system.
Certain instruments, particularly acoustic pianos and pedal harps, are tricky to transport. They are expensive, intricately made, extremely heavy and require careful handling. Pianos will need tuning by a professional once in place at the venue. These costs will inevitably increase your quote.
As a rough guide, solo guitarists, guitar singers, flutists and bagpipers will charge between £150 and £400 ($400 in the U.S. and 400€ in Europe) for a standard engagement. Pianists, harpists, electric violinists, saxophonists and harpists may be slightly more, from £150 to £500 ($500 in the U.S. and 500€ in Europe). High-profile performers with top notch experience and busy diaries will always cost more.
Prices do vary, so we recommend taking a look through our easy-to-use directory, to search for musicians in your area. You can then use the Contact form to message them directly and ask for a free, no-obligation quote. You will find that some acts also add a rough price guide to their profile, which you can confirm when booking.
HOW LONG WILL THEIR SETS BE?
Two or three sets of 30-45 minutes each is standard, with a break of around 20 minutes at least every hour. For events lasting several hours, such as festivals and weddings, you can discuss your requirements with your performer, who will be happy to adjust their sets as far as possible.
If you need some background music between sets, don’t forget to mention this to your musician, as they may be able to bring an iPad or laptop to play pre-recorded playlists through the PA system.
SUITABLE VENUES FOR MUSICIANS
When choosing your venue, it’s important to consider the type of event you’re planning and what space and set up facilities you’ll need.
The main thing to think about here is the number of guests who will be attending your event and whether they will be dancing, eating, sitting or standing. If the venue doesn’t have a stage, you’ll need to allow adequate room for your performer, their instrument and equipment such as a PA system and lighting. To find out more, read on...
For musicians playing larger instruments, make sure there is a parking space as close to the performance area as possible, and that their route to the space is as level as possible, as most large instruments such as harps are moved on wheels.
Even though a musician stays mainly in one spot, they need a certain amount of space in order to be comfortable and put on the best possible show. String players will need plenty of elbow room while pianists and harpists need space to sit on a stool. Extra space may also be needed for a music stand.
For reasons of safety, to allow the sound to carry and to make the most of the acoustics in the room, a certain amount of space (at least 2 metres) should be kept clear between the musician and the audience. A piano in particular, needs a spacious, open room that’s big enough to absorb the sound.
Whether you have a built stage or a designated area at floor level, we recommend the following minimum performance area sizes for solo musicians:
Guitarist: 8ft x 6ft (2.5m x 2m)
Bagpiper: 8ft x 6ft (2.5m x 2m)
Bear in mind, bagpipes are very loud, so make sure the room is not too small and that they won’t be playing too close to your guests. The bagpiper will be the best judge of this and can stand just outside if necessary.
Harpist + electric harp = 8ft x 5ft (2.5m x 1.5m)
Harpist + celtic harp = 8ft x 5ft (2.5m x 1.5m)
Harpist + concert pedal harp = 10ft x 15ft (3m x 5m)
Pianist + digital keyboard = 6.5ft x 5ft (2m x 1.5m)
Pianist + upright acoustic piano = 6.5ft x 6.5ft (2m x 2m)
Pianist + baby grand piano = 6.5ft x 11.5ft (2m x 3.5m)
Pianist + concert grand piano = 6.5ft x 16.5ft (2m x 5m)
Saxophonist: 8ft x 6ft (2.5m x 2m)
Violinist: 8ft x 6ft (2.5m x 2m)
Please note, these size guidelines are for musicians and their instruments only. Extra space may be needed for music stands, a PA system, microphones, monitors and possibly extra equipment such as loop players and laptops, as well as room around the stage for amplifiers and lighting stands.
WHAT EQUIPMENT AND SET UP REQUIREMENTS WILL THERE BE?
Musicians will need to arrive at the venue between 30 and 90 minutes before they are due to play, to unload and set up their instrument, tune and warm up.
They will usually provide their own instrument along with a music stand, adjustable stool, PA system and microphones if required. Standard PA systems are usually suitable for up to approx. 150 people. If your event is larger than that, you may need to hire a bigger system.
If you’ve booked a Pianist to play a piano already in-situ at the venue, make sure it is in good playing condition and has recently been tuned by a professional piano tuner. Pianos go out of tune very easily when they are moved.
Whatever the venue, large or small, indoors or outdoors, your Musician will need the basics of a flat, dry and suitably-lit area in which to set up and play and a safe supply of electricity, including at least one 13 amp power socket near the stage area, unless they are playing unplugged.
If your venue is outdoors, make sure the act is aware of this. Depending on the instrument and the weather conditions outside, this may not always be feasible.
While your Musician may not be expecting the luxury of a fully-fitted dressing room, they will need somewhere private and away from the guests to get changed, warm up and relax in between sets, ideally with a mirror. A small lockable room or back office is often sufficient.
In the UK, venues with a capacity of 500+ people are required to have a special license, permitting them to host live performance or digital reproduction of copyrighted music. This includes nightclubs and live music venues. For more information, you can visit the UK government’s guide to Entertainment Licensing.
For guidance on music licenses for bars, restaurants and music venues in the U.S. you can go to the ASCAP website and for European venues, information on The Music License is available from the PPL PRS.
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR BOOKING A musician
How far in advance should I book?
Popular Musicians get booked up months, and even years, in advance. Friday and Saturday nights are busy times and Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve get booked up well in advance. So, for the best chance of getting your first choice of instrumentalist on the date you need them, get your booking in nice and early!
Do I need to provide food?
A hired Musician may have travelled some distance to get to your event and has a long night ahead. Wherever possible, you should offer him or her a decent meal and at the very least soft drinks, especially in hot weather. They will be eternally grateful.
Do I need to pay a deposit?
Musicians will usually require a deposit of around 15-20% of the overall cost, in order to secure the booking. This protects them against lost income in the event of cancellation, and also gives you reassurance that you have a confirmed and committed booking.
Will I have to cover travel expenses?
These will usually be included in the quote you are given, as the Musician will need to calculate their travel costs, especially if they have a long way to travel.
Cancellation and Insurance
What happens if the act cancels?
Thankfully this rarely happens, but in the unlikely event that, due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances, the Musician you have booked is unable to perform for you as agreed, they should have a contingency plan. This will usually mean they send a similar act in their place, at no extra cost to you. For confirmation of this, you can check the Terms and Conditions in the contract.
What happens if our event is cancelled?
If you are in the unlucky position of having to cancel your event, there will be a cancellation fee. The amount payable is likely to increase the closer it gets to the date in question. For example, cancelling 90 days before the event might incur 75% of the overall fee, while cancelling less than 30 days prior might mean paying the entire sum.
These conditions should be laid out in the contract you receive when booking, so check before signing. If you have any reason to think your event may not go ahead as planned, it’s advisable to let your chosen act know as soon as possible.
Insurance / Risk Assessment
We would recommend that you check with your chosen Musician that any electronic equipment they are using is PAT tested (Portable Appliance Testing) so you know it’s safe to use.
Ideally, the musician and the venue you’re hiring will have Public Liability Insurance. This covers you in the event of a claim, should any members of the public or guests be injured at your event, or any damage be caused to property.
If your Musician is a member of the Musician’s Union or Equity, trade unions that represent live performers in the entertainment industry in the UK (or the American Federation of Musicians in the U.S.), this gives you extra reassurance that they are professional and trustworthy, fully insured and abiding by industry standard contracts
Clarify in Advance!
When it comes to practicalities, it’s always best to discuss these ahead of time, to avoid any problems on the night. Whatever questions you have, however silly they might seem to you, you can bet they’ve heard them before, and worse! So don’t be shy to ask - good communication is the key to a great event.
HOW TO BOOK Musician
It’s easy to search for all types of Musicians in your area using the Entertainers Worldwide directory. Why not take a few moments to have a look through some of our profiles and see if anyone stands out. If you would like to contact any of our acts with questions, or to request a free, no-obligation quote, simply use the Contact form on their profile page and they will get straight back to you!
We pride ourselves on being one of the only entertainment directories that doesn’t act as an agent between acts and customers, so you deal direct with your chosen act and there are no added booking fees to pay!
How can I find and book a MUSICIAN for an event near me?
Using Entertainers Worldwide, you can search and browse hundreds of Musicians, Singers, Bands, Tribute Acts and much more! Search now to find a performer for your event or Request Multiple Quotes from a selection of Musicians by completing this form - this is a free service.
Search now to find a Musician for your event