Event Entertainment Basics

by AEA on February 23, 2010


Most events and parties will benefit from some type of entertainment. There are many different varieties of entertainment acts suited for many different types of occasions.

Below is a partial list to help get you started thinking which would be best for your event.

  • Music
  • Bands
    • Blues, Bluegrass, Christian, Classical
    • Country, Dance, Jazz, Oldies
    • Swin,g
      Wedding DJ’s,
  • Singers
    • Classical, Folk, Gospe,l Hip Hop
    • Jazz,
      Pop, R&B, Rap, Soul, Wedding

  • Solo Musicians
    • Accordion, Guitar, Banjo, Fiddler, Flutist, Guitarist
    • Harpist, Harmonica, Keyboard, Organ, Percussion
    • Pianist, Saxophone, Trumpet, Violinist
  • Types
    • African, Brazilian, Caribbean, Cuban
    • French, Greek, Hawaiian, Italian
    • Latin, Polka, Reggae, Russian, Salsa, Variety
  • Entainters
    • Balloon, Twister, Belly, Dancer, Caricaturist
    • Clown, Comedian, Costumed, Characters
    • Dance Group, Exotic Dancer, Face painter
    • Fortune teller, Hula Dancer
    • Hypnotist, Impersonator, Impressionist, Juggler
    • Magician, Motivational Speaker, Puppet Show
    • Singing Telegram, Ventriloquist

Finding an Entertainer

Finding your own entertainment can be very time consuming, sometimes frustrating but also fun. The first step is to determine the type of entertainment; a musician, a singer, a band, a clown, a comedian, a magician, or something else. Your budget, the type of event and the guests will usually drive the decision on which type of entertainment is most appropriate.

Here are some ideas on where to look for entertainers; friend’s recommendations, web sites like GigMasters, the Yellow Pages, local newspapers, other events and an agent.

Recommendations from friends are always good but make sure their suggestion matches your budget, event type and your guest’s expectations. If using the internet or Yellow Pages, look under “entertainers”, “Party Planners”, “Event Planning” and “Entertainment Bureaus”. For an internet search, try “comedian Denver or “jazz band Lincoln. One of the best ways to find good entertainment is to go to other events where your potential entertainer will be performing. This gives you the best idea of the type of act you will be getting. This is a time consuming part but also can be very enjoyable.

Compare different entertainers on acts, costs, availability and references. Always consider more than cost; bad entertainment can ruin a good party. Make sure the act and entertainer are compatible with the audience. Understand the type of stage, lighting or special equipment that will be needed and who will be provide it.

Evaluating the Entertainer

If you are responsible for finding the entertainment, you should review the act before you make a final decision. Usually you will go see the act, watch a video, have an audition or hire an agent. An audition will be next to impossible unless you are ready to spend large amounts of money.

A good way is to go see the entertainer perform at some other event. This way you not only see the act but also see how well the audience accepts the entertainer and her performance. Usually you can ask the entertainer for their schedule, which may also be on the internet.

Watching a video is a good initial method to review an entertainment act, if you can fine one available. Expect the DVD, if available, to be edited and only show the best minutes of the act. This can be very deceptive in some cases, so references would still be important.

Many entertainers will have some literature, pictures, and DVD available to send potential clients. Keep in mind that this is marketing information and will emphasize the strong points. However by reviewing the material, you can get a sense of professionalism being put into the business.

Hiring an agent is certainly the best and easiest method of getting a good entertainer. An agent will usually specialize in specific entertainment areas, some only for major attractions and at different price levels. If you are looking for a Variety act, like a magician, don’t expect an agent that represents some top national musicians to provide you any help. There are many different kinds of entertainment agents, so you first must know what type you are looking for. What you need for most all events from weddings to birthday parties, is an agent that represents casual one time acts, usually being 2 to 8 hours events. Some agents will represent singers, some bands, or Variety acts. So always state up-front exactly your needs and ask for referrals if they can not help you.

Some key factors in finding a good competent agent are how many years in business, referrals and repeat customers. Find a list of agents on the internet, Yellow Pages, media and referrals. An agent is similar to hiring a caterer or party planner, they should help look out for your interests and make your event the best possible.

As with hiring most professionals, expect to have a contract with the entertainer or agent showing the basic event information, expectations and charges. Agents are typically paid by the entertainer, not the client. And of course, the cost will depend upon the entertainer, travel costs and time.Don’t just go with the cheapest act, you usually get what you pay for, especially in the entertainment industry. No entertainment is sometimes better than bad entertainment.

Keep in touch with the agent or entertainer a couple of times prior to the schedule event to confirm availability, location, equipment and transportation. Will there be 2 or 6 hours of music, do you need party lights to enhance the atmosphere and subwoofers to shake the floor; someone will need to track this information. Keeping track of the details is what makes the difference between being successful or not.


The better you understand what your guests will enjoy, the better chance you have of finding the right type of entertainment. Choose your entertainer yourself or use an agent but always evaluate the act and the entertainer to make sure they both fit the occasion.

Your budget will also drive the decision; typical charges for entertainers vary from $500 to $10,000 per event. So set your expectations correctly and do not waste your or someone else’s time. Be prepared to discuss dates, location, guest wishes, event theme and equipment needed.

Always have a written contract or agreement with all the details showing your expectations and any other details of concern.

And last but not least, promote the entertainment and get people excited. You can provide promotional material, web site, pictures and articles about the entertainer to help get everyone excited about the event in general.

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