Hiring musicians and live bands for charity events – a short guide (Updated March 2020)

31 MARCH 2017
Blog post by Adam Southall
Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Any event is enhanced by live music – be it background music to create a relaxed ambience or upbeat music to get your guests onto the dance floor.

Charity events, in particular, benefit from live music to lift the atmosphere and contribute to making your event a success.

So can I afford live music for my charity event?

Whether you are organising an event for a large, multinational charity or a smaller, local charity, we all know that budgets on such occasions can be tight, especially when there is so much to be arranged, from the venue, catering and entertainment to marketing and spreading the word about your event.

It is important to note that most professional musicians, in general, rarely perform for free due to the costs involved in travelling to events, and the lost revenue which they could be earning at a paid gig (especially if your event is on a Saturday during the summer months).

Receive quotes from local musicians

Here's are some of our most popular cover bands performing live...

They also have several other costs to consider, such as public liability insurance, PAT testing of equipment, maintenance of equipment and their own marketing costs, such as a website.

Some professional musicians can offer a discount for charity events, and this could be anywhere from a 10% discount to a 50% discount.

However, what is often the case is that charities will arrange venue hire, catering etc before they decide on the entertainment for the evening. This means that budgets can be stretched very thin when it comes to hiring a band or musician.

In general, venues are often able to offer only a 10% discount for charity events, but many will be able to offer no discount at all, especially in central London on peak dates.

Top Tip: Host your event mid-week, not on a Friday or Saturday night

Consider hosting your charity event mid-week, e.g. on a Monday night. You'll have a much bigger selection of bands, DJs and musicians to choose from and most will be happy to offer a heavily discounted fee for weeknight events when compared to Friday or Saturday evenings.

At FixTheMusic, we believe that charity event organisers should not ask for a greater discount from musicians than they have received from other suppliers for their event.

For example, if the venue hire company and caterers have agreed to offer a 20% discount, you should ask for no more than a 20% discount from musicians.

This is the fairest way to engage the services of musicians for charity events, and it means that musicians, who are in general not very well paid, are not subsidising other suppliers, such as the venue hire or catering.

Receive quotes from local musicians

Live music at charity events can really add to the atmosphere of the event, whether it be a covers band entertaining at a charity ball or gala, a harpist playing at an outdoor fundraising event or even something alternative like an oompah band or a top-quality tribute act playing at a charity sports event.

Most musicians will be able to provide their services at a discount for charity events. In general, musicians are more than happy to be a part of philanthropic causes, and many even spend time busking for charities, especially over the Christmas period.

At FixTheMusic, we’re proud to have worked with the Pituitary Foundation — a UK charity that provides information and support to those suffering from pituitary disorders, their relatives, friends and carers — after they approached us to help them find a harpist for their 2016 Masquerade Ball at London’s Mayfair Hotel.

Our system was able to provide quotes from a range of harpists, and they booked an outstanding young harpist Catrin Meek, who is currently studying at the prestigious Royal College of Music. She was able to offer a reduced rate for this event, which was important for the charity.

More recently another of our professional harpists was booked for a gala fundraising event at the Sprowston Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club in Norwich, in aid of Girl Child Network Worldwide, a charity that empowers and educates girls in Africa.

At FixTheMusic, we welcome enquiries from charities and nonprofit organisations, as do our bands and musicians. The best way to receive quotes from our curated selection of musicians for your charity event is to submit an enquiry.

We help thousands of charities arrange live music for events every year. Submit an enquiry to receive offers directly from our carefully curated selection of professional musicians – it’s free to use.

If you're planning your own charity event in the UK, what are your plans for the live music or entertainment? Tell us in the comments section below!

About Adam Southall — Adam is a co-founder of FixTheMusic and works on everything from copywriting and marketing to design and user experience. He studied Music at Cambridge University. Adam is a keen pianist, and also learned cello and trumpet from an early age.