Help & advice

Here are some of the most common questions that we get asked.

Booking an act

There's so much choice – I don't know where to start!
How do I book?
Why should I book with Function Central?
Can I see an act perform live before booking?
I'm worried about booking an act I've never seen live.
Why can't I find information on an act elsewhere online?
Why is your quote higher than the "from" price online?
What is included in the quoted price?
What payment methods do you accept?

The performance

How long will the act play for?
How long will the act’s interval(s) be?
I'm booking a band. When should they start playing?
How loud will the act be?
What will the act wear?

Interval music & DJs

What happens when the band aren't playing?
Are there any acts who can’t provide iPod interval music?

Repertoire, songs & requests

Can we choose which songs the act will play?
How many songs will the act play during their set?
Will the act learn a song that isn't in their repertoire?

Act & venue requirements

Will we need to provide any equipment?
How much space will the act need?
Does the act need a raised stage?
How much power will the act need?
Will the act bring lighting?
Can we borrow the act’s microphone on the night?
Our venue uses a sound limiter - is this a problem?
Can your acts provide PLI & PAT certificates?
Do I have to provide food & drink/what is a "rider"?

Arriving and setting up

When will the act arrive?
How long will the act take to set up their equipment?
Does it matter if my guests arrive at the same time as the band?

After booking

Can we speak to the act directly when we’ve booked?
How do I make changes to my booking?
What happens if an act or act member has to cancel?

Choosing live music

Live music advice articles.
Any other questions?


Booking an act

There's so much choice – I don't know where to start!

Find bands, musicians or DJs to suit your taste and budget using the search tool at the top of this page. The search results will list acts based closest to you first, helping you save money on travel and accommodation. Click on an act to view pictures, listen to audio demos and read feedback from previous customers. Add acts you like to your enquiry list, then submit your enquiry and we’ll be in touch to confirm availability and prices as soon as possible. If you’d prefer to chat, give us a call on: 0845 643 2160.

How do I book?

When you’ve chosen an act, call or email us and we’ll draw up a secure booking contract between you and the act immediately. You’ll need to pay a deposit by credit/debit card either online or over the phone, or by bank transfer to Function Central, within seven days. The balance is usually payable to the act on the event date, by cash or cheque, although some acts request payment at least two weeks in advance, by bank transfer.

Why should I book with Function Central?

Quality & professionalism: All our bands, musicians & DJs are either hand-picked from hundreds of applicants or recommended to us personally. Each act is carefully vetted before being accepted onto our books and we continually monitor client feedback to ensure the highest standards are being met. Our acts perform for over 1500 private weddings, parties & other events for us every year.

Peace of mind: When you book through us, we'll draw up a secure, legally-binding contract between you and the act. In the very unlikely event that an act is forced to cancel or is prevented from reaching your venue, our live music guarantee means we’ll find you a similar replacement act of equal quality, within hours. Our emergency helpline is open 24/7, so you can get in touch at any time.

Read more reasons to book with us.

Can I see an act perform live before booking?

As most of our acts only play at private weddings and functions, which are closed to the general public, it isn’t usually possible to see them live before you book. It may be possible to see them at a pub or club gig or a live band showcase but these are rare: our acts are full-time, professional musicians in high-demand throughout the year and there is little incentive for them to fill their diaries with less well-paid pub or club gigs.

I'm worried about booking an act I've never seen live.

Don't worry – we've done the hard part for you! We’ve spent years collecting the highest quality bands, musicians & DJs in the UK and continually monitor them to ensure they keep up their standards, so you can rely on us to provide you with an act you’ll love. If you still need reassurance, many of our acts have live audio demos and video footage available, and you can also read feedback from previous customers.

Why can't I find information on an act elsewhere online?

Many of our acts work exclusively for us and do not market themselves elsewhere online or have their own websites. We appreciate you'll want to find out as much as possible about an act before booking, so we're constantly updating our act pages with their latest mp3s, photos, videos and customer feedback. If there’s anything else you’d like to ask about an act please get in touch!

Why is your quote higher than the advertised "from" price?

The "from" prices displayed on the website are the lowest prices available for a performance in the region – usually a weekday event in winter. Factors such as travel, day of the week, time of year, parking and congestion charges can all affect the final quote.

What is included in the quoted price?

The price we quote for an act includes all extra costs such as travel and VAT, unless stated otherwise. Read more about our pricing and our price promise.

What payment methods do you accept?

You can pay your deposit by cheque, bank transfer (BACS or CHAPS) or credit/debit card over the phone. The balance is usually payable to the act by cheque or in cash on the day of your event, before or immediately after their performance.


The performance

How long will the act play for?

Most rock, pop, jazz or soul cover bands will play for up to two hours, and this is usually divided into either two 60-minute or three 40-minute sets. In our experience, this is usually enough time for evening receptions finishing at midnight. However, if you’d prefer a longer performance, some bands can perform for another half hour or hour, for an extra charge.

Tribute bands usually have shorter performances: either one 60-minute set or two 45-minute sets.

Classical acts can usually be booked for one hour (eg. a wedding ceremony), two hours (eg. a ceremony & drinks reception) or three hours (eg. a ceremony, reception and wedding breakfast).

How long will the act’s interval(s) be?

Most bands will take one or two interval(s) lasting 10-20 minutes and will provide recorded music or their own DJ so that you don't have silence (see interval music & DJs for more info). In our experience, intervals lasting longer than half an hour can interrupt the general ‘flow’ of the night, and some acts may not have enough recorded music to cover longer intervals. Let us know if you’d like a longer interval, so we can arrange this with the act in advance.

I'm booking a band. When should they start playing?

It’s usually best if the band doesn’t play earlier than 8/8.30pm. If they play earlier than this, it might still be light outside. Live music has more impact after dark, and your guests might not be ready to dance before this!

How loud will the act be?

If you're booking background music for a drinks reception, dinner or similar afternoon event, the act will set their levels such that your guests can easily talk over the music.

If you're booking a live band for dancing, your guests might still be able to hold a conversation, but probably not without straining. Bands are always be happy to turn down if you'd like them to, though a rock/pop band that is too quiet can lose its impact. If your venue has a sound limiter installed, read the relevant FAQ under act and venue requirements below.

None of our bands are likely to reach uncomfortable volumes, but if you've got any concerns about children or elderly guests, consider hiring a band that doesn't play modern rock music. A swing, jive, or rock 'n' roll band can be great for dancing, without drowning out everything else!

What will the act wear?

This depends on the act’s style – have a look at their promotional photos to get an idea of what they look like. Acts usually stick to smart, dark clothing for private functions, but if you have a specific dress code (such as black tie) that you would like the act to follow, let us know and we’ll arrange this.


Interval music & DJs

What happens when the band aren't playing?

There are three ways of filling the time between bands sets: iPod interval music, a basic DJ service from the band and a professional DJ.

1) iPod interval music

When they’re not playing, all our bands can use an mp3 player (such as an iPod) to play recorded music through their PA system for no extra charge. The music they play will be upbeat music in a similar style to their own, so your guests can keep dancing. The band can't take requests, but if you’d like to hear certain songs during the interval(s), you can give the act an iPod with a pre-prepared playlist at the start of the night to use during the intervals. Bear in mind that as the songs will be played on an mp3 player, the band can’t "mix" or “beatmatch” them like a DJ.

2) Laptop DJ service provided by the band

Some bands offer their own DJ service. A band member is in charge of playing music from a laptop equipped with the latest virtual DJ software, and they mix songs in the same way as a normal DJ. They use a microphone for basic announcements and can take a limited number of requests for well-known songs. This is a great value alternative to a DJ, saving you space as well as money. To find out if a band offers this service, see "booking options" on the band's profile page.

3) A professional DJ

This is the ultimate choice. Our professional DJs can tailor their song selection to your guests’ moods and create smooth and skilled changes between songs, as well as choose from a much bigger selection of songs than a band. You can submit your own playlist to them in advance to make sure they play all your favourite songs. Our professional DJs have more extensive lighting and effects than bands, and are experts at keeping the dancefloor full. We're currently offering discounts on our DJs to clients who book a band.

Are there any acts who don’t provide iPod interval music?

Classical acts, dixieland jazz bands and some acoustic steel pan acts do not carry sound equipment with them, so they can’t provide recorded music during intervals.


Repertoire, songs & requests

Can we choose which songs the act will play?

You can send through a list of your favourite songs from the act’s repertoire and the act will do their best to include these in their performance. Please bear in mind the act may not be able to play all of your requests because they will need to consider dynamics, pacing and transitions between songs on the day. They might also need to make changes to the set during the performance to suit the audience.

How many songs will the act play during their set?

Most acts play up to 30 songs in a two-hour performance, and up to 20 songs in a 90-minute performance.

Will the act learn a song that isn't in their repertoire?

Most of our acts are happy to learn one new song (such as a first dance) for no extra charge, as long as they think the song would work with their line-up. However, if they are unlikely to play the song again, or you request more than one song, they might charge an extra fee to cover the rehearsal time.


Act & venue requirements

Will we need to provide any equipment?

No – all our bands, musicians and DJs provide all the equipment they need. Most bands' sound systems are suitable for up to 200 guests, and many bands provide stage lighting too. If you're expecting more than 200 guests, let us know so that we can check that the act’s PA is big enough.

How much space will the act need?

This is listed on the act's page, under "performance information". As a guide, a 4-piece band will usually need a stage space measuring 4 metres wide and 3 metres deep. The act's profile page only lists the space their starting line-up needs, so you'll need to consider the space any additional band members might take up. As a guide, allow an extra metre of width per additional act member.

Does the act need a raised stage?

A raised stage can help an act make a bigger impact, but as long as you can provide a level performance area that meets their minimum space requirement, this is enough.

How much power will the act need?

Most acts won’t need more than 5 kilowatts (5000 watts), and usually use a lot less than this. Most acts need at least two independent, domestic-style 13-amp plug sockets, and one socket is usually enough for soloists, duos and trios. Ideally, the sockets should be either side of the performance area, but most acts will carry extension cables.

Will the act bring lighting?

Look under "performance info" on the act's profile page to see what lighting the act provides, if any. Most acts only provide stage lighting, unless they say otherwise. If your event is in a very large room, or lighting is important to you, you might want to consider hiring extra lighting from another supplier. We usually find that, as long as the band is well-lit, extra dancefloor lighting doesn’t add much to the event – it's music that creates the atmosphere and makes your event memorable!

Can we borrow the act’s microphone on the night?

Yes - most of our acts will be happy to lend you a microphone for your speeches or announcements.

Our venue uses a sound limiter - is this a problem?

Sound limiters or meters are designed to restrict the amount of noise a band can create during their performance, and more and more venues are using them. Most acts are happy to work with a sound limiter set at approximately 92db or higher, but always prefer these to be switched off during the performance. This is because most sound limiters work by cutting off the power to the band when the band or the crowd’s applause exceeds a certain volume, which can damage band equipment. If your venue uses a sound limiter, let us know the decibel limit, and we’ll suggest bands that work best at that volume level. For example, smaller acts playing to recorded backing tracks can adjust their volume easily and still produce a great sound.

Can your acts provide PLI and/or PAT certificates?

All our acts have, or can obtain, PLI (Public Liability Insurance) and PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) certificates, but please make sure you ask for these at least three months before the event in case the act’s certificates need to be renewed.

What is a "rider"?

Most bands booked for evening events will have a rider, which will be listed on your booking form. This will usually consist of food and drink and changing rooms.

1) Food and drink

Bands booked for evening events are often away from home more than 14 hours, and up to seven of these might be spent at your venue. This is a long time, so we ask you to provide a hot meal for each band member, either immediately after the band have set up their equipment or during their interval. You don’t need to give them the same meal as your guests, but they'll need something more substantial than sandwiches and crisps. If you’re having a buffet, it’s fine to offer this to the band as well as your guests, but make there is enough time for the band to queue before eating. If your venue can’t provide a meal for the band, you will need to make a small extra payment so that the band can buy food elsewhere. The band should also be provided with water or soft drinks while they are at your venue, within reason. (You don’t need to provide alcoholic drinks for our acts, but they appreciate it when you do!)

You don't need to provide a hot meal for acts booked for afternoon events unless they are at your venue for over three hours, but they would appreciate water or soft drinks.

2) Changing rooms

All bands and DJs booked for evening performances need a private room where they can eat, change and prepare for the performance. Ideally, this should contain a mirror and chairs. Changing rooms are particularly important for tribute acts and any female-fronted acts (for hair and make-up), so please let us know in advance if no changing room is available.

Any other requirements?

Most classical acts, including string quartets, classical guitarists and harpists will need armless chairs in a well-lit area (so they can read their music). Some DJs may need a small table.


Arriving and setting up

When will the act arrive?

Bands performing in the evening usually arrive and set up from around 5pm or 6pm. If you want the band to arrive earlier than the time specified on their page, you will need to pay extra fees.

Acts performing in the afternoon would usually arrive 45 to 90 minutes before the start of their performance.

How long will the act take to set up their equipment?

Most bands need an hour to an hour and a half to unload their equipment, set it up and do a sound-check (which means playing through a couple of songs to check the volume is right for each instrument). The act might need longer if there are lifts or stairs at your venue, or the performance area is more than 75ft from the venue's unloading area. We strongly recommend allowing as much time as possible for the band's soundcheck, so the band can work with the venue's acoustics to get the best levels.

Classical acts, steel pan bands and any other acts that don't use sound equipment usually take 15-20 minutes to set up and sound-check.

Does it matter if my guests arrive at the same time as the band?

It is best if the band can set-up and sound-check in an empty room, before your guests have arrived. However, if your guests have already arrived when the band arrive, and you don’t want to pay an early set-up fee, don't panic: bands can set up in the same room as your guests and will always do their best to avoid disturbing your guests. If the band has to set up during drinks or dinner, it is best if they can use a side or back entrance close to the stage, so that they don’t have to carry equipment through the reception or dining area. Even if your guests arrive before the band, the band will still need 10-15 minutes to sound check. At a wedding, they can usually do this between the speeches and the first dance, when there are fewer guests in the room. They will never make any noise during speeches.

If you would like to avoid the noise of a sound check altogether, the act might be able to do a ‘line-check’, which is a simple test to make sure all their equipment is working. However, for the best possible sound, we always recommend a full sound-check.


After booking

Can we speak to the act directly when we’ve booked?

We deal with all the arrangements on behalf of the act until three weeks before your event, when the act will call you to confirm the details for the day. Let us know if you'd like to speak to the act before this, and we’ll try to arrange it.

How do I make changes to my booking?

If you'd like to request any songs, change the timings of your event, add extra musicians or make any other changes, put these in an email to info@functioncentral.co.uk and we'll make all the arrangements. Always contact us rather than the act to make changes, so that we can put these in writing and re-issue your contract if necessary. Certain changes, such as an earlier set-up or an additional act member, can mean an increase in fees.

What happens if an act or act member has to cancel?

In the unlikely event that an act member is ill or can’t attend on the day, the act will find another musician to take his or her place. In the highly unlikely event that an entire act can’t attend, we’ll find a suitable replacement act in a similar style, within the same price range, from our extensive selection of high quality bands, musicians and DJs.


Choosing live music

Still not sure who to book?

To help you get an idea of what kind of music you’d like, we've written some guides:


Any other questions?

We’re always happy to chat – call us on 0845 643 2160.