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How to hire Christmas Party Music on a Budget

Drinks and baubles at a Christmas party

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…and also the most expensive. Hiring live musicians for your Christmas party can be tricky when you’re working to a budget. The last thing you want to do is compromise by hiring cheap musicians, such as amateurs or students, so we’ve put together some handy tips to help you get maximum bang for your festive buck..

Book your Christmas musicians as soon as possible

We deal with hundreds of clients every year who leave their Christmas music booking to the last minute, and it’s not always easy to find available musicians who suit their budget.

The best way to save money and avoid disappointment is to book as soon as you can. You’ll have a larger selection to choose from, and some musicians may even throw in a small discount if you book over a year in advance.

It might sound crazy, but you should consider booking your musicians straight after Christmas, in January or February, to maximise your chances of finding an affordable act for your Christmas party.

Host your Christmas party in November or January

Everyone’s hosting their Christmas parties in December, which means the best musicians will be booked most nights of the month, and many will raise their prices to account for the spike in demand.

If it suits you and your guests, consider hosting your party in November or January. November isn’t a particularly busy month, as it’s outside of wedding season, and January is extremely quiet for musicians, so hosting in either of these months means you’re more likely to get a good deal.

If you need to host your party in December, try to avoid the weekends.

Book local musicians

You’ve left your Christmas party booking to the last minute, and now you’re struggling to find a band who can perform at your party in Oxford.

Every Oxford-based band you’ve spoken to are busy, and you’re having no luck with any of the London-based bands you’re speaking to. You’ve got a budget of £1000 and you finally stumble upon a 5-piece band who can perform for £950. Result!

The catch?

They’re based in Cardiff, and they’re travelling a 236-mile round trip to your venue in two cars. They abide by the Musicians’ Union suggested travel rate of 45p per mile, which means they charge you an additional £212 for travel costs, bringing the total cost to almost £1200, 20% over budget.

As well as booking early, the key to saving money when booking musicians is to hire local musicians. Ask your venue for recommendations, or use a platform like Encore to find musicians within a few miles of your venue.

Encore is the biggest network of musicians in the UK, which means we can provide almost any type of musician for an event almost anywhere in the country. Click here to find musicians local to your venue.

Bonus: hiring local musicians also reduces the chances of them getting held up in traffic or stuck on disrupted trains. The less distance they have to travel to your venue, the smaller the risk of disaster.

Hire a soloist or a duo instead of a full band

If you’re working with a budget or £400 or less, you’re simply not going to find a full band.

Thankfully, most soloists and some duos can perform with backing tracks, which pads out the sound and creates the illusion of a bigger band performing. Obviously it’s not quite the same as the full live experience, but it’s great if you’re unable to hire a band.

Don’t: hire amateur or student musicians

Event organisers often attempt to save money by booking cheap musicians, usually students or amateurs. We strongly advise our customers not to do this, as you can risk ruining the atmosphere of your whole event.

Pro musicians spend all of their time performing at events, practicing, and improving their ability to make music. As a result, they’re in good form and are well-rehearsed. They’re totally at ease performing to huge crowds as well as small intimate ones, and they’re much less likely to suffer from stage fright. It also means they know how to read a crowd, and are able to adjust and pivot during each set to ensure your guests have the best possible time with the live music.

You get absolutely none of these guarantees with students or amateurs, who are much less experienced, much less professional and, if they’re in a group, often haven’t practiced much together.

If you decide to hire cheap musicians, do so at your own peril!



We hope you’ve found this guide helpful. You may also find the following guides useful:


If you’re ready to begin comparing prices of available musicians for your event, simply click here to create an enquiry with Encore. We’ll quickly match you with professional musicians who are available on your event date and who can work within your budget.


Joel Vincent

Our Sales & Partnerships Lead, Joel, plays guitar and is obsessed with 90s R&B.

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