The Prickly Issue Of “Overtime”

Posted by Dave

Cinderella had to leave the ball at midnight. But what if the time comes when your party is scheduled to end, and your guests are having too much fun to quit? What should you do?

Bands, deejays, decor, and even the venue where you hold your event are usually booked by the hour (or in 4-hour blocks.) Overtime may be included in your contracts with them. Thus, if the party is rocking and you don’t want to stop at the appointed hour, you already know how much the additional time is going to cost you. The band plays on, and everybody’s happy.

But what if you haven’t made arrangements in advance, and you wish to continue? What is the right way to handle the issue of overtime? Here are my thoughts:

1. Consult your music provider before they start tearing down. If you stop paying for music at midnight, and haven’t told them otherwise, by 5 minutes after the hour your band may have already unplugged speakers, amps, and instruments and be coiling their cords. It could take 15 long, boring minutes to plug everything back in its rightful place. During that brief period, the energy from your guests that made you want to continue will have dissipated, and the dance floor will be empty. If you are the host (and/or decision maker), it is your responsibility to keep track of the clock and keep the music going – not re-start it after it has already stopped.

2. Offer your band or deejay a specified bonus for staying late. Veteran bands have learned – the “hard way” – that offering to pass the hat among the crowd rarely results in enough money to make it worth the extra time and trouble. Saying “I’ll give you $200 for 15 more minutes” lets everybody know how much they will earn and how long they will have to stay to earn it.

3. Be sure your venue is on board for the overtime. Often, the real hidden cost of overtime comes not from the band, but from venue. Every captain, waiter, bus boy, and bartender also has to be paid. There may be fees from the decor-provider and florist, who have sent crews to pick up the room decorations. And – of course – there is the price of any extra liquor consumed to be factored in. It can get expensive in a hurry.

But there is an alternative to any of these extra costs you might consider. And it is one which should be familiar to every concert-goer. It is the famous “fake exit” all entertainers make, before coming back for their encores. I suggest that instead of hiring your band until midnight (for example), you engage them from 8:15 to 12:15. As midnight approaches, let them announce the “last dance.” If everybody is then ready to go home, then your band gets a 15 minute bonus. But – if the crowd demands more – you have a 15-minute window built into your budget. There will be time for 3 to 5 additional songs. The crowd will leave happy (because they got “extra” dance time), the band will be happy (because they didn’t have to go through the uncertainty and hassles of last-minute negotiations), and you will be happy (because what seems like “extra” time to your guests was already factored into your budget.)


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