Hireaband started life in our kitchen with an old computer, a phone and a note pad!
My name is Del Cotton and I've got the fancy title of Managing Director, although I still make the coffee and empty the bins (sometimes.) We've been in business since 1999 and back then I had to make sure I answered the phone before my toddler Rachel beat me to it - otherwise my customers would have had a long chat about the Teletubbies. This can be quite embarrassing when trying to give the impression of a large, dynamic entertainment agency.
Back in 1999 I spent the weekends playing in my wedding band and the weekdays looking after Rachel. My wife, Lisa, was a senior social worker and she was the one thing all full time musicians need, a bread winner!
We set up the business as I was in the fortunate position of having to turn away bookings because my diary was full. At first I'd simply pass on the phone numbers of other musicians I knew in the hope that they'd be available.
Eventually it dawned on me that I was doing the work of an unpaid agent. I also realised that there was an opportunity staring me in the face. Why not set up an agency, represent some of the good bands I knew and earn some commission at the same time?
So Hireaband was born at 3am one Thursday morning when I sat bolt upright in bed, stumbled downstairs to my ancient computer and checked if the domain name "hireaband" was available. To my astonishment it was and I became the proud owner of one of the best web site addresses in the business www.hireaband.co.uk - I think it cost me £9.95 including VAT!
The next thing I had to do was attract more bands to have me represent them - and to pay me some commission whenever I arranged a booking for them. Not easy when you have no track record and you're the smallest agency in the world! So my roster then consisted of around half a dozen bands, all of whom I'd either played in or with in some capacity or another and all of whom were based in Ayrshire (the finest county in Britain).
The good news was that because I was only recommending bands I knew to be good, my customers were happy. This lead to more bookings which meant the bands were happy - perhaps happy is too strong a word, let's say "less reluctant" - to pay commission for finding and managing their bookings.
As the bands on my books got busier, other bands started contacting me, hoping I could do the same for them. I'd go see them in action and if I thought I could get them bookings and that they would make my customers happy, we were in business.
Right from the start I realised that people could and would find bands direct - either in the local paper or the Yellow Pages (remember them?) or by word of mouth - so I had to provide a service that would get them the best bands at the same price they'd pay if they booked direct - after all I was providing a service to the bands in getting them bookings - why should the person booking them pay a premium just to book through me? So to this day, you'll never pay more to hire a band through us than you would to hire direct.
As well as competitive pricing, I was able to offer expert advice to my customers, issue proper paperwork, make all the checks and arrangements and provide the back up and peace of mind that only booking through a reputable agent brings. All this plus the chance to talk to my 2 year old about The Teletubbies - what more could you ask for?
Now, years later we have successfully franchised our business, with offices near Glasgow, London, Maidstone, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol. Together, we represent hundreds of bands, magicians, DJ's and entertainers from all over the UK - we make thousands of bookings every year and we have a reputation for fairness with the acts we work for and for excellent service to our customers. In fact we put millions of pounds in to the pockets of UK musicians every year and are committed to the continued success of the acts we are very proud to represent.
To those of you who booked your entertainment from us all those years ago - thank you for your support. To those bands we worked with back then (and many are still with us) we couldn't have done it without you. Rachel is 20 now and works full time at Hireaband Head Office! Sophie came along, she's 16 and is a talented musician in her own right. Lisa left social work and now leads a team of nine wedding experts from all over the UK; but if you call Head Office there's still the chance you'll hear Paddy the office dog barking at the postman - some things never change.
We have the same attitude today as we had back then. As the company expands, we're working on providing you with local expertise, no matter where you are in The UK - with the same friendly approach, the same quality control and the same "can do" attitude. We just have a nicer web site, lots more choice and a few awards under our belts.
Here's the corporate bit;
Originally operating as a sole trader, the rapid growth of the Company led to our incorporation as hireaband Limited in June 2002. We are also members of The Agent’s Association (Great Britain) which binds us to an ethical standard of trading.
Our founder and Managing Director, Del Cotton, is responsible for strategy and oversight of our main marketing activities. This knowledge is developed and shared with the Directors of local Hireaband offices all over the UK. His thirty plus years in the industry have given us an enviable reputation as providers of entertainment solutions for all kinds of events. His attention to detail and obsession with client satisfaction along with an understanding of the needs of entertainers from any field are essential to our thriving business. He is also healthily paranoid, so everything Hireaband does is checked and double checked. He actually does wear a belt and braces.
Corporate entertainment expert and Company Director, Lisa Cotton, has an intimate knowledge of the business and as her title suggests, is the head of our in-house team of entertainment experts. This team handles up to 1500 live entertainment enquiries at any one time making Hireaband one of the largest bookers of wedding, corporate and tribute entertainment in the UK
Rachel Cotton is our in house marketing and social media expert. She is also studying for her degree in Business Management and brings dynamism and energy to the business along with an in depth knowledge of current trends in live entertainment.
Julie Lewis is a fully qualified Business Administrator and looks after the day to day running of the Hireaband Head Office. Her pleasant and efficient manner ensures a prompt response to enquiries from clients and entertainers alike. Julie's previous experience in banking means she's also responsible for day to day accounts.
Experienced entertainment agent Karen Cunningham, has a superb track record in providing fabulous entertainment for our clients. Karen has a thorough knowledge of the very best entertainment available throughout the UK. Every client, no matter what their requirements, can call on this experienced and friendly member of the hireaband team.
Rebecca Kerr is a very friendly and highly trained entertainment agent with a special interest in the wedding industry. Until Rachel joined us, she was the baby of the office at 24 years old and keeps us up to date with what's hot and what's not in the world of live music.
Gill McKellar is our in house tech expert. Years as a senior sound technician with Disney make her the to go person for all things tech. She's reached almost legendary status among many of our bands with her ability to discern and fix seemingly impossible issues with live sound and equipment.
Gaye Young brings extensive experience in the hospitality industry to Hireaband. Her inside knowledge of the sector and of events in general allow us to anticipate and fill the needs of our hospitality clients. Gaye has a lovely personality (and a really posh telephone voice which makes us sound classy!)
Paddy Cotton is the office dog. He's a Border Terrier and lists among his likes; sleeping, chasing squirrels and being smelly. His dislikes include; postmen, air breaks on buses and banjo players.
With offices in West Kilbride near Glasgow, London, Manchester, Maidstone, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle upon Tyne, we are ideally placed to cater for the needs of our clients and entertainers throughout the country.
Irving Walker is Director of Hireaband London & The South West. A successful businessman in his own right before opening his own Hireaband office, you'll find him enthusiastic, informed and pleasant. He also plays a mean saxophone.
Hireaband North is now run as a satellite of Head Office. You'll deal with the experienced Head Office team. We plan to open a new city centre office in Newcastle in 2018.
Our acts are sourced from all over the UK, although we endeavor to use local talent wherever possible.
Contact your local office, or Head Office at any time for a no obligation chat about your entertainment requirements no matter how big or small. We'll be delighted to work with you.