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 of Hireaband Ltd 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 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 because 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, Newcastle, Birmingham, Exeter and Lincoln with further offices providing the same high level of service opening over the coming months. 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.
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 15 now! Sophie came along, she's 11. 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 our corporate and private entertainment specialist. This knowledge is developed and shared with the Directors of local Hireaband offices all over the UK. His twenty seven 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.
Wedding 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 wedding entertainment experts. This team handles up to 1500 live wedding enquiries at any one time making Hireaband one of the largest bookers of wedding entertainment in the UK
Nicola Fitzpatrick is our website co-ordinator and IT professional. Previous experience in customer services and sales helps Nicola with selling wedding and corporate entertainment. As a university graduate, she is essential to the marketing efforts of the company; maintaining and updating our massive and informative website, keeping everyone informed with developments in and around our industry.
Heather Stewart 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.
Experienced entertainment agent Karen Robertson, 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. Karen enjoyed the experience of hiring her wedding band through us so much that she joined the company!
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, Birmingham, Lincoln 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. 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 Newcastle is owned and run by husband and wife team Lee and Olivia Walker. From a background in a high profile corporate environment Lee and Olivia bring energy, incredible attention to detail and a real love of music and show business to the north east and west of England. Lovely people with a fantastic approach to life and business.
Our acts are sourced from all over the UK, although we endeavour 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.