How early do we need to book?
Weekends, especially Saturdays, are the most popular dates in late November and throughout December. Despite having multiple singers on the roster, these dates often get completely booked up in late summer or early fall.
Because many of our singers are also professional church musicians, there is limited availability on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Thursday evenings also can be difficult with choral rehearsals as well.
In short, book as early as you can. We are humbly bragging to say that we are very much in demand, and we hate having to tell people that we cannot sing for them!
Can you be amplified?
We typically sing without amplification, especially if we're strolling during our performance time. However, we do have access to an amplification system for use upon request. We have a limited number of systems available, so use of amplification must be reserved in advance, is subject to a small surcharge, and is subject to availability.
We respectfully suggest you try not to use amplification if your intention is to have the carolers be environmental, or background, in nature. We have found that for certain types of events where we are not actually featured, such as cocktail or corporate parties, people tend to just speak over us. This is also true with festivals and events where multiple groups might be performing. If we sing louder in order to be heard, everyone just talks louder, and it turns into a battle that no one enjoys. So, please learn from the past experiences of others: if we're actually featured as performers, amplification might be appropriate. If not, we do not recommend amplification.
Why do you charge a booking fee?
There are many costs associated with presenting our carolers which must be covered. Besides paying our singers, the booking fee pays for:
- General Liability Insurance (a requirement at many venues)
- Special permissions from publishers to make custom arrangements of modern carols
- Music printing for all of our singers
- Purchasing and maintaining those beautiful Dickensian costumes, ugly sweaters, and a variety of outfits to fit your event
- Managing singer schedules and availability
- Web site design and hosting
- Managing client communication and event logistics
- Months of preparation time and the administration behind putting it all together
Can we hire you for less than an hour?
While we fully appreciate that you only may need us for 15 or 30 minutes, we have to still pay our performers the rate for a full hour. The reasons for this policy are:
1) All four singers must travel to your location from wherever they are. Sometimes this can be well over an hour away.
2) They must get into costume.
3) They then perform for your event, and finally;
4) They travel sometimes over an hour to return to where they came from.
For each singer, this is not a 15 or 30 minute commitment of time. It is at least two hours, if not more. Additionally, other clients are often requesting carolers and whenever we book a performance, those singers are lost to our use for that period. This usually means they miss out on another performance opportunity that same day.
For these reasons, we have a one hour minimum fee. We hope you understand, and we look forward to singing for you!
Do you have a non-religious set of Victorian style carols available?
Yes, both in the Victorian set and in our exclusive arrangements of popular modern songs. As for our "Victorian" presentation repertoire, many corporate parties wish to keep the overtly Christian influence to a minimum in order to be sensitive to other cultures present. We can do smaller sets of our repertoire list which either are not specifically sacred or which can be easily altered to remove specific sacred words, and still maintain the Victorian-era feel and presentation.
Here is a list of the Victorian carols which are less sacred in nature, which we believe are appropriate for a corporate party.
- Bring Us In Good Ale
- Deck the Hall
- Gloucestershire Wassail (Wassail All Over the Town)
- Good King Wenceslas (modified)
- Here We Come A-Wassailing
- Jingle Bells
- Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
- O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum)*
- Up On the Housetop
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas
If you are interested in having a more modern feel with modern songs, please see the FAQ pertaining to Modern Songs.
Do you have a license to perform copyrighted music?
The Village Carolers specializes in Victorian-era carols which have all fallen well within the public domain and do not require a license. If you ask us to perform a song or songs which are not in the public domain, it is important you understand what is required by copyright law.
If it is a non-public performance, such as in a private home, no license is required.
If it is for a company function of some kind, or any event held at a public place (a non-private location where people gather), a license is required. Look into an ASCAP business license through this online form. A blanket license for your business is not actually expensive and lasts all year long. Here is some more info...
Music in Business License | Music in Business Rate
For government events (such as town tree lightings, etc.) you need a Local Government Music License (see https://www.ascap.com/-/media/files/pdf/licensing/classes/imla.pdf
The responsibility to obtain a license for copyrighted music to be performed publicly falls upon the event producer (you) and not the musicians (us). The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) makes this designation of responsibility:
Under the law, owners or operators of establishments are responsible for performances on their premises. In practice, the owners obtain licenses as a cost of doing business. For more than 70 years courts have consistently held that those who operate facilities or sponsor events at which copyrighted music is performed publicly may not avoid their responsibilities under the United States Copyright Law by attempting to shift those responsibilities to their entertainers.
Courts have held liable as an infringer the owner of a club who had insisted that his entertainers sign agreements stating that they would not perform ASCAP music and posted signs stating that no ASCAP music could be performed at the club. Similarly, the fact that the entertainers alone choose the music to be performed does not absolve the owner of the club or the promoter of a concert from liability – the “independent contractor” defense is no defense to a claim of copyright infringement.
For more information, please see ASCAP's information on this subject: http://www.ascap.com/~/media/655449c494b748ba89edc4864655e1b6.pdf
Do you perform on Thanksgiving? Christmas Eve? Christmas Day?
Because the majority of our singers also have professional church positions, or families they wish to share holidays with, we no longer accept bookings for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year's Eve.
We don't typically perform outside of the holiday season.
Should we tip the carolers?
While we never require it, and it is certainly not expected, if you feel the performers did a job exceeding the expectations of you and your guests please feel free to offer them whatever you feel is appropriate. They are also happy to accept food and drink, but any alcoholic beverage should not be offered while they are working. We also ask you not to offer alcoholic beverages to any of our singers who may not be of legal age to consume such beverages. At this time, there are no artists on our roster under 21 years of age, but in the event that we do have them in the future, please respect the underage drinking laws in your area.
Information on Payments, Insurance, Cancellations, Contracts
Because we book singers when you sign your contract, we require a retainer to hold a particular booking date or dates. This retainer is applied fully to the overall fee. The full fee is due prior to the commencement of the first performance. We accept cash, check, and the four major credit cards. Payments by check should be made out to The Village Carolers, 6 Nantucket Court, Medford NJ 08055. Due to problems we have had with purchase orders in the past, we no longer accept purchase orders for new clients. We are sorry for this inconvenience.
Chadwick Creative Arts, LLC oversees The Village Carolers and carries both Commercial Liability and Worker's Compensation insurance policies for any accidents which are the fault of members of The Village Carolers. General liability insurance to cover any performance in your venue must be supplied by you, the client.
We understand that sometimes performances have to be cancelled by our clients for various reasons including financial or weather issues. However, because we book our singers and they reserve a date for which they cannot get another performing job in most cases, the following policy is in place. If a performance is cancelled by the client more than sixty (60) days prior to the performance date, the deposit is forfeited, but no other fee is due. If a performance is cancelled by the client less than sixty (60) days prior to the performance date, the full fee will still be due. If for any reason a valid, contracted performance is cancelled by The Village Carolers (which has never happened), the retainer and any other payments made by the Client would be returned in full.
A fully executed contract is required before we reserve singers for your performance. That means both a signed contract, and receipt of the retainer. Until both are received, there is no valid contract for your performance. Clients have gone as far as actually advertising we would be there, before they fulfilled the contract, and then ended up losing the performance because our singers got booked elsewhere. It is vital that you fully enact the contract, with both the signature and the retainer, prior to advertising that we will be appearing for your event!
Do you wear costumes?
For our Dickens style presentation, we perform in clothing reminiscent of the late 19th Century. We strive for an authentic period appearance and performance. For our full set which combines Dickens caroling with modern, you can request either Dickensian costumes or one of our other offerings. We are happy to perform in ugly sweaters, modern Santa hat outfits, or elegant cocktail attire with holiday touches.
What Victorian-era carols do you perform?
Our current Victorian repertoire list includes the following carols. We reserve the right to make additions and subtractions, but rarely do so. Carols with an asterisk (*) after them indicate carols where we will sing one verse in the original language, and follow that with the English version. We do have a modern set of holiday songs available with a limited set of of our singers, upon specific request.
Want to hear samples? Click the "Hear Us" link above!
Away in a Manger
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella (Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabella)*
Bring Us In Good Ales
Deck the Halls
Ding Dong Merrily on High
The First Noel
Gloucestershire Wassail (Wassail All Over the Town)s
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Good Christian Men Rejoice! (In dulce jubilo)*
Good King Wenceslass
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Here We Come A-Wassailings
The Holly and the Ivy
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Jolly Old Saint Nicholass
Joy to the World
O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum)*
O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)*
O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Veni, Veni, Emanuel)*
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Once in Royal David's City
Silent Night (Stille Nacht)*
Sing We Now Of Christmas (Noël Nouvelet)*
Still, Still, Still
Up On the Housetops
We Three Kings of Orient Are
We Wish You a Merry Christmass
Do you require breaks?
When a performance is more than one hour, yes. If not, then we sing through the complete hour. For bookings longer than an hour, We typically perform for 45 minutes then take a 15 minute break. This allows us to be able to sing for your event and sound good the whole time, even if the event is several hours long.
Are you available for our event?
We do not post an online calendar of our availability because we have more than one group in more than one location, and send singers out based on the event's proximity to their area. Thus, we have no need to tell people "No" unless we have triple or even quadruple booked a given date.
Due to the demand for The Village Carolers between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we highly recommend you book as far in advance as possible. We start booking holiday dates as early as March each year! We receive a high volume of booking requests especially for the first two weekends in December, so it is advised you book as early as possible. If you contact us in mid-November for a December weekend date, it's very likely we will already be booked.
What does it cost to hire the carolers?
We charge a standard fee for the first hour which includes booking fee, travel, and up to one hour of singing with the carolers. That fee is sometimes lowered for dates which are not as in demand (mostly mid-week) and might be adjusted for travel based on our available singers' proximity to your event. We then charge a flat lower rate for additional half hours.
Be sure to secure us in late summer or early fall if you are interested in a performance, especially on a weekend. Even with multiple quartets available, weekends book up several months early!
Major credit cards, checks, and cash (or cash equivalent) are happily accepted. Tips and hot cider are welcomed for excellent performance, and quite possibly will get you hugs.
Travel Note: We have quartets based out of southern New Jersey (Medford NJ is the base), Philadelphia, northern NJ, and New York City. We are happy to travel anywhere in the mid-Atlantic region. Travel reimbursement will be required for distances more than 50 miles round trip from Medford or New York (whichever is closer to you).
What is the difference between a carol and a song?
We are sometimes asked the difference between a carol and a Christmas song. There is a wealth of information on the history of Christmas Carols on Wikipedia: Christmas Carol. Another excellent page has been put together which describes the history of Christmas Carols: http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/carols_history.shtml.
Do you perform modern Christmas songs?
Of course! While we dress in the Victorian style, we also offer modern songs, many of which are arrangements created exclusively for The Village Carolers which you won't hear anywhere else.
The modern set now available includes the following songs, all arranged by co-founder Michael Chadwick unless otherwise noted with an asterisk (*).
- Carol of the Bells*
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
- Frosty the Snowman
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Here Comes Santa Claus
- A Holly Jolly Christmas
- (There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays
- It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
- Jingle Bell Rock
- Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
- Marshmallow World
- (Everybody's Waiting for) The Man With the Bag
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town
- Silver Bells
- Sleigh Ride
- White Christmas
- Winter Wonderland
Requests for songs not on this list will regretfully have to be declined, as our singers only perform well-rehearsed pieces. If there are songs not on this list that you definitely want to hear in future seasons, please let us know and we'll look into adding them next year.