Live bands – where do I start?
Posted on August 20th, 2014 By beatconnection_administrator
Here at the Beat Connection office, we get to speak to lots and lots of future Brides and grooms wo are thinking of hiring a band for their wedding. In many cases, it is the first time they have ever had to hire a live band so they are worried they are missing something? They often ask the same questions:
“What do I need to know before I book?” – “Is there anything I need to know before I choose?” – “I don’t want to book and then realise they will ask for a massive stage or big generator and that will cause me a load of extra stress and money!” – The are all worried about the same 2 things: “How do I pick the right band and how do I make sure there are no surprises after we pay our deposit?”
Well, here’s how.
1. Professional or amateur.
Book a professional band. Pub bands or amateur bands may be cheaper, but they are known to cancel bookings quite regularly, sometimes with less than 24 hours notice, and your event is too important to take that chance. A professional band would NEVER cancel on you. Their reputation, future gigs, their whole business revolves around making sure you are over the moon with their service. After all, this is how they pay their mortgage. Amateur bands often play “for the love of it”, which really means for their own enjoyment. They play the music they like, and if their drummer breaks their wrist, or their guitarist has the flu, or whatever, they often don’t have a way of getting round this. They have no interest in bending over backwards to ensure you are happy, because their mortgage is paid by their day job. Pro bands have a minimum of 3 rehearsed-up and ready-to-go stand-ins to ensure cancelling is never an option.
2. PL Insurance.
Ensure your band has Public Liability Insurance. Your venue will want to see it. PS: Some amateur bands seem to believe that their “Musicians Union” membership includes PLI. It doesn’t. PS: Your venue will ask to see the PLI Certificate of your chosen band.
3. The Contract.
Ensure your band sends you a booking form or contract that states at least
– Date, Venue, Band Arrival Time, Sound Check Time, Performance Time and any mutually agreed requests. Ensure the contract also clearly states what the price includes (ie travel expenses, PA, lighting, etc…) and a clear explanation of their cancellation policy. Professional bands should also have a RIDER. This is the document that should list absolutely everything they need to put on a great show and your party is a massive success. This is also the most important document you need to read before signing the contract to ensure you are able to provide what they need and have no surprises closer to the day. Most band riders are very reasonable and simply consist of making sure you are aware they will need electricity, parking spaces, somewhere to get changed, a level stage or performance area and ideally some hot food before they start. The more in demand the band, the more demanding the rider could become. If you would like to see a copy of Beat Connection’s Rider and / or Terms and Conditions, just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily send you the files for your perusal.
4. The equipment and sound engineering.
Take it from us, sound is everything. Even the best musicians in the world cannot put on a great performance if they are dealing with poor equipment, no monitoring and constant feedback. Ask if they a sound engineer is present at every gig, or whether at the very least one of the band members has sound engineering experience.
5. The break.
Most bands will play 2 sets of about 1 hour each, with a 20 / 30 minute break in between. Ask your band what happens when they are on their break. Most professional bands include a “filler music” service when you book the band, or can even provide a DJ service that includes the chance to take requests. If they don’t at least offer free filler music in between sets, beware they may not be as experienced as they seem. Bands work very hard on stage to create a party atmosphere, and the last thing they want when the first set is over is to go back to silence, and completely kill that atmosphere and have to start all over again in the second set. Professional bands know this well and will make sure some appropriate music (that complements the band set without repeating any of the songs) is playing whilst they are on their break. All professional bands should include at least the “Filler Music Service” for free. Most will offer a DJ Booking for an additional charge, and this will offer e much cheaper than booking a separate DJ.
Be prepared to look after the band. Band members will probably have had to travel a fair amount to your venue, carried heavy instruments and equipment into the venue, set it all up and sound-checked it. They are about to go on stage and give 100% of their energy for your event for 2 sets of 1 hour. Do budget for a hot meal for them too. At the end of the day, a happy band will be a much better band for you on stage, and a few extra bowls of pasta won’t break the bank and will make all the difference to their performance.
7. Be realistic.
If you want a live band, but your entertainment budget cannot stretch over £500, you may be better off booking a great DJ rather than a second rate band. Do believe us on this, we have seen the “cheap band” or “friend of a friend” band scenario go wrong many many times. You may be one of the lucky ones, but, make no mistake about it, it is a gamble.
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