Booking Your Wedding Swing Band

March 5th, 2010

Whether you’re at the beginning of your search for your ideal wedding swing band or about to make your final decision the following points are well worth considering before you hand over a deposit.

A common question asked by prospective clients is “I’ve found live swing bands that look similar to yours but are much cheaper. Why is this?”

1. The perception may be that because two wedding swing band websites have equally good pictures and their live performance MP3 samples both sound good they can be compared in a like for like manner. However, similar may not be the reality; other live swing bands may not be all they seem. Many wedding bands can make MP3 recordings for you to hear however the track may have been enhanced with studio effects to make it sound better online than they really are live. In extreme cases they filter out band parts of the song or vocals, even use backing tracks rather than the real band. Given that there are so many bands on the internet, and that it may not be possible to get to see them before, then at the very least they should have video footage showing them actually performing live. Ever bought a product online looking at a picture, then when it arrives it’s not at all the quality you expected?

2. Some live wedding swing bands can justify charging more, and are worth it simply because they are at the top of their game, have extensive experience of performing at events, have a solid reputation and are just better overall wedding entertainers.

3. It’s not just about the look of the website or the sound of the MP3….its every part of the experience from booking the swing bandright through to discussing and agreeing plans with a professional bandleader, to the bands ability to carry the wedding reception entertainment and make it a success on the day of the event.

4. Wedding Swing Bands with the above qualities characteristics are generally in high demand for their services. This demand means they can justifiably charge higher fees.

5. Cheap or cheaper bands are so for very good reason and there are inherent risks in booking them for any event for the following reasons:

• Poor standard of musicianship – Almost all live function bands are lead by a bandleader. One of his or her jobs is to book freelance musicians to play in their band on a given day of a function. It is all too tempting for them to try and cut costs by choosing to book musicians that aren’t very good as they are inevitably cheaper. In addition, some bandleaders pay very low rates, so the musicians are simply not very motivated to give their best or may not be professional musicians. The cheaper the cost of the musician the cheaper the band will be.

• Poor standard of bandleader – Some bandleaders run a swing band purely as a hobby. That may work if they are very dedicated individuals, but it if the band is subsequently cheap it means they may not invest much time or money in the band or the musicians, or…the client.

• Amateur or semi professional bands – There are thousands and thousands of function bands that only play together in their spare time and earn their living from a day job. You may have no idea that the band you have seen online and subsequently been quoted for is made up of amateur musicians that only play together for only a few functions a year. The consequences of booking an amateur band for your event can be grave. The standard of musicianship may be dubious; many amateur bands don’t have a bandleader who takes responsibility for all the musicians so should there be a problem no one takes responsibility; they don’t have the network of quality professional musicians so should one of the band members be ill on the day of the event there are no backups to replace them. Limited musical ability impacts the live performance and quality of the band sound, so what you hear is not what you will get.

• Poor standard and/or lack of equipment – Running a professional band takes significant investment in sound equipment, lighting, musical arrangements for the musicians to play, a van/transport, insurance etc. For example, a band that hasn’t invested time, money and effort in proper musical arrangements and uses cheaper musicians will rarely produce top quality live performances.

• Lack of official documents ie PAT cert and PL cert – A cheaper band may look to cut their running costs by not bothering to cover two vital elements of health and safety. A PAT certificate proves the band has had all their electrical equipment tested for safety and the Public Liability insurance certificate proves the band is covered in the event of an accident at your event.

• Poor standard of sound and lighting production – The cost to run audio and lighting equipment can be significant. A busy thriving function band will be travelling all over the country with equipment being loaded and unloaded in to vehicles. With this comes considerable wear and tear and hence maintenance costs. It is the bands responsibility to ensure their equipment is maintained. Beware the cheaper band that fails to ensure these maintenance bills can be paid. You the client could suffer when for example a speaker blows or the amplifier fails on the night of your event.

• Limited bookings – Many bands that are cheap are cheap because they can’t get the bookings because they aren’t very good. They then reduce their price on the assumption that because they are cheap they will get more bookings. The consequence of this approach has been laid out in the points above. Furthermore the general standards within the band drop eg why bother calling the client back when there isn’t much money to be made from the gig.

• No contracting process – Many cheaper bands won’t have any contract to offer you or at least any suitable and tight contract that leaves you with the piece of mind that you’re going to get what you’re paying for.

Booking a wedding swing band for your event is a very big and expensive decision. In tougher economic times it’s all too easy to pick the cheaper option as constraints on the overall event budget can be tight. There are however far too many stories of clients having been let down by event suppliers because they chose the cheaper option. Only recently the BBC covered a news story of a wedding couple who chose the attractively priced, or so it seemed at the time, photo and video package for their wedding day. After the wedding they were delivered some unusual shots to say the least – decapitated guests, a ceremony hardly visible through the gloom, and random close-ups of… not the bouquet, or a snatched kiss, but of carriage wheels. The couple were so disappointed they set about hiring another photographer and asked all the guests back another day for a photoshoot! They ended up paying three times what they should have done had they hired a professional with the experience, reputation, organisational skills and ability to do the job first time. Stories like theirs do beg the question as to whether one can afford not to spend that little extra to get best for your event.

Stories like theirs do beg the question as to whether one can afford not to spend that little extra to get best for your event…