A bandleader, or a musical event planner?

A bandleader, or a musical event planner?

A function band’s role is not just to turn up and play music, that’s only one aspect of what should be provided.

When you book a band for what is a very important occasion, it’s important to know that you are dealing with people who not only have a great live sound, but also know how to deal with of all the other aspects of providing successful event entertainment. Booking a band is a big investment, and you can’t afford not to know who you’re dealing with; only finding out on the day is too late.

Most people looking for bands listen mainly to the demos online, but that doesn’t tell you how good the band actually is at managing all aspects of their environment on the day so that everything works well. Searching through agents give you lots of choices, but (sorry to say this) most of them don’t actually know much about musicians or event management and usually even less about a bands ability to provide good service as with any other event supplier. Good wedding planners and event managers know this from experience.

When you search online you’re confronted with thousands of bands all claiming to be something special, agencies that promise you an amazing choice, and some have great sites and demos, others not so great. But to use the BBC documentary title – “Behind the music” is often what counts. So when you’ve identified your favourites, always talk to the bandleaders before booking to ensure they “get” the following points:

  • Planning and discussing beforehand so as to get an understanding of client’s expectations, liaising with the venue and other suppliers. That will make all the difference on the day to the smooth running of the event.
  • Efficient logistics, e.g. access to the venue, when best to set up and where, get-in times, equipment, lighting, set lengths and timings, stage area, and so on.
  • Constantly checking on the day with the organisers/venue manager/caterers to make sure the band’s timings are coordinated and making sure that whatever the band does is tailored to best suit the program and keep things flowing smoothly.
  • Knowing how to work an audience, being aware of what’s happening in the room and responding to the mood of the moment to ensure they are having a good time throughout. There are non-stop dancing crowds, dance and sit’n listen crowds, guests who are not dancers so want to listen, chilled events where dancing is not on the agenda, and so on. Each event is different and each person has their own way of enjoying the party, and it’s important for the bandleader to be able to read the room.
  • One of the most important ingredients for any band is the setlist -this can make or break a party. Not just the style of music, but which particular songs to play at different times, based on reading the audience and the mood. It’s important to be able to switch styles at a moments notice, rearrange the order of songs, play special requests, or change the setlist timings so that the music actually works for the mood of the crowd.

Too many bands, especially the many hobby bands found online, (also known as weekend warriors) think that being booked for a wedding is just about turning up and playing the songs they like (and feeling cool on stage) – but ensuring that things run smoothly behind the scenes, knowing what works logistically at different times and having the experience to deal with any situation on or off stage is critical to you. So in other words, the bandleader needs to be a musical event planner as well as a musician.

Of course I would love you to book us. As a bandleader and performer, I care deeply about providing top-class entertainment and customer service second to none, and a memorable event.

But whoever you choose, always try to talk with the bandleader before making a decision. You will get a clearer idea of how good they are at providing an all round service and know whether they understand your vision. When you are satisfied they know their stuff, then (and only then)…book them. You will thank yourself later.