Many folks only hire a band a few times in their life. Perhaps for your wedding day, a special party, or for an event your corporation is planning. In today's world, with so many choices in front of you - how do you know when you're really getting the best?
We think you should expect unwavering professionalism for the entire duration of your event and an absolute commitment to excellence.
The band's primary concern should be to make your time easy and enjoyable - from that first point of contact via email or phone til after the lights go out at the end of the event. With that in mind, the band should partner with you to make a smooth experience musically and logistically. No matter what, they should be part of the solution.
Good band members are enthusiastic about what they do and natural talents who have put in the work to develop their skills. They should be great performers, on voice or instruments, who love entertaining and love to share this joy with the crowd. Make sure to look for a band that has experience as well as professionalism. A big repertoire and band size that's flexible can help customize the music to the exact needs of your event. A band that has variety can meet the style you're dreaming of: whether cool jazz or hot rock, Latin rhythms or quirky cabaret.
It's up to you which type of song list you want the band to pull from. Consider the following major genres, or do your own research to narrow in specifically on the type of music you are imagining: Great American Song Book, Contemporary Hits, Sounds of Motown, Party Rock, Jazz/Swing/Ragtime, Rhythm & Blues, Latin Favorites, Slow Dances, Society Standards & Broadway Hits, etc.
A band should combine substance, versatility and style to create a sound that is customized for your event. Just because your event is small, it doesn't need to sound that way! Sharing the same interactive style and play list as the full-size band, a condensed version of a band can be a perfect match for events where smaller spaces or budgets are a concern.
To sum it up:
-Expect the band to be on time.
-Expect the style of music you want (provided you've had clear communication with the band ahead of time, and that the band is able to provide it).
-You should expect the band to be good and look/sound/feel like you experience them on their website or YouTube. -The band will probably take requests, but not necessarily.
-You should expect the band to play for the agreed upon length of time (a standard gig is typically around three hours), but don't be surprised if they take two or three short breaks (typically 10-15 minutes) between "sets."
-On breaks, most hosts invite the band to eat with the guests. Whether or not the band eats, you should still expect them to be courteous and professional (i.e. smoking only in designated areas, appropriately socializing with guests). Just because the band is on break doesn't mean there has to be no music, though! Agree in advance who is responsible to run an iPod as "DJ" during those short times so the flow of the event can continue as the band takes a short breather.
-It's ok to ask the band to go overtime for an additional fee, but it's a good idea to let them know in advance that this is a possibility. Otherwise, they simply may not be available due to other commitments.
The band won't solve all the problems. If you book a venue for 1,000 but only expect 200 people at your event, there's not much the band can do to make your party feel intimate. If the flowers show up an hour later than scheduled and you hold the start time of the event for this, remember that the contract with the band is offered for a specific time (7-10pm) not length of time (3 hours). If you start late, you can still expect the band to end at the originally agreed upon time, unless you pay them for overtime. Additionally, if a drunk cousin gets up to make a 30-minute wedding toast, it's not the band's responsibility to kick them off stage. Have a wedding planner or family member keep an eye on this as well, and the band will recommence playing as soon as they get a "go ahead" from whoever is in charge.
Most importantly, remember that for the band - this is business. The band is there to provide a service (live music) to a client for money. A good band knows who to answer to, and if you're planning an event you should be clear about this as well. If a controlling mother-in-law has demanded only classic rock 'n' roll from the 50's & 60's and she's paying the bill, you better believe that no matter what the "feel of the crowd" is, that's what they'll provide.
No matter what, you can have the exact band you want! Be specific, dream big, communicate frequently and clearly, and expect the best.
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