Wedding bands and party bands these days seem to be plentiful and the competition for wedding and corporate clients among bands is fierce. Knowing the right questions is critical when shopping them. There are a lot of blog posts out there about what to ask, but the following are real nuts a bolts questions that are critical to your event's success.
When a party band quotes you a rate that may seem too high or too low, many things need to be considered. The 'level' or tier that the bands you're considering hiring is a very important factor. If a band is too cheap (too good to be true), there's likely a good reason for that. If they're cost is outrageously high, there may be a good reason for that as well. In some cases, both highs and lows in prices are justified. In others, you may be paying more for no substance or a legacy band name that is very comparable to other bands in the area.
InVersion Band prides itself in mixing a large eleven piece band of highly talented artists, while maintaining an industry average, reasonable cost. Our overhead is lower than most of the big-box bands out there and we certainly pass that savings on to the client. Here is a quick list of of questions and explanation of each item to ask your band to make sure your party doesn't come to a screeching halt in the middle of your wedding or company party.
- Gear redundancy: Does your band have backups? Just like in any business, backups are critical. Your band should have an extra of everything required to perform at your shows. Successful working party bands play anywhere between 60 and 140 shows per year. Moving the equipment around (as opposed to a venue installation of sound and lighting gear) takes a heavy toll on equipment. The most important pieces of equipment to ask your band if they have backup gear are: mixer / mixing console, sub and top speakers, laptops used in lighting or sequence tracks (this is critical as laptops fail frequently), and last but not least plentiful microphones and cables in case one or two may malfunction at showtime.
- Substitute musicians: Things sometimes happen! Yes they do. Musicians sometimes think of themselves as super heroes, but alas they get sick, have family issues, and general life issues that may demand they substitute a show. Verify that your band leader can substitute critical personnel such as singers, drummers, etc. on short notice and that those people adequately know their show. After all, when you hired the band, you want the same show you hired. Make sure your band leader is well connected enough to be able to product a quality product with one or more people out.
- Where and who are they playing for currently: If your prospective party band has nothing on their schedule, you most likely need to NOT walk away, but RUN AWAY as quickly as you can. Most bands in Dallas will have club showcases or other venues that allow you to comes see them. If a band isn't playing anywhere over a month or two, you may want to expand your search to those that are on the current club circuit.
- Lighting: Lighting in itself can be a valuable add-on to the band's performance. Band lighting can cost the band leader anywhere between $500 to $1000 per show, if they don't own their own lighting. Even if they do own their own lighting rig, setup costs are involved. Make sure that the lighting that you're seeing in the band's promotional video, etc., is the same lighting that they're going to bring to your wedding or event.
- Who runs sound for the band?: Sound men are in short supply around the north Texas area. Good ones are hard to find. Aside from the gear redundancy aspect, make sure that your bandleader is familiar with their sound personnel, they are reputable, and the band as worked with them prior. Even if the sound personnel are fantastic, you do not want the band to be working with a sound technician that is brand new to them and / or not familiar with the band. There are a myriad of things that can go wrong during a show. A competent and observant sound man can head off the majority of them prior to even being known to the audience. Knowing the band and their optimum setup is the best case scenario. Untested / unknown sound personnel may not only not sound good, but have been known to show up late, have faulty equipment, or just not show up at all. Obviously, the latter would be a show stopper.
- Ask the band for their set list. All bands have a master list of songs they've played throughout the years. Band leaders are excellent at reading a room and determining what is working at the venue. If you have objections to certain songs or songs that you really want them to play that are on their list, make sure to tell the band leader. Bands certainly don't want to play songs that the bride or groom have objections over. Then, let them do the rest of the playlist. Being too restrictive of play lists may prevent the band from entertaining everyone of all ages at your wedding or corporate event.
- Most bands will even learn first dance songs if you give them the material far enough out. It's important to give the band at least 30 days to learn new material. Most bands will have a rehearsal to work out the details of your new requests.
Study the band's rider and what they need. Below are a few more points on what most bands will require.
- Adequate playing space is crucial for your band. If you're hiring a band that's more than 3 pieces, your band is going to need at least a 14 x 24 foot area (or thereabouts) to play, dance, and put on a good show. Cramming the band in a corner of your venue will substantially decrease their ability to move around / execute choreography, and lessen their general energy level displayed to your guests.
- Band Meals: Most likely, your band is going to be there for at least 6 hours. Some of the band members and setup crew will be there from 8 to 10 hours. It's customary to feed them. This should be factored in to your overall budget. Most bands aren't picky and don't necessarily need to have the same meal your guests are having. But a warm meal is customary and appreciated.
- Power requirements: Bands of any size with lighting, etc., will need three or more, 20 amp power outlets. You'll want to speak with your venue to make sure this is possible and about getting a consolidated power supply ran to the stage. This will make sure that the band doesn't have to run extension cables across the room and tape them down to venue's floor. This is unsightly and you certainly don't want taped down cables showing up in your wedding photos.
InVersion Band at Perot Museum