Wedding or birthday party on a budget
Cost of a live band
Most people have no idea what to expect band hire prices to be. 'How much does it cost to hire a band' is a common question. Unless you're in the business there is no reason why anyone should know. Furthermore the cost to hire a string quartet is considerably different to the cost of hiring a large jazz band and even more different if you're hiring a function or covers band. Part of the cost difference is due to the equipment that is used, as with a large function band, but it is largely to do with tradition and competition.
It is interesting what people guess att. I think some people think that because a musician ‘plays’ an instrument and ‘plays’ music that they view musicians as playing games. They don't view a jazz band or a barn dance band as a way of earning a living. The better off people are, the more this is a problem. (Doctors, Lawyers, financial institutions)
On our enquiry form we ask people to give their budget limit. This isn't so that we can charge them more for a band if they put a high limit and charge less for the same band if they put a low limit. That would be dishonest. The price of our band is set by the band itself and that is the price that we quote irrespective of who the person is we are quoting to. (We don't go in for the flexible pricing policy that seems to be coming prevalent with a big retailers, that has been so much in the news recently.)
Compare price for a small jazz band with a large jazz band
The reason that we ask what's a person's budget is, is so that we can make sure that we quote appropriate bands. If someone has a low budget there is no sense in us quoting them a seven piece jazz band, so we would suggest a Jazz trio or duo. If they have a high budget, then we'll still let them know that there are smaller groups at lower cost, but we will also include some higher priced larger groups simply because they could afford them and may prefer the bigger sound.
What asking for a budget does demonstrate to us is how difficult it is for a person not involved in the music business to gauge the price of a band. This is why we give an indication of the range of cost of each band on our website. Although it does take into account travel costs for that band to the location they are being shown against, it is only an approximate indication of what the price is as there are many things including time, precise geographic location and so on that affect the price and we can only give an accurate price for the band once a person has filled in the information we asked for on an enquiry form. However, it gives personal an idea of whether a band is going to be £300 or £3,000 and they can get some indication of what they can afford before they send their enquiry. Nevertheless it is amazing how many enquiries we still get expecting a band to perform for an evening, including travel, for £50 a person.
Why do people come up with such way off the mark price ideas when everyone must have had a plumber at some time in their lives and knows that just the hourly rate for even a plumber is more than this. How much would 4 plumbers for 4 hours cost! Perhaps it is because many musicians and music groups who are purely amateur and not playing music for a living, will give free concerts. Even some professional groups will occasionally give free concerts if it allows them to play the kind of music that they like, but which is not commercially attractive.
For example a friend of mine sings in a choir that is probably one of the top choirs in the country. They sing regularly at places like St Paul's Cathedral, Liverpool Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and so on, but they don't get paid. The Queen never puts her hand in her pocket pay for them. (ummm!) Why do they do this? I'm not entirely sure. I think it is because the choir sings music which is not commercially popular for events like weddings and parties, or even formal concerts. It may be wonderful music, but it is rather verified. Musicians want to sing this kind of music and in return they are given the opportunity to sing it in some amazing places. So that is the trade off. They certainly wouldn't do it for free at a wedding venue.
What determines the price of a barn dance band or price of a ceilidh band?
Other musicians, like folk musicians, often go to folk festivals and perform for nothing. However this tends to be the more amateur musicians and bands, because the Folk Bands who are hired to do the main spots at music festivals get paid a very decent amount. Again for these musicians, it is a trade off. They get to be a major part of a fun weekend or week folk festival, which they enjoy. They're perhaps not of the standard that could do top paid spots at the festival, but they are happy, it is a trade off. (Having said this, I must say that some amateur musicians are as good as professions, but this is not generally the case. and it is not in any way to decrying less good musicians. Music is about enjoyment, sometimes it is about playing it for others people's enjoyment, but often it is for playing for one's own enjoyment and that is equally valid and equally worthwhile. But here at the agency we are of course focused on music for people's weddings and parties, dinners and banquets and corporate events. All events which are extremely important and where the music must be right.
It is different for the musicians on our website who play for weddings and parties. They have to be of a standard that is suitable for such events. They have to be reliable and professional. They are doing this, normally as part of their living, together with perhaps music teaching from local authorities education services, recording engineers and sound engineers, or other work which possibly has nothing to do with music. I remember being surprised by one of the musicians in an extremely good string quartet. They had all the best music qualifications, worked as an orchestral musician, but she wasn't always available to play. I discovered the reason was that she is a camera woman for one of the Night-Time shopping channels. It amazes me, but then being a musician is not a financially lucrative job for 99.999 percent of musicians. Camera woman was well paid. It enabled her to spend at least some of her working life working at the job she really enjoyed. So it all comes down to money in the end. The musician have to make a decent living for all the work and skill that they have developed. They are on a budget just as much as the person who is organising a party for charity event and wedding has a budget that they have to live within. Only when the two budgets marry up is their success.
What determines the cost of a string quartet?
Another Example is a string quartet who used to be on our website. They made big time when they won an international music competition. They now have many CD's on Naxos and other recording labels and give recitals around the UK and the rest of the world. They will be making a very decent living, though not anywhere near what a lawyer or one of the very few top of the pop pop bands will be getting, but a decent living nevertheless. It was a struggle from them to get there, and they had to survive between music college and moving into the international League. Our agency helped them to earn at least a moderate living between weddings and parties and their other activities of playing in the London symphony orchestras and giving specialist recitals around the UK.
My reaction when I see adverts for cheap bands for hire is to wonder what kind of people are being offered. It depends of course what you mean by cheap. A Porsche at £100,000 will be cheap to a few people in the world who are used to buying half million pound supercars, but for most of us cheap means very cheap, very low cost. If you want a cheap string quartet or cheap jazz band or cheap ceilidh / barn dance band or barn dance band, where cheap is in the sense of Poundstretcher cheap, then forget it. Get yourself a CD and a crummy CD player. That is cheap. If this is not what you mean by cheap then perhaps the more appropriate term would be low cost bands, good value bands or budget bands. This is seen in search terms such as low cost bands for hire and budget bands hire.