Ask The Bandleader
Web Site: KameleonOrchestras.com
New York Metroweddings is proud to introduce Lou Drucker, the Bandleader for Kameleon and one of New York's top bandleaders.
In this column we give some practical advice, or answer any questions concerning the music at your affair. Lou has been in the music business for 15 years and has worked in the top rooms in N.Y and the tri-state area, from Tavern on the Green to the Westhampton Bath and Tennis club. He was part of a large Wedding Office for the first 10 years and now has his own independant music office. He has had experience in leading all types of upscale parties including weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and corporate events. This has put him in the unique position of viewing how different kinds of affairs are run "from the inside", so if you have any questions "Ask The Bandleader".
Remember, a good rapport with the bandleader is the key to your parties success!
The topic of discussion for this month is;
How to Choose the Right Band
Finding the right band can be like trying to find "A needle in a haystack." In this article I hope to help with your search...
The first thing to do is have this information ready:
- The date and location of your party.
- Approximately how many guests will you be having?
- What is your Budget for music?
- What type of music are you looking for?
- Do you need music for the ceremony and cocktail hour?
Beginning your search
- The fact that you are reading this tells me that you already know how helpful the internet can be in facilitating your search. You can look up various music companies and download sound or video clips, as well as see a photo of the bands or entertainers. By using the internet first, you can also e-mail potential candidates before giving out personal information.
- Recommendation: Getting a recommendation from a friend who has recently heard or used a band is a good starting point for music selection.
- Bridal Magazines: Here you have a mind boggling offering of every possible type of music since the dawn of time, all saying pretty much the same thing. Who do you call first? Toss of the dice!
- The most important question to ask is "how many bands does your company represent?" Many large wedding offices have 2-20 bands playing many weddings per weekend! A lot to keep track of!
- Most independent bands focus on playing one wedding per day.
- Who are you speaking with when you call? A secretary? A salesman? A booking agent? Or the business owner/ bandleader?
- Did you receive fast, courteous service?
- Were your questions answered to your satisfaction?
- Was the person who you were speaking to knowledgeable?
- Did you get a comfortable feeling?
Pricing and budget...
The pricing can vary greatly from band to band ranging from $2,500 - $14,000 (ball park). 2 Door Spec/Rolls Royce Syndrome? Not exactly. You can get an excellent independent band somewhere in the middle range price wise. Your music budget should reflect on the importance you place on the quality of band. Try to allocate a little extra for a better band. Remember, "The Music makes or breaks the party!"
Where are you really paying for?
If you are planning to hire a band from a large office, a large portion of your money is being used to pay for their overhead: office rent, staff payroll, administrative fees, commissions and partner profits. The percentage of monies that go to the musicians are less than 50%. Since many couples are seeking value, they are booking independent bands where their money will go to the musicians, thus buying equal or better talent and superior service.
The next step...
- Set up private appointments with your top choices. A one on one meeting with the bandleader/owner is a smart idea. This will give you the opportunity to get to know the person who will be running your party. (this is my preference).
- Live showcases: many bands showcase to prove they are a true entity, and try to make you believe that "this is how we will sound at your wedding." Unfortunately this all is happening in a false environment with no comparison to an actual wedding atmosphere. For this reason some of the "higher-end" bands do not showcase.
- Seeing live at an affair: Inviting a couple down to see a band at someone else's wedding is not up to the bandleader; it is up to the caterer and the bride and groom. This method can be effective with the proper permission only.
- Viewing a video: if you are impressed with a band's video, this will give you a correct indication that the band will be great live. "Will the people in the video be the same at our party?" If the bandleader/ owner is reputable, the answer is Yes!
- Go by your gut feeling!
Once you have compared your final choices ,go over all of your data to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
- Can your band provide you with professional ceremony and/or cocktail music?
- How many musicians will be performing at ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception?
- Does the band rehearse? How often?
- Will the band learn your first dance and other requests if they do not know them?
- Do you feel confident and comfortable with the bandleader?
Now that you have come close to a final decision, do not procrastinate or second guess yourself! Book your band! Do it! Many couples have lost their first choice and were left with second best. This is a first come- first serve Industry on a deposit/reservation basis. If you like 'em . . . book 'em!
I hope this article has touched upon some relevant topics, has given you some insider info, and has answered important questions. Feel free to E-mail me with any other thoughts or comments you may have.
(bandleader of Kameleon Orchestras)
Bands vs. DJs
Now this is a controversial topic! In this column I will try to address some obvious issues, some pros and cons, and guidelines to consider for the type of party you are planning. Please keep in mind that the point of this column is to provide ( in my opinion ), truthful information, which may help you reach the correct decision.
During the mid 80's, D.J.'s took the Bar/Bat Mitzvah circuit by storm setting a new standard in party entertainment. D.J's had the package that appealed to kids: High Energy M.C.'s, Techno Dance Sounds, Dancers, Light Shows, Giveaways, and Audience Interaction. The kids were occupied- the parents were happy! It was a new sensation! In the Wedding Market, Bands still had the major share. However, due to the D.J. phenomenon, Bands realized that the times were changing and must evolve to survive.
Enter the mid-90's. Bands are back! Today's new breed of Bands have changed their formats by: upgrading their sound systems, sharpened their look, expanded their repertoire, and tightened up their act by rehearsing. The top Bands have the ability to sound like the original recording, and also have packages which include Dancers, M.C.'s, Giveaways, etc. Also, Band/D.J. combos are gaining in popularity everywhere!
Word on the Street: Perspective clients tell me that they are getting tired of the "One - dimensional atmosphere" provided by a D.J. alone. They want the versatility of mood that a live Band can provide. People want a great mix of music so all of their guests, from every generation, will be involved in the party. "For the same reasons people enjoy going to concerts, they enjoy being entertained by talented musicians!"
In Summary: Depending on your Budget and taste in entertainment, consider the following choices: For a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the right Band or D.J. will be great. a Band/D.J. Combo is even better. For a mid-high end Wedding or Corporate Party a Band is always the preferred choice. If Budget is your main concern choose a D.J.
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