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. Music Makes The Party
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It's an old saying, but it's becoming more popular and moving towards the fore front of any wedding conversation. Opinions may vary on the single most important factor concerning the success of a party, but mine always sides with the "quality of the music." From the hundreds of bands and entertainment companies in our area- how does a busy couple go about choosing the right band? I will try to give you some easy steps to follow:
  1. Determine a realistic music budget. In reality you are dealing with a broad price range ( $3,000 - $15,000 ) give or take. Let's dig deeper....
  2. What kind of Location did you choose? Catering Hall, Castle, Mansion, Yacht, Country Club, Restaurant, Air Craft Carrier?
  3. How many guests are you planning to have attend?
  4. What kind of music do you like? What kind of music will actually work for you guests overall?
  5. Will the band physically be able to fit in the allocated set up space?
  6. The Volume issue...
  7. Audition the Bandleader....
  8. CD & pictures, Videos, Showcases....
  9. Contracts
  10. The final commitment

Now that you have booked your Location and have a feeling of the room, you can imagine the type of band you will start to look for. You also have an idea of the number of guests as well. Let's start with a moderate size room. Look at the space the band will be performing in. (Many Locations can accommodate a 8-10 piece band). Ask your Caterer for opinions as well. For a larger wedding of 150-200 guests or more, you are probably better off with an 9 piece band unit and up, but check with your Caterer.

What do you like vs. what can you afford? You may fall in love with a band that is price wise a bit out of your reach. Think about allocating more towards the music end while trimming back on the others. It will most likely pay off big time, for the better, in the end.

So, what kind of music do you like? Is this also what your guests will like as well? Why not ask them? Think about it.... Look in your CD collection. Will the different age groups appreciate your selections? Include some of your songs in with a wider music mix. Ask you bandleader he may know something after all!


The Audition process . . .

This is the toughest phase of all.... So many choices, variables, sounds, faces, names. Hey, why do all the bands play the same songs? Hold on! Let's back up. You call a phone number from a Magazine or e-mail someone on the Internet. How did it go? Was your e-mail responded to in a timely and friendly manner? Who did you speak to on the phone... a secretary, booking agent, the owner? What kind of impression did you get at that time? First reactions are usually correct. Start your elimination process right here.

Next... Meet The Bands... Some offices go by "brand name" and show clients pictures while playing a CD for them. Other offices invite clients to a 20 minute showcase or live venue. The last scenario is a private appointment. Which do you feel most comfortable with?


Next . . . Auditioning the Bandleader...

Doesn't it make sense to you, to talk directly to the person who will ultimately be in charge of running your party? You can accomplish a lot here. Ask your questions. If volume is a concern, mention it to the bandleader because he is the one in control of the band. Period! What is his reaction and response? Remember, first impressions rule! Was he/she a good listener? How was his demeanor? Were your questions answered correctly and to your liking? Do you think he was capable and knew what he was talking about? Were you thinking... gee what a nice guy, or... this guy is a little full of himself?

You will probably see a video next. This could be a good first step for any couple if the meeting went well. Voila- you have a basic introduction. Now you have the option to book the band, or if you need more assurance, then go and see the band live.


Signing on the dotted line . . .

There is no standard contract. Each office will have their own terms, conditions and fee schedules. Go over the text, clauses, insurance requirements and decide whether this is a fair contract. Here is where the client reserves the band for their date and the band reserves the client as well. It's a mutual agreement- written in good faith.


Back to step 1.

Pricing structures are diverse- where some offices charge by the band member while some charge by the band. Say you are presented with a 6 piece band X $500 per member = $3000. Or a 9 piece band for $6000 = $666. per member. It's still kind of in the same ballpark. Now, what if you were given a price of $10,000 for a 10 piece band. Are you OK with that? It all boils down to your budget and of course the band itself. No set rules here, just personal choices. You do have the right to question this...

"What am I actually buying?" Am I buying music or paying for company overhead as well?

Last thoughts... Some people have trouble deciding and making that final commitment when booking a band and other vendors. Sometimes procrastinating is not the best idea because you may lose your first choice and be left with your second choice. If you like a band- Book them! Also, seeing too many bands is confusing. After seeing 12 bands- will you remember band number 6? Word of mouth and recommendations are powerful tools as well as collecting as much information as possible. Talk to friends and relatives who have already gone through the wedding process. The object here is to keep it simple and keep the stress level down. The bride and groom should be on the "same page" with all issues concerning their wedding. Remember- The day goes by all to fast - why not enjoy it?

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.

Good Luck

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Lou Drucker is the bandleader of Kameleon)
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