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Bass-ic Questions for Guys in Wedding Bands

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by MatticusMania, Nov 26, 2012.


  1. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Pomona, SoCal
    Hi all,
    I was recently approached to join up with a band that performs cover songs at Weddings, and having seen more than a few people on this site who are involved in similar situations, I thought Id ask a few questions, if any of you care to answer...

    I know a lot of work gets put into performing at someones Wedding, Ive heard anywhere from 10-15 hours in a day. Thats a long day, but could easily be worth it when you go home with a nice check in your pocket.

    - Typically, how many hours do you put in for a gig like this? Travel, set-up, sound check, set time, etc?

    - What is the pay like? And do you feel the pay is worth your time and effort? Is there a minimum amount of pay you are willing to work for?

    - How often are you booked on your busiest and least busy months?

    - How long are your sets and how many do you play? Additionally, how many songs do you know?

    Above are some starter questions, I may ask a few more down the line if anything pops into my head. And thanks in advance to everyone!

    Matt
     
  2. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    I been everywhere, man...
    Disclosures:
    I used 10" and 15" speakers in the same rig for over 10 years.
    -Wedding gigs are typically four hours, some parties might go for an extra hour. Travel on the front end of the job depends on the distances involved, of course, and afterwards can be open ended, unless the hall has to clear you out for another event.

    -Pay varies for myriad reasons, just like the rest of real life. Weddings must pay more than a regular gig for me to consider it.

    -A busy wedding band can have several jobs in one weekend. Typically, spring and summer months are the busiest, and December can pick up with Christmas parties. January and February are typically the slowest months.

    -Sets are usually 45 on, 15 off. Dinner may be included, depends in the arrangements made beforehand, and/or contract.

    -There's maybe 40 or 50 tunes that every wedding band must know, without exceptions. There may be request songs from the couple. Most wedding bands have a catalog of hundreds of tunes in their book for prospective clients to choose from. Many players know most of these tunes if they've done this a long time, but it's ok to break out sheet music on occasion.

    This is how it works in the NYC area, it might be different in other locales.
     
  3. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    White Plains
    Lets' see...

    - I would typically put in roughly 6-7 hours per day. Show up 1-2 hours early, play for 4, then tear down for 1 or less. Different venues have different requirements as to how early you need to be in this area.

    -Anywhere from $500-$1500 depending on where it was, how many band members played, and whether it was an even split. Sometimes the band would charge almost $10K (rare) for a full night with cocktail hour music, and we'd only have 5 guys. Westchester County NY can have it's merits.

    -Busiest: Usually at least twice per weekend, sometimes three. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Least Busy: 0. Weddings can be very seasonal, most are between May and October.

    -Sets varied on the wedding. Overall we figured on 4-5 hours of music typically. I knew probably 300 songs from memory with another 200 or so that I could sight read from a chart. Some other guys know a lot more right off the top of their head.

    Overall, it was good money and I'd like to get back into it one of these days. Ideally, I'd love to be in a super busy wedding/corporate type band...enough so that I could feel comfortable having it as my main source of income and not work a "normal" job.
     
  4. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin
    - Typically, how many hours do you put in for a gig like this? Travel, set-up, sound check, set time, etc? Varies because we play all over the state and into IL, IA and MN, but 10-14 hours, travel time included is not unusual

    - What is the pay like? And do you feel the pay is worth your time and effort? Is there a minimum amount of pay you are willing to work for? $250 per man starting. Nothing less, typically $25-250 more depending on the above.

    - How often are you booked on your busiest and least busy months? On our own personal choice, we only accept 1-2 bookings per month.

    - How long are your sets and how many do you play? Additionally, how many songs do you know? 3 sets with 2 15-20 min breaks. Our master songlist is about 160. We use charts when we do live jazz for the cocktail hour if asked.
     
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  6. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
  7. electracoyote

    electracoyote

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Location:
    Purple Mountain Majesties
    To do it right, it's usually an all-day sucker, no matter how you slice it. The wider your radius, the more business you can garner. We work our travel fee into our rate for long-distance gigs, and if a return trip after the show is unreasonable, we will even ask the client to supplement an overnight stay.

    I try to book my weddings for at least $300.00 per member. We're a seven piece. We have occasionally worked for a little less, but I try not to undersell the band. It's a long day, there is a lot of prep work, and we are wedding experts, meaning we go way above and beyond just setting up and playing music.

    Once you work yourself into that upper eschelon of true wedding MC/co-host/entertainer, you can work every weekend all year long. The bands that are really good at this and can sustain the effort long enough to get a good reputation and client base are few and far between.

    Here's the good news: Most wedding receptions are on very tight timelines, and my bands average around 2.5 hours of after-dinner music. I promise my clients non-stop music, so sometimes we play during dinner, sometimes I bring a loaded laptop with DJ software and DJ cocktail/dinner hour and perhaps a short break if the band plays long enough.

    The real questions you want to ask: What material does my wedding band need to learn to make us competitive, and how do I convince musicians to go this route? Do I need to be a wedding expert to be competitive in this market, and what role will my band play in the time-honored traditions a typical wedding presents?
     
  8. SeaBassSteve

    SeaBassSteve

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    Some good stuff from other people above
    We are a specialist 80s wedding band ( more functions than weddings tho
    Answers below !

    Depends on if we need our sound guy , how much stuff we are taking and if we need to be set up early. Sometimes 9am -> 1 am. Sometimes 7pm to 11pm. Varies.
    PAy is ok depending on the time it takes. Sometimes you realise you are getting less than minimum hourly wage ( uk here) sometimes great.
    Typically minimum of $150 per person ( 5 pc band) plus sound man fee plus a further share for band fund ( buying PA etc ) depending in gig there may be a booking fee distributed to the appropriate person. ( 10% , also applies to family and friend of they get us bookings )
    Distance and or accommodation factored in too.
    [ /quote]

    - How often are you booked on your busiest and least busy months?

    We zometimes do twice a week in summer but try not to do more than 50 ish gigs a year as we all need some family time etc

    - How long are your sets and how many do you play? Additionally, how many songs do you know?
    2-3 hours typically. Song base bit small st the mo(~ 60) but increasing every week over winter
     
  9. Stingray5

    Stingray5

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2000
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Usually about and 8 hour day

    $300-$500 - for a wedding, and for what I have to do, this is worth it.

    Busiest month for my band in the past was 8-10 gigs a month, least busy month would be 2-3. Currently we average 6. Not all weddings though

    3 one hour sets usually, sometimes 3rd set can go an hour and a half. sometimes anything goes.

    I probably know about 200 songs, familiar enough with a lot more, and can fake the rest to get by..
     
  10. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Pomona, SoCal
    Thanks for the info guys! Im not sure why, but I thought you guys were making closer to a $500 average or so.
    Do any of you make a living doing Wedding/Corporate gigs or do you do bar gigs or other nonband work as well?
    How do you book your weddings? Do any of you go through an agency or is it someone in your band who does booking?
     
  11. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2011
    Location:
    Knoxville
    $500 is about the minimum I make with a four-person band in East TN for typically an 8-hour day. People never understand schedule, overrun their time with speeches and leave us with about 2 hours to actually play sometimes, but we have to load in early enough to not be visible for the (usually onsite) ceremony, and we always have an ipod playing music.

    In peak season (May-June) we'll have one or two weddings per weekend. We turn down a lot of gigs, so it could be more, but we have other bands and/or other jobs. That said, weddings pay my mortgage and bar gigs give me spending money.
     
  12. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2011
    Location:
    Knoxville
    We book through word of mouth mostly from our bar gigs, and often through word of mouth from other weddings. One of the guitar players handles the communication with the client until we work out a deal, the other guitar player handles the contract and questionnaire/technical info exchange.

    We recently started working with a booking person that only books for wedding venues. She negotiates her percentage on top of our regular take, so we'll see how that progresses. Otherwise, we still do everything ourselves.
     
  13. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Pomona, SoCal
    Right on, thats more along the lines of what I was thinking.

    Do you cover the whole wedding? Like music playing while people are being seated pre-ceremony, and then those other various wedding moments, like the entrance of the bridal party, etc?
     
  14. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2011
    Location:
    Knoxville

    Almost never anything related to the ceremony itself, unless they contract separately for that. We are strictly entertainment for the reception.
     
  15. F-Clef-Jef

    F-Clef-Jef

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Location:
    Neenah, WI
    Weddings can be very challenging! Reading the crowd, pleasing the parents (especially the moms) who are generally footing the bill, playing some strange requests, playing some pretty crappy requested music in general... and it gets real weird when there is a wedding planner involved. They tend to get very very detail oriented, that can be frustrating. Also, most weddings require you to be set up and out of sight before dinner guests arrive, which can make for a very long day. In the end, I always feel like I earned every penny. (We generally make $400 - $600 per guy) We are not a "Wedding" band, although we do play quite a few.
     
  16. pklima

    pklima

    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Kraków, Polska
    This post isn't going to be very helpful to anyone but wow, you Westerners have it easy. Wedding gigs here usually involve playing for 6 hours at the very very least, often more like 6 PM to 4 AM. Longest anyone I know has played was 16 hours.
     
  17. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Location:
    Just south of Atlanta!
    If you ever need a sub, feel free to hit me up :D
     
  18. stingray2112

    stingray2112

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Location:
    Mechanicsville, Virginia
    I didn't know wedding bands made that much money. I know a lot of work goes into them and I'm sure you have to deal with a bunch of BS from clients.
     
  19. electracoyote

    electracoyote

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Location:
    Purple Mountain Majesties
    Some bands have wedding gigs sort of fall in their laps from time to time, but if you want to make it the staple, or make a decent living at it like I did for about 10 years doing both live and DJ upscale gigs, the client and the referals they can offer are EVERYTHING. I worked every weekend without spending a dime on advertising beyond a website and some business cards, purely referal-based. When I worked solo, I walked away with the entire fee (usually $1,500-$2,000), but I would invest around 30 hours in each client on average from the initial sales call until I got home, exhausted, from the event. The planning phase is critical and can be very detail-oriented. You're often being charged with delivering on someone's once-in-a-lifetime event.

    It pays to learn as much as you can about the type of events where you intend to entertain, what the competition is doing, and how to make the client's dream day come true.

    It's a complex business.
     

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