Many people have never booked live entertainment before and therefore we get a lot of questions. The following information is designed to give you an idea of how the process works, what to expect and to help you understand our philosophy and approach. Our job is two fold: to find you the best entertainment possible and take the fear and confusion out of the process.
How long should I wait to book a band?
Entertainment is one of the most important aspects of a successful wedding and is not something to leave to the last minute. On average, most bands book about 6 to 12 months in advance for popular wedding dates. Top bands may book as many as 2 years in advance. The earlier you start looking for a band, the more choices you will have available. Since band availability can literally change from day to day, it is seldom advantageous to take more than a month to book a band
What is required to book band?
A signed contract and deposit is needed to secure a band. Deposit amounts are normally one third to one half of the total cost of the group. Out of fairness to all clients, temporary holds may not be placed on specific bands. The only way to take a group off the market is by delivery of a signed contract along with a deposit to Murray Hill Talent.
ABOUT BAND PRICING
Bands set their own rates. The principle factor that determines a band’s rate is supply and demand (i.e. more popular bands generally get more money for their services). Very often bands become popular because they have the best musicians playing with them and, understandably, top players demand the most money. Another factor that can affect rate is the number of members in a group (including stage and sound crew). Also, most bands charge premium fees for Saturday evenings, since these are the dates most in demand. The industry standard states that, “an evening wedding is a wedding that the band starts at 7:30pm or later.” A day wedding will generally begin before noon, with the music finishing no later than 5:00pm.
Can the band that I hire for the reception play for my ceremony too?Most of our reception bands can also provide music for your ceremony. This usually means a stripped down form of the ensemble, such as solo piano, trumpet, or sax. The types of combinations will vary from band to band. Many clients prefer specialty musicians or classical ensembles such as strings, brass, harpists, vocalists, classical guitarists, or bagpipers for their ceremony. Murray Hill Talent has a full roster of top ceremony musicians to meet every clients needs.
What about my cocktail hour?
In many cases, clients will are able utilize the reception musicians from the band they hire, which is often times less expensive than hiring a separate group. In other words, musicians that are hired for your ceremony may also be used for your cocktail hour, in addition to your reception. Again, Murray Hill Talent represents an amalgamation of differently styled cocktail musicians to meet every ones needs. Remember to keep in mind that the logistics of a ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception may play a big part in determining what is best suited for your event.
The standard booking time for dance bands is 4 hours. Generally speaking bands will not discount their rates if you hire them for only 3 hours. Ceremony and cocktail musicians usually base around 1 and 2 hour blocks. When will the band show up? Dance bands usually arrive at the event site 1½ to 2 hours prior to the agreed upon starting time. Ceremony and cocktail musicians generally arrive at the event site ½ hr prior to the agreed upon starting time.
Can my musicians play overtime?
Most bands are available for overtime based on ½ hour or 1 hour increments. If you are having an afternoon wedding you may discover that your musicians have other obligations in the evening. You should always find out the probability of your band performing overtime before you reserve them.
What is a crossover?
During peak Saturdays many popular bands will book two events. For example, a band will play a day wedding that ends at 4:00 or 5:00pm and then play an evening wedding that begins at 7:30pm or later. If you would like to hire a band for a reception that begins at 5:00pm you will essentially be “blocking out” the band for the entire day, thus leaving them no chance to book the full day. It is important to note that policies regarding crossovers vary from band to band. Some bands charge a small fee, some charge a large fee, and some don’t charge a crossover fee at all.
Can I change my time after I have booked the band?
Moving an evening wedding later or moving a day wedding earlier usually does not pose problems, however a problem can occur when you want to change your time into a “crossover period”. If you think your wedding may change in this fashion you should understand your band’s policy on crossovers. You may also find that your band has already been contracted for another event the same day. We strongly advise you to let your musicians know as soon as possible if you think your time may change and/or if you think you may need them to play overtime.
How many breaks will my band take?
Most bands take a maximum of two 20-minute breaks during a 4-hour period. The first one is usually for dinner (most likely during the main course or when most of the guests have been served). The second break is usually about 90 minutes before the end of the reception.
Will they play CDs on breaks?
All our bands provide a CD player and music to play during breaks. You may be able to use these times to help round out the evening and add a broader range of music that your band might not be able to cover. For example, if you hired an R&B band, but wanted some Greek music played during the wedding, or if you went with a swing band but wanted to hear some Top 40 dance music – here’s your opportunity. Murray Hill Talent is also happy to provide our clients with a personalized mix CD for band breaks.
MEALS, LODGING & TRAVEL
Does the band need to be fed what my guests are having… that can get pretty expensive! Since bands will be performing for many hours and they will not be able to go off sight, it is customary for you to be responsible for feeding the band “a hot nutritionally balanced meal”. This does not usually apply to musicians performing for under 2 hours (e.g. ceremony/cocktail musicians). Do they need rooms?Providing rooms for the band is uncommon for most weddings. Functions requiring extensive travel and/or late end times, which may cause unsafe driving conditions, will generally create the need for accommodations for the band. In these cases, policies in regards to “purchaser providing accommodations” may vary from band to band. Please ask us more about this if you think this will apply to your reception.
Do bands charge for travel?
All bands have different policies and rates concerning travel. Some have a set distance they will travel, others may be happy to drive 2 ½ hours each way for no additional charge. Generally speaking, a band’s standard rates will include 1 hour of travel time each way, with increased charges for further distances. For ceremony and cocktail musicians you may find that they are driving much more than they are actually performing, which may impact their rates.
What size band do I need?Most wedding dance bands consist of 3-8 members (swing bands can have up to 20 pieces). As many wedding receptions have guests ranging in age, personalities, and tastes, bands that can play a wide variety of styles are more than likely to suit every one’s needs. With this in mind, bands with more members can usually cover more bases and play more styles. Modern keyboards, synthesizers, rhythm machines and samplers are capable of creating complete horn and string sections, laying down dance drum tracks, and mimicking a large variety of instruments. For those who prefer the real thing, the cost of band members may add up quickly, however, the trade-off is electrifying and guests will hear and feel the energy of the live musicians.
Can I use fewer members than are normally in the band?
Groups select members very carefully for what they add to the band musically and sonically. Bands are put together with each member as important as the next. For a quieter casual event, calling for more instrumental background music, bands can usually perform in smaller units. When dancing is required, most bands insist on keeping their full configuration intact.
I am worried my venue does not have enough space . . . will a band fit?
This depends on the instruments used in the band. Drum sets, percussion kits and keyboards take up the most stage space. Horn players and vocalists need only the small amount of space it takes to stand.Due to the limited space at many venues, most bands have learned to adjust and fit into very small spaces. More then likelyMurray Hill Talent has worked at the venue you are using and is aware of its limitations.
Will they be too loud?
The keys to proper band volume are experience, professionalism, and equipment. Have you ever wondered why some 4-piece rock bands sound much louder than many 10-piece orchestras? Bands play through what is called a PA system (Public Address System) where all instruments are amplified and wired through a mixing board. A sound engineer controls each individual instrument level. Mixing boards have master volume controls such that once a band is properly “plugged-in,” the sound levels can be manipulated much in the same way as you would control the stereo system in your car. Good musicians properly “pace” the evening and know when to play quietly and when to pump up the volume.
Do I get to pick the songs for the band to play?
Clients are encouraged to suggest specific songs they would like either to hear or not hear, as the case may be. This helps to customize the general tone of the evening in regards to the styles of music. We advise you to keep a flexible attitude and let your band do what they do best – turning your wedding into a special event. Part of what you are paying for is a bands expertise in selecting the appropriate songs at the appropriate time. Remember, our bands play dozens of weddings a year and are well in tune with what works well and what doesn’t.
Will my band learn specific songs for my Wedding?
Most bands are happy to learn one or two songs for weddings. Murray Hill Talent must have at least a month notice of any specific songs to learn. In most cases Murray Hill Talent will be happy to obtain any sheet music or lyrics required. Please keep in mind that a song just learned might not be as strong as other material performed. It is also important that the song(s) you want the band to play be “stylistically” fitting to the band you have chosen (a big band swing orchestra may not be suited to perform a heavy metal song). For key songs, such as first dances and parent dances, we recommend playing the CD version through the band’s sound system. There are two reasons for this: 1) You may have rehearsed your dance to a specific version of the song, and 2) The original version may stir up more emotions than the band’s less familiar version, or in some cases, a song not fitting to the band’s style.