How much does a good band cost? How much should I spend on a band for my wedding? What should I budget for music for my party? These are common questions that people ask when planning their events. The answer, of course, is that there is not one answer. Consider dining out. You might ask yourself, how much should I plan on spending if I want to eat dinner out? Well, that depends on where you want to go and how much you have to spend. Some folks will go to the local diner and have a turkey club with fries and spend $15 for two people. Others will order in sushi and spend $50. Some people will go to a fancy Italian restaurant, and after a bottle of wine, dinner, dessert, cappuccino and limoncello, will shell out $200. And there are those who will go for a celebrity chef, a restaurant in the Time Warner building have a tab close to $1,000 for their meal. Same with cars. You can buy a five year old Honda Accord that will get you where you are going for $10,000. You can buy a brand new Subaru for $20,000. You can get a 5 series BMW for $50,000, and a Bentley for $200,000. I guess I made my point. Now, how do you pick a venue for your wedding? How much are you going to spend? There is such a large range of places and prices that it really boils down to your overall budget, and then what percentage you will allocate to each part (venue, catering, music, décor, photography, wardrobe, incidentals). For now I would like to point out that along with the economic hierarchy of venues, there is that same ladder of pricing associated with the other services. For example, you can save a lot of money by renting a hall and finding an inexpensive caterer to bring food, dishes and rental chairs. The price tag will be significantly less than having your affair in the ballroom of a fine hotel. You can have a modest wedding in your living room with very little fuss, or you can put up a million dollar tent-compound in your backyard, with air conditioning, chandeliers and a hand-painted dance floor. I have performed at all. My point again is that it keeps coming back to your style, your resources and your priorities. So when it comes to bands, (aha! finally I am coming to bands!) there is obviously quite a range, which is relative to many of the other elements.
My company is known to be a boutique, upscale service provider. We are priced at the top end of the spectrum, and there are very good reasons why. In many respects, you get what you pay for, whether it be service, quality of material, support of an organization, innovation, caliber of talent, cost of behind-the-scenes extras. Sometimes price is determined by popularity and the laws of supply and demand. In the world of music for private parties, be it weddings, galas, charity balls, corporate events, and all of the special celebrations that punctuate our lives, we should seek to find the best musical product for what we can afford to pay. We cannot underestimate the impact that good music (or bad!) can have on an event, from the first moment to the last, yet it is my belief that the music is often overlooked and “underbudgeted for”. I have so much to say that I will probably write a book, a very impassioned discourse about that one issue! How crucially important the music is, and how under-emphasized it can be in the budget. Just to go on a quick tangent here, I am not only talking about the “band;” the music for dancing. I am talking about how music could be used to underscore and influence all the different elements of the event. I refer not only to a bandleader but someone who is a musical consultant, who can understand and convey how we work with the musical nuances to transform, connect, and influence. This goes far beyond the understanding of most of the weddings magazines when they talk about how to choose a band.
So how much should you spend? Well, how good do you want it to be? How good can it get? That is what needs to be considered! (I will eventually answer my question, I promise!) Industry standard is less than mediocre. The “wedding band” stereotype (cheesy, sloppy, thown-together) has been well earned over a long period of time. The “better” bands, the companies with real musical integrity who have put their energy into re-inventing the concept and offering a superior alternative to the standard “wedding band” phenomenon are few and far between, and definitely worth the higher price.
(please proceed to Part 2 of this posting, “How Much Does a Good Band Cost.“