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#2054218 - 03/25/13 08:18 PM Questions about wedding gigs
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I recently played this wedding gig, and originally the Bride wanted us to provide music from 6:30-9:00 nonstop, but we told them that the most we can do is 2 45min sets for their budget(what they were giving us was considered minimum for 2 hours here). They agreed to it, but from the get-go we had this feeling that the other party was clueless about how these things went.

They called us 2 days before the gig telling us that they want to change the entire setlist. She wanted to do 10 new pop songs which isn't considered standard wedding material(meaning it's something that requires transcribing, arranging& rehearsing) for first set, and do excerpts from a musical for the second set... they hired us specfically because they wanted a jazz band and play mostly jazz standards, so needless to say we were confused. We told them that we can't prepare that much new music on such short notice, but agreed to do 3-4 of them for the gig. They gig went ok with no major problem.. So far no problem,

The problem started after we got the money from the gig.. they started complaining about how we just sat there and asked for food and did very little playing, and they started complaining about how we didn't play those songs they asked for. They even started talking about how they wanted their money back for the poor service they received. The bandleader quickly replied that we've already agreed about the time we are supposed to play and we've also agreed about the fact that we can't do all the new songs they requested on short notice. In fact, we actually played longer than we were supposed to. Each set lasted almost an hour, so we played at least 20min over time.

This got me curious about common practices when it comes to wedding gigs.. first of all, would you guys have handled the situation any differently if it was your gig?
How how flexible are you guys about last minute music change? Do you charge them extra? Also what are you expectations about breaks in between sets? Where I live 45min+15min break seems fairly standard. I have not came across a single wedding gig where you are required to play more than 2 hours without a single break.


Edited by etcetra (03/25/13 08:53 PM)

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Piano & Music Accessories
#2054390 - 03/26/13 04:46 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
My piano teacher has brought up concerns like this to be aware of as a musician. My opinion is that you need to make the other party - which is ignorant 99% of the times, as in this instance - understood exactly what and how much they're asking of you. People don't understand that there's prep work (and a lot) involved with each and every song that goes into the set list unless it's old material that's familiar and been performed several times by all band members. I think my teacher said the best way to put it was telling the party how they were going to spend (at least) 2k on all the various amenities, and so they couldn't expect to pay much, if any, less for the live music.


famous quote:
Quote:

A lady called the Los Angeles musicians union to inquire about the cost of booking a five piece band with a singer for a wedding...

The AFM rep says "Off the top of my head, roughly two thousand dollars"...

She says "WHAT? FOR MUSIC ?"...

The rep responds, "Ma'am... I'll tell you what. Call the plumbers' union and ask for six plumbers to work from six to twelve o'clock on a Saturday night. Whatever they charge you, I'll work for half of that."

She called back and said, "I get your point."



also, check out this wedding site's discussion of wedding musicians: http://weddings.costhelper.com/wedding-music-band.html

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#2054412 - 03/26/13 06:42 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
We used to ask: "Would you like anything special for the first dance" and try to accommodate. From then on, it was our normal repertoire. But clients now confuse a band with a disco or MP3 player, they feel they can specify a playlist. It's a tough one.

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#2054438 - 03/26/13 08:40 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 196
Loc: USA
etcetra-
Does your band have a paper contract?

Around here, union rules say, ten minute break out of every hour. Some take twenty at once then play for 100 minutes straight. Union and non-union abide by this.

As far as setlists and requests, we aim to please. But as you've found out, you can't please everybody.

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#2054905 - 03/27/13 12:24 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Bobpickle&Exalted Wombat

I agree, people just seems totally clueless about the work that is involved. A lot of clients think we can just play music and do it with little or no effort. In most gigs I usually charge extra for learning&arranging new tunes. I guess I let a lot of things slide because the bride was friends with the vocalist, but I didn't expect this kind of attitude after the gig.

and that's a great quote, I'll remember that one next time!

Farmerjones

The problem that contracts are kind of rare where I live.. but there is a general understanding about what to expect, and it's usually 10-15min break per hour. I am usually ok with requests as long as it's reasonable. I usually don't charge if I have to learn 1-2 songs and I usually ask people to confirm the setlist at least 1 week in advance.

It was pretty frustrating because I did my best to accommodate their last minute requests. The gig was on Sunday afternoon and they gave me the new set list friday night. I had all day gig commitment on Friday-Saturday, which meant I had to stay up around 4am on Sunday to learn some of the new songs. I got no thanks for that.. instead they just complained about how lazy and unaccommodating we have been the entire time.


Edited by etcetra (03/27/13 12:35 AM)

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#2054989 - 03/27/13 08:07 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: etcetra
Bobpickle&Exalted Wombat

The gig was on Sunday afternoon and they gave me the new set list friday night.


I think that in doing this you set yourself up for the conflict.

A professional would have just said no. Those pieces aren't in the repertoire. The person hiring you might not have liked it, but would have perceived professionalism and this would have reduced their tendency to nitpick and argue later.

When you were accomodating beyond what most of us would do on a gig, you crossed the line psychologically into amateur territory. Now you opened the door for them to think they are just as knowledgable as you.

Contracts may not be usual where you are, but you might want to start a trend.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2054992 - 03/27/13 08:17 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: TimR]
pianopaws Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/13
Posts: 71
Loc: North Carolina, USA
I "third" the recommendation of having a paper contract. After all, you can bet the bride and groom had to sign a contract for the reception hall, the caterer, the florist, the photographer....how are the musicians any different? Would they have asked the caterer to change the menu two days before the wedding? Of course not! So they should not have asked or expected the musicians to change the set list either. I think a contract would be both professional and beneficial to both sides. Just my two cents!
_________________________
M.M., Piano performance and pedagogy
Member, MTNA and NCMTA

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#2055030 - 03/27/13 09:50 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
I hadn't thought of that. Yes, I bet there were contracts for the other service providers. When you didn't demand one, you ended up in a different, less professional category.

I just read the OP again, and noticed something else. You referred to the arguments when you were paid.

Excuse me? You didn't get paid up front? Either they have the cash before you start, or you walk. Otherwise you WILL get stiffed at least 25% of the time. Naturally you put this clause in your contract. (we'll mail your check next week when our bookkeeper gets back from vacation. Yeah, right!)
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2055062 - 03/27/13 11:59 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
36251 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 742
When I did weddings once we started, we'd play until main course came out. Sometimes that was over 2 hours. There was always a written contract and we learn some tunes if needed. Not as many as OP mentioned, especially a musical. People don't notice musicians playing, they only notice them on break. Sometimes we're lower than janitorial workers.
_________________________
AG N2, CP4, GK MK & MP

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#2055139 - 03/27/13 02:36 PM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
TimR

I understand where you are coming from, I worked in US and I wouldn't have done things any other way, but unfortunately things just don't work like they do here. I met several verteran musicians here who used to work in US and they've all told me the same exact thing.. whatever it is you call professionalism and common sense here, don't expect that to happen here, and demanding to be treated like a pro is a sure way to not get work here.

And they have been mostly right. There have been several occasions where I had to draw the line and refuse to comply to requests(like asking to play extra set for free, or playing electronic instrument outdoor in soaking wet condition, or making the band stay&play about an 2 hours later then we are supposed to because they messed up on logistics), and that resulted in not getting called back. I had another American friend who is IMO a consummate professional, but he was not getting any work because people(including musicians) found him to be "very hard to work with".

As far as getting money is concerned, Nobody pays up front here. That is unheard of. And as crazy as this may sound, I have been on gigs where people rehearsed for weeks without anyone asking how much they were getting paid. I finally broke silence and asked, but out of 20+ people in the big band, nobody was willing to ask that question.. and they are people who's been in the scene much longer than me.

Btw not having contract isn't exclusive to music gigs either. it's normal for anything entertainment related.. you only do contract on big events. other than that, it's unheard of.

I guess you just have to live here to know what it's like here..and I am staying here for good for non-musical reasons. Anyways, the post really isn't about what I should have done but, I just wanted to get more insights into how things work differently elsewhere...in other words what i should have done if i lived in a more sane environment. It's something I probably already know but needed confirmation on.


Edited by etcetra (03/27/13 02:47 PM)

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#2055158 - 03/27/13 03:11 PM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
Yeah. I didn't mean to criticize. I couldn't tell from your profile where you are (and it sounds like it probably is best kept quiet).

You have to live by the local rules, that's just the way it is. I spent five years in Germany courtesy of my employer. My family tried to fit in, rather than convert a small area to a US enclave.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2055171 - 03/27/13 03:37 PM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: TimR]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: TimR
Yeah. I didn't mean to criticize. I couldn't tell from your profile where you are (and it sounds like it probably is best kept quiet).

You have to live by the local rules, that's just the way it is. I spent five years in Germany courtesy of my employer. My family tried to fit in, rather than convert a small area to a US enclave.


No problem. I didn't take it as criticism and I appreciate your feed back. I am just glad that my sanity is still somewhat in tact smile

Was the German music scene different than what you were used to?

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#2055198 - 03/27/13 04:29 PM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
I did not break into the local scene, though I played with musicians from the Hochschule at military and religious functions. My town (a small vineyard farmtown) had a town band but they did not welcome my attempts to participate.

My house had foot thick masonry walls and was on a corner a considerable distance from any other residences. I therefore assumed I could ignore the rather strict quiet hours and practice early or late without offending anyone.

However one Saturday morning the town assembled their band in my garden under the bedroom window at about 0500, played one piece to wake me up, and departed. I came to suspect they were letting me know.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2056376 - 03/29/13 05:27 PM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1521
A


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#2058676 - 04/03/13 11:56 AM Re: Questions about wedding gigs [Re: etcetra]
krzyzowski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/10
Posts: 108
Yikes! I was asked once to play at a 75th wedding anniversary, which I declined thankfully. Instead they got a geezer one man band with a cordovox that claimed he knew 1000 songs. These guys are amazing. People today are used to the hype. Everyone danced all night. He even knew "Dead Ant"..

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