Book your band direct!
Why you should book your wedding entertainment direct with a band or musicians and save yourself some money:
The rise of the new style music agency:
Music agencies have always been a popular place to book wedding entertainment and the classic style agency has it’s place in the world. Commission always used to be 10 to 15% but more recently it’s moved to 20%, however most clients and musicians don’t mind this as they’re getting a service and it’s quite right you should pay for that. If an agent is doing all the work organising the booking, liaising with couples and corporate clients and using their wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts then they quite rightly deserve to be paid for that.
However in the last few years there has been a big rise in new style agencies or price comparison websites that take the same amount of commission but just for contracting the booking in or hosting a profile on the website who are making life much harder for musicians and bands. They end up becoming a necessary evil as they overtake google but there are a number of downsides to working with them for both us and our lovely wedding couples…
The main thing to remember is with musicians, it’s not like using a hosting or price comparison website for insurance companies or travel agencies, it’s very different to using Compare the Market or Hotels.com for instance.
Whatever the website states, you will pay more booking through them for their commission. A number of these companies ask for their commission (usually 20%+vat) to come out of the band fee, as most of us can’t afford this the band will just increase the total price to cover the loss so you still end up paying more, it just doesn’t look like you are.
Many aren’t completely honest or transparent on their sites about what you’re paying. In all cases when we receive an enquiry direct as well as through an agency or comparison website the couples are never aware that the money they think they’re paying to a band actually includes 20% commission. I think this is the thing I disagree with most as they should be completely transparent about what you’re paying and where that money is going.
Some of these agencies also do things like have a “booking fee” or an “organisational fee” usually a flat fee of more around the £100 or £150 mark, on top of the price you pay for the band, which makes it look like this is the only money the agency are taking. However, this is just a trick and they will always have their 20%+vat commission coming out of this also – when you think all of that money is going to the band.
The quality of what you’re booking:
This means that if you pay £1200 for a band on a website for example you’ll actually only be getting a band worth less than a £1000, which could be a huge difference in the quality of the musicians and the service you’ll be getting on the day. A lot of these website have more of the cheaper end of the spectrum as well and the lower the price you pay, the more significant this difference could be. If you’re only spending £6/700 and getting a band worth less than £500 the quality of that band is likely to be very low and a lot less than what you’re expecting.
It’s also likely these agencies have never seen the band you’re booking perform and in many cases have never worked with them before. As a client you feel like you’re getting a recommendation on a band, they must be good if they’re on this comparison website, but that really isn’t the case.
You’ll get more for your money direct:
So as mentioned you’ll get so much more for your money if you book direct as your full £1200 can go straight to your musicians. It’s worth doing some sums in your head to figure out what you should be paying. The going rate for a musician in a Ceilidh band in England is minimum £150+travel per person. Plus someone gets paid more to bring the PA equipment and run the desk on the night. Plus the band leader gets some money for their time and work in organising the booking and then you need some money to go back into the business to pay for running costs like maintaining equipment, insurance, advertising, website costs, videos, music and photos etc. Plus some of us are also VAT registered. So it all adds up!!
It’s easier to liaise direct:
One of the most important things here is that when organising your wedding or event you want to be able to chat to someone direct and discuss all of the details, which agencies make it much harder to do. You’ll either be going through a 3rd party, which makes the chance of incorrect or not all of the necessary information being passed on (I can’t tell you how many occasions we’ve done an agency booking and when arriving at the event it’s clear they thought they were getting something completely different! Like the time we provided 3 Irish fiddle players but they wanted 3 traditional singers, or the time we performed for Canon but they wanted a Russian band not a Scottish Ceilidh band!!). Or you’ll be communicating through an online system, not via real emails or phone calls. So the other reason to go direct would be to save yourself some stress when communicating and make sure you’re booking someone you can trust and talk to!
So we recommend that these websites can be a great way to find a band or musician, but once you’ve found them get in touch and book them direct! Also bear in mind that some of these websites have bands under a false name to make this harder, so you may have to do a bit of research. The best bands won’t be hard to track down and keep an eye out for the same photos / outfits and videos.
If your event isn’t a wedding, or if you’d like to book the band again for another reason. For instance we often play again for couples birthday parties, anniversaries or work events after we’ve performed for their wedding. When you book through an agency you’re obliged to book through them again if you’d like the same band.
We hope this is helpful info, whether you book us or another band and musicians just try where ever possible to book them direct and save yourself some pennies and hassle 🙂