Consider these factors when selecting a great party band: level of talent, versatility, band chemistry, professionalism, passion, and the integrity of the band leaders. If it’s important enough to celebrate, it’s important enough to hire trustworthy people who actually care about the success of your event.
Types of bands
There are three kinds of professional party bands;
Specialty Bands - These can be ethnic groups or specific themed bands. For example; AC/DC tribute band, Klezmer band, and more.
Traditional Wedding Bands - These groups are usually in the classic “wedding band” image. The performers are often a bit older “more seasoned”, or older musicians with young vocalists. These bands will often break up the show into multiple sets and breaks and may struggle playing a versatile repertoire authentically, but can sound great at one genre, like Funk or Rock.
Concert-Style Bands - This the most modern style of event band, usually younger highly-talented groups who deliver energetic, interactive performances focussed on the impact of the entertainment on audience experience. These bands are usually very conscious of event flow and take very few/short breaks once the real show starts.
Based on our research and experience - these are standard entertainment costs in New England:
$1-4k - DJs
$4-7k - DJ/Band Combos or lower-level bands
$7-12k - Quality Full-Time Bands
$15-25k - Custom Bands
$30-500k - National Touring Acts
However, all of these prices are generalizations — you never know what price a vendor will accept for your event. If you love a vendor, always try to negotiate and make it work.
Here are some handy tips
don't let price scare you
Bands can be expensive, but don’t run away when you get a quote. Many bands appreciate performing for people who appreciate them. If you find a band (or any vendor) you absolutely love, never assume you can’t afford them. And even if they quote you a price that’s out of your budget, it’s always worth it to disclose your budget and see if there’s a way they can accommodate. You never know how much a band might want to book a specific date, venue, or event type: let them know what would work for you and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Beware of Fake Promos
When considering bands, watch out for groups with fancy videos that are a bit too clean. Some bands will hire a video studio to produce a flashy video, and though they usually sound great and even look like MTV music videos, they’re usually very fake, lip-synched, and don’t authentically represent a live performance. These bands often don’t have very exciting live shows, so they try to cover it up with production value in their promos. Look for bands with candid live performance videos that will show a real representation of their skills and performance styles, or better yet check out the band at a public show.
chemistry is key
Chemistry definitely comes with rehearsing and time performing together, but it really comes from interactions off-stage. You want band members who are friends and fit in the same social circle. Those who relate to each other’s lives, care about each other, can laugh and hang outside the band, and it’s best if they make other music together outside of the wedding band.
Watch out for unrelated fluff
Having an awesome band is a very specialized service. Watch out for band companies who try to convince you to buy by including non-related services like uplighting, photobooths, videography, and more. These groups usually can’t succeed based on the merit of their performances, so they have to sugarcoat the deal with unrelated services to win people’s business. That’s a huge red flag. Your band should be focussed on being an awesome band!
Don't be tricked by the pitch
Don’t let a band sell you on their gear, lighting show, or the additional DJ or sound tech. The cost of a sound or lighting system doesn’t guarantee that it’s appropriate for your venue, that the band can use it well, or that the band’s show is actually fun on it’s own.
look for versatilty
Most of our clients share with us that they don’t want a stereotypical "wedding band," but rather a fun dynamic party band who are also experts at performing for weddings. You want a band that plays together 100+ shows per year: weddings, nightclubs, corporate functions, festivals, etc. These groups have the versatility to play to any audience and can masterfully read a crowd and customize the show on the fly to make the most of any celebration.
don't love the player, love the game
Most people book bands one or two years before their event. A lot can happen in that time; huge opportunities, awful tragedies, life changes, etc. There is always a chance that some members of any band will be different in the future. Regardless of what a band leader or agent says to manipulate you into signing a contract, there is no way they can actually guarantee you specific performers in the future. Hire a band based on the vibe and consistency of their show, not individual performers, because even if the roster changes before the next year they are bound by the expectations of all their clients to provide the same quality and vibe regardless of who is performing. Ask bands about their recruitment process, training system, and subbing protocol in case of an emergency.
sober is better
It may sound fun to drink with your wedding band, but it’s generally a bad idea. It’s bad news if the band members have to be inebriated to want to have fun at your wedding. You need a band who loves to perform and wants to rock your wedding based on their passion and professional integrity. Ask the band leader or agent about the policies in the performer contracts, to make sure you’re comfortable with their professional expectations.
Roster bands are a gamble
A roster band isn’t really a band—it’s a list of musicians who “know” the same songs and get told to show up at the same event on the same day. This is a huge gamble because these groups rarely have any chemistry and often have to “fake” their way through songs. By contrast, a contract band will keep the same band members rehearsing and performing together for an extended period of time (usually 1-2 years) and this is a great thing.
It’s important that your band spends time with you before your event going over your song preferences, which songs should be live versus by DJ, and your vision of the celebration. However, don’t hire a band that writes set lists. A great band is versatile and prepared to read the crowd’s vibe, and can call songs for the show on the spot—while still honoring your musical preferences. It’s impossible for anyone to predict the exact order of the exact songs that will work perfectly at your celebration, calling a show live is the only way to get close to a perfect show.
Set Lists are BAD
Good signs & bad signs
- Candid videos from real LIVE shows
Bands who anticipate turn-over and know what to do to stay consistently awesome
Young energetic performers
Party band who performs 100+ different shows each year - i.e. Weddings, Clubs, Colleges, Corporate Events, etc.
Contracted band members - committed, rehearsed, and follow company rules.
A versatile band who can read the crowd and call a show on the spot to build a celebration
- Over-produced, fake, studio made promo videos - lip-synching, yuck!
Band leaders/agents who “guarantee” individual performers
Mixed ages in same band - half older/half younger members
Roster Bands - they call random people from a list of musicians who “know” the right songs.
Bands who write set lists before the show - they often use the same sets for months at a time, and can’t customize a show to fit an audience.