[Dixielandjazz] Weddings - Was Blatant Commercial

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 12 20:37:11 PDT 2005

Larry Walton Entertainment at larrys.bands at charter.net wrote:

> I play a lot of very high end weddings and I wouldn't call the bride and
> groom "kids".  I think of kids as being in their teens.  Maybe we are
> talking about the same thing.  The people that are getting married at
> weddings that can afford the $2000 or so for a band like the one I play with
> are not teens.  Typically they are from families that either the girl has
> worked for several years and saved her money or the father is well off.  I
> played one two weeks ago that cost in the neighborhood of $60k.  It's not
> unusual for a bride to spend $20-25k on her wedding  Now that's a lot in
> anyone's book  The vast majority of people that get married may have a
> reception in the church basement and if they have music will have a flute
> and guitar or something like that.

I use "kids" to describe anyone who is under 40 years old. Almost all of the
weddings we play are for "kids" in their 20s. The remainder are for second
timers between 35 and 70. We have done weddings for Main Line "society
folks" whose parents got married 30 years ago and had their reception band
led by Lester Lanin. Money, $10K or so for a band is not an issue as long as
they get fair value. By the same token we've done weddings for swing dancers
who had no money and cut them a substantial break because they were good
kids, fans, and part of our young following. Like Kash said, find out who
the client is, and where the reception will be, before quoting price.
> Where do those kids (24-30 yrs) hang out?  Well bars would be a start but
> anyone below 21 is not allowed in bars here unless there is a separate area
> where alcohol isn't served.

They hang out in restaurants like the subject of my post on Costa's, at
street festivals, college concerts, swing dances, modern jazz festivals, art
center concerts, public park concerts, museum concerts, arboretum concerts,
generic music festivals, frat parties, corporate functions, high school
concerts, jazz nightclubs, etc., etc., etc. Barbone Street plays at these
venues in our local area, year round.
> At one time there were literally hundreds of weddings (lots of teens and
> early 20's) and most had bands but for middle income people the big wedding
> went out for many years but seems to be coming back.  We have a very large
> Catholic population in St. Louis and typically, they are the one's that have
> the big weddings.  There have been 18 parishes closed or consolidated in St.
> Louis this year.  (probably because of the priest/sex thing and lawsuits)  I
> think that has had an impact too.

Possibly, but then, there are a bunch of "wedding bands" in every city that
make a good living playing just weddings. No matter what the external
factors are, people still get married and the market is HUGE. We get our 10
or so weddings almost by accident every year . . . from people who see/hear
us in public venues. We are a Jazz Band and do not solicit weddings in any
way other than announce at general audience venues and on the web site that;
"we are available for weddings, jazz funerals, parties, etc."

Coincidentally, I just received the below e-mail today from a wedding
planner. A first from that type business. Completely unsolicited. I would
call this kind of interest "pull through" or word of mouth and it is
happening more and more frequently (usually direct from bride) each month.
Why? Because my band is visible to general audiences.

"Hello Mr. Barbone"

"My name is ************* and I am the owner of
*********************** in West Chester, PA. I
have two brides for next year who are interested
in your services. Can you provide me with some
general pricing? One of the brides in particular
wants vocals and a sax (along with the bass etc.)
for about 4-5 hours on Sunday October 8, 2006 in
Media, PA. I look forward to hearing from you."

"Thank you. ********** West Chester PA."

Since many of the wedding band leaders I know advise being careful of
wedding planners, I will approach this one with caution. And since we don't
care whether or not we get this gig, I will make it clear that we are not a
typical wedding band and will accept the gig on our terms or not at all.
(Nice to have a full gig book every year)

This is the real world of the music business. Play where the kids (under 40
year olds) are and if they like your music, they will follow you, hire you
and become jazz fans. Simple grass roots efforts build audiences. Audiences
get you gigs. Gigs then enable you to pick and choose where and for whom you
perform. Thus you end up playing only the music you like, for people you
like, at rates you like, and life is good.


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