[Dixielandjazz] Whose Fault? + Wedding Market

Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis larrys.bands at charter.net
Mon Nov 6 09:18:05 PST 2006

The wedding band I play with has three singers and we do a lot of Motown 
type things and the band is very popular but we only get about 20 weddings 
or so a year.  Up until about 1980 I was doing 60-70 weddings a year and did 
quite well with it.  I can't speak to the market generally but in St. Louis, 
with a huge Catholic population, was almost the wedding band capitol of the 
world. Those days are long gone.  About half of the jobs I played when I was 
in High School were weddings.

I had a friend in the DJ business for many years who retired a rich man.  He 
had ten complete setups in trailers for which he charged anywhere from $300 
to $1000 a night depending on lights and the DJ he sent.  He had most of his 
DJ's working two to three nights a week and some days.  His overhead other 
than wear and tear was about nothing because he used a very sophisticated 
tape system and he just would buy one CD or record and make 10 tapes.

He was able to send out mass mailings to specific zip codes and carried full 
page ads in the yellow pages.  He paid his DJ's $100 to $200 plus on the 
bigger ones a set up man.  His advertising included all the bridal shows at 
$1000-$1500 a pop.  All of his equipment was on wheels so the guy just had 
to roll it in and plug in the speakers.  His DJ setups including the trailer 
cost less than our instruments and our PA system.  He sold his business and 
moved out of state.

The advantage a DJ like this guy has besides all the advertising they can 
pump out is that they can book multiple jobs on any given night.  A band 
can't although the band I talked about does split into two groups 
occasionally.  We have actually 4 singers so they divide up and he has two 
complete set ups including books but that doesn't happen very often.  He 
does pretty well but his advertising eats him alive.  He is now using agents 
and his business has dropped off a lot.

The Guitar Center here has a whole room and department dedicated to DJ 

I think that DJ's have started wearing thin here and the live music business 
is picking up some but it will never be what it was.  I think it takes 
clever advertising and a lot of personal sales ability to front a band today 
but as Steve pointed out there are good jobs out there for those who go 
after them.
St. Louis
Dodging bullets in
The Most Dangerous City in the US

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2006 9:23 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Whose Fault? + Wedding Market

> "Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis" wrote (polite snips)
>> I think you should add the musicians themselves although it would come 
>> under
>> what killed live music.
> Careful now :-) VBG.
>> In the wedding trade the high end client is still there but the great 
>> middle
>> and low end is almost gone to the DJ's.  Funny thing, most of them cost 
>> more
>> than a band and they can afford mega bucks for advertising and full page 
>> ads
>> in the yellow pages which we just can't.
> Interesting point. I think it goes to the DJs because the 
> bands/contractors
> have left those live venues where the prospective bride and groom go. The
> kids see a DJ and not a band and so they hire the DJ. Lack of advertising 
> or
> band marketing also contributes.
> I find that our wedding gigs 10+ per year, come from live performances in
> venues where those few who actually do get married these days, go. I also
> find that we end up turning down the low end weddings that pay $100 per 
> man
> for 4 hours. Basically because we can earn more, and don't wish to tie up,
> Saturday dates for that paltry sum.
> Mid range weddings are still relatively plentiful. ($2100-$3000) as are 
> high
> end, but at the higher end, folks want Big Bands and Singers. Since we do
> Jazz weddings only, we do not accept the other stuff.
> Typical wedding inquiry below, from one who had not heard us but her 
> friends
> had and recommended she call us. (received a year ago)
> ----
> Dear Mr. Barbone,
> "I am writing to ask if your jazz band plays at weddings.  If so, what 
> kind
> of jazz do you play?  I must admit that I don't know much about jazz, but 
> I
> do like West Coast jazz (Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, etc.).  I am not 
> having
> dancing at my wedding reception, but I would like to have music. 
> Therefore,
> I am looking for a jazz band that will play West Coast jazz which will set 
> a
> lush and romantic mood as our guests eat and spend time together.  My
> wedding will be on June 2, 2007.  Please let me know if you are even
> available on that date.  Finally, how much do you charge for playing for
> about 4-5 hours?"
> "I look forward to hearing from you."
> ----
> We actually did this one, last Feb, as a quintet, American Songbook, 5
> hours, $500 a man. Played soft, romantic jazz, love songs, adding some
> Dixieland. Bride and attendees loved our "West Coast Jazz" sound. Now, 
> nine
> months later, they still write to tell us that guests are still talking
> about how great the music was.
> Like I posted previously, most of the folks in the USA have no idea what
> jazz is, whether the music is good or not, and what the various styles 
> are.
> And so I post this, not to brag, but to remove any doubts competent jazz
> bands may have about supplying music for a wedding.
> HINT: In your website, add a sentence at the top of your schedule page 
> about
> your band being the best wedding band in the St Louis area. Soon, your
> website will automatically come up when someone googles for "Wedding Bands 
> +
> St Louis" and you will start getting calls for weddings.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
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