Friday, August 15, 2003

What You Hear Isn't What You Get

Recent comments on the Yahoo Jewish Music group website point out that often, the musicians that show up to perform at an affair are not of the same quality as the musicians on the groups recordings.

This post addresses the issue as it relates to vocal groups, but the same criticisms can be applied to the wedding bands as well. The quality of the band at a given affair is often lower than what the client expected.

This can happen for several reasons.

1) It is quite common for some bands to misrepresent which musicians will be at an affair in order to book a gig. This can take many forms from using musicians who aren’t available with that band on their demos to promising musicians that they know are unavailable that evening, possibly even because they are already on another job for that band.

2) On busy nights, the larger offices may hire a lot of freelancers so that they can send out more bands. The band may rely on one or two of its regulars to “hold things together” on each bandstand, and fill the rest of the band with ringers. These ringers may be good musicians, but the band will still not be as “tight” as it is when the regulars who play together all the time are on the job.

3) Some smaller bands promise “name” musicians who are available at the time the job is booked, and take the job, but then cancel when the their regular band gets a gig. This is often an honest mistake on the part of the small bandleader, but it’s also one that is to be expected.

4) Some bands have released many albums and people assume that that’s what the band sounds like. A closer look at the liner notes reveals that the musicians used are not the bands regular players, and often aren’t even in the USA. Incidentally, many times the band has had nothing to do with the album, and the artist puts their name on it because he gets a lot of work from them.

5) Sometimes the bandleaders are too lazy to make the calls to find a good musician for a particular slot and rely on their band leading skills to hold everything together. I regularly receive calls in on Thursdays in June from “name” bands that need a musician for a wedding the following Sunday. Weddings aren’t usually booked at the last minute, so what this tells me is that either they were lax in trying to fill the slot, or one of their musicians cancelled on them. The fact that this happens regularly leads me to believe that it’s the latter reason.

Look for my recommendations on how to avoid this issue coming soon!