Connecting With Event/Wedding Planners

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bobroden
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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:21 pm

Connecting With Event/Wedding Planners

Post by bobroden » Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:29 pm

I have a jazz quintet that is gigging regularly (and successfully) in local cafes and such, and I would like to connect with those people who could place us in events where jazz would be appropriate (and which tend to pay better than cafes and such).

Any suggestions about (a) what categories of people to approach and (b) what they need to hear in order to be interested in working with me?

Thanks,
Bob
Nhtrombone
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:31 am

Re: Connecting With Event/Wedding Planners

Post by Nhtrombone » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:01 pm

In the Boston area, most working bands are connected with an agency. As a frequent of the Boston event/wedding scene, I've only seen separate groups for cocktail and reception at massively expensive corporate functions and a very small number of weddings of families with grotesque amounts of money to spend. Have a solid set list with little transition time between tunes. Don't stand there for 5 minutes waiting to call the next tune. Have enough material for a 1, 2, or even 3 hour set. You're likely going to be wallpaper music if you're playing cocktail hour so it can't be too loud, too fast or exceeding esoteric stuff. Straight ahead, well packaged stuff in a variety of styles.
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LeTromboniste
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Location: Basel, Switzerland

Re: Connecting With Event/Wedding Planners

Post by LeTromboniste » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:35 am

From my experience as a booking agent in Montreal for exactly that kind of gigs, being hired by booking agencies is really the way to go for gigs in that market, for two big reasons :

1) corporate event planners have different needs for different events, meaning even if you as a band are well connected to a few companies, you won't get much work, because you will only occasionally fit what they need. Corporate types also don't like dealing directly with artists, they'd much rather deal with a fellow business, professional organization, which they deem somewhat more as an equal. You'd be surprised by the number of completely useless business meetings I've had with corporate clients (and for the bigger clients it was closer to being the norm than the exception), where it's already a done deal or where we only go over what was already discussed by phone or e-mail - but they like the pomp of shaking hands and sitting around big tables and to make every aspect of everything n'a important thing (because it has to be important if it deserves their attention...)

2) couples generally only get married once. Most of the wedding gigs I booked were self organized weddings, very few were with a wedding planning agency. Even though we had a very good reputation with our clients and our services were very professional we had only very few contracts through recommendations from former clients. This may vary from market to market but in our area, our experience was that the only way to keep the wedding gigs coming was to have a booth at wedding conferences. An agency can more easily afford to do that (it has to be a fairly big agency or one that takes a big margin on contracts though, because doing that is expensive, and if you only take 10 or 15% margin, it can take dozens of weddings to pay for that). Contacts at hotels are a good way to be in touch with the wedding market, ad they often get asked recommendations by their clients.

So in short, it's a much better idea to be the best, most reliable and most flexible band to an agency than being just the guys who played at that event last year to a client.

Generally, the corporate market is much more stable than the wedding market, most clients can become repeat clients for an agency, and it tends to pay better.

A very important aspect : don't be a quintet. Be a jazz band that can play as anything from duet to 10-piece band. Most of the gigs I've booked for a small jazz groups were for trio and quartet, by a lot.
Maximilien Brisson
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ExZacLee
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Re: Connecting With Event/Wedding Planners

Post by ExZacLee » Wed May 09, 2018 8:21 am

I started doing the wedding band circuit a few years back. I work with a few different agencies and occasionally do some booking myself. To add to the good advice above, a few things that may help:

1) I made most of the connections I have with various agencies through gigs - and most of those through the people I met working on cruise ships. If you want "industry" gigs, you need "industry" contacts. It helps to know some people who work for agents in your area. Word of mouth recommendations are 1000% more likely to lead to work than sending a demo. I don't want to discourage sending demos and press packets, but frankly those aren't even opened half the time.

2) Most agencies are looking for cover bands and string quartets for weddings. I've done a handful of things with my quintet and my trio, but the majority of the wedding work I get is as a freelancer is working in a cover band. If you're wanting to get $400+/gig, you're probably going to have to do some cover band work. Sorry. There's just so much more demand for cover bands. A jazz group that does covers can work if it's a slick package and not just college kids trying to make Bruno Mars work with a walking bass line. The "Post Modern Juke Box" thing isn't a new idea at all, but it works really well. You'll be doing a lot of arranging, but with a solid book and great presentation you'll work.

3) Corporate events are more likely to book a jazz group - again, these are usually done through an agency although probably half of the work I've done in this regard was booked through personal connections. If you're not personable, if you're not doing everything you can to get out and meet people, you're going to lose work. Sometimes a well paying gig falls into your lab because you decided to bowl a few frames in the middle of a slow tuesday. Maybe a friend from high school is an HR manager at a bank and gets stuck with booking a band for customer appreciation party.

4) Remember - you're entertainment. Find a singer. Are you comfortable talking on a mic? You'll have to do that on occasion. Sometimes you end up being the master of ceremonies - very likely when an event planner isn't used. Requests - you're going to do a lot of them, and you can't get away with faking on most pop tunes. Can you play dance music? Remember there is a huge difference between "jazz" and "swing" - mainly in that "jazz" is about the performance, about the art, and "swing" is about the energy and the dancing. My quintet primarily focuses on original music, but if we have a $3K booking to play a dance at Cain's ballroom, we're hiring a singer and doing a bunch of Sinatra.

Occasionally we can sneak some art in there. That's the beauty of being background music. If no one's listening, you can play Segment at 300 - and as long as it's quiet, everyone's having a good time, and there's that one person who's really digging the band, digs parker, and just tipped you $200...
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