Valley Road's Tips For Keeping Your Musicians Happy
Keeping your act happy is important. We travel the country (sometimes further afield) specifically for your event to entertain yourself and your guests. We carry heavy equipment around and work up to 18/19 hours at a time. After quizzing a few friends in the wedding/party scene, we have drawn together Valley Road's TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR MUSICIANS HAPPY.
1. Organisation & Communication
Particularly for weddings, organisation and communication is key! Live music is usually booked well in advance, even up to 2 years! With all this time to plan, you have plenty of time to keep your live act updated on the ideal times to arrive, set up, start and finish.
So, you have agreed upon a fee for your live act and it's secured in the diary. Many agencies or acts working directly may ask for a deposit, which can usually range from 10-20% of the total fee. Usually, no other payment will be asked until nearer to the event. In some cases the act may specify when would be most convenient for the remaining fee to to paid. Personally, I prefer to ask my client to pay the remaining fee no earlier than 7 working days before the event and no later than the day before (If it's a bank transfer of course).
3. Food & Drink (And Lots of it!)
This is probably the most common moan I come across when I speak to other musicians (and of course this happens to myself all the time!). Over recent years on the wedding scene, on all my contracts there are food and drink requests - nothing special, usually just a free supply of water/soft drinks and some sandwiches will do. It's a very simple request and your musicians will love you for it! You'd be surprised how often we get forgotten about. On occasions, we have been known to try and order pizzas but it seems that pretty much every wedding and private party is in the middle of nowhere! (And seemingly the only locations in the UK that don't have phone reception coverage - if you're out and about and don't have phone signal, you're probably near a wedding venue!).
4. Changing area
This one is aimed more so when booking bands. The amount of times when I've been working with bands and we have had to take it in turns to get changed into a suit/stage clothes in the back of a van or even in the toilets! Most venues have at least one room spare somewhere for the act to get changed comfortably and chill out in without being in the way of your guests. If a room is required, it will usually say on your booking contract.
5. Loading in and out
Sometimes, it's easy to forget just how much equipment musicians need and how long it takes to set up - particularly bands! And it's also very easy to forget how heavy the equipment can be. For the majority of events, this point doesn't really apply as access in and out of the venue is almost always very simple, but occasionally access in and out of the venue with equipment is not so easy. I recall a wedding over the summer just gone that I was doing with a band, in order not to disturb the wedding meals, our load in included 40 yards over a graveled garden, through outhouse, across a 50 yard bowls court, up some steps, 20 yards over a slabbed area, up a small flight of stairs and through a corridor... Only then were we in the room! Luckily, this was only the case on our load in as the load out was a lot more straightforward.
Key Tip: Spare a quick thought as to where the act can load in from. Is it easily accessible? And take into account what else you have going on during our load in time. Sometimes, it may be worth asking your musicians to arrive earlier or later.
6. Setting up times.
"The speeches have finished now, you have 20 minutes to load in, set up, soundcheck and get changed."
Almost every wedding runs over schedule! In most cases this is not a problem at all and we wont mind waiting around for the speeches to finish. On many occasions, I have been asked to set up in half the time allocated on our booking contract.
Key Tip: No matter how much your day is running over schedule, please allocate the specified time on your booking contract for the act to set up and soundcheck. We will do our best to be as quick as possible.
7. Leave a review
This one's a pretty straight forward one. Leaving a great review, sharing photos and telling your friends about your act helps us keep doing what we love! If you have booked through an agent, usually the agency will send you a follow up email which will give you an opportunity to leave a few kind words. If you have booked direct, the act may ask you just to leave a few words on their Facebook page.
If you have any tips or thoughts on this post, please comment below