Updated: Mar 2
Imagine this scenario: you just got engaged and finding a great wedding band that will get your reception hopping is at the top of your list.
You search for a band online and find one that looks perfect. Their website is eye-catching and professional, the photos are great, the recordings and videos are amazing, and the reviews, fantastic! It's exactly what you're looking for, in fact, this band almost seems too good to be true.
Well, guess what? It’s all fake. In the time-honored practice known as ‘bait and switch’, you see a carefully curated product online to get your attention, but the actual product you get—in this case, the ‘band’—is something completely different.
The fact is most everything you see & hear online about this 'band' is fabricated.
None of the people you SEE in the online photos will be at your wedding.
None of the singers you HEAR online will sing at your wedding.
None of the musicians you HEAR online will play at your wedding.
None of the REVIEWS on the site are of the band that will perform at your wedding.
Just what are you seeing on this type of 'band' website?
You have stumbled upon a corporate temp agency that 'staffs' musicians for events. The agency draws from a pool of musicians to 'staff' a band for your event .The newly formed group becomes the trademarked ‘band’ name. Never mind that the hastily thrown together group of musicians will change from one event to the next.
The player 'pool' generally consists of either inexperienced musicians looking to hone their skills at any opportunity, or more experienced players who prefer to fill in the gig calendar until something better comes along.
These players have no vested interest in making your event anything special, to them it's just another 'gig'.
"They allow me to customize the size of the band."
You want 6 people in the band? No problem; here are 6. You want a 16-member band? No problem; here are 16. Whatever the number of musicians you want is yours for the asking. Isn’t that great! The problem is this is not how ‘bands’ work.... at all. The truth is it takes years of working together as a single unit to become polished.
Think of your favorite band, and then imagine adding a handful of extra musicians for no other reason than to reach an arbitrary number. The same concept applies here. Most likely this ensemble of musicians have never played together before, or even met.
Often, this booking—your wedding—will be the first time they have even met each other. Per the agency rules, ‘band’ members are not allowed to introduce one another in front of the client or guests. The last thing they want is to for anyone to realize that they are meeting for the first time.
"They allow me create my own playlist, and choose every song!"
That online song selector that you were sold on, the one that says you can create your own playlists? Well, according to an insider source, that's not how it actually works.
How it really works is the vocalists focus on their own personal favorite songs, ones they already know and like to sing.
In reality, you may be lucky to get a handful of the songs you requested. The singers will focus songs they know, that they like, and that they want to sing.
What you can expect the night of your event.
The musicians assemble to become the 'band', and they start playing. It is quickly apparent that they have never played together before. There are long pauses between songs as the band discuss the tempo, the key, who will take a solo, etc..
The music 'director' with whom you've been working is actually a salesperson in the corporate office and will not be at your event to listen to your complaints.
What you end up with is a ‘band’ with general sloppiness in both their music and their presentation along with awkward pauses between songs, lots of breaks, a high potential for 'train wrecks', and no one to complain to the night of your event.
"The online reviews are so great though."
This is quite deceiving. The reviews that are allowed to be remain online are most either likely fabricated or manipulated. In any case, they are not reviews of the group of musicians you are hiring.
TIP: Ask to read reviews of the 'band' consisting of the exact lineup of the musicians that will perform at your wedding before signing the contract.
"Great for the musician, terrible for the client."
(quote from a musician who has performed with one of these bands)
Part of the allure for musicians to join the temp agency is they are guaranteed multiple band breaks throughout the evening. Oh, and you will need to add them to the head count for your caterer as they 'require' meals.
Once dancing starts, you can expect the ‘band’ to play a 45-minute set of live music. After which they will take a 30 minute break before returning to play another 45 minute set, then another 30 minute break. This is not the industry standard. Most professional, polished bands play an 80-to 90-minute set, minimum, before a short break. Some bands don't take any breaks during the dancing portion.
Aside from the fact that it is misleading and somewhat fraudulent, you’re not booking a band for a backyard barbecue, where a group of musicians who have never met might be acceptable. No, this is your once-in-a-lifetime wedding reception.
Don't fall prey to this scam. It's not worth the risk.