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Why Does Booking a Live Wedding Band Cost So Much to hire?

Updated: Dec 7, 2019


When we receive enquires for a live wedding band, often, one of two things happen, we

either get a really low budget (sometimes £500 for a

6-piece jazz band!) or, when the client receives the quote, we will hear, 'Oh, we can't afford that! Why is it so expensive?!'


We think the reason for this is that when couples are booking live entertainment for their wedding, it will be a first time experience for many of them, with no prior knowledge of booking a live band, the fee's of nearly £2000 for a show can be a little stifling!


Hopefully, by explaining the process that goes into supplying amazing, high quality live music for your wedding, we can begin to dispel some of the myths and hopefully help you on the way to getting a great band, a great deal and share with you the investment you'll need to make your very special day go off with a snap, crackle and a pop!!

To see the price range of hiring a live jazz band for your wedding, please see our other blog post: How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Vintage Jazz Band?


First of all, I think it's important to explain pro and Non-pro musicians, and also the different price points for booking. There are many part-time musicians who are happy to supplement their income with gigs on the weekend at the pub, who then go on to get booked at weddings and charge the same fee. This can sometimes be as low as £300 per band! That's completely up to you, however, if you want a professional band, the old adage goes here, you really do get what you pay for, and it's your wedding, so why skimp on the quality of the entertainment.


All of our musicians and bands her at Dixiebird Records are well-seasoned pro's who will turn up on time, play what you have asked them to an extremely high standard, play when they are contracted to, show up on time, in neat and ironed costumes and have the right equipment for the job. Between the musician's on our books and the bands they play in, they have performed with Madonna, Herbie Hancock, Adele, Kula Shaker, Roxy Music at prestigious venues such as The BBC, The Royal Albert Hall, The Hideaway Club and so many more!


For the rest of this blog post, we are going to be focusing on full-time, well-seasoned pro's, as you see above! ('coz that's who we work with!)


Also, worth noting, is that full-time musicians may have residency gigs at local venues, and charge the venues much less. This is because it is generally easier to get to and play and also it serves as a great showcase for private gigs, as well as entertaining a local following they may have. Most events that are booked through us at Dixiebird Records are Private and Corporate gigs and therefore don't really act as a showcase, the fee reflects this so both the player's time and talent is truly honored, we will talk a little about what goes into a day for a musician below to.


Ok, let's get this show on the road, shall we!!

We don't charge an hourly rate for our music and shows, this is because so much goes into just getting to the gig, that it doesn't make sense, nonetheless, I can see why some people think that £2000 for 2 X 45 mins seem completely off the Richter scale!


So, let's break it down...


£2000 ÷ 5 band members = £400 per musician

(it is worth bearing in mind that a lot of bands cut an imaginary member of the band to receive a share to go into the 'band pot', covering insurance, merchandise, advertising costs, etc, on top of the band fee's already, or, what can happen is the bandleader and manager of the band will take a much higher cut to accommodate the work they do in getting the gigs, and the band will take more like £200 each. For the purpose of this exercise, we will calculate this at approx £2000 ÷ 6 = £333 per band member..now here is where that money goes...

  • Band expenses (marketing, Public Liability Insurance, PAT testing, etc)

  • Agency fees, insurance fee's any commission they had to pay when securing the booking (if made via an online event platform such as Poptop, Entertainers Worldwide, etc)

  • Travel expenses (petrol, tax, and insurance, usually .45p per mile)

  • Meals: If the venue is far away and food is not on the rider, there may be a need for the band members to pay for their lunch and/or evening meal out, this can be very expensive! Coffee's on the road etc

  • Maintenance of the equipment and instruments, purchase of new instruments and sound system, etc

  • Maintenance and creation of costumes (making them, buying them, dry cleaning, tailoring, etc)

  • Development of skills and craft (vocal masterclasses, physiotherapy massage for arms, backs, professional development for sight-readers, jazz improvisation - the list goes on!)

  • Hair and Makeup! (Especially for vintage acts and performers, the average cost of creating a 'do' for an event, if doing it yourself will be around £15 and if the band has hired in an MUA and Hairstylist it can be anywhere between £60 - £150 extra per gig!)

So, we can see by this list above, that £333 needs to go across the board of the business to make the band viable, that's before any outlay of time or talent has happened yet!!


Here is an average day for one of our performers and musicians on a gig day...

1.30 pm Hair and Makeup, hair is set and base makeup is applied!

3 pm departure (allowing time for potential traffic delays)

7 pm arrival time

8 pm set up and sound check

8:30 to 9:30 first set performance

10:30 to 11:30, second set performance

Encores and background music played after the performance for a potential 45 mins extra if there is no DJ or other act

00:15 am to 01:00 am loading out of equipment back into the van

01:00 to who knows!!!! (it is common for a band to travel up to 3 hours to a show, so they often tend to get home very late at night/early in the morning!)


So, we can see here that a gig day is easily 12 hours for a band member, so £333 ÷ 12 = £27.75 As well as this, there are other costs that each individual has for being self-employed and running a business, such as tax and National Insurance, Public Liability Insurance cover (each member must carry their own!!) website design, promo videos and so much more.


We are advocates for musicians, their health, mental health, and financial recompense is extremely important to us, that is why we started Dixiebird Records! To campaign for, and, secure the talented working musician a decent wage and a diary full of shows, so they can thrive whilst spreading joy and making people happy with their music!


I hope you can see by this breakdown above, exactly where your money goes when booking a live band, and why we charge £2000 for a show and I hope you'll agree that you are making a worthwhile investment on your big day!


If you would like us to help you plan your special day, please drop us a line on hello@dixiebirdrecords.com also, check out our amazing Big Christmas Competition here where you can win over £500 worth of prizes for your big day, including a £300 voucher for entertainment on your wedding day!

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