What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
Nope! Pretty straight forward! $150/hr minus any discounts that may be considered, plus actual travel fees for travel over an hour away for Roseville, CA. We usually end up playing 3 hours for $450.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
We require a deposit to formally book a date - usually $100.00. Once we receive the deposit we submit a Booking Sheet to the customer, which formally books the date, provides information regarding the event and shows the balance due. We arrive about 30 mins to 1 hour prior to "Downbeat" for equipment set up and sound check.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
Nope! We just rehearse once a week, try to grow our talents on our instruments and vocally, and we try to stay on top of any improvements in equipment. sound systems have gotten better and lot lighter recently and we were able to take advantage. Our new sound system is about half the weight of our previous one, and cost about 60% less. so it's easy to handle (loading and set up), it's easy on our wallets and it sounds just as good!
How did you get started doing this type of work?
I went to school to be an engineer and I had long forgotten about music and my clarinet. But in my freshman year, my roommate bought a cheap guitar and he would drag it along to parties, beer busts and most social events we went to. And the girls would be all over him! and he totally sucked on guitar and was not an attractive fellow at all! and due to my musical background I could hear the many mistakes he'd make in trying to play a song by Dylan or the Rolling Stones, but it didn't matter. So I decided I need to try my hand at this GEE-TAR thang!! It has served me well - let's leave it at that!!! (Smile!)
What types of customers have you worked with?
Our favorite type of gig is what I'd call the "Backyard Party". It's usually an anniversary or birthday for one of the hosts and these are an absolute BLAST to play! There's very little stress and everyone is in a party mood. All we have to do is add a heaping helping of musical talent and fun, and a good times is had by all! Weddings are a little different. If it's the first time then the bride is usually a handful and her mother is worse! (Smile!) You can cut the tension with a knife as this day has been dreamed of, thought about, and fought over for months, sometimes years!!! And the band gets caught up in all the emotion. To be successful you just have to use your experience of playing hundreds of these things and pass that calmness along to the customers. But I don't like doing weddings for this reason - too much drama!! But second weddings for couples over 35 or 40 are fun! they've done this dance before and they are there to enjoy the day. But our favorite gigs are backyard parties - they totally rock!!
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
We played for a memorial service and fund raising event for a Galt Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty (Officer Kevin Tonn). This was obviously not a wild and crazy event like a Backyard BBQ but I was asked to write a song in honor of the fallen Officer and play it during the event. We got to meet the Officer Tonn's parents and it was a very humbling experience to say the least. But it felt really good, deep down inside to be able to provide our special gift for such a special occasion. Our music has taken us to all kinds of situations and provided untold opportunities, but this one stands out for sure. Loss is a very special human emotion, and music has the ability to help us deal with it. I can't describe how it felt to have the family step out on to the grass in front of the stage, and stand holding hands while I played the song I wrote. This was what I refer to as a "God Wink", and it's one of those things in life that tells you you're on the right track.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Try to hear or see the band play live before you hire them if at all possible. A video on their Facebook page or website is a poor alternative, but still way better than nothing at all. Live music is such a personal thing, that it should have your personal input before you decide. If you can't see them live and if no video is available, ask them to tell you a little about a recent gig they did and listen carefully for items that you consider to be crucial. What was the average age of the guests? Did they have to learn any special songs? Were there any special issues and how did they address them? Ask them to talk about their favorite gig lifetime and ask why that one was their fav.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
Most customers don't realize how much equipment it takes to do a decent live performance. Most of their experience with live music is AFTER all the gear has been loaded in, set up, plugged in and sound checked. And they never see the Load Out portion of the event either. We play as a Duo and our equipment takes up an entire full sized SUV and takes us an hour to unload and set up. So it's about 30 minutes to load all the gear into the truck at home, then the drive to the gig, then an hour of unload, set up and sound check, and the gig hasn't even started yet!! then we play the 3 or 4 hours, and then the opposite occurs, We tear it all down, load it back into the truck, drive home (each home), and unload all the gear and put it away. I always say "The playing of the music is free - it's the load-in and load-out that costs so much!" (Smile!) So some people are surprised by the price, thinking that musicians should earn a hourly rate similar to fast-food industry workers. This is simply not the case and if you pay those rates you'll likely get exactly what you've paid for - people who don't know what they're doing. Musicians have been doing what you see them do for most of their life. Most started playing an instrument in grade school, with countless hours of practice, rehearsals to go with the costs of instruments, lessons, etc. The audience sees what they do as fun and sometimes expects them to play for free, or my favorite "Free Beer"! It just doesn't work that way. If you're getting a root canal, or giving birth to your first born, you don't want a doctor that charges $10/hr. Music is a profession, just like nursing, doctors, attorneys, engineers and consultants. So their compensation should be given similar consideration.