By Carey Kleiman of CK Band

The Booking/Negotiation Process

Once you have found the right performer for your event it is time to begin negotiating.  Arrange a meeting with the bandleader or agent. Meeting in person is best but emailing has the advantage of producing a written record of your correspondences – which could come in handy.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when negotiating:

Watch out for extra fees.
An ethical bandleader will not try to add in additional costs, but once in a while you’ll get a leader who tries to charge more than they should.  If you feel that you are being charged an unreasonable amount, you can always ask the bandleader to explain why you are being charged what you are.
Get a contract.
Having a legally binding document outlining terms of service is always a good idea.  The contract can contain any terms to which you both agree, but it does need to have a few key items, such as:

Your name and address and the name and address of the signatory musician The location and time of the performance The amount of compensation the performer will receive Beyond that there are some terms the bandleader may insist on - such as the fact that no commercial recordings will be made of the performance without written release, etc.  Most likely the bandleader will already have a standard contract (GigMasters also offers this service to their performers).

The contract should be straightforward and easily understood though any aspect of the contract should also be up for discussion.  It is critical that you communicate your needs at the time of negotiation.  If you have a favorite song that you just HAVE to hear it will probably sound a lot better if you request it ahead of time so the band can practice.

Consider the working conditions for your band.

Whenever possible make sure working conditions are discussed and put in writing in the contract.  Here are some of the things that a bandleader may ask for as part of the band’s jobsite or working conditions:

Safety: Make sure the area where your engagement is to take place conforms to building codes and is safe for occupancy.
Breaks: Most bands divide the time up in 1-hour sets with 15 minutes of break-time in between, although this is usually flexible based on your event’s needs.
Setup: It is best to allow at least 3 hours prior to the arrival of guests for the band to set up, however this also depends on your event and your band.
Refreshments: The bandleader may request that water pitchers or bottles be available to musicians while onstage. Even if they don’t specifically request this, it’s a good idea to keep your band hydrated.
Food: The band usually needs to eat something – and it’s usually quite disruptive if they have to send out for pizza during their break – so it’s common practice to provide meals for them. They don’t have to eat at the same time as your guests but you don’t want your band going hungry.
Sound System: If the band’s price includes the sound system, make sure the bandleader and/or his sound engineer has a chance ahead of time to get to know the acoustic properties of the room. If the sound system is being contracted separately from the band, make sure the sound company has a chance to check out the room ahead of time. This small amount of preparation will make all the difference in the world.

On The Day of the Event

You’ve planned the event, hired the band, paid the deposit and signed the contract.  Now you just have to make sure the event goes smoothly.  Here are some things to keep in mind on the day of the event:

Have the business items prepared in advance. Make the check out ahead of time to save yourself the trouble later.  If you are planning on reporting the event as a business expense make sure you have the bandleader’s social security number or Tax ID number for your 1099-MISC.

Have a liaison or contact-person. Have someone available at the venue location early enough to let the band in so they can start setting up.  Make sure your bandleader has the contact-person’s cell phone number in case of any problems.

Don’t micromanage. Chances are you’ve got enough to worry about the day of the event without worrying about the band (this is why it pays to work these details out ahead of time).  Let the bandleader do his job, s/he will make sure his musicians conform to your conditions.

Expect the unexpected. Live music is unique in that it takes place in the moment. No two live performances are ever exactly alike – that is what makes it so great. Don’t expect your band to sound exactly like the recording – expect them to sound better!  Encourage them to interact with the audience a little bit, let them “work the room” and personalize their show for you.  The more personable the show the more memorable it will be. And most importantly – don’t forget to have FUN!  You planned everything ahead of time so that you can relax and enjoy the moment.  So get on the dance floor and enjoy the party!

View the CK Band's Press Kit here and read part I of 'How to Hire' a Band' here