Updated: Sep 8
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 live music wedding 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 'wedding band' is fabricated.
None of the people you SEE in the online photos will be at your wedding reception.
None of the singers you HEAR online will sing at your wedding reception.
None of the musicians you HEAR online will play at your wedding reception.
None of the REVIEWS on the site are of the band that will perform at your wedding.
So, what are you seeing on this 'band' website?
You have discovered a corporate temporary agency that specializes in providing musicians for events. The agency selects musicians from a pool to form a band for your occasion, which then becomes the trademarked name of the group.
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.
“From gig to gig, you don’t know who you’re going to be on stage with.” “It was painted as everyone was a pro, and everyone wasn’t a pro,.... I felt like a babysitter at times, guiding musicians who were on their first gigs and didn’t seem to know some of the basics of live performances." Thomas Cryer II - Professional musician who performed in one of these 'agency' bands. View the details of the class action lawsuit he brought against the company.
"As a sound guy, I’m happy to say I have mixed some great groups (of this type) and sadly, some that were not so great…" J.S. (sound engineer)
"BUT...they allow me to customize the size of the band."
It sounds so easy. You want 6 people in your wedding 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.
This booking—your wedding reception—might be the first time they have even met each other. ‘Band’ members are encouraged not 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.
"BUT...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 exactly how it actually works.
Vocalists often times 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. Singers like to on focus songs they know, that they like, and that they want to sing.
SO, what might happen the night of your event?
The musicians come together to form the band, but as they start playing, you realize that the musicians you had previously seen and thought were pretty good at a showcase aren't the same ones performing at your event. You remember the contract you signed, which included a clause that stated there was no guarantee on who would perform in the band.
As the band tries to get organized, there are awkward pauses between songs as they discuss things like tempo, key, and who will take a solo, etc..
To make matters worse, it is very likely that the music director you've been working with is just a salesperson sitting in a corporate office somewhere, and won't be present at your event to hear 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.
BUT... the online reviews are so great though.
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)
“It was a great band to be a part of because you didn’t have to do rehearsals, you could just go in and play,” Thomas Cryer II
In addition to not rehearsing, most of these bands also require meals, which not only increases the overall food bill but also slows down the catering staff, taking away from their ability to attend to you and your guests.
Once dancing starts, you can expect the ‘band’ to play a 45-minute set (or so) of live music. After the short dance set, expect a 30 minute (or so) break. The band will play another 45-minute set (or so) followed by a 30 minute (or so) break.
So, during that 2 1/12 hour dance party set, your band might play for 90 minutes.
In contrast, 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 borderline fraudulent, you’re not booking a band for a backyard barbecue, where a group of musicians who may have never met might be acceptable. No, this is your once-in-a-lifetime wedding reception.
Ultimately, "It is a roll of the dice." Thomas Cryer (musician who formerly played for one of these fake bands and brought a class action lawsuit against them)
Don't fall prey to this scam. It's not worth the risk.