So you’re looking to hire a live musician or band in the Maryland, Virginia or Washington DC area. Here are some tips to make sure you get some great live music that fits your event needs and budget. Keep in mind that just like anything else, what you pay for, is most often what you get. Hiring young bands, friends and acquaintances can sometimes work for your limited needs, but often end up in disappointment. Professional musicians as well as semi-professionals have been performing for years and know the ropes, which can lead to much better results.
Using Referrals, Booking Service or Talent Agency
The usual starting point for anyone searching for live musicians is to open up a web browser and search Google. Here is some advice and a list of booking services to help you get on the right track right out of the gate.
1. Determine your budget
Low Budget – $0-$200
Your budget will determine where you should focus your search for live musicians. If you only have a couple hundred dollars to spend, you’re not likely to find anyone from a booking service or talent agency as those services usual contain professional musicians who play consistently throughout the year and charge for their expertise. So ask friends and family for a referral to any musicians in your close network. Chances are you might find a young musician or band that is looking for experience and will either play for free or very cheap.
Medium Budget – $300-$1500
If you have anywhere in the range of $300-$1500 to spend on your live music needs, then use one of the services online that contain band profiles, allowing you to contact a few bands that fit your needs directly. This cuts out the agency fees that will take place when working with a talent agency and will save you a healthy amount of money. Some things to look for when searching band profiles are; music samples, photos, live music videos, testimonials, a song list, rates and a well written bio. Any band that is worth hiring should contain most if not all of these. Having all of these tools available means they know what they are doing and take their career seriously. One of the best services out there currently is a website called Gig Salad. This is a very solid website that allows you to search by demographic, style of performers, style of music and more. It also allows you to fill out a form for the music you’re looking for and automatically emails all artists who fit your criteria. Here is a list of other similar websites to help you with your search.
Gig Salad – http://www.gigsalad.com/
Gig Masters – http://www.gigmasters.com/liveband
Gig It – http://www.gigit.com
High Budget – $1500-$10,000
Ok, so money isn’t an issue. Of course you can still use one of the services above and likely find a good fit with your increased budget, but higher budgets open up the doors to work with talent agencies who charge much higher rates for their services. Not always does that mean that the musicians and bands are better quality, but they have sifted through and usual only accept professional acts for their roster. There are literally hundreds to thousands of entertainment agencies out there you can reach out to. Here are a few of the suggested agencies.
RMA Presents – http://rmapresents.com/
Starleigh – http://www.starleigh.com/
Washington Talent – http://washingtontalent.com/