I'll apologize right up front regarding my comments about Spectrum Band since I completely realize that many of my comments could be interpreted as being braggadocio. Muhammad Ali once said that "It's not bragging if you can back it up" but still, it's a slippery slope to navigate from my perspective. As the band leader, it's part of my job to make sure you know about the many unique features and accomplishments of the band while you compare us to all the other bands that are available to you. An educated shopper has always been our best client. Most of my comments are directed toward the musicians as well as the engineers in the production company that do an incredible job with making each show a flawless experience. We hope you select us and we'll deliver exactly what you expect at your event!
Since this page is an editorial, here's my opinion about performances at a wedding reception:
Those are by far the most complex of all types of performances for a band since there are many logistical issues that need to be addressed. It takes years of experience and an advanced organizational skill set to manage the multitude of details that are typically involved. Other types of events are actually much easier but I do want to make you aware of the achievements of the band when being measured against more challenging situations. Bottom line: You're in good hands and we can handle anything that you need.
As I mentioned, we're fortunate enough to be invited to perform for more private events than any band in St. Louis over the past 20+ years to bring fun & excitement to those events. Our passion for music has resulted in all the recognition and awards we've received over the past years and as you compare bands, hopefully you'll see why. If you read some of the hundreds of reviews about Spectrum Band on the Internet and on our web site from past clients, you should be able to feel confident that your event will be just as successful and fun for all of your guests.
We're different from every other band in St. Louis when it comes to making it easy for you to audition our band. Of course, you are more than welcome to come and see the band in a live performance so just let me know and I would be happy to coordinate those details for you and obtain permission from the client. However, I always hear from potential clients that they find it awkward to show up at someone else's private event to audition a band so that's why we recently invested in such accurate "live" videos for your review. I know that the other bands don't have that capability and have to invite you to someone else's private event. It's a paradigm that's hard to overcome when quality videos with clear audio tracks don't exist for all the other bands that are being considered. It's the equivalent of having a band send out a cassette tape for an audition relative to using today's technology with high definition videos. You can tell that our videos haven't been "enhanced" with fixes in the studio since they are complete songs without deleting any scenes. Plus, this is the actual band that will be performing for your event so you would see the same musicians even if you did have to come to see the band at someone else's private event. We have the same musicians every weekend since we want the same quality for each show. That way it's more fun for us and more importantly, it's a consistent level of quality for all of our clients.
Having live videos with a real audience enables you to see the impact that the band will have on your guests and the contagious fun that always happens at our shows. If we didn't have such an extensive and accurate video collection available for you, we would be just like the other bands and insisting that you interrupt one of your evenings and come out to "crash" someone else's private event. As another advantage, we likely won't be doing that during your event either. However, if you would like to come and see the band at a private event let me know and we'll see what can be done to make that happen for you.
Now that you've learned about Spectrum Band, I wanted to share a few perspectives that you may not have considered regarding your quest for musical entertainment for your event. This is intended as an educational tool since I realize that most individuals have never booked a band before and don't know how to go about comparing different groups. I've received many positive responses in the past from clients thanking me for helping them learn about booking a band and how to make an intelligent decision. I hope that you also find this information to be beneficial.
The most helpful advice that I can provide to you regarding booking a band is to determine the mood that you want to set for the evening and then choose a band that meets your criteria. Choose a band that YOU like and that you think will keep your guests happy for four hours without them getting tired of listening to the same basic sound. Blues is a great style of music but if that's all that the band plays, you're possibly going to disappoint a large percentage of your guests. Does the band have female and male "lead" vocalists that complement each other musically and provide variety to the listener's ear? Everyone in the band might contribute vocally but if they're all average vocalists, that just means it sounds average 100% of the time. I'm a little biased in that I always prefer a band with a female and male vocalist. You have a captive audience in a private party, unlike a bar with changing audiences each hour, and the female vocalist allows the band to play a much larger body of music. Even if there are several male vocalists in the band, the audience will basically always be hearing the same "range" of vocalist all evening. Does the band have a horn section to authentically play those great Motown and R&B songs or are these sounds emulated by a keyboard or guitar? Does the demo CD truly represent the band that you think you're hiring? Do you hear three part female vocal harmonies on the demo but there is only one female vocalist in the band? This is a studio enhancement and the band will not sound like this at your private event. Does the band have a professional stage presence? A band can sound great but if the stage is cluttered with equipment that looks like it's been thrown down the stairs a few times, this takes away from the elegance of the evening (if you're in an elegant location). Bent and scratched music stands, inadequate stage lights, and nearly antique speaker systems may not be bad in a bar but formal events require higher standards in all aspects. These are only my opinions based solely on my experience and personal preferences, but I have structured my band to conform to these criteria to maintain my standards. My band certainly isn't the only band that aims for the top of the quality scale so look around and find the band that "trips your trigger". Hiring a band (or performing in a band) is a completely different experience compared to only watching a band on stage. It's also completely different from hiring a photographer or florist since you are hiring a group of individual professionals, not just a single person. That said, I'll address three main points about bands one at a time based solely on my opinion from 20+ years of experience:
#1 --> THE KEY TO HIRING THE PERFECT BAND:
The key to hiring a "consistently" great band is not with the bandleader, it is ultimately with the band as a unit. Watch the band, listen to the band, review their videos & audio demos, and ask the leader questions. As a bandleader I'm not so naive that I think I am the "key" ingredient. The key is to have a consistent group of musicians that all know the band's diverse repertoire and are GREAT performers individually that love to play music. Obviously the bandleader has to be a musician, manager, mechanic, and banker but these qualities are expected of anyone desiring to excel in a leadership position. It's definitely true that a professional bandleader always wants to hire top quality musicians since their reputation is at stake. However, that isn't always possible when the band doesn't perform regularly enough to earn "first call commitments" from the musicians. Even the most desperate bandleader would never hire an amateur musician. But without a committed group of band members, finding quality performers can be a problem. Any bandleader that tries to find the best local musicians during the months of May, June, October, and December is not going to be very successful because of the popularity of these months for performances. Believe me, I've had to do this and the best players are usually already booked. Every band has to use substitutes every now and then for a variety of reasons. It's real and it happens but a committed band member will keep these instances of missed performances to a minimum. The goal should be to find a band that doesn't base their future performance on the bandleader's possibility of finding the best musicians available for your date. Local bands are not national acts that can always fill a void with an incredible musician by making a single phone call. I probably have one of the most extensive lists of St. Louis' best local musicians and I sometimes have difficulty replacing only one musician. But, other band leaders know about my comprehensive list of musicians and they call me whenever they need to quickly find a substitute musician and I'm always happy to help. I've been able to recommend musicians to many other local bands and those musicians became permanent members of the band. It was a win-win for the bandleader as well as the musician. I'm a strong believer that bands are not in competition so I help other bands as often as possible with our overflow work. There are plenty of opportunities out there for all of the "good" bands so networking is a very helpful business attribute.
The bandleader's job is to honestly represent his or her band to a prospective client, help answer any questions and/or make suggestions regarding music for the client. If the client books the band then the next task is to help coordinate the logistics for the event and then provide a band that delivers a GREAT performance. This brings us back to the key: evaluating the band as a unit and not based on a bandleader that obviously wants you to book his or her band.
#2 --> THE DEMO:The media presented by a band should most definitely represent the accurate sound of the band. If you're reviewing their video then it should represent the visual appearance and show how they affect a live audience. The ability of the band to sound and look like their recordings in a live performance is primarily dependent on three factors:
- Do the media incorporate vocalists and musicians that won't be on stage? Or better stated, does it include vocalists and musicians that are no longer in the band?
- Do the media incorporate studio effects that can't be reproduced on stage?
- Is the equipment of high quality? Does the band have a poor sound system that isn't capable of accurate sound reproduction that you hear in their recordings? Was the light system used in the video something that was rented only for the sake of the video?
#3 --> THE BAND MEMBERS:
There are good bands and then there are GREAT bands. Which one do most people want to hire? It's definitely true that musicians and singers do move from band to band. If an individual leaves a band and was a very visible and/or audible element in the band (especially vocalists), the demo media no longer represent the product that the client thinks that they are purchasing. It's not impossible for the bandleader that builds his band from a Rolodex file to deliver a good product. In fact, it happens all the time. However, you don't have to be a musician to realize that the band that always uses the same core musicians is going to consistently be of a higher quality than the band made up of substitute players. There is only one Spectrum Band performing in St. Louis so you can be assured that we do not subscribe to the practice of rotating musicians based on availability. I always try to point out to a potential client that we are not one of these types of bands and that consistent quality is our focus. The more you know about bands, the better my band looks (and sounds). Again, feel free to read the comments from recent clients on our "Testimonials" page on our web site.
Choosing a band is quite a significant decision regarding the music and resulting mood for you and your guests and should be a thoughtful process. The band that you hire should be representative of the band members that you thought were being offered to you while you were choosing your band. When you test drive and order a new Lexus and then go to the dealership to pick it up and it turns out to be a Cadillac, you're not happy. The Cadillac may be a nice car but it doesn't drive like the car that you ordered. Being honest and up front is expected from a band, florist, event coordinator, photographer, etc., and no one should settle for less. This goes back to the key: look at the band as a unit.We're lucky in St. Louis that we have many professional bands to choose from that offer many different levels of quality and price. I target the high end of the quality scale and our entire band is proud to be recognized in that category by other bands and other vendors in St. Louis. Achieving that level of success requires a significant amount of talent, time, financial investment, organizational skills, and the love of playing music. Having several bands to choose from allows you to choose your band based on personal taste rather than having to choose from a limited selection.
Finally, thanks for taking the time to read this page. I like to be very thorough and address as many questions as possible so please feel free to contact me if you have any questions that I didn't address here. We specialize in private events so I'll work with you to make sure that any special details are addressed for you to make your event unique. I not only manage the band, I also perform in the band so I make every possible effort to attend each appearance to ensure that every detail is addressed. I hope to see you on a dance floor sometime!
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