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I picked up a wedding gig 2 months in front of the date and everything seemed cool. The bride had found my website which has a huge list of the standards I know. She asked for solo sax; cool I've done that. She also asked that I learn 2 tunes, contemporary R&B stuff, no problem, but very different from what I usually play. I picked up the recordings and started working on them-- melody only so I can pick these up pretty easily and add in a bit of my own stuff.

A few days later she asks if I can get a keyboard player, again no problem for me-- but the ceremony is on the beach and there's no power--that is a problem. I went thru my contacts and found a guy with a battery powered setup, no one else had one. He cancels on me a week later-- picked up a lesser paying gig in a casino, but he's been trying to get into the casino for a year, so he needs to do it. Thanks dude. I'm stressing because I've told the bride I have a great keys player lined up.

I go thru my contacts again and finally find another player with a battery powered setup, but he needs to get off from his day gig and come to the wedding at the last minute. I plan to pick up his equipment and set it up before he arrives. More work for no more pay, great.

With the addition of a keyboard, I'm now working at figuring out the chords for the 2 tunes the bride requested. Lots of dramatic modulations and different parts, not standard song forms, so my work is cut out for me, not being a great chord transcriber. Plus I hate the songs.

I get in touch with the bride via email about a month out just to touch base. She requests more songs I don't know in a style I don't play (more contemporary R&B). Very nicely I tell her I don't know them and a huge list of tunes I *DO* know is on my website, where she originally found me. Might she choose from among them? (I don't tell her that I don't want to spend more time figuring out tunes I will never play again-- for no additional pay.) She emails back asking for some smooth jazz tunes not on my list-- more tunes I don't know in a style I really dislike (no offense intended). I write her back, explaining very nicely that with a day gig I do not have the time to put into learning any more than the 2 songs she requested and that I am still working on learning those. The songs I perform are on my website-- didn't she see the list??

She freaks out... Bridezilla style

I finally worked out with her that I'd refund 1/2 of her deposit and get this gig out of my life. I cannot believe that she didn't realize the type of tunes I play and just assumed that I could play any song!! ***??

I've learned that in the future I need to communicate the genres and styles of music I perform very explicitly. And that I should ask for a lot more deposit $$ and pay to book weddings.
 

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The fact that you had an explicit list on your web site meant nothing to the bride in waiting. She wanted what she wanted. After all it was going to be HER DAY! Consideration for others is out the window. These types of stories are exactly why I have given up doing weddings and my wife has stopped singing at weddings. People want live music but are then put out by the limitations that brings. Guess what folks? Get a DJ. You will find out he has limitations too and can't play every song that hits your fancy.

Good luck in the future.

honkinhogger
 

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Even "communicating" with the client doesn't always help much. There's always someone's uncle or cousin, etc, who's going to ask for something idiotic in the middle of the reception. Maybe we should all start charging a fee per song request that aren't on the list for those folks who think live musicians and juke boxes work the same way.

At this point, my relatives don't understand why I manage to always have something else to do every time some second, third and/or fourth cousin has a wedding. I just can't stand going to them...unless I'm getting paid very well for it.
 

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I'm guessing you have a contract that you send to all your clients. I would state some of the problems you're having in bold print and be very clear to your customers about what you can and can't do.

I think you were reasonable with letting her pick out a couple of songs. The rest I would have gotten the chord sheets and improvised.....possibly trashed the music and smiled as I pulled up to the bank cashing the check. I think flying by the seat of your pants would be a whole lot more fun for you and your crew then trying to plan out every thing so meticulously. Your a jazz musician and as such you should be able to have some fun, makes some mistakes, and if need be tick off the bride with some avant-garde stylings.
 

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From your website:

"Getting Married? Keeping your day about you-- that is the key concept I use in every aspect for your event entertainment. I have top-notch jazz musicians that will make your service and reception memorable. Whether you require the musicians to play "your song" (we love re-working current hits into a jazz style) or mom wants to jitterbug to "Stompin' At The Savoy" my professional musicans deliver. I have access to literally thousands of tunes and if I don't already have it, my trained professional arrangers will recreate the sound of your favorite songs. Whether you require a mellow cocktail or dinner set or you want a more featured musical review for your celebration, my performers know their place is to support and enhance your event with the respect and decorum you deserve."


I played in a GB/Wedding/Club band that had a similar statement on the website. We used to get some doozies. If the Bride gives you songs, you have to do them unless you stated that you wouldn't perform requests at the onset.

I have to admit, it's bold to perform an outdoor wedding as a solo or with a battery powered piano. In that case, you need more control, which isn't conducive to making a flippy bride happy.

I like Scotch, single malt from the Highlands or Islands, at least 12 years old, served neat in an old fashioned glass, no chaser. If it wasn't for scotch, I probably couldn't have survived the thousand or so weddings I played. New Years eves gigs, that's another story.
 

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Your website does kind of make it sound like you can do anything they request at the drop of a hat.

I used to play with a guy who would charge after the first couple requests if he didn't have charts on the songs. I think the contract said something about him being a professional arranger as well and if charts were not available or the bride couldn't provide sheet music, he could arrange them for something like $50.00 a tune. When the average wedding costs 10's of thousands, what's another $50?

I've used sites like musicnotes.com if I couldn't find a chart or didn't want to pay $30.00 for a book that I only wanted one song from. They have a lot of current pop tunes. Another option is to play DJ and suggest playing the tune from a recording through your PA if they absolutely need to have the song for a dance or whatever.

Funny thing is that on the Big Day, the last thing that's going to be on her mind is if the 5th song she requested actually gets played or not.
 

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Yeah, the whole wedding request thing can get out of control. I haven't booked a whole lot of weddings myself, but I've been the sideman on a gazillion wedding gigs, and I've gleaned a lot from the leaders I've worked for. The most professional wedding band I worked in was in Chicago (referred to as a Jobbing Band in those parts), and we did almost 130 dates a year. The bottom line was...well...the bottom line: The guy charged a premium price for the band (this was early '90s and the basic charge for the 10pc band for 3 hours was $3000), and the contract would stipulate up front the price for any over-time, or for learning more than 1 or 2 tunes. The leader could transcribe and do charts, but he was pretty busy (booking 3 jobbing bands) so he often hired me to do charts. He would give me a tape or CD of the requested tune the week before the gig, and I'd crank out a rhythm section part and three horn parts, and he would pay me $125 a chart. (sometimes it didn't seem like enough money when the tune was complex, but other times it was great, when it was just a one or two-chord vamp tune, so it all evened out). A lot of those requests would never be played again; some of them were the flavor of the month and we'd use them for a few weeks before retiring them, and a few of them ended up being a regular part of the repertoire. But since everyone got paid for their services, everyone was happy.

Lots of our gigs were for Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs, and of course the kids would want a lot of the most current tunes. So the band leader would contract a DJ to trade sets with us (all part of the contract). We could do our thing for the parents and family friends, and the DJ could crank the pop music and distribute the inflatable plastic guitars and goofy hats for the kids to dance to/with.

Ahh....show business... :D
 

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Reading the quote from your website that Marty provided puts a different spin on it. I think you might want to change your advertising. I see this as the reason you got into the pickle you did.

I haven't done many weddings, but the wedding gigs I have picked up always came from someone who heard the band at a "normal gig" (is there such a thing?) and wanted exactly what they heard there for the wedding reception. So, for the most part, it ends up being the same music we play at any gig. But a wedding pays better! I also occasionally get a gig with another (blues, "old school" R&B) band when the bride or groom requests a sax---hey it happens sometimes. In that case I don't have to worry about it; I play whatever the band is playing. I do know what I'm getting into because I know the band and musicians and have played with them before. We've got a wedding to play up at Lake Tahoe later this month. I'll let you know if anything interesting happens, lol.

Bottom line--make sure anyone who hires you knows exactly what music you play and are willing to play before you take the gig.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Good call on changing the wording of my website... I've deleted the text that might be interpreted that I can play any tune from any genre. Thanks for pointing this out! I think what I need to say is that it's cool for me to figure out 1-2 tunes, but anything more is not my bag. This input from other saxophonists is why this forum is so valuable to me. THANKS!!!
 

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What I did with my string quartet was charge $50 per special request for pieces which we might be able to use again and $40/hr for one shot wonders based on actual time required to complete the arrangement and rehearse it once. After the wedding they are presented with a copy of the music if they are interested.

String quartets are a bit more formal when it comes to performing as it all has to be written out, so this may not be applicable to a Jazz/R&R/R&B setup. I have an interesting library of odd bits of music. Some of which has become regular rep, and some of which exists only on my old computers hard drive. Sometimes you just say no, not for any amount.
 

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A letter from the bride's family....

Dear Mr. Fat Frank:

My wife and I look forward to you providing music at our daughter's
wedding at the Taylor County Country Club this Saturday evening. We
have just been very busy and simply forgotten to provide you with a
list of songs you need to perform. Here is what we need from you.

Most any Chick Corea composition would be great, but do need you to
play "The Three Quartets, No. 1" as the guests walk in. For the
bride's mother, please go right into the piano intro to "Quartet No.
2." Keep playing it till she gets up to the altar. Also, it is a must
that you have it arranged for the full ensemble. Don't play any of the
"Electric Band" songs and make sure the drummer uses "Evans" drum
heads so his drums sound like Steve Gadd, our favorite drummer.

Now, when I walk in, please play "Birdland" (but it must be the
version from "Live"). My wife and I were at that show, and we
particularly like that version. Then you can play "Sister Cheryl" from
"Tony Williams Live in Tokyo." Now, for the song in the middle of the
Mass during the communion, we want the singer to sing Alan
Holdsworth's "Against the Clock" from his "Wardenclyffe Tower" CD. We
love this song and especially the drum solo by Vinnie Colaiuta. We
think that it's his greatest solo, although some will argue against
this. Keep repeating the drum solo till the priest tells you to stop.
However, the drummer needs to play this with brushes and no bass drum.

Next, any of John Coltrane's duets w/Pharaoh Sanders would be grand. I
understand that their use of atonality is not everyone's cup of tea,
but all of our guests LOVE high register tenor saxes. I'm sure your
trumpet player can double for one of the sax parts and save us the
expense of having two sax players.

We also thought a little Stravinsky right after the toast would be
nice. We particularly like the "Infernal Dance. . ." or whatever it's
called, from the Rite of Spring (second version c. 1932). If you want
to use the sheet music, that's OK. We like a tempo of about note=93
(Ozawa). A bit faster be is okay but do not play it too slow. That
would ruin it.

Next, for the "life candle" lighting ceremony, please play Frank
Zappa's "The Black Page." I know that you'll want to play it in the
original key of Bb minor, because, but my cousin Janine would like to
sing it, so you may have to play that part in another key (she majored
in voice at UCLA) on the spot. Just be prepared.

During the cocktail hour, we want some nice Keith Jarrett tunes from
his "Standards Vol. 1 and 2" and nothing else.

Now when my daughter throws the garter, could you play just a little
of Varese's "Ionization"? It's such a cool piece. We think it would go
over really well. It's much better than "The Stripper" which we
frankly find a bit too vulgar anyway.

Now, for the bride and groom's first dance, please slow things down a
bit by doing Barber's "Adagio for Strings." It's so much better than
"We've Only just Begun" or "The Anniversary Waltz." When my wife and I
join in the first dance, could you please segue to Thelonious Monk's
"Ruby, My Dear?" That's in honor of my wife's grandmother, whose name
was Ruby. It would mean so much to the family. Then, we would like to
hear some nice Mexican music while we eat dinner. We love the sound of
Los Ponchos, so any of their hits would be great. Of course, you'll
have figure a way to cover all of the percussion parts, but I'm sure
you can handle that little detail without my assistance.

Oh yes, thanks very much for all your understanding in this. We'll
certainly be happy to recommend your band to all of our friends. We
thought that $50.00 per man for 4 hours would be sufficient. So that's
$350.00 for the entire group. If you get our guests dancing, I will
even consider throwing in an extra $50.00. So, hey there's some
incentive to get 'em dancing.

Now, we want you to be set up TWO HOURS before your scheduled start
time @ 5:00 pm., and absolutely do not be late. We don't want to see
any cases, bags, coats, boxes, cables, wires, or any of that tacky
tacky and such unnecessary clutter on the stage or within view of the
guests. Play 1 1/2 hours and then take a break of no more than 10
minutes, but don't forget, to leave the guitar player or the piano
player playing while the rest of the band breaks. We just can't stop
the mood can we?

Also, absolutely no drinking! In fact, we don't even want to see the
musicians near the bar or food tables. Also, NO TALKING ON STAGE!! Go
outside quietly where no one can see you. Of course, no smoking
anywhere inside or outside. Someone will be watching you on your
breaks to make sure you don't consume any alcohol. oh and before you
leave on your break, make sure to talk to the caterer about a band tab
for any sodas if you can take outside with you during your break. You
can settle up with him in cash at the conclusion of the evening. I
believe the sodas are only $3-$4 plus the tax.

Oh, and one more thing.... and this is very important. In between
songs, we don't want to hear any of the musicians talking or making
eye contact with the guests. I don't know what you people like to call
it that, it is terribly rude and unprofessional. Actually, I strongly
feel that it is very unprofessional. You don't see the members of the
Berlin Philharmonic doing that. . . .right?

We look forward to hearing you play. Mail us your bill the week after
wedding and we'll have our accountant prepare you a check within 45
days. Thanks for taking care of these last minute finishing touches
and don't disappoint us.

Sincerely,

Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Fitzgerald Chadwick
Parents of the Bride
 

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sounds like wedding gigs arent for you. wedding guys play everything. I agree that you could have butchered your way through some of those tunes .Once the party starts the brides usually calm down. Thats pretty much all I do is weddings and my cats show up with music out the yin yang. We have been doing it a long time so usually we know it or can fake it but I understand not wanting to do it at all if its not going to be right. The brides dont care about your day job or who knows what tune. They just expect you to cater. thats what most wedding bands do. smile and play anything and everything the guests and especially the family want.Its not for everyone... but if you need the income....
 

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Judging by your web site, sound-clips and the above mentioned qoute. it seems you are putting yourself "out there" as something you're not. (not trying to be harsh or mean, just REALISTIC, I guess this is my rant, being in music for 20 yrs)

While its great that you are playing the saxophone & enjoying it & feel some confidence to go out & play some gigs, if you are going to advertise yourself as "music for your occasion" and doing "special" songs, "all stlyes" etc., and you are unable to/its beyond your abilities,
THEN DONT ADVERTISE YOURSELF AS IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE GUYS. You wont have problems like this.

OR

If you want to be one of those guys & do gigs like this, PRACTICE MORE AND PUT IN THE REAL WORK REQUIRED FOR THIS TYPE OF THING.

Its that simple.

If you want to be a baker & bake wedding cakes, you gotta know what to do, know what product/services you can provide and what you cant, what's required of the business and BE ABLE TO DO THAT, BEFORE you start advertising that you can.

Professionalism.

In your area of So. Calif., I'm sure there are PLENTY of competent, well-playing, PROFESSIONAL players, for who, a gig like that would be no problem, LEAVE IT TO THEM.

THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE USING D.J.'S, the fact that this woman had a BAD experience w/you could very well send her to a D.J. and put her off using LIVE MUSIC ever again AND telling her friends what a hassle it was with a musician, just use a DJ, etc....hey might do the same.

THE music business is TOUGHER than EVER, don't make it worse for the real professionals out there.
 

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I find myself agreeing somewhat with you, Tom.

It seems that anybody with an iPod and a PA with decent subwoofers are trying their hands at DJing, and the kids at my school never get to hear a live band at their dances. (I remember doing sound for a MENC convention, and having the kids call me their DJ--I told them I was the guy that taught DJs how to set up their equipment;)).

But let's face it, the music business is changing, and if you don't change with it, you'll be left with no gigs, and going back to school to learn to do a day job...
 

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Pgraves said:
:shock: :shock: :shock:
I think you've officially scared me off of doing weddings, sir.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Enlightened now. I now completely agree that I was advertising stuff I didn't want to pull off. I wrote the copy for the website a few years ago and was overly ambitious in how I worded it, plus I did not have a day gig at that time-- I was a full-time pro. I can pull off learning a few new tunes, but not more than that, especially in genres I do not enjoy. My own fault for not re-writing my copy.

I have now revisited how I promote what I do and will continue to modify the site over the next few weeks. Live and learn. THANKS again for all of your input!! Much appreciated.

I was already thinking that I do not want to play weddings before this happened... I think I've done about 250-300 over the years, mostly as a sideman, probably about 15 as a leader. I never had this issue come up before.
 

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Pgraves thanks for the post. That's the funniest post I've seen on here for quite awhile.

I can't believe people expect that kind of service for $350 split 4 ways. I wouldn't have done that gig for $3500. Although I think I would have made the gig and done everything they request we not do, including hitting on the women and getting totally ripped at the bar.
 

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heath said:
Pgraves thanks for the post. That's the funniest post I've seen on here for quite awhile.

I can't believe people expect that kind of service for $350 split 4 ways. I wouldn't have done that gig for $3500. Although I think I would have made the gig and done everything they request we not do, including hitting on the women and getting totally ripped at the bar.
It was a very funny post. But of course it was a spoof; a bit of a satire, tossing in ALL the occasional stipulations into one package. I think I've seen this one before somewhere. Thanks for sharing it, Pgraves!

Hey believe it or not, I did a gig like this once, for about that amount of pay! No talking to guests, no drinking, stay in the back room during breaks, no eating (oh they gave us some cheap sandwichs or something). And I'm not kidding, this really happened. By the end of the party I had broken every single one of those rules, though. There were some very nice ladies in the audience.
 

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I haven't played a lot of weddings only maybe 15. All of them have been pretty good actually. I could see though that wedding are an emotional time and the client could be hard to deal with.
 
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