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“I never realized how many dance bands there are out there. There are bands in every town, all over town, and sometimes it’s hard to decide how to go about booking them.

My first thought was that the easiest way to book a band would be to go watch them play live. I looked at every night club I could think of and quickly decided the bands performing were not the style of band I wanted. I thought my friends might have some recommendations, so I started asking them if they knew of any bands I would like. I quickly realized that booking a band is not like buying a car in the way that you don’t buy them every day, and not everyone has answers to questions you may have. My next thought was to turn to Google, and boy was I overwhelmed. After reviewing the countless searches, it became apparent to me that I had two options. 1) I could contact a band directly, or 2) I could book a band through a booking agency, but which choice was the right choice?”

This is where most new talent buyers wind up; lost, confused, and having to make a decision with no one to advise them, but that’s what we’re here for. As a talent agency, we know the high importance of booking a band through an agency. That being said, you make think this information is biased, but before you make any assumptions, let’s look at the facts.

The first is that if you choose to contact a band directly, the band will be biased on how good they are. They will tell you where they have played, who they have played for, how much money they charge, and will try to convince you they are the best band for your event. It’s highly possible that after conversing with a band directly, you still won’t be sure they are the band for you, so you contact the next band that strikes your interest.

The second band will do exactly what the first band did, try to convince you that they are the best band for your event…See a pattern here? This can go on and on, and before you know it, you are getting emails and phone calls from every band you contacted.

If you did finally make a decision on which band you’re going to book, what are you supposed to do next? Does the band send you a contract? Are you required to give them a deposit? What happens to your deposit? What happens if the band breaks up? What happens if someone is sick and the band can’t make your event? …The list goes on and on, and these are some of the issues you need to consider when you book a band.

Many people say that if you book a band directly, it will save you money. Is this true? Let’s think about this scenario for a minute. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you are trying to book “Band X” and they are an independent band, meaning they book some shows directly and will also take jobs through an agency. If the agency books them for $5,000.00, the band will pay the agency a commission for finding them the work. However, if you book the band directly, the band could still charge you $5,000, or even more than the price the agency would normally charge for the same group. If Band X did that, they would pocket the commission and leave you paying more for less service and expertise. The band’s reasoning is why am I now worth less because someone is calling me directly.

So let’s say you decide to book your band with an agency, what are the steps you and your agent would go through? First of all, you will speak with an agent. It is more than likely your agent specializes in a certain geographic territory. This is good for you because the agent will know about popular bands and venues in your area and your particular market. Your agent will ask you questions such as “What style of band do you want?” “What do you want them to play?” “What is your venue and will it accommodate the type of band you are looking for?” “When is the date and what is your budget?”

After asking these questions, your agent will give you a list of bands that fit your criteria. If you have any questions about a particular band, or are interested in a recommendation, the agent will most likely be able to provide you with references of previous clients so you can research the band. Not only will your agent provide you with recommendations, but they will provide you with photos, audio links, videos, biographies, and song lists that the band can perform. If you decide on a particular band, the booking agency will then issue you a performance contract, confirming the engagement.

So what happens after you’re issued a contract? Well a deposit on the band is required, and usually ranges between 20 and 50% of the full amount. Once the deposit is received, it will be deposited into the agency’s escrow account and will remain there until the show is played.

Obviously, there is always a chance for problems to occur, but the benefit of going through an agency is that your agent will handle your problems for you, so that you can enjoy planning other aspects of your event. For example, if the band you booked breaks up, or someone gets sick and cannot play, the agency can either refund your money or give you several options of like bands that can play your event.

You may be wondering if an agency will try to put the “hard” sell on you like bands do. The answer is both yes and no. Agencies will normally pitch you their exclusive bands first, which is to be expected. However, if you like someone that is not exclusive with the agency, the agency will work with you to find what is best for you and your event. The best way to think about it is that a booking agency will not make any money if you do not book a band through them, so they will definitely work with you to find what you are looking for.

The ultimate question is, “What’s easier, dealing with multiple bands, or a booking agency?” A booking agency is hands down the way to go. Normally, dealing with a booking agency will not cost more than booking a band directly and can sometimes save you money, not to mention the headache. Agents know where the work is and if the band is in your area and will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

So, how do you know where to find a good agency? Well, there are several ways. Word of mouth, references, the internet, and the Better Business Bureau are just a few. Ask if the agency is a member of the BBB and use this resource to confirm who you are dealing with is legitimate and has no complaints registered. If there have been complaints, did they deal with them until they were resolved?

Times surely have changed. People can very rarely go see live dance bands at clubs and festivals to book them for an event anymore. Nowadays the internet is the best resource. Still interested in booking a band? Go to your search engine of choice and consider all the factors discussed in this blog. Weigh your pros and cons and do what you think is right for your event. When it comes time to book a band we are sure that if you select a legitimate agency, you will not be let down and your event will be a success.