Some Light Reading:
Thank you for interest in having me play at your wedding, just being considered to be apart of your special day means a lot. I get a high volume of enquires about playing at weddings all over AUS (granted, with more attention in Sydney). I can’t help but notice that a lot of couples actually don’t know what to expect to pay for a solo acoustic singer on their big day. Regardless whether you book me or not, Hopefully this will give you some insight into what you can expect to pay for a solo acoustic singer and how to best work with and negotiate with other musicians.
I’ll be honest. I don’t play at the majority of wedding enquires I receive. Often, the couples are scared off by a price before I have the chance to break down my costs and explain why I charge what I do. I have found there is not much resources for couples on this matter, particularly in the Australian market. I have listed 6 key areas which will help you understand what you are paying for when hiring a solo acoustic singer at your wedding.
Point 1 - Residencies
If you don’t take away anything else from this article, please make sure it’s this. Taking into account most weddings are on a weekend, Hiring a *good musician is taking them away from their resedences/regular work. By taking the day off or sometimes days to play at a wedding, I have to cancel my residences for the weekend (if the wedding is out of town for instance). Straight off the bat, I lose my regular weekly income from these (which would be $600 - $1600 depending on how many gigs I'll miss). I also risk exposing my spot to a new musician and damaging a relationship with a venue I have been playing at for years. In a lot of cases I have people who come to see me play each week and some venues rely on me bringing numbers in the door.
Point 2 - Valued time
Due to late paying, middleman and lack of structure in the Industry, it’s challenging for musicians to make a living from gigging. In a lot of cases, you’ll see us having other sources of income. Based on this, each musician values their time differently. Although I’m now established in Sydney, When I was not making enough of a consistent income I was forced to take work elsewhere which eventually resulted me in founding, owning and operating an ecommerce store (www.breakfastshirts.com). In short, I have to put a price on the time I’m away from my business and playing at a wedding. Other musicians also have to put a price on whatever else they are missing, whether it be working a bar shift, missing a residency or writing music. This will vary for each musician/Artist.
Post 3. Actual Time
Learning songs. As talented as some musicians are, learning songs takes time. For me, learning a song I am not familiar with would take over 3 hours plus regular and consistent practice of it leading up to the wedding.
Communication. For the last 10 weddings I have played at, there has been an average of 22 Email Threads with bride & groom before the big day, Planning the day with the brides, helping them decide on song choices and funnily enough general wedding advise (it happens). Some couples also arrange to grab a coffee with me before the day to talk songs or show the schedule for the day.
Point 4. Expenses
Each wedding is different but here are the basics:
Gear Hire (if required/if travelling by plane)
Accomodation (if driving 5+ Hours out of Sydney)
Some more broad expenses I pay yearly:
Public Liability Insurance
Gear Servicing, Having all power cables tagged and tested
You really pay for what you get in this department, some musicians don’t have any form of insurance and no public liability. It's a good question to ask.
Point 5. Professionalism / Expertise
Having a good background in audio knowledge is a massive part of being a good musician and putting on a great performance. Each room, cathedral, outdoor setting requires knowledge on how to best position amps & mics, what levels to run the gear at, how to handle wind noise in an outdoor setting and plugging into venues in house systems which you have never used before. I’ll often arrive two hours earlier or visit the venue a week before the wedding to make sure I understand how their audio system works (if not using my own PA).
I also pride myself in not trying to steal the show. It’s your big day, I’m not here to take away from that and make sure my volume is at the right levels at the right times. Experienced wedding singers know the importance of this!
Point 6. GEAR
I have over 25k worth of Gear. The best sounding portable speakers money can buy, high end portable battery operated amps (a lot or ceremony locations won't have access to power), mixing desks, weighted stands, sand bags and back up guitars just to name a few.
I played a ceremony earlier this year and the bride had requested three songs to play. Problem was, all 3 songs were all in different tuning and the songs were to be played back to back. I wouldn’t have time to tune my guitar appropriately in time. What I ended up doing was bringing 3 guitars to the wedding all pre tuned and ready to go for the right songs. I pride myself on having ample gear for all occasions and scenarios. I very rarely need to hire external gear at weddings.
How can you negotiate with an Acoustic singer for your wedding:
Booking in Advance (6 months minimum but preferably 1+ years notice).
Not needing to learn additional songs. I understand this is a tough one as you could share a special song together and it’s obviously not a requirement for a musician!
Having music at your wedding is a game changer and really can make the day so I’ll leave you with one final note, don't spend more on your wedding cake then your muso! taste lasts only seconds but people will be talking about the music for the rest of their lives.