There are pros and cons of using band agencies to find and hire a band for your wedding or party. We’ve listed them all here so you can make an informed decision…
1 Price – boo!
This is the number one factor for most people. Using an agency will usually cost you much more than hiring a band directly. Most agencies put 15% fee on top of the band’s normal pricing and then VAT on top of that. Fair enough – they need to make a profit. The thing to consider is that 15% doesn’t sound like much until you’re applying it to fees that are already quite expensive. 15% of £1000 is £150. VAT at 20% is £30. £180 is what you’re paying for the ease of scrolling through bands and finding what appeals to you all in one place. If you’re cool with that, that’s fine, but booking a band directly can save you hundreds.
Some agencies make bands take the financial strain by demanding they discount their fee by the amount of the agency’s fee to ‘price match’ the band against the band’s direct price. They do this to dissuade you from finding the band directly because they’re guaranteeing that the price will be the same. So for you as the client, you get to find a band easily through an agency and not pay inflated fees.
From a band’s perspective, this is fairly crappy though – most musicians and bands are far from being rich. Booking a band at a price match through an agency means the band is getting much less than they would booked directly. On the flip of that, the band gets business that they might otherwise not have had. The trouble is, it’s becoming harder and harder for bands to be found directly as more and more agencies enter the market and start to dominate Google’s search pages with their big SEO and marketing budgets. We’ve experienced this ourselves, and we’re having to fight really hard to recover lost ground.
2 Ease – yay!
Hiring a band through an agency alleviates the hassle of hunting through Google’s search results. It’s much easier to use an agency site, as everything you need to know is laid out there for you including photos, video and information for each band.
3 Non direct communication – boo!
In order to stop being bypassed, agencies don’t allow the band to be in direct contact with the client until after the band has been booked through the agency. This makes it more difficult to get a feel for the people in the band and the way they sound, perform and work before hiring.
When you deal with a band directly, you can create a connection with them and in Halflight’s case, you can come and meet us and hear us play before hiring us. That’s simply the best way to hire a band. Why? Because nowadays most bands can produce a good sounding demo in a studio, or take polished photos and high quality video, but if you can’t hear a band live, how do you know if they’re really any good? You’ll want to know that they sound good, play well and also put on a good performance, live!
4 Legal stuff taken care of – yay!
A good thing about using an agency is that you can be sure that contracts will be taken care of. The agency makes the band sign a contract to cover themselves against absenteeism or breached terms. They’ll also make you sign that contract too, so that everyone’s rights are protected. This is a good thing, although any decent band will be happy to sign a contract with you directly too.
5 Agency bands are listed under a different name – boo!
Many agencies require that bands are on the roster using a different name than their official one. This is to stop clients searching for the band directly and avoid paying those agency fees! We get this, but it’s quite self serving. Many bands will get a lot of business through referrals and recommendations, but if the only name they can go by is the fake one they’re using on the agency site, then they can only be referred via the agency which usually means lower fees for the band or higher fees for the client.
Hey, we’re not saying agencies are the bad guys – they provide a useful service and of course, they need to make a profit to exist which is fine. But given the choice, most bands would probably rather be booked directly because they get paid what they’re worth and they can interact directly with the client. As a band, we find it hard to feel warm and fuzzy about big corporations hoovering up all the bands, squeezing bands out of search engine results and often reducing what the band can earn per gig. Sure, there are mutual benefits, but our recommendation is that if you can find and book a band directly, it’s better for everyone. Except perhaps the agencies (booo!)