Archive for January 23rd, 2008

“Will You Work With Me On That?”

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

There are times when – as Frank Sinatra used to sing – “Something’s gotta give.”

My band’s standard stage size is 12′ deep by 24′ wide. In a large hotel or country club ballroom, this usually presents no problem. But in certain venues where we are hired to play, the unique layout of the room makes such an amount of square footage (or at least, in that particular configuration) difficult or even impossible for the buyer to provide.

In such cases, my client often asks: “Will you work with me on that?” And my answer is always, “Yes.” The same is true of most of my fellow bandleaders.

Brides who have reached the outer limits of their budget, and fund-raisers who are trying to maximize their charity’s net profit both ask that same question. And again, as far as we are able, the majority of bands and deejays answer in the affirmative – we will work with you.

But there are a few factors that I hope you’ll take into account, before you make a similar request:

1. There are space limits beyond which your music provider cannot go. Given advance warning, our band can cut our stage size by 1/3 in either or both directions (down to 8′ X 16′.) We do this by scaling back on the amount of equipment we bring, and by squishing closer together. Beyond that, there’s not much we can do for you without adversely compromising both the look and sound of the band.

2. Some nights are better for squeezing budgets than others. On Saturday nights, or during weekends in December, bands and deejays can – and should – make full pay. You will find the best deals from your music providers by booking them during “off” times. Your other option is to cut back on the number of musicians hired.

3. All such negotiations should take place BEFORE the contracts are signed. You would justifiably be upset if your bandleader showed up at your party with 2 fewer musicians than you had contracted to have, or if he unilaterally decided to work less hours. In turn, your band or deejay deserves everything from you that your contract has promised. The only good time to ask “Will you work with me on that?” is before contracts are signed. Otherwise, your music provider has every right to expect that his amount of set-up time, stage space, and conveniently available electricity will be just as the contract has spelled out.

Discovering the extent to which compromise is possible before you sign on the dotted line protects both you and your vendor. The one thing neither of you wants to hear at the party is this exchange: “Will you work with me on that?” “No!”