So you’re looking through the WeddingWire site and checking out the different performers. It’s overwhelming! Let’s take it step by step.
The first page players
Notice the nice pictures on the first page. The reason you can see their pictures is they paid, probably $700/year or more, depending on market (you can’t see the picture or avatar of the people on free accounts). It’s also the reason they’re appearing first and there are pages of other musicians after them. In the past, when I paid, I was on the front, too. It’s nice.
If you click on the listings, you will see their picture gallery.
You can learn a lot about a musician by the picture. High quality probably means:
a) they spent money on a portrait, or
b) they played a wedding or other event and got free pictures from the photographers, or
c) they’re good with cameras
Low quality pics make a bad impression. They don’t necessarily mean that the vendor can’t play or that they aren’t experienced. Mostly it means they aren’t very savvy businesspeople or just feel too busy to attend to it.
You see people in tuxes or evening gowns. These tend to be classical musicians or older jazz players. Thirty years ago, you had to wear a tux to play a nice event. Heck, even fifteen years ago, my contracts from a local agent specified tuxedos (like $15 to dry clean every single gig!). But I haven’t worn a tux to a wedding for at least a decade. It still fits, I think, but no one asks.
There are other folks in jeans or hipper, casual outfits. They’re expressing their personality through images, or at least projecting to a desired market.
The images are a preview of how they will look at your wedding. If you want someone who looks sharp in a tux in your pictures, classing up the joint, then keep an eye out for that type of dresser. If your wedding is in a barn (I’ve done those, too, this is Arizona after all), the folks who can pull off rustic outfits might be a good match.
Most musicians are capable of changing their outfits to match your vision, but if they look old-fashioned in their listing, there’s a decent chance they’re always going to look a little old-fashioned. If they like to wear jeans and you’re putting on a black-tie soiree, it’s not out of line to ask them to send you some pics of them in slacks and a shirt to see how they clean up.
Name of listing
It might just be the performer’s name. Bonus points if they include the name of their instrument.
If the name includes “Strings,” that usually means a string quartet. They’re probably trained classical musicians. Most likely, that’s their specialty. They probably can play popular music songs you want, too. It still sort of sounds like classical music. Unless it’s Urban Electra.
Trumpets, trombones, tubas. Noble, beautiful sounds. Quite loud.
What if the listing just says “Band” or something? That means their main business is a band, but they chose to put their listing under Ceremony Musician, probably because there is less competition in that category. Bands, like quartets and other ensembles, have more members and can more easily spread advertising costs among them. Therefore they usually have nicer websites, better pictures, and higher-priced listings. If I were a band and didn’t want to spring for a featured listing, I might put myself in Ceremony Musician to get away from the bands higher up the food chain.
That being said, Bands are indeed made of musicians, so they probably have a keyboard player, guitarist, or singer who’d like to play for some wedding ceremonies. It would not be remiss to ask them for extra references from previous clients or wedding planners to make sure they have experience in this particular area. Their reviews are probably for the band doing band stuff, not wedding stuff. If they can do the job, they have references and this will only increase your trust in them.
Music, James Music
You see some listings like “Phoenix Wedding Music” or “Arizona Music.” Obviously this is not really the name of the group, but designed to get good SEO.
Yet, you have to click on their listing to see what they actually do. And they don’t have a picture, they just look like this:
Maybe it works, I don’t know. Hey, don’t knock it, we all want SEO!
Agency or “Entertainment”
Sometimes you’ll see listings with these words.
Entertainment just means Agency, as in Entertainment Agency.
Agency=a middleman who knows local musicians and can help someone who needs music in finding them. They charge a fee for this, of course.
I work with several agencies. They’re great. But if you’re at the Musician Shopping Mall, do you need an agency? After all, the goods are right there. Pictures, sound samples, videos, reviews.
Maybe. You get another layer of security. It makes an agency look bad if they book out musicians who cause problems for the clients. So they tend not to send out problem musicians. Most agents personally know quite a few musicians, and can suggest someone for your particular needs. On the other hand, agencies have limited rosters, which limits your choice. It’s a trade-off.
Agencies, like bands or multi-operator DJ sites, have more money to spend on advertising. Therefore, their listing may have nicer pics and videos and a higher placement.
If you decide to go for an agency, ask to see the promotional materials of whatever musician they suggest before booking the date. I’m not trying to make you suspicious, just giving you the means to make an informed choice.
Well, my SEO program tells me I’m 599 words over the recommended limit, so I’m going to stop here. On to Part Two!