Archive for January, 2010

Negotiating Pricing for your Wedding Music Part 1

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

First off, you want to create a list of considerations and requirements. This is part of your “pre-production” as we call it in the recording business. This list should take the most time and research. Information such as topics that I am writing about in past blogs will give you fodder for this list. Without this list, you will 1.) NEVER remember everything and 2.) be unable to lead or participate more fully in a discussion about your needs. In other words, you will be dependent on someone else’s vision of your music and AV needs.

This is not to say that you may not be speaking with someone that can take care of your needs and provide you with a more complete vision, it is only a step in preparation that arms you with the type of information that will help you discern if you are speaking with someone that is competent and experienced, or a hack that has decided to try a new line of work beginning with your wedding reception as the “beta test”.

I will create such a list as well as illustrate some negotiating parameters in my coming blogs.

Audio Visual Concerns for your Wedding Ceremony and Reception

Friday, January 15th, 2010

There are many Audio Visual (aka: A/V, AudioVisual, AV) considerations that you should be aware of. The first that comes to my mind is that ceremonies that take place on the beach, are often seen and not heard. Why? Because it’s rather LOUD on the beach. No, not loud when your walking on the beach taking it its majesty and beauty, but LOUD when your exchanging vows at a talking volume level. Now imagine rows of chairs and people sitting in the sand, with the wind blowing, attempting to share that moment by hearing what is said.

Even if you go out to the beach right at this moment to test this theory and decide “hey, it’s really quiet out here, I think we can run without any additional sound reinforcement”, the day of your wedding could be completely different.

You will need at the minimum a clip-on Lavalier (Lav) microphone for the Pastor. Preferably, you will want to place one on the Groom as well. The Bride will be heard by the Grooms Lav so there is no need to place one on her. Also, you will need two powered speakers for <100 people and two additional powered speakers for more then 100 people. Four (4) powered speakers should cover any beach ceremony. This system will require a "mixer" and an A/V table which can be set up to the side of the cermony and to the back so it will not detract from the visual of the event. The A/V table should be draped and all wiring can be easily buried in the sand with excess cable placed under the table. When professionally set up, these speakers can actually add to the visual of the event. The importance of their functionality, however, cannot be overemphasized. Further, if you have music for the ceremony (harpist, violinist, guitarist or singer) you can now place a microphone on them and everyone can enjoy the music! Another strategy is to use a CD player to play some soft background music before anything takes place while people are milling around and before taking their seats. Then you would go to the instrumentalists for the ceremonial music performance and then the vows. All covered through the same PA system. Someone needs to drive this system and preferably that will be a professional AV type person (DJ's and musicians count for this job). Soft music after the event also really adds a touch of class to the event as people will be there at the location for 20-30 minutes just hanging around. The most cost effective way to accomplish this overall mission is to plan for this, then negotiate it with the band, DJ or musician that will be performing for the ceremony or reception. IF you can negotiate this as a "package" with the rest of the entertainment, you stand to save some costs. When I am hired to do a wedding reception, I always bring these issues to the forefront before pricing my services because 1.) I know what needs to be done, 2.) I am already going to be on the job and 3.) I have the equipment to do what is required, correctly. I am then able to price this part the AudioVisual equipment along with my services which saves the bride and groom a lot of money. To give you an idea of costs here, a wireless microphone to rent would be somewhere in the $125.00 range, then your PA system would be another $300'ish. There are PA systems that run on DC power (batteries) or sometimes a couple hundred feet of heavy gauge drop cord is required. If I PERFORM for a ceremony, I BRING all of this PA gear with me for my performance, then just "give" the pre recorded music as an incentive for using my services. Then I would rent the Lav's two for the price of one so I am earning an additional $300-$400 but providing a value in the $750-$1000 range. Another consideration is at the reception location. A really cool thing to do is prepare a video presentation of the bride and groom as kids, a montage' of their courtship and lives. Then project this in a loop format on an 8' screen somewhere off to the side where family can enjoy this. Believe me, this will be a big hit feature and where ever you place this screen, people are going to gather. MAKE SURE you don't create a bottleneck with your screen placement. Don't put it in front of the bar or food. Find a nice corner where there are not bathroom doors or entrances. These videos can be with or without sound but you have to plan in advance for which it will be. I have a recording studio so I have built a lot of these over the years. I always put music to them. These become heirlooms so even if they are played at the event with no sound, the sound becomes important when played at home. Grandma will want a copy of this too so you'll need several copies. From an A/V perspective, you'll need the screen (usually a 6' or 8' screen), a projector and I recommend planning for audio which would require a powered speaker. The screen should be placed in a corner, draped, then the speaker sits behind the screen, hidden to the audience. This should look good. If this is indoors, a couple pieces of Pipe and Drape can make this really "POP". I've done this with 12 foot screens too so it depends on the venue. Typically, your musicians are not going to have this type of gear available but you can easily rent this from an A/V company ( I recommend Five-Star Audio Visual which you can find at www.FiveStarAV.com). Another feature often overlooked is a dance floor. Dance floors make a huge difference and they can be set up outside as well as inside. Uplighting, rope lighting and ambience lighting can do for your event what a candle can do to your dining experience. It's just a touch of class that can make the event unbelievable. As you can probably tell, there's a LOT to be considered. This can get to be a strategic mess if not thought through in advance and planned for correctly. I am always available for any input or service that I can provide at www.JesseDeese.com

What to consider BEFORE hiring entertainment for your wedding or reception

Monday, January 11th, 2010

What to consider BEFORE hiring entertainment for your wedding or reception:

After considering your venue size and deciding on what type of band to go after, there are many other important considerations. I’ll touch on some points overall and go into more detail in future blogs. You can always contact me with questions at: jesse.deese@mac.com

You are about to invest thousands of dollars in food and flowers and clothing and venue and that list goes on. One of the very highest priorities on your list should be your investment in MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT. No offense to relatives, but a common mistake is to try to save on money by using a relative or friend to perform the music or be the DJ. Yes, there are exceptions when this can work but the “consideration” here should be at what level of proficiency do you expect your event to be. A wedding ceremony and a wedding reception are a “one shot” experience. You don’t get to try it again tomorrow.

Only seasoned professionals that have been through the procedure many times before can know what to expect, how to prepare for it and how to execute perfectly every time. Sounds a bit dramatic but believe me, if something goes WRONG with your music, it will likely BE a dramatic experience.

Budget for entertainment just like you budget for food. For example, if you budget $20 for each guest towards entertainment, a wedding with a 100 people would allow you a budget of $2,000. Without a band, just renting a modest PA system that could cover 100 people would cost you $4 or $5 per person, just to help put costs in perspective. That is to say, if you called an AV company to rent a PA for an event that size, you could expect to pay that much WITHOUT musicians…does that help?

It feels good to be able to say this BEFORE an event. Most people do not realize or appreciate the importance until they get to the point where the event is about to take place and the band or DJ is still not there, or they show up looking like they just slept under a bridge OR they’ve been drinking before they even get set up or any of a hundred other things that can go wrong including THEY ARE INCOMPETENT and sound like twice baked crap.

The music IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF YOUR EVENT. Consider this and budget accordingly BEFORE hiring your entertainment.

More on this to come. Call or write if I can be of further assistance. Jesse Deese www.JesseDeese.com

Wedding Reception Locations

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

You will have limitations for what size band dependent on your reception location. Consider where the band will be staged. Typically, the stage will be the center of attraction for the reception. If the event will be held outside, consider local noise ordinances. Volume becomes a huge issue in outdoor events. Volume is an issue at indoor venues as well but much more controllable in this environment. One question to ask is: “does the band come with a dedicated FOH man” FOH=Front of House aka “sound man”. It is not unusual for a band to mix their own sound off of the stage. Usually someone on either side of the stage will have access to a mixing “console”. The problem CAN BE that that person is not hearing the “MAIN MIX” because they are behind the speakers. Therefore, volume can be a problem. If you are paying top dollar for a band, expect a sound man to be in the package.