Everything You'll Ever Need To Know About Booking A Mariachi Band
By Alive Network, with contributions from members of Mariachi Jalisco and Mariachi Mexteca
What are Mariachi bands and what do they do?
Mariachi originates in Mexico, and mariachi bands generally consists of stringed instruments which include violins, trumpets, guitars, a guitarron (a large acoustic bass), and accordion. Typically, a professional mariachi musician will be able to play several instruments well, and sing. Mariachi’s dress in typical Mexican costumes with wide brimmed sombrero hats.
Traditionally, mariachi’s were Mexican street musicians, but they now play at events which include weddings, birthday parties, baptisms, quinceañera (a girl's fifteenth birthday celebration), and events that serenade women. The songs in a typical repertoire have, as a theme, the desire to touch the heart of a woman. Mother’s day is also a popular occasion for mariachis.
Besides the typical instrumentation, mariachi music and other forms of traditional Mexican music are renowned for the grito mexicano, a yell that occurs during musical interludes either by the musicians or the audience.
A mariachi band consists of a minimum of 3 up to 9+ musicians. An authentic mariachi band will have hundreds of songs in their repertoire, and as well as performing traditional mariachi music, can include other Mexican and Latin style rhythms. Mariachi music ranges from passionate romantic boleros and rancheras, through to upbeat energetic numbers.
We have been asked by a traditional mariachi to advise clients that an authentic Mexican mariachi would not use percussion. Some non-mariachi 70's bands use percussion as an add on, but in Mexico they are not considered true mariachis. The true mariachi has only stringed instruments or at most would substitute a violin with an accordion to create a bigger sound. We mention this in case clients expect a drum kit or cogas which would be used in music from other parts of Mexico and Latino America but not with mariachis.
Examples of Mariachi Bands available to hire from Alive Network
What should I look for to ensure quality?
All of the mariachi bands on the Alive Network web site have already been carefully pre-vetted so they represent the very best of what's available in the UK. All you need to do is choose a band from our web site and you’ll have the peace of mind that all the hard work has already been done for you.
If you do choose to look around elsewhere, here's what you should look for:
- A great demo CD
The music should be in time, in tune, and be well produced (it should sound like a high quality recording).
- Great photos
If a band can't be bothered to have decent photos produced, what else will they be skimping on?
- Customer reviews and testimonials
Make sure you can read genuine recent reviews from previous customers. You'll find loads readily available here on the Alive Network web site.
The band should use professional quality instruments.
- Experience and background
Check that the band consists of high calibre musicians with a strong track record.
- The backing of a reliable agency
No agent, no backup if anything goes wrong. Look for an agency that responds quickly, efficiently, and takes the time to listen to your individual requirements. They will be your point of contact so you need to be happy that they're providing a high quality service too.
You get what you pay for, so don't cut corners unless you don't mind risking the success of your event. We represent hundreds of artists, all of whom define their own fees, so our prices are a good indicator of what's usual to pay.
What exactly will a Mariachi band do at my event? What will the format be?
The mariachi band will generally arrive 1 hour before the performance to set up their instruments, tune up, and change into their costumes. Not all mariachi bands use a PA system, but if they do, this will also be set up during this time.
The client will decide the number of sets and the timings, but mariachi bands normally play in 45 minute sets, with breaks in between. If the band does use a PA system, music can be played from a CD or MP3 player in between sets. Make sure you discuss this with your Alive Network coordinator.
At a typical wedding, the mariachi band will play the first set during the drinks reception, or serenade the guests as they enter the venue. This would be followed by a break, with the second set taking place during the meal. The performance will finish at the time they are contracted to finish, and the musicians will then leave.
What equipment will they provide?
99.9% of the bands working with Alive Network are totally self sufficient and provide all the equipment they will need. Not all mariachi bands use a PA system and stage lights are not normally a requirement as performances are usually outdoors or ‘wandering’. If you will need PA and lights, or if you’re not sure whether you’ll need them, please ask your Alive Network coordinator before booking.
How much space will they need?
Mariachi bands are often mobile, wandering around whilst they play. If a PA system is required, they will require more space. Talk to your Alive Network coordinator for advice.
There is a useful stage size guide on our FAQ page.
Minimum band stage size requirements
- 3 piece band: 3 x 3 metres
- 4 piece band: 4 metres wide by 3 metres deep
- 5 and 6 piece band: 5 metres wide by 3 metres deep
- 7 piece and bigger: 5/6 metres wide by 4 metres deep
How long will the performance last?
The standard is 2 sets of 45 minutes over the duration of 2–2.5 hours. Some clients prefer 1 set of 60 or 90 minutes, or 3 sets of 45 minutes.
Mariachi bands are generally flexible and can accommodate the client’s requirements for longer or shorter durations. They are often requested to provide a serenade (typically 5 songs) but they can be as short as 1 song, if that is what is required.
Are there any options or variations available to me?
There are various options available upon request. Band members can be added or subtracted to suit the venue, the budget and the type of event. Mariachis can sometimes be accompanied by ranchera singers or Mexican folk dancers and perform folkloric dance in colourful costumes. Please review the Booking Options tab on the bands profile page or ask your Alive Network coordinator.
How much will it cost to hire a Mariachi band?
The cost varies depending on the number of members in the band, the number of sets they perform, and the distance they have to travel to from where they are based.
Typically, a mariachi band playing 2 sets of 45 minutes in the area where they are based will charge in the region of £135 - £160 per person. Fees do vary so check our web site or contact an Alive Network coordinator for help and advice.
Why is there a difference between what different Mariachi bands cost?
You generally pay more for reputation, experience, ability and quality equipment. The minimum standard of our mariachi bands is already very high as we carefully vet everyone we work with, but you do get what you pay for.
Also, when you search our web site for mariachi bands available in your event location, those who are travelling from outside the area will add travel fees, and these are included in the prices you see on our web site. Some artists may cost more because they would be travelling a long way.
Some higher earning bands are also VAT registered which pushes the overall cost up.
What security will I get when booking a Mariachi band?
When you book a mariachi band through Alive Network you'll receive a legally binding contract which protects you against any foreseeable eventuality. This means that short of the band being seriously injured or abducted by aliens, your booking is 100% safe.
You also get the full backing and support of Alive Network, the UK's largest live entertainment agency, as well as the assistance and advice of your personal Alive Network coordinator who will always be on hand to help if you have any questions or concerns.
You can think of Alive Network as your entertainment insurance.
What happens if the band is ill?
It's very rare that problems occur, but if the unthinkable does happen, Alive Network will help you to source a replacement artist, even at very short notice. We work with hundreds of bands across the UK and have a huge database of contacts to fall back on in an emergency.
Is there anything I need to provide or ensure for them?
Mariachi bands need a small performance area. If they are using a PA system, they will need power sockets in close proximity.
A changing room is very much appreciated including enough seats for all the band members, and if possible, a mirror.
They will require refreshments and sometimes food (depending on how long they’re at your event). Soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are usually sufficient. Please make sure you inform the bar staff that soft drinks should not be charged to the band. If you can’t provide a hot meal, sandwiches will usually be sufficient. Food is generally provided before or after the first set. Please ask your Alive Network coordinator to confirm whether your chosen mariachi band will require food.
A designated venue contact for the band to ask for on arrival would be useful, for clarification as to where they should set up.
Is there anything else I need to know?
We've put together a selection of useful tips and insights provided directly by our artists.
David, Mariachi Jalisco quotes Mariachi is an integration of stringed instruments highly influenced by the cultural impacts of the historical development of Western Mexico. Throughout history, mariachi musicians have experimented with brass, wind and percussion instruments. Social historical factors have influenced the repertoire in terms of diverse regional song forms and the evolution of performance attire. Mariachi bands provide great cultural entertainment. We strive for perfection at every single event.
Salvador, Mariachi Mexteca quotes Mariachi music is lively, vibrant and adds fun to your event. The best mariachi performers have studied their art at school or university and come from a strong cultural background, from generations of mariachis. In advance of our telephone call 3 weeks prior to your event, think about how you envisage us fitting into your event and whether you require us to provide a main focus performance, a strolling set or background music serenade. We want to be the best we can at your event.
How do I make a booking?
Once your agent sends you a quote and you are happy with the price, that agent will go through the logistics and timings, confirming the details of your booking. You will then be required to pay a deposit, usually over the phone by credit card, and then contracts and receipts will be emailed to you. The band will also sign the same agreement. Once a booking has been made you will be put in touch with the artist 3 weeks before the event to double check the arrangements and make any changes necessary.