Have you heard the one about a man who calls an entertainment agency to get a quote for a six-piece function band?
The agency rep says:
Off the top of my head, a six piece band will cost about two thousand pounds.
The guy jumps out of his chair exclaiming,
TWO THOUSAND POUNDS!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? FOR MUSIC?!?
The agency rep responds,
Well, let me suggest this. How about you call around and ask for six plumbers to work from six to midnight on a Saturday night. Whatever they charge, the band will work for half.
It’s funny, but it also does a good job highlighting that professional musicians have a real value too. They’ve invested years in becoming fluent in a trade which requires skill and experience, and just like a plumber - you’re relying on them to provide a quality service at a time when it really matters.
Breakdown of costs per gig
Yearly costs averaged, based on a 4 piece function band that plays 50 gigs a year and charge £1200 per gig including agency fees and all costs.
Petrol/Diesel - £100
Vehicle maintenance - £15
Vehicle insurance and tax - £30
Equipment purchase - £30
Equipment maintenance - £10
Equipment and public liability insurance - £15
PAT Testing - £5
Food/drinks - £40
Rehearsal costs £10
Recording - £15
Video - £10
Photos - £5
Promo materials - £15
Web site - £10
Phones - £5
Agent fees where applicable £200
Total costs per gig = £540
Total remaining money to be split between band members = £660
Total earnings per member per gig = £165
Breakdown of time worked per gig
So then we thought it might be good to show you the average amount of time a function band spends working on a single gig.
Rehearsal time (averaged across a year) - 30 minutes
Travel to and from bands meeting point - 60 minutes
Travel to and from gig - 240 minutes
Load in and load out - 60 minutes
Set up, sound check & pack down - 90 minutes
Changing time and eating - 60 minutes
Waiting around between set up and performances - 120 minutes
Performance time - 120 minutes
Total time = 12 hours
So - if each member of the band works 12 hours to earn an average of £165, that's about £13.75 an hour. Considering most function bands can only work a maximum of 85 gigs a year (most functions happen on Saturdays) - then their best hope is an average annual salary of between £8250 to £14,000. Not much is it!
So - the point we'd like to highlight here is that most good function bands are REALLY good value for money - even though they may seem expensive on the face of it. The quality of service you can expect, and the enthusiasm given to delivering that service - far outweighs what you'd expect for the money each musician will get paid.
Musicians by their nature are not usually very money orientated and accept the hardship of a musical career as a trade off for doing something they love. Their passion for playing and performing should never be taken advantage of or undervalued.
Written by Ruthe Graham from Celtica - An exciting, fun and flexible trio performing Celtic, pop, rock, trad and Irish music with a bit of Ceilidh thrown in for good measure!