The demand is still there

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by bigcol, May 8, 2007.

  1. bigcol

    bigcol Member

    As someone who has their phone number on their band's website for enquires, I have noticed that the number of bodies wanting to hire bands in the North East is the same or even increased, but the number of bands available and taking on jobs has decreased.

    Often the phone call starts "We used to use such-a-band but they are no-more/unavailable/too-busy to do it." Some weekends we could be out in 2 or 3 places if it were possible this year.

    So the demand for brass bands is still there, but the number of bands that are no longer able to fulfil engagements (certainly in this area at least) has declined.

    I'm guessing this is a combination of the obvious really - less bands, less bands able to consistantly turn out enough players and less bands actively taking on concerts (being funded from sponsorships, fund-rasising etc.)

    I just wonder if this is the same situation elsewhere in the brass banding planet?

    Also is there a niche now? Due to market forces could the demand for traditional brass bands for certain events inspire someone to create a 'professional' brass band?
  2. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    At Killamarsh (North East Derbyshire) we get repeat bookings for all the jobs we did last year and I'm receiving enquires for new venues throughout the year - we are probably at our capacity in terms of the number (35 a year) of jobs I feel the band should take on but yes there are more jobs out there. We don't particularly "market" the band for new engagements but things can change.

    One booking we didn't get however was due to the demand of other bands wanting to do it, the organisers decided to restrict this years bands to those that had not played at the event before (Newark Castle).
  3. bigcol

    bigcol Member

    Funny you say that, neither do we, but our numbers is passed on by the aforementioned bands who decline the initial booking - pimp my band so to speak :cool:
  4. michellegarbutt

    michellegarbutt Supporting Member

    I must admit if our band can't take an engagement on for whatever reason I do try and give the numbers of other bands in the area. I hope that the other bands also do the same for us
  5. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I don't understand some bands, I've heard of one recently turning down a job they've done for the last 20 years. Now that's all very well if you don't want to do it/can afford not to/have trouble getting a band out/whatever, but what if in 2/3 years time you need that job financially? It's gone and you may not get it back!

    Walking days and the like seem to be in decline (which is a subject for a whole new thread maybe) but concerts seem to be on the increase, which is good if you don't like marching!

    We always pass on jobs we can't do to other bands, most round us do the same too. "Sorry, we can't, but I know someone who might" sounds better than "No".
  6. a very flat b

    a very flat b Member

    Controversial moment coming on:

    We get many repeat bookings that we always try to honour. But many of the enquiries are for fund raisers or charity events, in other words the organisers want the band for free.
    Whilst we do several jobs for charities, and in fact our biggest job of the year is for a charity, we simply cannot run a band on freebies.
  7. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I'm not sure you're being that controversial, just stating plain fact. Whilst there may be still a demand for bands, a lot of the time the bookers either don't want to pay (claiming it's for charity is always a good one), or charge very low fees. Whilst there are bands out there who'll do the jobs for next to nothing, why should anything change?
    Last edited: May 9, 2007
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I think a lot of the problems taking bookings is that the concept of a 'local' band is disappearing. Because of much improved vehicles, road and transport networks over the last few decades, players can travel further to attend rehearsals and gigs but more flexible wiork patterns has created more restrictions in freedom to accept bookings. To sum it up, expences have risen and the low funding of band hire makes it more difficult. Maybe local bands pulling together to help out could be a solution. Bands are still seen in public in a now traditional role instead of drum batteries or whatever (... no disrespect to them but they seem to be everywhere now!).
  9. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Quite agree with that one - I had an enquiry for an event at the begining of next month - it was for a private company and they were having a special ceremony for some guests. They are a commercial group and charge considerable sums of money for their services - I had a look on their website and noted that they charge in the region of £70 per person for their services and instructors are charged at a further £120 a day or say £15/hour.

    In deciding what fee to charge I put forward the bands higher fee i.e £250 which is what we get paid for some council jobs.

    Needless to say another local band have got the booking - I wondered what they were prepared to charge. So yes I think there's always some band out there prepared to take a poor fee - they just have to do more jobs to make ends meet.
  10. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    I think this is a major factor that bands face when booking in jobs, especially at this time of year when people are on holiday and school kids have exams coming up (GCSE's start tomorrow!!).

    If you take on a £100 paying job but need 8 deps who need paying and transport to get percussion and stuff there etc- is it worth doing or hand it on to someone else?
  11. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    There's more to taking a job than the fee - as a community band we feel we should be present at our local events as it both represents support for our local organisations and promotes the band to potential players, supporters and sponsors. Obviously we have to earn enough money to pay our expenses and invest in new equipment (putting my treasurer's hat on),
    but I'm in a band primarily to PLAY. If this means that some jobs are marginal but we make the money at others - including our self promoted concerts - that's fine. We try to strike a balance between being out too often and pricing ourselves out, therefore reducing our opportunities to perform in public.
    Park job fees are no reflection of actual costs: a fee of (say) £250 for a 2 hour engagement is around £5 / player hour, not counting travel time or petrol.
  12. Bungle

    Bungle Member

    What our band suggests, when asked to do fundraisers is half the ticket money on the door. There is then the motivation for them to sell as many tickets as possible. We did end up with one job where half the door money came to our usual fee anyway.

    When asked to do a freebie, we say fine as long as it's a our usual rehearsal night, that way we shouldn't have to pay any extra expenses. We also do not take bookings during the school summer holidays, as it is now so difficult to get deps in if all the local bands are out.
  13. a very flat b

    a very flat b Member

    With a previous band, we did a big charity gala. We agreed to do it for nothing as long as we could put collection buckets out for band funds. On the day one of the 'organisers' demanded that we gave them all the money we collected.
  14. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Sorry didn't get the point you were making here - are you saying a fee of £250 doesnt cover your "costs" and is therefore not enough or is actually too much?

    Putting on our own concerts we usually raise about £500.00 - but we have to sell the tickets, organise a raffle and do the publicity.

    As to "cost" I think I've done the calculation before and excluding paying for band time and expenses it works out for our band something like this

    Conductor £1800
    Insurance £ 800
    Room rent £ 800
    Licences £ 100
    Music - new purchase £ 400
    Dep fees £ 300
    Instrument servicing £ 800
    Instrument replacement £40,000 / say 15 years £2,666

    Total "cost" = £7,666 / no of jobs (say 30) = £255 and nothing for players or petrol cost.
  15. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    Doh! I liked Newark Castle
  16. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    I totally agree that the fee should not be the 'be all and end all' of considering a job - as you rightly point out there are things such as community relations to consider, as well as potential prestige, media coverage etc. which may all play a part. Also there is the consideration of what state a band's finances and diary are already in - a band with savings and low overheads is in a healthy financial position already and could therefore more easily absorb the expenditure of one or two 'freebies'.

    The flip side, though, is that people do need to be taught what a musician or a group of musicians is "worth" in financial terms. Too often, people and organisations who think nothing of paying a plumber £50 an hour, and a lawyer over £100 per hour, want a musician to do a concert for £20 or £30. Typical concert lasts about two hours, then there's rehearsal time before's simply a joke, and an insult to the amount of effort we have put in over many many years to get to the standard we have.

    There is certainly a time and place for freebies, or for nominal fees, but my impression is that it is too often the norm and not the exception. Bands who do a lot of work for free should perhaps consider the knock-on impact that will have on other bands, who would then be expected to work for free and simply can't afford to.
  17. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    I'm saying that as most brass bands are not commercial enterprises then a "fee" should be regarded as a donation towards the overall running expenses of an amateur organisation. When deciding to take a job, the actual amount offered or requested is only one element. We aim to have a balanced calendar of events that most of the band will enjoy most of the time, whilst overall having sufficient excess of income over expenditure to replace equipment and invest for the future.
  18. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    We now enter the debate about market forces. Quite simply, a musician or group of musicians is worth what someone is prepared to pay. I've met hundreds of musicians. A small percentage of them make a living from music(mostly by teaching). The few I know who make money by playing probably earn less than a typical field sales person (£25 - 35k + car).
    Lawyers and plumbers are "distress purchases" ie you absolutely need them and are not in a position to argue the price too much, whereas music is more of a discretionary purchase (but there's an idea for Dragon's Den: 24/7 dial-a-tuba!!)
    If we compare musicians and sports players, we find more similarities; many people who take part for enjoyment, who generally pay to play, who put in many hours and pay for coaching. Of these a small percentage make some money, and an even smaller number make a lot.
    Because music is fun (I remind myself every area contest:eek: ) there will always be more people prepared to play for money than there are jobs available.
  19. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    Agreed that the professional comparison is not exact, and I'm not for a second suggesting that playing (music or sport) for a hobby is not valid, cos it's a fantastic pastime and I think we would all agree that it's a shame more people don't/won't/can't take it up.

    The point that I was trying (admittedly not all that successfully) to make was that too many people in my experience have no idea how much behind the scenes effort it takes to be able to turn up and play a concert, and they think £20-£30 is being generous when actually it doesn't even pay for the music you just used.

    I have often used the plumber/lawyer comparison simply to illustrate that a plumber turns up, does the job, goes away with money. There is training, naturally, and experience, but it is on the whole fairly straightforward though certainly a skill (before any plumbers attack me, I'm fully aware I couldn't do it and I respect you all!). A lawyer needs to train for longer, (university degree, internship, etc.) and there is more background work to each job, but therefore people expect to pay them more.

    Well, I've been training to be a musician since I was five, and I have to work very hard to keep my skills up to scratch. How many lawyers have been at the statute books since junior school? How many plumbers repair things in their spare time because its the only way they will be fit to work next week? Moreover, will the lawyer have to research brand new laws for every case? Is the plumber expected to cope with four hundred years of different styles of plumbing from across Western Europe and America as a bare minimum?

    I thought as much. But someone expects me to be grateful for twenty quid for a concert that has actually taken a dozen hours of effort and twenty years of training to achieve? It's pathetic.

    :oops: Sorry, I didn't mean that to turn into a rant like it did. :oops: And obviously, I'm referring mainly to professional music. But the prinicples still hold for brass bands and any amateur group. Market forces have to work the other way as well - people have to pay what something is worth, or the whole business just collapses in the end. (Ask a dairy farmer.)

    PS. I would certainly use the services of Dial-a-Tuba. If I were you, I'd take out a patent on that idea pretty quick!
  20. alanl58

    alanl58 Member

    I recently had to organise "Entertainment" for my Band's 100th Anniversary, and we were all shocked to learn that an amateur stand up comic charges about £250 for an hour, a magician and a barber-shop quartet about £200 each for an hour.

    As a result we feel that £50 for a two hour concert at a fete or garden party is being a bit cheap, and will be reviewing our charges accordingly.


    PS The "entertainment" was a great success, and worth every penny!

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