@girlgetsring: Some of this dependds on where you live. I play in a cover band in the SF Bay Area that does weddings, casinos, wineries & bars. We are a 5 piece and for special events we sometimes add horns. Some bands have multiple singers too, but all of our members sing & do harmonies as well as play instruments (except for me, I just sing) We usually charge more like $200-300 per member for weddings, but there is a lot of wiggle room. It depends on a lot of things, like do we need to set up & run our own sound? How long are we playing? Will we get food/drinks, etc. I’m pretty sure our manager tells them $2,000 every time & usually negotiates down to $1,500.
The truth is, we get about $100 a piece for a bar gig and we do them fairly often. They help us get things like weddings and casinos which pay a lot better. Keep in mind, at a bar, I can dress casual & do our regular old set that I can phone in by now (not that I would, but I’ve seen other bands do it!).
Personally, I’d rather take a wedding or winery gig any day, but I’m also the singer so other than having to be rested & practice my songs, I have the easy job – I get there last & just set up a mic!
There are however a few reasons why we need to charge more for weddings;
1. If I’m playing a shorter set for more money, earlier in the night, I am just simply going to do a better job. I’m not excited anymore about being in a dingy bar with super drunk people who don’t care. Weddings are pretty much always a blast! Even if the crowd isn’t exciting (although they usually are) I just do a better job when I know I’m getting paid well for my effort.
2. We have to keep up the image with a certain level a professionalism. If we charged $500 for a wedding, it would not look good and the word could spread. At my wedding, one of the bands I sub with played for that price for me, but they were doing it as a favor & we fed them & put out a tip jar & tipped extra ourselves. And they only played for about 2 hours (normally we play 4 hours at a bar & I’m exhausted!)
3. We may have to buy a new outfit or something if there’s a color theme or certain style. We may have to rent equipment, lights, nicer speakers, etc.
4. Even though we’re only playing for a few hours, we sometimes have to get there really early to sound check & set up. If your wedding is all in one location, we cant set up during your ceremony. We’d have to be finished setting up and checking sound before your guests arrive. If it isn’t in the same location, that gives us an option to set up later, but we still need to be done with set up before your guests arrive and sometimes before some of the decorations or caterers set up. That could mean a full day for some people.
5. You may ask us to learn specific songs for your first dance, etc. which takes extra effort & rehearsals outside of that day.
6. How far is your wedding? Sometimes they’re out in the middle of nowhere which means more gas $.
I know that’s a lot of information, but I hope it helps with negotiation!! I’d say the less time you can use them & the more you can offer food & drinks, the better. Tell them they can put out a tip jar if you’re comfortable with that & think of anything you can do to make it easier. You will get better service from them, the more you pay, but I’m pretty sure, no matter what they initially quote you, you can negotiate a bit.
Let me know if you have any questions!