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A Guide To Why Do Bands Cost So Much?

On the face of it, the cost of hiring a live band can be a big outlay for the average person. There are plenty of bands around that will happily come and play for peanuts (I should know, I've played in a few). Maybe they're just starting out and are happy to play anywhere to gain some experience, or they're not very business savvy and are too scared to charge what they should in fear of not getting booked. Or it could just be that they're not very good and would never get booked if they charged good money for their services. I will happily admit that I have played in all of these types.


The truth is that setting up and running a band can be an expensive business. Most bands will have spent thousands of pounds buying instruments, amplifiers, PA speakers, mixing desks, microphones,  lighting...The list is endless. If the Merrymakers band had to replace all of its equipment tomorrow the bill would be in excess of £12'000. I know this because I have to fill in the insurance forms and equipment lists.

Then there's the day to day costs, rehearsal/studio time, equipment repairs, gear storage, band insurance, liability insurance, promotional stuff like websites, band videos, photos, flyers.. Another endless list. In conclusion running a band can be expensive.

All of the above is focused on material stuff, we aint even mentioned the cost of peoples time. A typical Johnny J & The Merrymakers local gig kicks off around 9.00pm. In order to make this happen, our day starts around 4.30pm loading the tour bus with our equipment, travel to the venue unload and set up, then sound check... Do the show, pack up, load the van, travel back, unload the van, then home. We get home in the early hours. If you were to hire a a team of plumbers and electricians to come to your home and work on a Saturday night till the sun was coming up - imagine the bill!!! A typical band consists of 3-5 members, so whatever they charge will need to cover their costs and anything left can then be split between them.

Despite all of the above, there is still a huge variation in the cost of hiring a band. A professional band will rely on their band as their main source of income and will charge accordingly as a result. Whilst others use their band to supplement their normal day job income - therefore charging less as a result. Professional bands may try to convince you that a semi pro/amateur bands are 2nd rate, this is simply untrue. I've played in awesome semi pro bands all of my life. I have also seen plenty of pro bands that appear to be going through the motions when they're on stage - no energy and no emotion. I know which one I prefer. I think I can speak for the rest of the band on this, we totally love playing to a great crowd and feed off their energy/vibe. By the time the show has closed we're usually running on empty as we given the audience our all.

Weather a band is professional or not is not that critical and makes little difference to the customer at the end of the day. The most important criteria is their ability to entertain your guests/audience and provide a good service to you (the organiser). 

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