Contract items to check

Consider all the specifics before you sign the contract. Specified details should include everything from what time the band is going to begin setting up to the cost of additional hours, says Wolfand. Some key points to put in writing:

Who will be performing? - Will the band you see be the band you get? State in the contract that you want the same musicians who attracted you to the band in the first place. Be prepared, however, for band leaders to want to add a caveat that they can provide replacement musicians under certain circumstances, such as unforeseen illness, accident, or if musicians have left the band prior to the date of your event.

Cabral contends that it's just as important to choose a band with a proven track record for delivering "a great combination of musicians and offering you the same level of entertainment as you first saw."

Decide how important this issue is to you. Be certain that your agreement is clearly spelled out in the contract, including what, if any, recourse you have if the band members you specifically requested aren't the ones who show up at your event.

Number and length of breaks - Determine how often and many breaks the band will take. Ask what type of music, if any, they will play during breaks—e.g., will one soloist remain on stage and play softly during breaks? Will recorded music play? Will there simply be silence?

Providing meals - Another detail to specify is whether you need to arrange with the caterer to provide a meal for the band members. This is the norm, since band members work very long hours. Check with the catering or reception hall manager, also; often they have special vendor menus for this purpose.

Appropriate dress - Specify in the contract how the musicians and any other performers will dress; you want to ensure that the image of the band fits the image of the event that you want to project.

Who's responsible? - If the band leader or manager is familiar with the venue, he or she should know about any and all logistical requirements including access to adequate electricity, the amount of space that's available to them, and provisions for sound equipment.

Be sure to insist that the band have back-up equipment on hand in case of unforeseen problems. Also, the contract needs to cover who is responsible for the sound system and lighting. The last thing you want to find out on the big day is that the band members expected the hall to furnish the necessary equipment.

Finally, find out if they carry liability insurance. Many bands don't, but it can be important if someone trips and falls over their equipment.

Negotiating the details of a band contract is no one's idea of a fun way to spend a couple of hours. But hearing raves about the fabulous music at your event will help you remember those couple of hours very fondly.

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