While many blogs have explored the topic of what a client should be doing when looking to hire musicians for a live engagement, far less is available on the subject of booking other musicians for your gigs, recordings and projects.
There are many situations when you might be looking to hire another musician. Perhaps you play in a function band that has an upcoming show, but one of the members of the band is ill or suddenly unavailable. Perhaps you’re a singer songwriter looking to record a single, EP or album, and require a session musician to add to your band line up and record parts. Whatever the reason, we’ve put together a handy guide of things to think about when hiring a musician that you haven’t worked with before.
Most of these will only really apply when hiring a musician online, or in another situation, without someone else’s direct recommendation. However, they are still worth keeping in mind, in all booking situations.
1. Are you available for the date?
It may sound obvious, but never assume someone is free for a date. When speaking to any initial applicants, make sure you give the full date, time and location of the performance, and specifics on when you’d like them to be there. IE, if the gig starts at 7pm, let them know load in will be at 6pm. If your recording session begins at 10am, the let them know what time you’d like them to set up.
When it comes to arranging a show, the devil is in the detail. Plans have been ruined by assumptions that someone will be available at a particular time, or ambiguity about arrival times. Make sure that to plan in contingency time, and make sure that everyone has all the relevant details.
It is also important not to assume that you will be able to fill any vacancy at the last minute. While it is true that you might be able to source a last minute dep for a show, it’s always better to plan as far in advance as you can.
2. What kind of experience do you have?
This might not always be relevant, depending on how well you know the musician beforehand, but it might be worth asking for a summary of their experience.
Most musicians will be able to supply you with a biography, and some promotional video or audio links, perhaps on their own website or that of bands that they play in.
At the very least, they should be able to adequately summarize their experience and background, in a way that satisfies you they are a professional.
3. Is your equipment suitable, and is it PAT tested?
It’s important to make sure that the person you’re employing has the right equipment for the task at hand. While this isn’t specifically your responsibility, letting the musician you are hiring know of any specific details that might affect what equipment they use, will always be a good idea. For example, if it is a particularly large event, then they’ll need to have equipment that can provide adequate enough volume.
If you want your musician to have a specific sound for a recording session, even if you only have the vaguest of terms to describe it, it might well affect what equipment they will bring.
It is also important, if you are playing at a UK public venue, that their equipment be PAT tested for electrical safety.
4. Do you have Public Liability Insurance?
Many UK wedding venues and event centers will require your band to have Public Liability Insurance (PLI) and be able to provide adequate proof that you would be covered, in the event of any accident.
If you have insurance as a band, then you may already be covered if you’re using a dep. However, if each member of the band is insured individually, then it might be worth asking your dep if they are covered, just in case.
5. What are your payment terms?
It is very important that you come up with a payment schedule that is clear, and satisfactory to all involved. This doesn’t necessarily need to be dictated by one side or the other. For example, if the client is paying you in cash after a show, let the musician you are hiring know.
If you’re planning a recording session, then all rights agreements should also be in place beforehand, with whatever deal you strike with your session player being clearly laid out. This can prevent many potential legal problems at a later date.
From everyone at Last Minute Musicians, we wish you the best of luck with your musical career. If you’re looking for more gigs, consider visiting www.lastminutemusicians.com