Primary Blog/Gigging Musician Podcast/Episode 139 - High-Paying Gig Series: Part #1 Weddings

Episode 139 - High-Paying Gig Series: Part #1 Weddings

Thursday, May 18, 2023

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Episode Recap

In this episode, Jared delve into the world of high-paying gigs for musicians with a focus on weddings. Jared shares his experience and strategies on how to get and master wedding gigs to ensure you make the most of these well-paying opportunities. While weddings can seem high maintenance and full of potential for problematic clients, we break down how to weed out those issues and make the most of the many performance opportunities that weddings offer. From bachelor and bachelorette parties to playing the ceremony or reception, we explore the nuances of each gig type and how to excel in them. So if you're a musician looking to up your gigging game, tune in to learn how to master the lucrative world of wedding gigs.

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"Every single gig type has its own quirks and nuances that we have to adapt to in order to be successful, you know, high-paid, highly paid gigging musicians."


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Hey, what's up gigging pros. It's Jared Judge. Welcome to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast.

This is gonna be a fun podcast, it is my first attempt at a series within my podcast, I'm going to try to do multiple podcasts about similar topics in this series, we'll see how that goes if I get distracted, but the series I want to do is on the high paying gig types.

I'd love to share with you guys from my experience and the experience of my students, the different types of high paying gigs, that, you know, I teach, that are local, that you don't really have to travel for that you definitely don't need a following for.

And I'll share with you what those gig types are some strategies on how to get those gigs. And then some considerations that happen for those kittens, because not all gigs are created equal.

Every single gig type has its own quirks and nuances that we have to adapt to, in order to be successful, you know, high paid, highly paid gigging musicians.

So let's start this series with my favorite gig type, my bread and butter, the gig type that honestly has the most overlap between all of the other gig types, because if you play this gig type, you're going to encounter people who book the other gig types or who work with clients who book the other gig types, and can refer you to them.

So if you play one of these gigs, odds are you will make a connection that will lend you other gigs, not just more of these, and that gig tech, my friends, is weddings. And I know what you're thinking or what some of you are thinking, weddings or high maintenance, weddings have the highest chance of a crazy customer.

And I don't want to play weddings, I want to avoid them like the plague. And if you think that I hear you, because let me tell you, but when I first started playing them, I encountered some problematic clients. There's one mother of the bride, I remember in particular, who was not not a fan of me, and made my life miserable at the time.

But since then, I have mastered weddings I've mastered how to sell them, including how to weed out problematic clients, so that they have no chance of even booking you and making your life a living hell, sorry for the he double hockey sticks there.

So mastering how to sell them, mastering how to work with your clients to set expectations, and boundaries, so that a week before the wedding, they don't ask to completely change up your song list. And you don't have to be in two places that at a time.

And then also mastering the performance aspect of it. You have the timing. If you do play ceremonies or you do play receptions, there are some timing quirks and nuances that go into weddings. But all that being said is that weddings, not only are they very well paying, you know, you can get book weddings, I say minimum of $500.

But you can definitely get weddings, I have one actor who's playing receptions for about $10,000 a pop. And of course, I can't guarantee that you will have the same success. But it is possible if you are able to figure out the path to that.

Alright, so let's talk about weddings. You know, weddings happen in the US. There are that what has happened across the world, to be honest, there are so many of them in every city. They happen at places that you might not expect.

Like they definitely haven't had the ballrooms and the hotels, and the quote unquote, wedding venues. But I've played weddings in public parks, I've played weddings in people's backyards. It's just I played weddings at spas, there's so many fun places that weddings happen.

And within weddings, there are hidden performance opportunities. In fact, there are kind of five performance opportunities inside of weddings, that not all of them are timing based, like you don't have to walk people down the aisle or emcee and play people's first dance songs.

So I'll start with it in logical order of how the wedding plays out for the couple. So you're basically when you're, when you're marketing a wedding, you are marketing to either the bride or the groom, or one of their parents, or even a friend who's doing the planning on their behalf, or wedding planner.

So those are kind of the people involved. So people get engaged. And typically people get engaged about a year maybe a little bit more in advance, though some let me gauge just last three, four or five years. Some of them are very quick couple of months.

And then once the engagement happens, then the planning starts to happen. So planning kicks off right away. And in fact, one of the seasonal trends that we see It is around the holiday seasons, you know, Christmas, New Year's, that's when a lot of people who have marketed themselves towards weddings get a lot of inquiries.

Like the numbers are just way up December in January, with inquiries to your website hits to your website and your your profiles. And that is a great time to be on top of it.

And really start to, to push yourself during those times because a lot of gigs are booked in January. So that's a huge window of opportunity, right there is the January rushed.

And the first hidden performance opportunity happens probably a month or two prior to the wedding, which is the bachelor or bachelorette party. Of course, not all bachelor bachelorette parties will hire live musicians.

But some of them do they really make it a an affair where it's a private party, and they want to hire a band to play in the restaurant, they rent it out. So that is one hidden performance opportunity if you've ever played a restaurant gig.

Well, this is kind of like that, except it pays 10 times as much. So that's a pretty cool opportunity. The second performance opportunity inside of a wedding typically happens the night before a wedding.

And that is the rehearsal dinner. Similar to the a restaurant gig, many people will rent out a room in a restaurant or they might even rent out a private event venue and hire a caterer to create the equivalent of a restaurant atmosphere.

And then they might hire a live musician to play for the rehearsal dinner. The word rehearsal dinner, like rehearsal is kind of misleading.

What typically happens the day before the weddings, people go to the actual wedding venue. And they rehearse how everyone's gonna walk down the aisle. And then later, they all go out to dinner right away for the rehearsal dinner, where they eat some nice food.

They might celebrate, like, hey, they might make some speeches. Thank you all so much for traveling so far to be here. It means so much to us, and so forth. And so they might hire live musician to play in the background.

I've played several rehearsal dinners, and they're all great gigs, very easy to do. Again, you just show up, you play, you pause while they want to make their toasts and speeches, then you resume playing, and you've collected your paycheck before the gig even happens.

Alright, so then, on the day of the wedding, there's the first performance opportunity is the wedding ceremony. Ceremonies are awesome. They as a violinist they are my bread and butter. This is when people are walking down the aisle, saying their vows exchanging their rings.

And your music accompanies that. And so I'd say this is typically for smaller groups, you know, your full on cover band most likely won't play the ceremony. However, if your cover band pairs down into a Duo or trio, or even a solo, piano player, singer, guitarist, that kind of thing.

That is a great opportunity. I've even had jazz combos, so I run a jazz trio in Wisconsin too. And they've played for ceremonies too. And so the idea is about 30 minutes before the wedding starts. Musicians will play background music called Prelude music.

And I usually suggest picking a place of about 10 songs as the guests are arriving from all across the country. And they just want some somebody nice to entertain their guests. So the guests don't swipe on Tik Tok before the wedding, then the wedding party will typically line up at the back of the audience area.

And then they will precess down the aisle for the procession of the wedding party, where you will play one song. Then the next part is the procession of the bride or the procession of the newlywed where one person typically will walk down the aisle to the most romantic song of the wedding, and then arrive at the altar.

And then you're done playing for a little bit. The officiant takes over talks, does the whole wedding thing. Then about half of the wedding ceremony I play have a unity moment in the middle of the ceremony.

This might be a unity candle, or even in more modern ceremonies. They might do something different like plant a tree or for my wedding. We did a wine box ceremony where my wife and I got a nice wooden box with our names engraved on it off of Etsy.

We got a nice bottle of wine wrote love letters to each other the night before the wedding sealed them up so we couldn't read them. And then at the wedding, we put the box of wine or the bottle of wine in the box.

The love letters our parents put in letters to Pebble mementos and trinkets, and then we sealed the box up until our five year anniversary, where we'll drink some wine and beer read the letters that we wrote to each other.

And so musicians can play during these moments, because it fills the awkward silence that happens when the couple's backs are turned to the guests. And they're manipulating with the prompts and materials that go into this ceremony.

So then you don't play again for a little bit. The couple typically then exchanges their vows. They say their ideas, then they put the rings on each other's finger, they fishy and then talks, like kind of does a final prayer or message about love and marriage.

And then they will then by the power vested in them, pronounce them married, you may now kiss, this is a mistake do not play when they say You may now kiss, because the officiant will then say a couple more words and introduce the married couple to the guests, they will say it leaves the gentlemen introducing for the very first time, Mr. And Mrs. So and so.

And so that is when you do play the recessional song, which is more upbeat up tempo, and then the couple starts walking back up the hill, followed by the wedding party.

And then I do suggest having a playlist of about three more songs after that called the recession proof of some uptempo songs, as the rest of the guests leave the ceremony area. So that one has some intricate timings.

So it might not be for everybody, if you don't want to have to time, all of your your performance that with something else going on on stage. But because it is an additional skill, people do value it, and it does pay very well.

The next hidden performance opportunity in weddings in this podcast is going pretty long, right at 11 minutes, 39 seconds. So the next hidden performance opportunity, he's the closest thing to a bar gig that you can play at a wedding or a private event, which is the cocktail hour.

So what happens after the bride and groom, or bride and bride and bride groom groom, it's 21st century, they get married, they leave, then typically they go and take pictures at a different site that's more scenic, so I get some nice photos.

And so they have all their guests go to the cocktail hour site, we're waiting there is is a bar. Typically it's open bar, some weddings do have cash bar, but open bar, I'd say is the more common thing. And it's a bar.

And they oftentimes will have entertainment. And it a lot of times is DJs. But you can sell your live music services here to get the highest paying bar gig of your life. So this is pretty much an hour long, maybe an hour and a half, where you just play an open ended play list of your choosing.

Some couples might want to just ask for certain themes or genres. But in general, you get to choose your own setlist. And so you play, you show up, setup, play, get paid, and that is the cocktail hour.

And there is so much power in that because there are no timing considerations. You just show up, you get the freedom to do your playlists, your music, and you get paid 10 times more than what most bar gigs pay just for this bar gig that's inside of a wedding.

So that's pretty cool. And then after the cocktail hour is over, we get another hidden performance opportunity. This one is not that not that hidden, it is the reception. This is typically where dinner happens.

So you might play some music during their dinner, which is again, kind of like a restaurant gig. But then most couples want to dance after their, their dinner. And they want to get their friends and family dancing too.

And so this is great for party bands slash cover bands, even like tribute bands, because they can get the crowd dancing. So this might be a couple more hours. This is probably like three ish hours of music. So it's a pretty long gig.

And it does pay very well this reception. Entertainment is probably the highest paid gig within the whole wedding scene. Because you're playing for longer. It's typically a more intricate setup, you need a pretty large PA system or hire a sound engineer.

And then you also need a skilled emcee who can kind of direct people where to go and get the party started. So that's why it's one of the highest paid gigs because there's a lot of work in it. And if you can position yourself as the expert, you can command you know $10,000 For this gig just like one of the musicians I work with does.

So as far as the reception goes, there is some intricate timing details, which you will have to work out with a couple.

But luckily BookLive lets you plan out your playlist and choose the music Because where, but you will have different things such as the couple's first dance together, that is a pretty common milestone is that you get to the reception, and maybe even immediately, the couple wants to get their first dance out of the way.

So that's a common thing, you have to work with them. The emcee typically announces it. And I know because I was a wedding DJ for maybe four or five weddings, and I had to do all this work. So you got the first dance, then you might play some background music for the dinner.

And then afterwards, the couple typically does a father daughter dance, where again, you'd have to invite the, the daughter, the bride and the father of the bride up to the dance floor, and then play a song for them, followed by Mother Son dance. And again, they can switch around the order for you, you have to work that out in advance.

And then after that, they might open up the dance floor to everybody. And that's when you kick the party off and, and play your fun setlist of of music. So that's kind of the intricate timing details. It's not too bad.

There are some other optional pieces to that like maybe even cake cutting, you have to announce. And you might even have to announce what table goes up to the buffet for dinner, I've had to do that when I DJ at weddings.

They might even ask for some, some wedding games, although the wedding games are becoming less and less common, which I'm grateful for, I think they're kind of cheesy.

But if you're a couple wants them and you're willing to do it, you can get paid a lot of money for providing them the service that they want. So that's it. And then he played to the end of the nights and people get really into it, they have a great time.

And you get some awesome footage from that. And then one final hidden performance opportunity happens the morning after the wedding, where a lot of weddings have like a farewell brunch, where it's just literally a brunch, they might again rent out a private event space and have a catered breakfast.

And they might hire a low key smaller musician to do that. So I think that's actually six hidden performance opportunities in weddings. And, yeah, weddings are awesome. I love them.

There's a lot of money in weddings, but also, you get to be a part of the beginning of someone's marriage, which that's pretty cool too. And your music gets to be part of that I always say to the couples that I work with, you know, think about 50 years from now, when you reminiscing about your wedding.

And the thing that you might remember most is not the how the food tasted. But you will remember how the entertainment made you and your guests feel. So those are a couple wedding tips. Hope that was helpful.

And so much money in weddings. I feel like if you choose not to do weddings, you're shooting yourself in the foot. But again, can't can't convince everybody to do weddings, which is fine, more more for me.

But I hope you got some some ideas out of that. And yeah, we will keep going with the series for our next podcast, where we will talk about corporate events. So thanks for tuning in to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast.

By the way, if you want help getting some weddings, I do still have a couple of limited amount of free Breakthrough Strategy Sessions on my calendar where I can help you one on one come up with a game plan to book your first wedding or to get more consistency with the number of weddings that you book and also other other gig types too.

But if you want one of those strategy sessions before they are all booked up, go to That's f, u, l, l, t, i, m, e no dash in between and grab yours today.

So thanks for tuning in to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast. Remember, "You are just one gig away!". Take everybody!

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Episode 231 - Leadership in the Music Industry: How to Secure High-Profile Gigs and Take Charge of Your Career

Episode 230 - Unlocking the Secrets of Consistent Networking and Modern Sales for Musicians

Episode 229 - The Power of Networking and Recommendations in the Music Industry

Episode 228 - Navigating the Gig Economy: Venue Tours, Expos, and the Power of Numbers

Episode 227 - Strategic Moves: Venue Tours, Expos, and Unexpected Gigs

Episode 226 - Maximizing Gigs: New Tools for Tracking Success and Boosting Bookings

Episode 225 - Unlocking Gigs: Venue Tours and Strategic Partnerships

Episode 224 - A Day in the Life: Venue Tours, Unexpected Gigs, and Networking Wins

Episode 223 - Landing Gigs Post-Wedding Expo: A Musician's Success Story

Episode 222 - Navigating the Wedding Expo Scene: A Musician's Journey to Success

Episode 221 - Maximizing Success at Wedding Expos: A Musician's Guide

Episode 220 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: Venue Tours and Virtual Assistant Strategies

Episode 219 - Maximizing Your Music Career: The Power of a Personal Assistant

Episode 218 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: A Musician's Guide to Preferred Vendor Success

Episode 217 - Gigging Musician Podcast: Joe Deninzon Interview


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