Question: Is A Live Band Better Than A DJ?
Band vs DJ:
There are few advantages to hiring a DJ over a live band. A DJ can be inexpensive compared to a professional band, depending on the size of the band, though the cost of a DJ averages well over a grand for just one person so DJs make far more money than musicians. DJs take up little floor space and they can probably play a broader variety of songs since not every band covers hundreds of years of musical styles like The Matt McCallie Orchestra.
Live music is special:
Listening to recorded music is mundane compared to a live performance. Anyone can play music on their radio, iPhone, CD player, or in their car or other device almost anytime. Hearing songs played exactly the same way you can hear them on any other day is not nearly as special as hiring musical talent with artists who've spent a lifetime cultivating their skills. A live band celebrates a special occasion like no other type of entertainer.
Music makes you feel:
Technology has yet to fully capture the entire breadth of any musical performance. This gets into the differences between analogue and digital recording, which has been detailed in another blog (to read more click HERE). In short, a DJ is technologically incapable of reproducing what is experienced in a live music performance.
Sound travels through a medium, generally what we call air made up of the gases in our atmosphere as molecules colliding into each other, transferring from the sound's original source. Speakers and instruments vibrate because there is physical, though invisible, movement as the sound is transferred to your ears. This means a human can literally feel music.
Because we can feel music, being present for it's performance has a more sensational experience than listening to a recording of reduced quality. Pitch is produced with a fundamental, accompanied by its harmonics. This overtone series adds coloration to the original sound that eventually goes beyond the range of human hearing. Even though our hearing cannot recognize the sound, the sound still reaches our bodies in ways we physically feel it.
This is why seeing a live band in person can be so much more exciting than watching them on TV. It literally does sound and feel different, an experience only shared by those at that location.
A live music experience only happens then and there:
A good band can make songs more interesting. When done well, what an audience expects to hear based on their familiarity with CD or radio versions of a song can be played upon by creating suspense, building anticipation, and modifications that enhance the excitement of even well known songs. Talented performers know what the audience expects to hear and with subtle changes can make a performance more interesting and enjoyable.
When performing live it is almost humanly impossible to perform a carbon copy of a previous performance. Each time the same song is performed it will be different. The band is likely playing in a different venue with totally different acoustics. There may be a different lineup of instruments and musicians. Slight variations in temperature and humidity will affect the instruments and how the music sounds. There may be fewer or more people in the audience dancing, singing, and clapping so the band may need to be a little louder or softer. Every live performance is always unique and part of the excitement of hearing a live band is being part of the event.
A band can change the key, tempo, dynamics, and groove of a song. They can medley and mix and match songs and styles. When the dance floor is packed because the crowd is loving a certain song the band can keep the party going by extending the same song with additional solos and vamping sections. Musicians can improvise. When soloing they are speaking with musical ideas that are fresh and new being invented in real time right in front of you. Only live musicians can connect and communicate in such ways with an audience.
Live musicians can insert someone's name or other announcements musically into a song. This is very common at weddings during the grand entrance. A great band leader can get everyone to clap, sing, and dance along. The band leader may have certain instruments drop out while the audience sings a call and response, or have some instruments double what the audience sings. This sort of audience participation engages the audience as part of the performance for a more meaningful and memorable experience.
Unexpected events happen in life but hopefully not the day of your event! If you have concerns regarding reliability, inclement weather, or other possibilities that could keep a vendor from arriving, hiring multiple musicians likely guarantees that you will still have at least one entertainer on hand. Maybe the cellist is stuck in traffic but you'll still have the other musicians playing. The chances of more musicians compared to a single DJ being absent grow increasingly in your favor with larger ensembles.
Obviously, a band still has to be of high caliber to be better than a DJ. You must invest in the quality and experience of your entertainment. Hiring a professional band will definitely enhance everyone's experience more so than any recorded music possibly can.