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Question: Is there a best method for communicating with music vendors?


Answer: Yes, there are definitely methods for success!



Quick Tips:


                         ● Email

                         ● Focus

                         ● Detail

                         ● Schedule


Email:


     Email is the best way to communicate. This provides a mutually shared written transcript of everything you have discussed. Too many things get forgotten when planning an event months or years in advance that were discussed by voice and not recorded. Here are some tips for successful email conversing:


     Stick to one email thread per conversation. Creating a new thread for each new message or subject creates a nexus that will require deeper searching for both parties when trying to reply, especially when touching upon factors already discussed.


     Focus on communicating with one team member from each business. Messages might not get relayed within the company or could be misinterpreted. Maintain separate focus between vendors, delaying when to bring other vendors, family members or other planning parties into an email chain so that plans are solidified as much as possible before potentially creating confusion.


     The best person you can put us in touch with is probably you. If you are the one who knows the details of the event and are responsible for finding and booking all of the vendors there is probably no one more knowledgable and capable. Even if this is your first time booking entertainment, our documents cover nearly every detail so that even if you don't yet know what to ask, you will likely find that the questions we ask you will guide you with confidence. Our website is also a healthy resource of information.


     Details are super important! We want to know as much as possible so we can be prepared and customized to your unique specifications. Even the small things matter. As an example, when planning the processionals of a wedding ceremony it is helpful to know if the last people walking the aisle, like your ring bearers and flower girls, are very young and might be so short that the musicians won't be able to see them. Musicians could otherwise think the last tall people they saw walking meant it is time to start the bridal march. The more you share, the better we can customize to your desired theme and atmosphere.


     Sooner is better. Remember that we are customizing for you like we do for everyone else. Each performance we give is totally different. Times, locations, instrumentation, personnel and set lists are never the same from one of our performances to the next. You will receive a unique experience like no one else has ever had. The more time you can give your musicians with all of the details they will need, the more prepared they can be to deliver everything just the way you want.


     Many vendors are better at selling themselves to you over the phone or in person and it is understandable if you prefer to communicate with a human voice in real time. It is certainly possible to get things done by voice, just remember that the more complex the details become over more time, the more everyone needs to take notes and make certain yours and theirs match. Definitely try to followup phone conversations with emails, especially if any plans were changed.


Event Form & Wedding Specific Planning Documents:


     The Matt McCallie Orchestra is unique in that we provide you with an event form that you can download from the booking page of our website. This event form helps you to see lists of what we offer with many of our most popular prices and packages available to simply check the boxes to select. It also provides insight into how professionally we prepare for each performance. If you are planning a wedding ceremony and or reception, we ask that you email us before sending an event form because we have contracts that are more specifically dedicated to the unique needs of most weddings.


Vendors:


     If you are planning an event, you likely start with a what and for whom. Then you select a date, location, budget and start searching for vendors who might meet your needs. If this is your first time planning an event, it is normal to have no idea what to look for, what questions to ask, or how to choose, and the options are likely overwhelming. In and around St. Louis, MO there are well over a thousand each of bands, venues, photographers, and wedding coordinators. The most in demand vendors will likely book early so don't hesitate to start communicating with the ones you most want. Book now!


     Just as you may feel overwhelmed with how much effort you may need to invest just to figure out what businesses to hire for your event, each vendor has to estimate a great deal for you as well. Entertainment vendors are likely communicating with dozens to hundreds of brand new clients each month. The amount of time vendors spend customizing to your specific needs, calculating travel expenses like fuel, meals and time with how many employees and what equipment can fit into how many vehicles and trailers, the months of work to prepare for your event, hiring the right crew, scheduling, coordinating the logistics of who goes where at what times, and many other tasks specific to each vendor and how they will adapt to meet your needs is a substantial workload. Your vendors will be doing all they can to respond to your requests and communicate what they need from you in as timely a manner as possible.


     Since the pandemic, acquiring goods used in our services and other formerly 'business as usual' expectations and staffing situations have shifted greatly so please bare in mind that everyone is working harder than ever to maintain their status quo. If a vendor is not meeting your needs, please communicate with them and if they are still unable to provide the services you need, there are indeed levels of professionalism so that would be the time to broaden your search. Local vendors are a community and will often be happy to recommend other professionals they've successfully worked alongside.


Communication:


     Communication is the most critical aspect of getting what you want. First, you should educate yourself on the subject matter as best you can. Vendors likely have different pricing based on whether or not your event is on a prime date like a holiday, how many hours you need their services, travel expenses, and which of that vendor's options you will require. The more you know about what you want the more precisely each vendor can get you an exact quote.


     Many vendors advertise on multiple platforms like WeddingWire, The Bash, The Knot, GigSalad, Zola, Gig Roster, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace and Thumbtack to name just a few. Advertising on multiple sites creates vendor recognition and boosts their S.E.O. driving more traffic to their websites, and helps potential clients like you find them.

     

     Advantages to some of these platforms are that they may have convenient tools for you like filters for services, regions, prices and universal profiles you can complete . They may also have quick messaging or quote request options that are as simple as pressing a button. Please expect that many vendors will still need more information about your event before they can provide you with a quote.


     Vendors on these online platforms likely have virtual storefronts where they display past work samples, photos, videos, pricing and packages. For many vendors these platforms can be perfect for communicating and booking with you. If they have a separate website of their own, definitely explore that because all platforms have limitations so each vendor may have much more to offer that you would only learn about by looking further.


Music Planning:


     When planning music, you will want to know what genres need to be performed like Top 40, Motown, oldies, country, classical, NOLA second line parade, classic rock, folk, jazz, etc. You will want to match the loudness, band size and budget with the number of guests as well as the size of the venue and stage.


     An example of why to communicate well in advance is a dance The Matt McCallie Orchestra entertained as a small big band. We reduced the size of our band to add lighting and remain within the client budget. About a day before the show one of the people in charge sent a list of instrumental big band song requests we didn't have enough musicians to properly perform. This created many hours of extra work trying to coordinate between multiple planners to see if they could expand their budget or if we should swap lighting in favor of more musicians to remain within the same budget. We were also scrambling to see if the additional musicians were even available.


     Most of our musicians book months in advance so even with an orchestra as large and resourceful as ours, having barely a day to do all of this was an extreme undertaking. The deciding parties chose to keep the band and lighting as it was and DJ the other songs. Sadly, we had also done the work of providing a list of songs that would have worked with the instrumentation they had hired but they likely didn't have the time to look into them and chose to stick with their recorded versions.


     While we were still able to provide hours of exciting live dance music, it was an odd waste of an amazing band literally sitting on stage waiting to perform while recordings were being played during the instructional dance portion of the event. We are always happy to lend our expertise as are likely all other bands. The musicians you are hiring have decades of experience that can help enhance your celebration.


Shopping:


     The vast majority of vendor shoppers start with price as their filtering priority. While this may seem the most logical first step, it becomes quickly challenging when you realize that most entertainment vendors do not publicly list their rates. You might be able to find what their services include and samples, but finding out how much you will actually have to spend usually requires contacting the vendor.


     Price also doesn't equate the quality or professionalism of the services and products you will be purchasing. Every vendor struggles to balance maintaining competitive rates with affordability and profit. Some rates that you may consider beyond your budget don't even net a profit for that company so prices do not equate how successful your event will be. Despite this, it is often true that you should hire the best services you can afford because as you hire the higher tier offerings from each vendor, those options have even more time and effort put in from their staff.


     Reviews can be a helpful guide as are referrals from people you trust. The best way you can tell what to expect is from samples of their work like videos, photos and audio recordings. If you have done your homework and still have questions, ask. Emails will help keep track of all you learn from conversations as you speak with multiple vendors and select the right ones for your event.