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Private Parties... how much does the client dictate setlist


jeff42

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A while back we were booked for a private party that is coming up in a few weeks. Its a lower paying party for a relative and band friend. The guy who booked us has now asked for our master song list and wants to know when we can sit down so HE can decide what we are going to play. In our contract we do mention we will learn 2 songs for the occasion (depending on the $ I change the # of tunes we will learn) and we have learned the 2 he wanted. He has heard us MANY times so I am not sure why he wants to go through the song list/ set list with a "fine tooth comb."

 

Like I said its a relative and I think this may be part of the problem. As we get closer he is assuming things. More than what is in the contract.

 

So how much does the client dictate setlist for you guys? I include a general description of what we will be playing in the contract (mixture of modern pop and 80s hits mainly) and include a master songlist so if there is anything they really DON'T want they can tell us but I don't think I ever had a client want to write out a whole show for us.

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This comes up a lot with me. Especially at weddings. Many people naturally want "hear what they want to hear" if they are paying. What you need to do is assure him "hey...you know what we do...you'll know we'll rock the house! Just let us do what we do and it'll turn out great!"

 

At most, let him pick out the songs he HATES and don't do those. And if he's got one or two "oh man! you GOTTA play THAT one! let him have it. But DON'T let him pick out the whole songlist.

 

Odds are, he's not going to remember what he picked or didn't pick anyway. As long as you rock the house and everyone has a good time, he's not going to have the slightest rememberence if he really wanted to hear "love shack" or not.

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of course, it is still between the band and the person hiring. If they want the band to do a certain number of songs that would have to be learned just for the gig, and they are willing to pay for the extra effort, you always have the options of hashing out a deal.

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So how much does the client dictate setlist for you guys?

 

 

Not much if at all.

 

Master artist/song list for the primary band is available on our site. Someone wants to offer a "You HAVE to play this one for me" or two-three, or a "Please, don't play that one"...sure.

 

For the side-project, about the same but even less so: we have a smaller book, and we know what works and what doesn't.

 

I would suggest the band-member whose relative this is has a talk with the guy to explain clearly to him the reality of what you will/won;t allow with regard to his requests...especially given that it is a lower paying gig...

 

And then I wouldn't sweat it at all.

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Only once have I had a client attempt to "approve" our setlist for a wedding gig. With as much grace as I could muster - I explained that the setlist for any given evening is the band's responsibility. I sent him a comprehensive list of what's in our "song book" - and invited him to let us know if there was anything he specifically wanted to hear and/or specifically didn't want to hear. When it comes to weddings - we usually extend the offer to learn 2-3 "special" tunes (provided the client specifies those songs a month prior to the event) - with the caveat that we reserve the right to say no to "specials" in in our judgement we can't do justice (i.e., we've never turned one down yet - but reserve that right just in case something totally out ther comes along).

 

My client was at first put off when I explained that we "own" the setlist for the evening - however after I explained that there's alot of things that influence the setlist on any given night (i.e., what gets played along with the order in which it gets played) - such as how each vocalist's voice is feeling, instrument changes, etc. - he came around. In the end there were 4 rockers he wanted to be certain that we played - and a couple of disco tunes he had seen on the list that he did NOT want played. Incorporating those sorts of requests are simple - and something I'll happily accomodate.

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Pretty often with weddings. Private parties not so much. One bride was firm about having us not play Billy Jean, Shout, I Gotta Feeling, Summer Loving, Runaway Sue... staples of our wedding setlist. But she was ok with us playing Blister In The Sun. Go figure.

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Pretty often with weddings. Private parties not so much. One bride was firm about having us not play Billy Jean, Shout, I Gotta Feeling, Summer Loving, Runaway Sue... staples of our wedding setlist. But she was ok with us playing Blister In The Sun. Go figure.

 

We did a wedding last year where a Bridezilla had a big "DO play" and "DON'T play" list. But the one song she neglected to put on EITHER list was "Jessie's Girl". So, not noticing that it wasn't on either list, I put it on in our setlist. Especially since this our standard "bring up the bridesmaids to sing along" song. We change "Jessie" to the name of the groom and now I'm singing "I wish that I had Jason's Girl"...ha ha ha...big laugh for the crowd. Everybody loves it...yada yada...

 

Except that apparantly the groom's ex-girlfriend was named "Jessie".. I know...wrong gender...but still a sore spot for the bride...right?

 

So now I've got one of the best friends of the bride up in my face, in the middle of the song, screaming at me that "YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO PLAY THIS SONG!" :facepalm:

 

Ey, yi, yi...... sometimes...no matter HOW hard you try to accomodate people...you just can't win.... :facepalm:

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It depends on the band. Any private party I've played, we were booked because someone liked the band, so we were able to just do our thing. Your situation sounds like a guy who doesn't understand that putting together a set list requires as much expertise as arranging a multi-course meal--it's not just a list of great songs.

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Your situation sounds like a guy who doesn't understand that putting together a set list requires as much expertise as arranging a multi-course meal--it's not just a list of great songs.

 

 

Great analogy.

 

I wonder if there's a short reprintable article somewhere that describes the the fine art of set list order . . . . tempo, keys, genre, etc. Times like this, it would be good to have something from an "outside expert" that you can send as an email attachment.

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Not at all. We are usually only booked by people who have heard us previously so they get what we choose to play. On the occasion we have done private parties we have rarely been asked for particular songs and would rarely oblige. If they wan to pick songs let them get a jukebox.

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I've found that the people throwing the functions are far less capable of reading the crowd than the band. Like guido, we will give them the list, let them pull songs they don't like, maybe learn a couple, but all in all, they hired us based on what we do, and it's a little late to try to change what we do for one party at that point. Notably weddings are far more complicated with this subject- which is why we don't do them. If I want that headache, I'd join a wedding band. And wedding bands DO get compensated very well for those headaches I suppose.

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I don't play many parties, but if somebody wanted to pick which songs they wanted from the list of songs we already know, I don't see why that would be a problem. What difference would it make?

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Great question, Jeff. My answer would be "not at all," based on exactly what you've said.

 

- I'd provide them with a song list and welcome the "please play this" and "please don't play this suggestions."

- Depending on price, we'd offer to learn X amount of songs.

- After that, they hired a band, not a live jukebox. Set list and night structure is part of what a band does, right? That's why they hired you!

 

So I'd tastefully provide that info to your client/ Uncle Louie. :) A big part of what makes a band good is reading the crowd and moving the energy through the night, and he doesn't know how to do that. Your B.A. band, however, does. :thu:

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I don't play many parties, but if somebody wanted to pick which songs they wanted from the list of songs we already know, I don't see why that would be a problem. What difference would it make?

 

 

Depends on your setlist, I suppose. I'm speaking more of someone who may want to write the entire setlist including the order. You wanna pick WHICH 40 songs we play at your event off our list? I can live with that, but I still need to direct the set flow. And even still..pick the wrong 40 and you could end up with a REALLY boring set.

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Depends on your setlist, I suppose. I'm speaking more of someone who may want to write the entire setlist including the order. You wanna pick WHICH 40 songs we play at your event off our list? I can live with that, but I still need to direct the set flow. And even still..pick the wrong 40 and you could end up with a REALLY boring set.

 

 

The problem is most of our songs are medleys. We can re-adjust some but not all. A wedding we did last year I did sit down with the bride to go over music, she was a friend of the band and hired us because her and the groom had their first date at a club we were playing. There were a few she Absolutely did not want and that was pretty easy. She was familiar with us and understood that we do big medleys and also some songs she may not care for her guests LOVE. She didn't asked to hand pick all the songs for her wedding but there were a couple she said PLEASE don't play and a few that she said we MUST play. Plus anything we didn't play that she wanted we played on CD when we went on break.

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If the person is paying for your band to play, and wants to pick songs out of your existing set list for you to play, I don't see any problem in that. If he suddenly has a new list of songs for you to learn, well then, we have a problem...

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If the person is paying for your band to play, and wants to pick songs out of your existing set list for you to play, I don't see any problem in that. If he suddenly has a new list of songs for you to learn, well then, we have a problem...

 

 

^this

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If the person is paying for your band to play, and wants to pick songs out of your existing set list for you to play, I don't see any problem in that. If he suddenly has a new list of songs for you to learn, well then, we have a problem...

 

 

Yep. Agreed.

 

I usually get this type of request at private parties and always get it at weddings. It's no big deal as long as it is in our stable of songs we have on the website. I only request that I get to decide song order. If it is something else, we will learn a couple just for the event, but if it is a whole bag of specialty stuff, well that's where our Drummer/DJ comes in and spins while we take a break.

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Not much if at all.....I would suggest the band-member whose relative this is has a talk with the guy to explain clearly to him the reality of what you will/won;t allow with regard to his requests...especially given that it is a lower paying gig...


And then I wouldn't sweat it at all.

 

 

+1

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We did a wedding last year where a Bridezilla had a big "DO play" and "DON'T play" list. But the one song she neglected to put on EITHER list was "Jessie's Girl". So, not noticing that it wasn't on either list, I put it on in our setlist. Especially since this our standard "bring up the bridesmaids to sing along" song. We change "Jessie" to the name of the groom and now I'm singing "I wish that I had Jason's Girl"...ha ha ha...big laugh for the crowd. Everybody loves it...yada yada...


Except that apparantly the groom's ex-girlfriend was named "Jessie".. I know...wrong gender...but still a sore spot for the bride...right?


So now I've got one of the best friends of the bride up in my face, in the middle of the song, screaming at me that "YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO PLAY THIS SONG!"
:facepalm:

Ey, yi, yi...... sometimes...no matter HOW hard you try to accomodate people...you just can't win....
:facepalm:

 

lool, I've read in a couple places that's not an appropriate wedding song....but like how you twisted it around, it's good to see you raised someone's level of awareness that night.

 

see this --->

 

"Jessie's Girl"- Rick Springfield

 

This song just wouldn't work unless you actually did marry a girl who was with a guy named Jessie, and you stole her from him. Then again even if that was the case this song just doesn't seem appropriate for a wedding reception. per http://voices.yahoo.com/songs-dont-want-hear-wedding-648391.html

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So how much does the client dictate setlist for you guys?

 

 

They don't...if there's a couple of tunes they want me to learn I'm cool with that but nobody will dictate what I play. I look at it this way- there's a reason you hired me- now trust me to do my job. If someone wanted to sit down with me on an off night and discuss my setlist, they'd have to pay me.

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I always tell people "You can request any song, and if it happens to be the next song on our set list, we'll play it" :D

 

For real though, our song list is what it is. We have about 70 songs to choose from. We'll do the "don't play these" in mind, but I'm real upfront with people trying to hire us for private events, we are who we are. If you want to hear September by EW&F, we're the wrong band.

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