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7 most common stresses of booking musicians and how to avoid them


We recently surveyed 241 people about their experience of booking musicians online, and we asked them one particularly interesting question:

“Was there anything you found stressful or difficult about booking live music?”

We received a variety of responses, and we’ve written this blog post to help you avoid the most common causes of stress when booking musicians!

Here’s a quick summary:

Common Stresses of Booking Live Music
Common Stresses of Booking Live Music

Difficult finding music within budget

We totally understand that the costs of hosting an event can quickly add up, and good musicians certainly aren’t cheap. Here are some easy ways to save money when booking musicians for your event:

  • Consider a shorter performance
    • Naturally, a long performance is going to cost more than three short ones! Musicians charge fees based on the amount of time they spend at the event, so to bring the cost down, you want to minimise the length of the time they spend at your event. Consider booking one 60-minute performance instead of 3x 45-minute sets. If you absolutely need to have multiple performances, try to schedule them back-to-back, rather than having large gaps between musicians where the musicians are twiddling their thumbs…
  • Choose a cost-effective line-up
    • An easy way to save money is simply to book fewer musicians.
    • Looking for a string quartet? Why not book a string trio! Most of your guests won’t notice the difference, and you’ll save yourself a nice 25% of the cost.
    • Hoping for the sound of a full band, but finding it hard to stretch to the full cost? Instead of hiring a 5-piece band, considering a duo or trio who will perform with backing tracks to fill out their sound.
  • Find local musicians
    • Musicians will charge travel expenses based on how far they need to travel to your venue, so a simple way to save money is to book musicians near your venue!
    • Booking through Encore is a great way to find a selection of nearby local musicians. We’ll send your enquiry to local musicians, who will quickly come back to you with all-inclusive quotes, which include travel expenses. You can sort by price or distance to the venue, to help you find the best act for your budget.

Slow responses or no response

Sending a well-written message to a musician or agency, only to receive nothing in response, can be an extremely frustrating experience. This can happen for a few reasons:

  • The musicians aren’t professional, and don’t work as full-time performers
  • The musicians have split up and are no longer performing together as a group
  • You’ve gotten unlucky and contacted an unhelpful supplier

To avoid this, we recommend enquiring with reputable suppliers who have very recent reviews.

Customers who make Encore enquiries typically receive quotes within 10 minutes, which means we’re constantly receiving positive feedback about the speed of our service.

“Definitely book through you [Encore] as looking at reviews and sound bytes was amazing. Quick response from potential musicians is brilliant too.”

“Typed harpist into google, this website [Encore] came up and was very easy to use. It had a quick response and everyone was really lovely”

“We booked through Encore because the process was quick and easy and we felt we had been able to see a wide enough range of the musicians available to make a decision”

Once you have received quotes from our musicians, it’s easy to know how quickly they’ll reply to your messages. Every musician’s quote comes with an “Average Response Time”, which looks like this:

Stephen Guy Daltry – Response Time
Stephen Guy Daltry – Response Time

Ready to make your enquiry? Start here.

Hard to know whether the band are going to be good live

There are a few ways to figure this out.

  1. Arrange to meet the band at a gig
    1. An easy way of understanding how good the band are live is to see them live yourself! Ask the band when they’re next performing at a public gig.
    2. You may find that function bands don’t perform at public gigs, as they’re constantly booked up for private events. In which case, move onto Step 2…
  2. Look at previous customer reviews
    1. When writing reviews, customers will often focus on how the band made them and their guests feel, so genuine reviews are a great way of understanding how well the band entertained the host and their guests.
    2. We have thousands of verified reviews on Encore, so it’s easy for you to compare acts and hear what other customers have to say about them.
  3. Watch live videos
    1. If they don’t have live videos, ask them to film a clip at their next rehearsal or gig. Most bands are happy to do this for you.

Too much choice!

Welcome to the Internet! There are thousands of great musicians out there, which means it’s easy to be overwhelmed by choice. The best way to avoid this stress is to spend some time up front deciding on exactly what you want.

If you only have a very general idea of the music you’d like, you’re going to find hundreds of matching acts and your decision is going to be difficult. However, if you invest some time at the beginning of your search researching options and deciding on exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll find it much easier to arrive at a manageable shortlist of brilliant acts.

Stressful not seeing prices up front

It can be difficult to compare acts and understand what you’re paying for when you don’t even have prices to look at. Unfortunately, very few musicians or bands will display pricing clearly on their website as they often don’t want to pin themselves to a price. This is frustrating for customers, and makes it less likely for these musicians to win business!

Bookings platforms like Encore understand the value of clear and transparent pricing, so to avoid this problem, we recommend going through a trusted platform rather than making lots of direct enquiries with musicians.

Finding “exactly what we wanted”

This problem will vary depending on the type of music you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something conventional, it’s unlikely you’ll come up against this problem, but it’s much more likely if you’re looking for something niche or out of the ordinary!

Thankfully, Encore is home to the largest selection of musicians in the UK, so we nearly always match our customers with the types of musicians they’re looking for. Enquiring with a bookings platform like Encore means you can receive numerous quotes without needing to make numerous enquiries. Saves time and makes your booking process much more efficient.

Some feedback from recent Encore customers:

“[We booked] Through encore – the site was very user friendly and a great selection of bands”

“We booked through Encore because the process was quick and easy and we felt we had been able to see a wide enough range of the musicians available to make a decision”

“We booked with Encore because it’s efficient, has a variety of choice, very professional and has the style of performer we require for our wedding.”

Bands already booked

This is one of the easiest stresses to avoid – simply start your search as soon as possible! The best musicians and bands get booked up quickly, and will often have full calendars for the next 18 months if they’re in high demand! We advise aiming to book your musicians at least nine months in advance of your event, if you can.

Starting your search early means you’re less likely to be disappointed when you finally find a band you love, only to discover they’ve been booked for someone else’s event!


You’ll be pleased to hear that we only received 51 responses to the question “Did you find anything difficult or stressful?” out of a total of 241 responses. In other words, the majority of customers found the process easy and straightforward!

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful. If you have any further questions, feel free to email us at [email protected] and one of our Booking Experts will gladly help you out.

Looking for more advice?

Booking Wedding Musicians: Honest Advice from 35 couples who have done it already


James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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