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How to Save Money when Booking musicians on a Budget: 7 Tips and Tricks

indie band

If you’re hosting a big event, the costs are going to ramp up quickly. Venue hire, catering, entertainment, photography, videography… The list goes on.

If you’re on a budget, hiring live music can seem expensive and, sadly, many event organisers skip on the live musical entertainment for cost reasons.

The good news is that live music doesn’t have to be expensive! We’ve compiled 5 tips for you to make sure you can have some awesome musical entertainment at your event without breaking the bank.

Book local

Travel expenses can quickly add up if you’re booking a band or multiple musicians to perform at your wedding. Booking local suppliers minimises travel costs, which can easily cost a few hundred pounds if you’re hiring a band to drive a hundred-mile round trip.

The Musicians Union advises musicians to charge 45p per mile travelled. Let’s say, for example, you hire a 7-piece band who travel a 150mi round trip (London to Southampton) in 3 cars to play at your event. You’re looking at:
150mi x 45p x 3 cars = £202 in travel expenses!

Local bands will often charge nothing for travel if they’re particularly close to your venue.

Tip: booking local also minimises the chances of the band getting delayed in traffic or stuck on delayed trains. The closer they are to your venue, the lower the risk of disaster.

Encore has the largest selection of musicians in the UK, which means we can provide almost any type of music in almost any part of the country! Click here to find musicians local to your venue.

Book Early

Some bands offer a discount if you’re booking over a year in advance, so it’s worth contacting your favourites as soon as possible.

We always advise our customers to book their musicians as soon as they’ve booked their wedding, as the best soloists and bands get booked up extremely quickly. If you leave it to the last minute, musicians will charge more because they’ll have less time to prepare for the gig.

Booking early is the easiest way to avoid disappointment when booking musicians.

Host your event on an uncommon day

Obviously, this is only possible if you haven’t chosen a date yet, but hosting your event on a day that isn’t a Saturday or Sunday will significantly lower the costs of your venue and suppliers. Venues and suppliers are in high demand on weekends, which means the prices are naturally higher.

Consider hosting your event during the week to really cash in on some savings.

Book a string duo or string trio instead of a string quartet

Everyone wants a string quartet at their wedding or event, but few people realise you can achieve a similar effect with a string trio, which costs 25% less!

What’s the difference between a string trio and a string quartet?

  • A quartet is comprised of four musicians: two violins, a viola and a cello.
  • A trio is comprised of three musicians: one violin, a viola and a cello.

A string trio can play all the same repertoire as a quartet, and it’s unlikely your guests will notice any real difference in the size of the sound.

Want to save even more? A violin & cello duo can provide a gorgeous sound and create a sophisticated sound without costing an arm and a leg.

String Duos typically start at £320, String Trios typically start at £480, and quartets typically cost upwards of £640.

Book a multi-talented band

Try to find a band whose singers also play instruments.

Consider this: a 3-piece band with a singing guitarist, a singing bassist and a drummer will sound almost the same as a 5-piece band with 2 singers, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer.

While both of these bands will sound similar, the 3-piece band will cost a staggering 40% less than a 5-piece band.

If you’re paying roughly £300 per musician (the going rate for a top-rate professional band), that represents a saving of £600!

Book one band who can provide different line-up options throughout the day

Many bands can provide a full band performance for the evening party, as well as acoustic soloists and duos for the ceremony, drinks and dinner.

Booking one band minimises travel costs and nearly always costs less than hiring separate musicians for daytime and evening performances.

Don’t: hire amateur or student musicians

Many event organisers try to save money by hiring cheap musicians, usually amateurs or students. We strongly discourage this, as you put the vibe of your entire event at risk.

Professional musicians spend all of their working lives making music and performing at events. This means they’re in good form and are well-practised. It means they’re totally at ease performing to crowds of all sizes, and don’t get nervous. It also means they know how to read an audience, and can pivot and adjust during their performance to make sure you and your guests get maximum enjoyment out of the live music.

The same cannot be said for amateurs or students, who are often inexperienced and, if they’re in a group, often haven’t practised much together.

If you decide to hire cheap musicians, do so at your own risk. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful.

If you’re ready to begin comparing prices of available musicians for your event, simply click here to create an enquiry with Encore. We’ll quickly match you with professional musicians who are available on your event date and who can work within your budget.


James McAulay

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

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