Q: Why use an agency rather than booking musicians directly?
Using an agency gives you peace of mind and takes away a lot of the hassle of booking musicians. You don’t have to do hours of research about what type of musician is right for you or worry about the quality or reliability of the musicians – Tailor Made Music Agency has that covered. Your booking will also be contracted to ensure there’s no room for any doubt on any aspect of the booking, and if anything should go wrong, we will do everything within our power to fix it for you.
Read more about the benefits of using an agency in our blog post: Why should you use an agency to book event musicians?
Q: Does it matter if I don’t know anything about classical or jazz music?
Absolutely not! Tailor Made Music Agency is here to guide you and offer as much advice as you need to help you decide what musicians to book for your event. Equally, if you or some of your guests happen to be real classical or jazz aficionados, you won’t be disappointed by the quality of our performers!
Q: Do you offer function/cover bands, DJs or other types of entertainment?
These are not services that Tailor Made Music Agency offers. From the start we decided that we should play to our strengths and be a truly specialised service, so we only offer classical and jazz musicians, which are typically suitable for background music and/or wedding ceremonies. Our musicians are all of a high enough standard that we can also offer full classical recital performances or jazz gigs, and this would fall under our bespoke service.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
If your event is in the summer, or around Christmas or Easter, we recommend booking around 12 months in advance to avoid disappointment as these tend to be busy periods for musicians. At other times of year 6-9 months is usually workable. However it is always worth sending an enquiry even at much shorter notice. There may be less choice on offer but there is always a chance one of our artists has room in their diary just when you happen to need them!
Q: How far will the musicians travel? How will they get to the venue?
Currently our musicians are all based in and around London, although generally they are happy to travel anywhere. Travel costs will be included in your quote. Many of our musicians drive and will require parking at the venue. Harpists, guitarists and jazz musicians will need to stop close to the venue to unload their instruments and equipment, and in central London they will usually use taxis to make this easier. A handful of our artists don’t drive, so we will only recommend them for bookings which are accessible by public transport or a short taxi ride.
Q: How do you set your fees and are there any extra costs?
Fees are set by the musicians themselves at a rate they are happy to play for, playing their standard repertoire and including their basic travel costs. Tailor Made Music Agency adds a booking fee on to this. Extra costs may be included in your quote for things such as additional set up time if requested by you, song requests that require purchasing or arranging specially, or additional equipment requirements such as PA hire for particularly large events. These can all be broken down for you on request, so you can see exactly what you are paying for. We will always try to find the most budget friendly option for you!
Q: How do I pay?
The booking fee is payable to Tailor Made Music Agency. We accept payment by online payment platform Stripe (which takes credit or debit card) or by bank transfer. The balance is usually payable directly to the musicians on the day of the event by cash or cheque. You can also request to pay them by bank transfer in advance if that’s easier for you.
Q: Can you offer a discount if I make more than one booking?
We are happy to offer a discount if you are making multiple bookings. Please enquire for more details.
Q: What music will they play? Can I choose the music played?
The Artist Profiles you receive after making an enquiry will include a repertoire list for each artist, so you can see what music they play. If you want a particular style, mood or genre or a specific song or piece, just let us know and we will do our best to accommodate it!
Most musicians will take at least one requested song or piece in addition to their standard repertoire list, with enough notice and for a small additional fee. They may add the cost of purchasing the sheet music on to your quote, or an arranging fee if it needs to be arranged specially. Many pop songs sound really fantastic played in a classical or jazz style. Do note though that not all songs are suitable for all instruments – our musicians will always think creatively about how to make something work, especially if it is a song that is really special to you, but it is important to be open minded and aware that, for example, a punk rock song is not going to sound anything like the original when played on a harp!
Typically we don’t recommend that you prescribe the entire set list. Our musicians are very experienced at playing background music for events and know what works and what doesn’t, including how to adapt their set list to suit the mood and atmosphere of the event on the day. We find it is best to allow them the freedom to do that.
Q: Can I meet the musicians or hear them play before the event?
As all our artists are performing in other areas as well as doing wedding and events, it may be possible for you to go and see them in a concert or a gig, if that is something you are interested in doing, although we can’t guarantee this.
We are aiming for all of our Artist Profiles to contain video content or recordings so that you can get a taste of what to expect on the day, although as Tailor Made Music Agency is still in its infancy this is not yet available in all cases.
In general, most aspects of the booking can be sorted out by email or phone, and Tailor Made Music Agency will handle that for you on behalf of the musicians. We will arrange for you to have a phone call with the musicians around a month before the event so they can introduce themselves to you and check that you are happy with everything. If a face-to-face meeting in advance is necessary, we can arrange this for an additional fee.
Q: Will the ensemble I book be a fixed group who play and rehearse together regularly?
All our classical ensembles are fixed groups who work together regularly. Many of them do concerts and other projects together as well as weddings and events. This is a very different approach to a lot of wedding ensembles out there, particularly string quartets, who might be a different group for every booking and who may have never played together or even met each other before the event. There’s nothing wrong with this approach as it provides good work for some excellent freelance musicians, but at Tailor Made Music Agency we believe the quality is always going to be higher with an established classical group who have trained and studied together, and who play together so regularly that they know instinctively what the other players are going to do.
We avoid it as much as possible, but occasionally it will be necessary for our ensembles to use deputies, for example if one player is ill. This is an entirely normal feature of the classical music industry and nothing for you to worry about. All our groups have a network of reliable and trusted deputies that they have worked with before, who know their repertoire, and that they can call upon if needed.
The jazz world works a little differently to the classical and is more fluid – musicians tend to mix and match with different ensembles and line ups all the time, and they are trained to do this in the same way that classical musicians are trained to work in fixed groups. Many jazz musicians say this creates a more spontaneous performance, which is more interesting for the listener and entirely appropriate for the genre. As a result, our jazz ensembles tend to be put together especially for each booking, based around individual musicians who are on our roster and their personal network of high quality jazz musicians. We do have some fixed jazz ensembles, and this more flexible approach allows us to expand them or adapt them to suit the needs of any booking.
Q: What happens if the musicians cancel, or are ill on the day?
Under the terms of their contract the musicians are not be permitted to cancel a booking once it has been confirmed, unless it is due to circumstances covered by Force Majeure. In the highly unlikely event that a musician does cancel for reasons not covered by Force Majeure, they will be liable to cover the cost of the deposit you have paid. Tailor Made Music Agency will also strive to find a suitable replacement for you at the same price as the original booking.
If a member of an ensemble is ill on the day, the ensemble will source a deputy to replace them and avoid any disruption to your booking as much as possible. All our groups have a network of reliable and trusted deputies that they have worked with before, who know their repertoire, and that they can call upon if needed. If using a deputy is not an option (for example if you have booked a soloist) then Tailor Made Music Agency will do everything within its power to find a replacement for you, at no extra cost to you.
Q: What happens if I need to cancel?
You will be given a 48 hour grace period on receipt of your contract, in which to cancel at no cost to you. After this the booking is considered confirmed, so if you cancel you will lose your deposit and you may be charged a cancellation fee. This will be charged on a sliding scale up to 100% of the outstanding balance, based on how many days’ notice have been given before the event. The cancellation fee covers any loss to the musicians, who will potentially have turned down other work on the date of your event. Details of this will be in the terms and conditions of your contract.
Q: Will the musicians bring all their own equipment? What do I need to provide?
Musicians will bring their own sheet music, music stands and instruments (except classical pianists and organists, who will need a piano to be provided at the venue).
Some artists play with amplification and in the majority of cases they will provide all their own equipment. If you are planning a large event and using an AV company, do let us know as it may be possible for the artists to work with them directly rather than bringing separate equipment. Please also let us know if your venue has a sound limiter installed and what the limit is.
We ask that you or your venue provides chairs (details of individual requirements are on each Artist Profile), access to the electricity supply (if amplification is needed) and a secure room that the artists can leave their belongings in and get changed in if necessary. We ask that the musicians are provided with soft drinks throughout the booking, and light refreshments (sandwiches or a light meal) if the booking is 2 or more hours long.
Q: Are the musicians insured?
Most of our musicians have their own Public Liability Insurance. If your venue requires this please let us know and we can provide you with a copy of their insurance certificate.
Q: How long do the musicians need to set up? Can I ask them to arrive early?
Typically, your musicians will arrive 20-30 minutes prior to their performance start time to set up and acquaint themselves with the venue. Harpists, guitarists and jazz ensembles may allow a little more time as they sometimes require a bit more set up time, depending on the venue. You are welcome to request that they arrive at a specific time, though there may be an additional fee if that is more than 30 minutes before their booked start time. It is always useful to provide the musicians with a contact to report to when they arrive at the venue.
Q: How much space do the musicians need?
This varies depending on that act and will be detailed on the Artist Profiles sent to you. If you have limited space available, do let us know in your enquiry so we know what we’re working with.
Q: Can the musicians play outside?
If you want the musicians for your event to play outside, do check with us in advance that this will be possible. Most musicians can play outside if required but should be positioned under cover to avoid the risk of themselves, their sheet music and their instruments being affected by rain or direct sunlight. If amplification is required, they will also need access to an electricity supply. Some instruments need to be placed on a hard, solid surface like concrete (i.e. not gravel or grass).
Q: What will the musicians wear?
Standard dress for musicians is shirts, dinner jackets and tailored trousers, or dresses, skirts and blouses. Often this will be all black or black with white shirts, but if this hasn’t been specified the musicians may sometimes add a splash of colour. They will always be smartly presented. If you would prefer the musicians to wear all black or wear casual clothes this can easily be accommodated, so just let us know. Specific requests for certain colours (other than black) are more difficult and we can’t usually accommodate these.
Q: How long will the musicians play for and what breaks will they take?
Most artists will take bookings for up to 1, 2 or 3 hours, and their fees vary accordingly. This includes breaks but not standard set up time. Bookings of longer than this can be negotiated, and some artists offer a full day rate. Typically musicians will take a break of around 15 minutes for every hour of playing, after the first hour. Let us know if you require them to take a break at a particular time (e.g. for speeches).