Having live musicians is a simple way to take your wedding reception to the next level. Often the problem is trying to find the right musicians as there is a big difference between a pub band and someone or a group that is suitable and knows how to play live music for a wedding.
The great thing about Tim Pringle is that not only is he an incredible musician and entertainer, perfectly suited to wedding functions, he also runs a live musician agency. This means, if he’s booked or not exactly what you had in mind for your wedding reception, he’ll get you the right soloist, duo, trio, four piece or band.
If you ‘d rather listen to my interview with Tim, you can do that here.
Wedding Musicians and Choosing the Right Ones
Andrew: It’s Andrew Hellmich here from Impact Images again. I’m here with Tim Pringle. Tim’s an entertainer, a musician. I’ve worked with him quite a few times at weddings and he is amazing at what he does. I guess the idea today Tim is just to get a bit of an idea about booking you or any musician for a wedding and just get a feel for what brides should ask, what we should check for, how much it’s going to cost, things like that. How about you just tell me the name of your business, I know you’ve gone through a few changes.
Tim: Yeah, sure. So the name of my business is Tim Pringle Wedding and Function Singer. And that’s myself supplying wedding entertainment in either solo, duo, trio or four-piece for the whole wedding ceremony, reception. And I have another business that I run called Crazy Horse Entertainment, The Weddings and Functions Specialist. And that’s an agency that supplies people like myself, same quality to brides.
Andrew: Okay, excellent. So with the agency side of things, if a couple, say, ring you to do their wedding, and you happen to be booked that day, you’d be able to recommend or refer someone else within the agency to come and do their wedding.
Tim: Absolutely. Yeah, I’ve got between 10 and 20 really high quality wedding professionals, musicians that specialize in weddings and functions. They can do the same job I can and I can supply them.
Andrew: Fantastic, okay. Look, so I know that, say that with a photographer or a reception centre, the brides tend to book us about 12 months in advance. Is it the same with the musician? Or you find it’s a little bit closer to the wedding?
Tim: That’s a good question, it’s between 8 and 14 months, usually. Engagement period is usually 12 months. I get a lot of inquiries 12 months out but they don’t book, they inquire about 12-14 months out then they usually book between 3 and 6 months. It varies, an inquiry is sitting there from 12 to 14 months.
Andrew: Okay, sure. And I know with, say, photography, they’ll come through, they’ll look at our albums and say ‘Yeah, Andrew: you’re the right photographer for us, we love your work.’ So as a musician, what happens there? Obviously the first thing is a phone call and then, do they come to a gig?
Tim: The first thing is a web inquiry because there’s live clips on my website. It’s a phone call or a web inquiry. And I give them a quote with a DVD so they can see what I do and it shows various things I do. Cause I do different duo format and trio and solo. Then they either book me straight away, because they see enough from the testimonials and the clips. And probably only maybe 20% come and see me live and then book me. Or some of them book me then come and see me live to say ‘hello!’
Andrew: Yeah OK is it’s different things.
Tim: Probably 10% book me and then want to meet me in person and have a meeting, but most don’t.
Andrew: Okay, I guess when they see you on DVD and on the website, they can hear the way you play. They get a good idea of what they’re going to get.
Tim: Well that’s the thing. I’ve always wanted to have good clips to demonstrate exactly what I do. Now when I do a clip, it’s a live performance. I’ve never done a clip in a studio where I can take it again and it’s got, it can be edited and overdubbed and things like that, my clips are live, so you see what you get and there’s no tricks.
Andrew: So the way you describe it to me, it sounds like other musicians do things like that.
Tim: Absolutely. Because it’s safer to do a clip where you can get it perfect, where you can redo it. But if your musician is playing every weekend all the time anyway, you’ve got your stuff down and you perform to a high standard. There is nothing wrong with doing a studio clip but I always prefer a live clip cause I think a bride wants to see an audience reaction. They want to see people dancing, that’s the biggest question a bride has, is ‘will my friends dance?’ because people remember music, 81% of people apparently remember the entertainment over anything else at a wedding.
Andrew: Except photography, of course.
Tim: Except photography, yeah.
Andrew: That is so true. I know like I even worked with, I guess in all honesty, I work with DJs more than I do with musicians and their biggest stress is not having people on the dance floor. Now I know, I can say with 100% confidence, anytime I’ve had you at the wedding, people are on that dance floor from the minute you start and like, they’re begging you to play more at the end of the night. Is that because you’ve got the songs down pat or you’re just reading the crowd, how does that, how do you do that?
Tim: Good question. Just experience, man! There’s certain songs that a musician knows and gets a certain response. And when you’ve been playing in hotels and clubs for a while, you know what those songs are. I also liaise with the bride beforehand and let them have some input into the songs because it’s their day, and I know if I play some certain songs that they’ve asked for and they like, it really makes a difference. But reading the crowd, this is the thing that makes a difference between a pub band and a wedding specialist. A wedding specialist knows how to read the crowd really well and play the exact right song at the right time to please kids to grannies. That first, cause a wedding has a very broad audience – kids to grannies. So that first time on the dance floor after the first dance, it’s the one time of the night where all ages will be on the dance floor. If there’s one time where people are going to have a dance, people that don’t usually dance that dance for the sake of it, that’s the time. So you’ve got to find songs that please all ages. And that’s, you have to know what to do there in certain songs. So just going back to the video I like to demonstrate that by showing footage of people dancing, having a good time, and that’s why I prefer a live clip, right song at the right time. If there’s a bunch of girls on the dance floor, I was playing with a friend the other day, a duo partner who’s also a singer and I said ‘You wanna do a song, you got one?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, yeah just watch this. See all the chicks there? I’ve got this chick song, they love it.’ And he goes onto George Michael’s Faith, and they just loved it. I don’t do that song, I’m gonna learn it now. There’s certain songs that you know just instantly make people respond.
Andrew: Definitely. Okay. And that comes with experience.
Tim: That comes with experience. And trying to suss out and based by looking at the audience, their age, the demographic, whatever, the right song for them. But weddings, when you know how to do this, weddings are actually quite an easy gig. They’re actually easier than a pub because there’s just certain songs that just please everyone.
Andrew: And you know they’re going to work.
Andrew: So I imagine if people haven’t booked you, sorry, haven’t seen you play but they want to book you, sounds like a little bit of fear there not knowing, are they going to have any choice in the music that you play or do they just say ‘Tim, just do my wedding and I trust you.’ Or like do they have song lists? How does that work?
Tim: That’s an interesting question because brides have never usually booked music in their life before and they don’t really know a lot about it. And they don’t know how much trust to put in the musician sometimes. I often offer the client, the bride, some input. I send them a form with, I’ve got about 400 songs on my website but I say ‘Look, here’s a better list of songs that I know always work at weddings. A key list of songs. Check these out, pick 5 or 10 you really like and let me know any that you don’t like.’ Now at that point, some brides don’t get it and they’ll actually go to my website, print out 400 songs and send me a thing with ticks and crosses beside them, so thanks very much, send it back, you pick 5 or 10 songs, that’s not quite how it works. I have to do my job to your guests, not you, that’s your guests. But I allow them to have input and pick their favourite few songs and it just sort of tailors the night. But I know some other, probably most musicians won’t allow that. They won’t allow it because of the fact that the bride will put demands on them to play certain things and they’ll feel that they’re in a position where they can’t do what they need to do. But I just communicate with them, say, ‘Give me a list of 5 or so songs, I’ll try include those. I can’t guarantee to include them, I’ve got to play to the room.’ Probably 30% of brides, no maybe 50% of brides will actually say, because I give them the option. I say ‘Choose some songs OR just let me do my job I’ve been doing this for years.’ 50% will say ‘You just pick, do what you want.’ They’ll pick their first dance and they’ll pick the ceremony songs or whatever.
Andrew: So what about during the night? Say, everything’s rocking along, everything’s going pretty good but the bride comes up or 1 of the bridesmaids and say ‘Tim, can you play this song for me? I really want to hear this song.’ Do you just sort of, again, read the room or you just listen to the bride and do what she says, how does that does work?
Tim: Both. I take the bride’s request into account regarding the room and the situation and if it suits the situation, sure, I’ll play it, if I know it. If it doesn’t, I’ll just handle her with good communication, ‘Yeah we will do it soon’ or ‘it doesn’t quite suit this’
Andrew: Because if everyone’s on the dance floor, you don’t want to clear the dance floor because you know the song’s not going to work.
Tim: Yeah. They might have had a few too many red wines and ask for something that doesn’t suit the moment. You know a drunk Uncle will come up and want to sing ‘The Gambler’ at every wedding and it’s just a matter of saying ‘Look, it’s just important to play the right song at the right time.’
Andrew: Yeah, sure. Excellent. Okay, so they’ve got you booked on the night and everything’s going perfectly. What about if a bride comes to you and you can’t play that day or you are booked. Then you got the agency you were saying then?
Tim: Yeah, so I do a lot of promotion, I’ve got an excess of inquiries, way too many inquiries. I think I got one this morning for December the 8th, I’m already booked.
Andrew: So what happens next?
Tim: So I say ‘Look, thanks for your inquiry, sorry I can’t do your wedding. You’ve contacted the right person because I’m actually an agent, I can help you find a professional wedding act. I’ve got a network of these guys, here’s the website, have a look at the website. There’s a bunch of acts on there. See what you like or I can recommend someone and then I put the bride in touch with the musician and if the bride wants to go and book them, they do, and then the bride sends a deposit to me and then I pass the fee on to the musician and the bride deals it that from that point, I’m out of the picture. The bride deals with the musician for the rest of the deal and pays him on the night or whatever they do.
Andrew: Great, easy! And if they don’t like, say, the first person you recommend, they can go and check someone else out, because you’ve got that big group.
Tim: Yeah, I’ve got a big group, there’s a website with a whole bunch of people on there. And these are wedding professionals. Very different to a standard pub act. I can’t stress that there is a big difference. I can actually tell you the differences between a pub and a wedding professional, pub act or club act and a wedding professional. There are a lot of differences.
Andrew: Okay let’s come back to that shortly. So let’s say, I know I’ve seen you working solo and duo, I think I’ve even seen you in trio. So let’s just talk a little bit about cost, so obviously that’s going to play a big part in the day. Is that the only thing that affects cost? How many people turn up in the group?
Tim: No, things that are affect cost are right from the start. How in demand the artist is.
Andrew: Let’s just talk about you, say personally. I want book you for my wedding, I know I’m having a hundred guests, I’m at a Central Coast venue, how much?
Tim: So I do solo, duo, trio or four-piece. And my prices range from whether, and I also do ceremony or reception, there’s few variables but it ranges from $1,400 up to $3,000 or more, depending on what you want and what you end up booking depends on your preference and your budget. And your guest numbers, your guest numbers will determine what I suggest. Like if you have a 60 guest or less I’ll tell you solo is fine, you don’t need trio. Duo is always the best because it’s two instruments and it’s cool, but there’s still going to be a full dance. This is the interesting thing, there’s still going to be a full dance floor whether it’s solo or four-piece. And here’s another interesting thing, if someone is good at their craft, a soloist can create a better impact than a 4-piece band – if they’re good at their craft.
Andrew: Okay, so if I’m the bride now, because of you, why do I book a 4-piece?
Tim: Yeah, okay. So it just depends on your budget and preference. The DVD I have shows you what I do and you can see that, if you book the four-piece, I tell you what, you get the ultimate package. And four-piece I have wandering minstrel violin during canapés, I have the piano player of the band does cocktail piano music over entrees. Then we all do dinner music and then we do a full band sound. So that’s very eclectic and…
Andrew: Look, that’s really interesting cause I’ve done a few weddings in Sydney. And the muso’s, they set up, and I don’t see them again until after the first dance. Like they’re drinking and eating and nothing much happening. And they’re on a pretty good wicket for that short amount of time. So you’re actually playing during canapés?
Tim: Yeah. The way we work, the standard packages with weddings, we don’t talk in terms of time. I don’t say ‘We’re there for 4 hours.’ It’s not like that. With a wedding, we set up, we’re the first ones there and the last ones to leave. We set up before any guests get there, and we’re the last ones to pack up. So we set up everything before the guests arrive then we start playing music when entrees are served. When entrees are served, we play some really light background music, up to speech time. And then we supply the PA and I can MC. All of the artists I supply for the MC and myself are experienced MC’s, that’s free, we supply the PA and do basic emcee work. And after that, or during mains, we play dinner music. And before that, if you want canapé music, we can have wandering minstrel violin or guitar, soft guitar, or some background music. That’s another package. Basically that’s music for your entire day. And obviously we do the first dance live, usually. Or iPod. And then the dance set to the end.
Andrew: So if I book you for my wedding, I don’t need a DJ as well?
Tim: No. during the breaks and the dance set, we have on the iPod like a DJ Dance Set. So there’s no one at the wedding you couldn’t please with music. Because we have live, acoustic live band, DJ Set, and there’s something there for everyone. And the girls always want to dance to some disco stuff. And during the band’s break, we put that on. And then we come back on.
Andrew: That’s great, awesome. That’s fantastic. I know that you guys do a lot but I don’t realize you do that much. So you really don’t need to have that other cost of the DJ at all.
Tim: No, no. Paying for a DJ is not needed because we can supply all of that.
Andrew: Got everything there? Okay. Great. Awesome. Alright.
Tim: But most people when they book wedding entertainment either book a DJ or a band, they very rarely will they want both. A person who really seriously loves music and entertainment would book live, provided they could afford it.
Andrew: I know the most memorable weddings are the ones with bands. You know, the live musicians because they know how to interact with the crowd, I mean some DJs are great too, don’t get me wrong, but when you have a live act, it’s pretty special.
Tim: Yep. Pub bands, they don’t understand what light soft music is. The appropriate songs to play during entrees or dinner. Look I go to some pub bands, you guys do weddings as well cause this is pretty heavy, you have some dinner music, no, we just play for the dance set. They have no concept of actually a package where they can entertain live. You know, you also have to learn songs for the first dance, sometimes.
Andrew: The bride wants you to do a first dance song that’s not in your normal set, you’ll go and learn it.
Tim: Probably 70% of the time we’ll learn the first dance song, live. And the only reason we don’t do it is if it’s a song, recently, for example, the bride wanted a Sting song that had Mary J. or Beyonce Knowles singing in it or something. And have this weaving female dominant vocal, we can’t deliver that. There’s four us in the band, yes we can sing just as high as she can, but it’s just not going to work with her thing.
Andrew: Okay so either go with that with as MP3, iPod?
Andrew: Or you pick a different song?
Tim: Yeah, exactly. So they picked a different song.
Tim: We did a song, we did it all live. It’s nice to have that live feel.
Andrew: Cause some bands do play that first song as a recorded song.
Andrew: And then they stop playing live.
Tim: Yeah. Depends if they want to have a go adapting it. And I can even send the bride a sample of a version of what it’s going to sound like.
Andrew: Yeah, right. And then they can choose.
Tim: Yeah. But there is a key difference between a pub or club act. It’s mainly 90% of the difference between the acts is just the personality of the guy. You can meet a pub act if the personality of the singer’s really professional, and he dresses professionally, communicates professionally, and you feel safe with him. It would be great. He would relate to people and if the mother comes up and asks something, she’s not going to get spat on by the pub guy because she refers to a song he doesn’t like. And musicians, again, turn up dressed properly. Most musicians, I’ll say, don’t understand how to dress at a function, they just don’t.
Andrew: You mentioned ceremonies as well, so you can provide music or play…
Tim: Yeah, standard thing at a ceremony is 3 songs during the ceremony, song for the procession or song or two for signing and a song for the recessional. I can also play for a few minutes before the ceremony while guests are gathering and sometimes we do a package where we play ceremony and canapes. So, maybe have canapes and drinks immediately following the ceremony, in that same location and we can play for up to an hour after – so that’s another package. Then we go to the reception.
Andrew: You can really customise it to suit whatever the client wants.
Tim: We can customise it, yeah. I can give you, having done, you know 179 weddings, I daresay I’ve probably attended more weddings that most brides, so I can give you a lot of tips on what works and what doesn’t work.
Andrew: Great, perfect. So just tell me, if there’s someone listening to this or could be from overseas, they could be interstate and they can’t have Tim Pringle. How do we find or how do they check to make sure that the musician they book is a good musician, not just a pub musician? How do we tell that they’re a wedding musician?
Tim: Well, from my point of view, you have to see some demonstration of their talent, of their skill.
Andrew: Just on their website?
Tim: You can see some of their work. Well, testimonials but really a live clip in a live situation. I mean it’s not hard these days, there’s no excuse for not having a live clip, you can do it with a phone.
Andrew: You mean a live clip on their website.
Tim: A live clip on their website.
Andrew: As long as it’s captured live, not a studio performance? Not just an MP3 playing.
Tim: Yeah, you want to see them. Ideally, in a ideal world, a live clip on their website, otherwise a studio clip will be OK or testimonials. Where they’re playing, this is a good clue – where are they playing? Look at their gig guide. Are they doing gigs around the place? No? Why not? Are they playing at the Hilton, well they must be OK. Look at where they are playing.
Andrew: Great tip, awesome. And then on the day, I know say with photographers and videographers, the brides always supply us a meal. I know some musicians have some like quirky tastes, I’m not sure, what’s the proper terminology there, they ask for certain things.
Tim: Special dietary requirements.
Andrew: Yes. They’re usually alcohol related. What’s the go, what do the bride and groom have to factor in there, is it just a meal for you guys?
Tim: Yeah, look we usually get treated the same way as photographers do, the meal is called, by the venues, it’s called a service meal, which is usually a main. Some brides are really happy to include us as a guest and give us the courses, the 3 courses, but usually we are really happy with a service meal and drinks. The truth is, we’re all driving, we’re all driving separate cars, none of us are going to get really drunk, so we can’t drink much anyway, actually.
Andrew: So they’re not going to be paying for a bottle of JD for each of the band members?
Tim: No, no. If that gets requested, then you know that these guys are more of a pub act rather than a professional wedding and corporate act. Look, a main meal which is called a service meal and the access to drinks that your guest have.
Andrew: So, beer and wine.
Tim: Beer and wine. There are some venues that won’t allow the musicians to drink on that package and the bride has to pay a separate fee for the musicians drinks and 90% of brides are happy to do that. The musicians are there making the night entertaining people. There’s one venue I’ve struck on the central coast that won’t allow any service people to have any alcohol.
Andrew: I’m not even going to go there because I’m going to be working there pretty shortly myself. Look, the information Tim has been unreal. How do couples find you?
Tim: How do I get my inquiries?
Andrew: Yeah, if a bride wants to book you, Tim Pringle.
Andrew: Which is?
Andrew: Okay and then from there they’ll see you and if you’re booked you can recommend them on to other people.
Tim: And they can just link to my agency and they can see who else is available.
Andrew: Fantastic, great. Thanks Tim!
Tim: No worries. Welcome.