Finding Musicians At The Last Minute

2 JUNE 2016
Blog post by Adam Southall
Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Picture the scenario — a couple of days before your wedding day, you get a call from the harpist you’d hired to say that they won’t be able to perform on your special day.

There are usually legitimate reasons why musicians may need to cancel shortly before your wedding, from illness and injury to bereavement.

This is usually not a problem for ensembles like wedding bands and string quartets, as such groups generally work with a small pool of professional musicians, meaning that a replacement player can be brought in at the last minute.

It’s obviously a greater problem for soloists, who will need to liaise with other musicians in the hope of finding a replacement, and the client may need to do the same.

Aside from these “legitimate” reasons for late cancellation, other factors could be at play here. Hobby or amateur musicians who have agreed to play for a low fee (perhaps because you have a low budget) may be tempted to take another higher-paid booking on the same day instead. It’s often the case with more informal bookings, e.g. where a deposit has not been taken, or with musicians who request cash payment on the day.

But the fee is probably the main issue — a low fee will mean the musician is likely to accept more lucrative work instead if the opportunity arises.

So we’ve talked about the reasons why musicians might cancel at the last minute, but what should you do if it happens to you?

We may be able to help you source replacement musicians, as our system will automatically send your enquiry to relevant, hand-picked, professional musicians, and those available will respond to you directly with a quote via our messaging system. It means that you’re likely to find a top-quality musician, even only a day or two before the wedding or event.

Recently, we came to the rescue of a bride-to-be whose string quartet cancelled only three days before her wedding. A friend recommended that she try FixTheMusic, so she submitted an enquiry.

She received an offer from an outstanding solo violinist, who was well within her budget, accepted the offer and paid online by card within minutes. Our lightning-quick messaging system meant that they were able to discuss all the finer details of the big day, so the bride-to-be felt reassured that the violinist would be the perfect choice for her special day.

We’ve also helped a pub owner in Hampshire, who needed a professional bagpiper at the last minute for their New Year's Eve event, and our system sourced an outstanding Irish band at short notice for a St Patrick's night at a pub in London earlier this year.

At FixTheMusic, we’re certainly not accustomed to blowing our own trumpet, but we strongly believe that our enquiry system offers something completely new and much-needed in an industry that is, in general, incredibly slow to innovate and move with the times...most musicians still don’t accept secure online payment by card; old-fashioned agents muddy the waters with complicated fee structures and the confusion and delay caused by unhelpful intermediation of messages between client and musician; other sites like Last Minute Musicians list thousands of bands and musicians, and this lack of curation can make it very difficult for bookers to come to a decision...

Our clients have told us the they want to see a carefully curated selection of the UK’s best professional musicians so they can feel confident knowing that the live music at their wedding or event will be absolutely first-class.

They’ve also told us that they want direct contact with musicians without agents getting in the way. And they’ve told us that they want to be able to pay securely online when they’re ready to book. We’re striving to offer all this and more as we continue to innovate at FixTheMusic.

We’re proud that we’ve yet to have a cancellation on FixTheMusic since we launched the website. That doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at some point, as musicians get ill from time to time.

But if one of our musicians does have to cancel at the last minute, as professional musicians they know that they will need to try their utmost to find a replacement, and we’ll also do our very best to help with the search.

— Adam is a co-founder of FixTheMusic and works on everything from copywriting and marketing to design and user experience. He studied Music at Cambridge University. Adam is a keen pianist and also learned cello and trumpet from an early age.