How much does it cost to hire a live Jazz or Swing Band? UK 2018 Price Guide

When talking to our customers about hiring jazz bands for private events, weddings and corporate events, we’re regularly asked about the cost of hiring a jazz band. There are various sizes and standards of jazz band, which means it’s possible to find an act to suit most budgets.

To help you understand the costs involved, we’re going to break down the average cost of jazz bands and explain the different factors that can influence the price of a band.

Average costs for a 2x 45min performance

For a standard 2x 45min performance, you can expect to pay roughly:

  • £150 per person for a hobbyist or student band
  • £220 per person for a professional band
  • £300+ per person for a high-end luxury band.
 Hobbyist / StudentProfessionalHigh-end / Luxury
Per Person (or a soloist)£150£220£300+
4-piece band (Quartet)£600£880£1200+
6-piece band (Sextet)£900£1320£1800+
12-piece Swing Band£1800£2640£3600+
20-piece Big Band£3000£4400£6000+

These prices are based on thousands of quotes that jazz bands have made through the Encore platform, and are intended to give you an idea of starting prices, rather than a precise costing.

To receive precise quotes (including travel costs) from jazz bands near you, create an Encore enquiry today.

The Modern Vintage Swing Band are in high demand across England

The Modern Vintage Swing Band are in high demand across England

What else can affect the price of a jazz band?

The following factors will all affect the price of your band:

  • Time of year
  • Type of performance
  • Reputation and years of experience
  • Travel expenses
  • Geography

Time of year

The following key dates will almost certainly cost more money, due to the high demand for musicians at these times:

  • Bank Holiday weekends
  • Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day

Saturdays in Wedding Season

If you’re looking for a band to play at your event on a Saturday between May and October, you should expect prices to be slightly higher than Saturdays the rest of the year. Jazz bands can often be required booked to perform several sets of music for the entire wedding reception and evening party, which means these big wedding gigs can pay them a good fee.

The law of supply and demand dictates that the best jazz bands can command higher fees on these peak dates, so if you’re hoping to book a jazz band for your wedding or party on a Summer Saturdays, we’d recommend booking as soon as possible!

Type of performance

Jazz bands are versatile groups, and can perform a mixture of vibes at all sorts of events. The two most common requests for jazz bands we see on Encore are:

  • “Background jazz
    • Often requested to accompany dinner or a drinks reception, and
  • “Headline performance”
    • Designed to get guests up on their feet and dancing during the evening party at a wedding or function

As you can imagine, a headline performance requires much more energy and charisma from the band, who will often be interacting with guests and sometimes even teaching them dance moves!

Consequently, a band providing a headline performance will nearly always cost more than a jazz band providing solely laid-back background music.

Reputation and years of experience

As bands become more well-known, pick up rave reviews from their customers, and gradually build a solid reputation, their price will naturally rise. Bands who have performed at hundreds of events across several years (sometimes decades!) will naturally cost more than bands who who have just started out.

The more events a band performs at, the more likely they are to pick up new gigs through word-of-mouth recommendations, and so the demand for the band goes up. Don’t be surprised if you find a popular band charging prices far higher than the costs above!

Some bands, particularly the high-end bands, will feature musicians who have performed at prestigious venues around the world. These musicians may also have performed with well-known and famous artists. When a band features musicians like this, the price will be much higher than a young band of professional musicians who only graduated from music college a couple of years ago.

Travel expenses

The prices above don’t include travel expenses, so you should consider how far the band will be travelling to get to your event.

If your event is outside of a large city, most bands will likely drive by car to your event. The Musicians Union advises musicians to charge 45p per mile driven. You can can use the following formula to calculate travel expenses:

(Miles from Band’s Base to Event) x (Number of Cars) x 45p x 2

We multiplied the cost by 2 at the end to account for the whole round trip.

Let’s use an example:
Your band is comprised of 6 people, and they’re driving 50 miles to your event between two cars. You could therefore expect to pay:

50 miles x 2 cars x 45p x 2 = £90 in travel expenses

Nouveau Lounge are one of Encore's most popular jazz bands

Nouveau Lounge are one of Encore’s most popular jazz bands

Geography

Jazz bands in London typically cost more than anywhere else in the UK, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are far more private events, corporate events and functions going on in London than any other city in the capital, which means the good bands are able to command a higher fee.

The prices we’ve given above are based on the jazz bookings that we’ve seen made through the Encore platform, which tend to be around the South of England. You may find that bands cost less in Wales, Scotland and the North of England.

What is the difference between a hobbyist, professional and luxury band?

Hobbyist band = a band of musicians who do not perform professionally as full-time musicians

A hobbyist band is made up of musicians who typically rehearse and perform together at the weekends. These may be people who hold full-time jobs during the week and enjoy gigging with friends at the weekend.

Whilst you might save a bit of money by booking a hobbyist band, you cannot be guaranteed that the performance will be nearly as good as a professional band. Professional musicians are practicing and performing every day, which means they’re always on top form and their bands are extremely tight. A hobbyist band, by contrast, may not be as well-rehearsed, and will probably have a lot less performing experience.

Hobbyist bands often cost the same as student bands. Booking students, even students at music college, can be extremely risky. Yes, the musicians may be talented performers, but they do not have experience of performing at hundreds of functions and private events, which means mistakes and logistical problems are much more likely to occur.

Professional = a band of full-time musicians who earn the majority of their income through performance

Professional bands are usually made up of musicians who have trained at prestigious music colleges before becoming full-time musicians. Not only will they feature musicians of the highest technical ability, but these musicians will probably have a better ear and sense of musicality than musicians who do not practice and perform on a near-daily basis.

Booking a professional band means you’re in safe hands. The band will deliver a polished performance, and because they’ll have experience from hundreds of previous events, they’ll be extremely easy to communicate and work with during the run-up to your big day.

Luxury = a high-end band of incredibly experienced professional (and often famous) musicians 

Luxury bands feature all-star line-ups of outstanding professional musicians. Musicians who have performed internationally alongside world-famous musicians and artists. Luxury bands will primarily perform at prestigious events and high-end corporate functions, so their starting prices will be considerably higher than a band who perform mostly at private events and weddings.

The Diamond Skyline Orchestra are one of Encore's finest luxury jazz bands.

The Diamond Skyline Orchestra are one of Encore’s finest luxury jazz bands.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, so if you’re looking for an experienced and professional jazz band to knock the socks off your guests, you should expect to pay more than if you were to hire a young or inexperienced band.

We really hope you’ve found this guide helpful. If you would like to find a jazz band to perform at your event, create an Encore enquiry today to be matched with incredible bands available on your date and based near your venue.

Looking for more advice on booking a jazz band? Check out our comprehensive Jazz Band Booking Guide.

About Author

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

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