FOR MUSIC BUYERS:  Frequently Asked Questions

Planning for Live Music

AFM musicians perform all kinds of music for all kinds of events. Here are some frequently asked questions:

Why should I use "live music"?

Live music brings energy and excitement to any party, reception or special event. By hiring musicians, you are giving yourself and your guests the gift of a private concert. With classical music, you can create an environment of warmth and elegance. For a birthday or other lively celebration, you can hire a band for dancing. If you own a business, you can hire a small group to play for your office party or sale event to entertain your customers.

Live Music makes your special day even more special. Live Music allows you to create the energy, excitement and mood that you desire.

How do you find out about the solo musicians, bands or orchestras in your area?

Call the Pittsburgh Musicians' Union office at (412) 281-1822 to find out about musicians and how to contact them. We will be able to give you the telephone number of the leader of a group. See if the musician has their own website. Many are listed here on our website: Hire A Musician.

How do I know if particular musicians are available for the date in question?

Simply contact the individual musician or leader. He or she will be happy to discuss available dates.

How far in advance should a band or performer be contacted?

Make arrangements as soon as possible. Some bands and solo performers are booked more than a year in advance of the actual performance date.

What if I can't get my first choice of musician?

With over 100,000 professional musicians -- including over 750 in the Pittsburgh region -- located in more than 300 Locals throughout the U.S. and Canada, we can find you musicians equal to your first choice. If the musician or group you want is already booked, we will recommend several suitable alternatives.

How much will the group or solo artist cost?

The cost will vary. The exact amount will depend on the number of performers, the length of the performance (usually 3 or 4 hours), the occasion, and the popularity of the musician(s). Live music usually costs about the same as a DJ (and sometimes less) and makes every event special.

Most booking agencies charge from 15% to 25% more than the musician's fee. Since we offer this as a free service, it costs you absolutely nothing. You pay only for the music, not the referral. Plus, through an agent, you don't get to talk directly to the musicians about your particular needs. This way, the musicians can tailor their performance to fit your event.

Can I hear a soloist or group before signing a contract?

Yes. The soloist or leader of the group will tell you when and where you may hear a performance. Most musicians also make tapes available. Often audio and/or video recordings are available of musicians' performances.

How can I be sure the musician(s) won't back out at the last minute?

All you have to do is sign an official AFM contract, which will be furnished to you by the soloist or leader or by calling the Pittsburgh Musicians' Union and requesting a contract form. Both the purchaser and musician must sign the contract to make it binding. An AFM contract is your guarantee that you will get the music you want at the date and time you want it. Once signed, the AFM musician is obligated to honor the contract and so is the purchaser.

Non-union musicians and DJs give contracts, too. What's so special about an AFM contract?

A signed AFM contract is "peace of mind" insurance for both the purchaser and the musician. Even if a non-union musician or DJ offers a contract, there is no organization or trade association monitoring their activities.

What if I sign a contract and then find that I have to cancel my party or event?

A cancellation clause may be added to any AFM contract. This clause allows you to cancel the engagement with sufficient advance notice (agreed upon by both you and the musicians). This way, you don't get stuck and neither do the musicians.

How do I contract a musical group?

We can provide you with an official AFM contract to ensure that financial and logistical agreements are upheld. By contracting with the musician or band you're hiring, you can be guaranteed that you'll get the band you want at the date and time you want them. Once signed, the AFM group is obligated to honor the contract -- and so is the purchaser.

Why do I need a contract?

Contracts are one of the professional musician's tools of the trade -- just like his or her instruments and sound equipment. AFM members provide their customers with AFM contracts as "peace of mind" insurance. These contracts are backed up by the national organization, and therefore carry a great deal of credibility. There is no organization or trade association monitoring the activities of non-union bands or DJs.

You may want to consider the following questions:

  • Should the musicians dress in particular attire?
  • Is there a special song(s) that you would like played? Discuss this with the band prior to signing a contract.
  • Is there a special announcement for that special song?

Is there a question we have not answered?

Please contact us. Music is what we do. We are the professionals -- eager to help you make your event special with Live Music.