Interviews with New England Wedding Vendors: Music!
Thanks for tuning into this interview in my mini-series. This focuses on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wedding industry. I had the opportunity to interview the following musicians. Johanna Dionne at Wavelength, Omari Hayles at Disc Jockey Boston, Rob Peters at Rob Peters Entertainment. In addition, Ariana Straznicky at Ariana Strings, LLC, as well as Cassandra Kloosterman at Bright Set Entertainment. These vendors are in a unique field, which is music!
Keep reading to see what these talented vendors had to say about the pandemic. In addition to their businesses, and predictions on the future of the wedding industry.
A little about the interviewees…
Johanna is the band manager of Wavelength. A professional, award-winning band specializing in weddings and social events throughout Maine and New England. Wavelength consists of five skilled musicians and multiple vocalists. Also providing the ultimate entertainment experience with timeless classics and current chart-toppers. Wavelength has 20 years’ experience, including award-winning performances and event planning expertise. They work with each client to meet their unique needs from arrival and set-up design. In addition to song requests Wavelengths provides equipment and emcee services as well and makes sure their special event delivers lasting memories.
Omari is a part of Disc Jockey Boston, a DJ entertainment company that has been operating for over a decade. In addition to DJing, they offer other services like assorted lighting options and photo booths.
Rob is the owner of Rob Peters Entertainment, a full-time mobile DJ and photobooth service for weddings and events. They provide individualized entertainment for an assortment of celebrations and have been in business since 1987.
Ariana is the owner of Ariana Strings, LLC, a professional music business specializing in music for wedding ceremonies. Also cocktail hours, and above all receptions. Their variety of ensembles feature professional musicians from the top symphonies and chamber orchestras in Connecticut. They have an extensive library of music from all genres to delight guests with hits from 1645 to today.
Cassandra works with Bright Set Entertainment, a full-service entertainment agency with over 200 options for live music and DJs. In addition to offering almost every genre of music in just about any arrangement, they’re proud to offer the latest technology. For example, uplighting and photo booth rentals. Ideal for weddings, corporate events, private parties and more, their musicians are award-winning and have been featured at large venues! To be specific, Boston’s TD Garden and the Xfinity Center. Playing with celebrity talents such as The Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney, Gwen Stefani, BB King, Jimmy Buffett and so many more.
What an incredible lineup! I can’t wait to see what they have to say. Let’s get into the interview…
How has your business been affected by the pandemic? What’s been one surprising effect?
Omari: It has completely decimated events this year. In addition, it has prompted a seemingly never-ending cascade of cancellations and re-bookings. It’s caused a lot of frustrated customers and severe losses that can never be regained. Since the inception of my business, I’ve never had six months with absolutely zero events on the calendar. However, there has been more time to research and manage my music library.
Johanna: The last few months have completely shut down our band business. It’s hard to believe we’ve lost the spring and summer wedding and events season. Instead of planning for special songs, rehearsing, and coordinating with our couples, business clients as well as vendor teams, since March we have been working on postponements. So many rescheduling, cancellations, having difficult conversations about availability as well as keeping up with reopening plans. Positively, we’ve found ways to communicate with our existing and future clients through new music and content online.
Rob: Unfortunately, we had every event scheduled from mid March to September cancel. In addition, we rescheduled 90% of our weddings. As far as our other business lines, we have mostly rescheduled. However, we worked on maintaining communication with our wedding clients as well as holding occasional Open Forums about rescheduling and other issues regarding their wedding and the pandemic. We also developed some socially distant services for our kids entertainment clients.
Ariana: Before COVID-19, we were growing exponentially. In 2018 and 2019, we performed for 70 weddings per year. In 2020, we booked 50 weddings and nearly all have postponed to 2021. We’ve shifted our focus to perform for micro-weddings in the immediate future. I’m normally an optimistic person who finds the silver lining. In this pandemic, I have not found it. While I have appreciated the few opportunities to perform for smaller weddings, we have largely been put on hold. I have taken the time to reevaluate my social media presence and website, but I am unable to update with new video and audio samples until it is safe to perform with my players.
Cassandra: The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely caused some unfortunate circumstances. In addition to the added complications of moving a large number of these weddings and events, we’ve also seen a decrease in revenue. However, these are both from cancellations and the lack of new bookings. One thing that the pandemic has allowed us to do is really tend to the back-end of our business. We’ve been hard at work putting the final touches on a new and enjoyably interactive website. However, this is set to launch later this year!
We’ve also had the pleasure of adding to our already substantial e-mail list. We are preparing to start monthly e-mails to our network of clients, partners, artists, and friends. Similarly, we have had more time to explore some new methods of obtaining referrals and have spent more time reaching out to past clients. These clients, above all, are important to our continued success.
What do you predict the pandemic’s effects will be on the wedding industry as a whole?
Cassandra: As the owner of an event-based business, I do think about what the wedding industry will look like when the pandemic comes to an end. Of course, recognizing that pandemics have occurred before and noting that things did eventually return to what we know as “normal” helps with remaining positive. Whatever happens, I certainly don’t think this is the death of our industry. Celebrations are essential to human connection. What I hope is that we will be able to maintain the same level of human connection as we did before the pandemic occurred.
Johanna: There is no doubt that the pandemic has added challenges to the wedding industry and forced our businesses to get creative and pivot existing products and services. It is our hope to come out of this with a busy 2021 season and the best celebrations we’ve ever seen.
Rob: It is my hope that people will want to celebrate like before the pandemic. I really don’t see things getting close to normal until 2021.
Omari: I think even after it is officially safe to come back and enjoy events again, attendees will still be tepid and attendance will suffer. It will take longer than we anticipate for people to feel comfortable interacting with crowds and dance floors will suffer greatly. I think we will see continued distancing at events and weddings.
Ariana: If the pandemic ends with a vaccine, I believe there will be a big boom in the wedding industry with tons of large weddings and events to celebrate. If we continue as is, we’ll see much smaller weddings.
What regulations do you think should be put into place moving forward?
Ariana: Moving forward with weddings, I would recommend there always be a person to monitor the groups. In addition, I would put more of an emphasis on crafting outdoor events that are safe and beautiful. There is so much room for creativity and I bet we could have some incredible weddings.
Rob: Tough to say… In other words, we shall see.
Cassandra: There are a lot of moving pieces to this global health crisis. Experts have the most information and we trust that they have been working hard to serve their communities in the most effective ways possible. In addition, we’ve been closely monitoring developments for each state we serve and will continue to do so, as more information becomes available.
Omari: If a vaccine is produced, it should be required for attending events similar to how vaccinations are required for attending school and summer camps. Above all, I would like to see more competence from leadership like other countries that have mitigated their COVID-19 outbreaks.
Johanna: We have to embrace a new normal and a different way of doing business that keeps us all safe. Outdoor gatherings are strongly preferred.
I love Johanna’s answer of embracing a new normal. In addition, I totally agree that it seems like a necessary step to successfully move forward during this time.
Thanks so much to Ariana, Omari, Cassandra, Rob, as well as Johanna for their time and insightful answers. And thank you, as always, for reading. Be sure to tune in for the next interview, publishing soon.
MUSIC SOCIAL MEDIA
Johanna Dionne at Wavelength
Omari Hayles at Disc Jockey Boston
Rob Peters at Rob Peters Entertainment
Ariana Straznicky at Ariana Strings, LLC
Pinterest: Ariana Strings
Cassandra Kloosterman at Bright Set Entertainment