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Man versus Machine

July 20, 2010

I was talking with a client the other day.  She was looking for a wedding singer to entertain at her Staffordshire wedding next year.  I was telling her a little about my act, the vintage songs from the 20s, 30s, and 40s that I sing and I mentioned that I use backing tracks to accompany myself.

“Ah,” she said, “But you can’t beat a live band, can you?  Live musicians win every time, don’t you think?”

Man Versus MAchine

It’s an argument I hear all the time.  In fact, I’ve used it myself.  When you hear a group of really talented musicians working together in perfect unison there’s nothing quite like that thrill that runs up your spine.


It isn’t always that simple, is it?  There are some scenarios where backing tracks (by which I mean quality backing tracks recorded using first-rate musicians playing real instruments) might prove a better option than a live band.

For starters there’s cost.  Even booking a trio or quartet can be an expensive business.  And why wouldn’t it be?  Each musician deserves a decent wage for their work.  But if you’re planning a birthday celebration or wedding on a limited budget a solo vocalist using really good backing tracks makes a cost effective alternative.

Also you may not have space at your chosen venue for a full band and, even if you do have room, how loud is the band going to be?  It’s a little tricky asking a seventeen-piece big band to turn the volume down.  On top of that can you spare the time a band needs to set up all their equipment and run through a sound check?

Finally, “live musicians win every time” is all very well, but (to paraphrase George Orwell) some musicians are more equal than others.  Shambling, amateurish live band or stylish, professional vocalist with excellent backing tracks?  No competition really.

In an ideal world every live performance from a wedding reception or corporate event to a sell-out run at the O2 Arena would use live musicians.  But that isn’t always practical which is why I use top quality backing tracks to give my clients the very best sound possible (take a listen) for a great price.  I like to think it’s the best of both worlds – it’s live music, but it’s also affordable and convenient.

As for the client I mentioned at the beginning, she listened to the arguments then she listened to my Preview CD and I’m pleased to say that she and her fiancé decided to book me for their wedding.

But is that a victory for man or machine…?

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