Most musicians love their jobs! What's not to love? After all you get to go to a great party almost every weekend and your job is effectively your hobby. You also get to be the centre of attention of course! In fact, I suspect, if they didn't have a ridiculous drive back home or commitments the following day then most muso's would love nothing more to than to carry on playing until they get kicked out of the venue.
Sadly it's rarely practical for bands to stay past 12am. Even though most venues call time around midnight, bands can still expect to spend at least another hour packing down so, by the time they're ready to leave, it's nearly always past 1am in the morning. If they then have a 2hr drive home then they're not likely to get home before 3am and for some bands its not over until they've then unloaded their equipment at the other end as well.
Professional bands can expect to cover long distances to get to an event. They start work when most of us are getting ready to call it a day because most events, parties and receptions typically start after 7pm. Normally, the band arrives at least 2hrs before the guests are due to arrive in order to set up and sound check their equipment and the first set tends to start around 9'ish, or shortly after the evening meal. The later the better its seems because guests aren't usually in the mood to get up and dance immediately after they've just finished eating. Plus, it's no coincidence that guests often don't feel like they can get into the party mood until it starts to get dark outside (the darker the room, the less self conscious people feel when they're dancing).
It's no wonder then that most muso's tend to have their body clocks permanently set on night shift and they rarely get out of bed before 12pm. It's not at all uncommon, for example, for a professional musician to find themselves sitting at a service station, downing a gallon of coffee at 2am in the morning and catching up with other muso mates on Facebook or Twitter. It's also, not all that uncommon to bump into some muso mates at a service station or find yourself waving to them as they drive past you on their way home.
That said, it's not unheard of for bands to accommodate later finishes or earlier starts but to facilitate this requires some advance planning. It largely depends on whether or not their existing plans will allow them to accommodate the extended hours. Bands need to check what events they are attending on either side of your event, where they're located and what time they need to be there. For example, if you're event is in the Midlands and the band have an event in Edinburgh the next day with an early start then its not going to be possible for them to stay late. Family commitments, day jobs, Dr's appointments etc can also conspire to get in the way as well.
Taking this into consideration, we always advise clients to book as early as possible and when planning timings, to discuss ideas with the agent at the earliest opportunity. The more notice you provide the greater the likelihood of the band being able to accommodate your requirements and the more time the agent will have to liaise with venue staff and other service providers to try and work out if its possible for them to accommodate the changes, without any major disruptions to their schedules. Needless to say, booking early will also ensure that you get the band that you really want and if you're not sure about what you're looking for then try and provide as much detail as possible about your event - what type of event is it, whats the typical age range of your guests, what are your musical preferences, what's the size of the venue and will it accommodate a larger band or should we focus on small line ups for you and whats the budget? There's no point in us recommending a costly 12 piece band that's based over 200 miles away, even though they have the perfect style and repertoire that you're after if the budget doesn't allow for it or if the floor space is limited and therefore better suited to a 5 piece band that's half the price.
Tip of the day: A good agent will always ask a lot of questions and they will also encourage you to ask questions. How else can they understand what you're really after and ensure that they can get it right for you?