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How to Become a Professional Wedding Singer

Advice for musicians

Advice for musicians

Getting the right qualifications isn’t the only way to become a professional wedding singer, and nor does it guarantee success, but the right attitude and preparation will get you far.

How to Become a Professional Wedding Singer

Like so many careers, there’s no clear path to becoming a professional wedding singer. Getting the right qualifications isn’t the only way, nor does it guarantee success, but the right attitude and preparation will get you far.

If you’re just starting out, here are some tips to get you on the right track.

1. Get yourself out there and start gigging

If you don’t yet have many gigs under your belt, you’ll likely have to do the low-paid and free ones to get comfortable with the process and being on stage. If you’ve come from a music course, stay in touch with your fellow students as musicians regularly recommend each other for work they're unavailable for.

If you don’t have a fledgling network, register on a musician casting website and even get in touch with wedding bands and live music agents to let them know you’re available for dep gigs. The Musician's Union have a useful list of websites to start looking for job opportunities.

Say yes to every gig you can whatever the fee – you’ll be amazed at the different types of situations you’ll be thrown into from small stages and rowdy crowds to having to cover for a late band member or dealing with a client.

This is all perfect preparation for life as a gigging wedding singer, as you’ll learn to adapt to new situations and become more relaxed on gigs.

You’ll likely need a main income while you’re establishing yourself so make sure you manage your time and get enough rest between gigs and other work.

2. Build your repertoire

To be a versatile gigging musician performing in lots of bands, you’ll need to have a full repertoire across all the key genres - the more songs the better.

This won’t just help with your singing, it will mean that you can take advantage of last minute dep requests from bands that only play pop or rock, or Motown.

Staying up-to-date with the latest hits will also help you deal with client requests, stay on top of mainstream music trends, and will get your younger audience on side.

3. Set your rate

Once you have solid gigging experience and a network, you can afford to start choosing to do better paid weddings and set your standard fee.

You can be flexible if the gig requires it, but setting a guide fee helps to assure clients of your standard and means you’re not in the situation of being offered a Saturday night wedding gig when you’d already agreed to do a £50-plus-a-free-drink pub gig.

This will also mean learning to turn gigs down rather than letting people down last minute.

If you're just starting out as a solo wedding singer, we'd recommend pricing yourself at no more than £300 per event (based on 2 x 45 minute sets, fully self-contained with your own sound equipment and not including travel costs) in order to build up the gigs in your diary and gain experience.

You could gradually increase this depending on your booking rate. Experienced wedding singers with a strong reputation regularly earn £500 or £600 per event.

4. Show off online

It’s not always necessary for wedding singers to have an online presence, but if you’re just starting out a good clean website with lots of video content will create the right impression. It will make you look professional and show that you’re serious about a career in music.

Social media is also a great way to make connections and keep people interested in what you’re doing. One great clip at the right time could get you a dep gig which leads to a regular band position and to even more opportunities. You never know where the opportunities lead, so if you’re practising or performing, get posting.

As soon as you have gigs, make sure you’re filming them and uploading the videos to YouTube and your website if you have one. Bands looking for last minute deps will need to make quick decisions and if you’re approaching them without a mutual friend to recommend you, you’ll need to have clear videos showing just what you can do.

5. Get the right gear

You don’t need to have all the latest pedals or amps but you do need to have reliable, working equipment that will deliver the right sound, so invest in quality gear.

Make sure you always have spare leads and batteries and a quick fix pack in case anything stops working on the gig. And of course get it all insured and take good care of it!

6. Build relationships

People talk about contacts in the music world, but it’s more than that. It’s about maintaining good, honest relationships where people trust you to do a good job, whatever the gig.

When there’s such a high standard of musicianship, what matters is being punctual, reliable and easy to get on with. Once you’re in professional circles, the right attitude can take you a long way.

7. Get the balance right

The wedding function world is full of professional musicians who also perform for world-class artists, and while many bands can be flexible if big opportunities come in, you need to get the balance right, and not let your ego get in the way. Is one big gig worth risking a relationship with your existing band and leaving them in a mess on the day?

It might be, but it might also damage your professional reputation, so learn when to say yes and no. When you’re a wedding singer, assess what your priorities and goals are. Unfortunately we can’t have it all, but with the right attitude and approach you can find a balance.

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