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How to Start a Function Band and Get Paid Work!

We help over 600 bands, musicians or DJs find work at thousands of private weddings and functions every year – but who are these artists, and how did they get the job?

How to Start a Function Band and Get Paid Work!

We started out with just one wedding band – the director's band! Soon the phone was ringing and the bookings started rolling in – so we worked out why. Once we’d discovered this, we looked for other bands who could provide the same first-class entertainment. Here’s a guide to what we look for.

Find the musicians

First you need to think about the band members. If you’ve ever studied music or been in a band, you probably know plenty of musicians. If you don’t, check out "musicians wanted" boards.

The best place to do this is on Facebook - there are lots of musicians groups organised by area. One of the biggest and best is UK Musicians for Gigs. Alternatively, try placing an advert on StarNow, a website for casting musicians and performers.

Make sure band members are great players and performers, and very well organised with a good attitude, and no big egos!

Choose your songs

First of all, you need a huge repertoire – and not just any old songs. The classics (and we mean everything from ‘Rock Around The Clock’ to ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ to ‘Bad Guy’ are classics for a reason: people love to hear them! Not sure where to start? Browse our top function bands' song lists for inspiration.

Practice, practice, practice

You also need to be able to play those songs really, really well. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of demos we receive that are frankly embarrassing.

Some songs sound really simple (you’d think out anyone could thump out three chords to play Wonderwall) but to do it convincingly – in time and in tune – is harder than it looks.

You don’t actually need to replicate each song perfectly; what’s important is an excellent performance. For example, if you’re a singer you need to have great tuning, a high quality voice and be an eye-catching performer.

How to Start a Function Band and Get Paid Work!

It's all about the video

Make sure you have good quality promotional material and plenty of it! 80% of clients book a wedding band without having seen them first; you’ll get more bookings if you can use photos, videos and sound clips to reassure them that they’re booking the right people!

By ‘good quality’, we mean you need to get yourself a professional photoshoot; a set of crisp, well-balanced recordings; and video footage of your band playing live.

Get the look

You need to look good. Don’t worry, we don’t mean botox, implants and body building – we mean dress smartly and look like you’ve made an effort.

Grunge fashion might be back in the shops, but most weddings are still pretty smart, and they make up 70% of our total bookings.

We also look for something a bit more nebulous. It’s to do with style and the way you carry yourself. You need to look like a band, like you belong together. Many of our best bands have grown up playing together or been in the same band for years, and it shows!

Equipment and transport

Get your equipment sorted out, and make sure you maintain your gear and/or your voice properly.

Your party band needs to be self contained, and that means having your own sound equipment and transport. By transport we mean cars or vans, since taxis and trains are too unreliable. Lighting isn’t 100% necessary, but it having it available might get you a few more gigs.

We specialise in wedding bands and party bands. That means your job is to get people dancing and create a party atmosphere. It’s not that we don’t love the more serious stuff or even the odd slab of doom metal – but weddings and parties are happy occasions and you need to keep it jolly.

For some reason, the most popular bands are male-fronted four-piece wedding bands – though it isn’t by much. No idea what that’s about (sorry).

How to Start a Function Band and Get Paid Work!

Get organised

By this, we mean manage your diary well, so you know when you’re free and don’t double-book. Get back to people quickly when they contact you.

It doesn’t sound very rock & roll, but organisation and discipline are critical to putting on a good show, so it’s what every agency looks for before accepting you on to their books.

For all you see in the media, musicians can’t afford to be prima donnas. If you’re moody, rude, temperamental or unreliable, you won’t get booked.

Getting gigs

If you prefer rehearsing and gigging to paperwork and endless phone calls to clients, join an agency. They’ll take a percentage of what the client pays to book a band in order to handle all that stuff for you; they’ll also advertise your band and negotiate fees.

If you want to keep the booking fee, you can work directly with clients, but you need to be absolutely sure that you can handle all the admin, because if you don’t get back to clients quickly or price yourself competitively, someone else will get the gig… Agents will also contract you.

Playing at weddings

Most wedding receptions kick off between 7pm and 9pm, so you’ll need to be there a couple of hours before that. The usual finish time is midnight, which some couples choose to extend to 1am, so make sure you're well rested and ready to work all night!

Travel

Playing in a function band means a lot of miles on the clock! Professional wedding and party bands often travel up to five hours to do a gig, and sometimes stay overnight if they playing far away from home. Make sure you allow plenty of time for travelling.

How to Start a Function Band and Get Paid Work!

Working as a dep

Not in a wedding band at the moment, or in a band but want to make a bit of extra cash? You could try working as a dep – that is, a deputy for someone in the main band who can’t make the gig for some reason.

To be a successful dep, you’ll need to be well organised but easy-going. You should have a very wide repertoire and be able to adapt to new bands quickly.

Being able to do gigs at short notice is a definite plus, as is being the kind of person who gets on with other people easily.

Working as a dep is good for pocket money, but in terms of making decent amounts of cash it’s far less efficient than being in a wedding band with regular gigs.

Other ways of supplementing your function band income include teaching music.

Playing the gig

You need to be professional, accommodating and have a good time! Read the dos and do nots of being in a function band, written by a musician on our books.

What social life?

Bear in mind that a decent wedding band or party band can be expected to work every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from April to September, and spend December and January playing at Christmas and new year’s eve parties.

Be prepared to have to miss out on parties and nights out – but enjoy doing your shopping during the weekdays and avoiding the crowds!

How much can I earn?

Each member of a high quality function band can earn £150 to £250 a gig after expenses such as clothes, instruments and food. Not bad if you want to spend the rest of the week working on your originals band!

How to Start a Function Band and Get Paid Work!

Ready to join our books?

We're always on the lookout for more high quality party and wedding bands to add to our books. If you have ticked off all the above, please fill in our quick application form and we'll consider your application.

Check out our top party bands to see your competition. Good luck!


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