Playing in a Function Band: What You Need to Know
Playing in a function band is a great way to earn money and also travel at the same time. You can find yourself playing weddings, corporate gigs, special events, cruise ship contracts and even hotel residencies abroad.
So how do you go about playing in a function band and start building a healthy diary packed full of paid gigs?
Check You Are Ready
Well first off you need to make sure you have these things down before you start looking for function work.
– A good knowledge of modern and classic songs. It becomes a lot easier if you know most of the songs that bands are likely to play already. A good way to find out is to look at bands song lists on their website and you will soon get an idea of which songs are popular function tunes. It also means you can sit in easily at jam nights as you will know plenty of songs to play.
– Gig chops! Make sure your rhythm and lead playing skills are up to scratch and you can comfortably play through different styles of music. Also you want to be cool under pressure with good musical awareness so you can improvise well if the band changes direction.
– Can you sing and play? Even if it’s good enough for backing vocals. Being able to sing goes a long way especially if you can help out with lead singing duties as you will find that you can get even more work that way.
– A great promo video. This is what will showcase your style and ability so make sure it’s as good as you can get it! Also get yourself an online profile/website so that you can actively promote your services as a guitarist.
– Probably one of the most important things is that you are super willing and will put every effort into what you do. This goes a long way and will get folks recommending you to others which will land you more gigs!
Finding The work
Networking is one of the best ways to get to know other musicians and function bands. It is something you should be doing as soon as you get into music as you never know who is going to be a good contact down the line.
A good way to meet the right guys is by attending open mic nights, especially in major cities where you will find most of the musos and also most of the work. It’s ideal as you get to jam with other players and show what you can do which usually results in making useful contacts and earning gig offers.
You can also go online and check certain musician listings sites like www.starnow.com where you will find bands or agencies looking for guitarists. It’s a good starting point if you are interested in finding work abroad or on cruise ships.
Make use of online tools and make sure you have a social media page or profile which you can share on groups and connect with other musicians. Check out the Facebook group ‘Dep Musicians in the UK‘ which has 34,000+ members where you can find lots of work offers and connect with others.
Starting Your Own Function Band
If you are good at organising people and have a good network of musicians you can start your own function band. It’s more responsibility and takes a bit of work to get started but you will have greater control over gigs. One of the key things is to have good reliable members and also good deps that are able cover if anyone can’t do a gig.
From my experience your life will be made a lot easier if your line-up includes a good sound engineer. This means you will have a better sound and lighting setup at gigs and also means you can offer a DJ service.
Before deciding what type of band to put together, research what bands are out there and decide whether your band is going to be in demand. You might find being a punk band is not as popular as a Motown band, for example. This will certainly influence how much work you are likely to get so check out what’s popular to get a clearer idea. You can also gauge what prices to charge to remain competitive and also reflects the standard of the band.
Look up entertainment agencies online to see what types of bands they have on their roster to see what level of promotion material you will need. Good promotional material usually includes:
– A well made video
– Great photos
– Full song repertoire
– Audio samples
– Live video / audio
– About the band
– Testimonials (video if possible)
– Price guide
– Areas you will travel e.g UK, worldwide etc
As well as you basic promotional material you can stand out to potential clients by adding something unique that will set you apart from other bands by:
– Offering a free DJ service
– Arranging for a guest to sing with the band
– Including Pyrotechnics (venue permitting and you will need an engineer who knows what they are doing!)
– Giving a wedding gift – A personalised gold disc with the 1st Dance and band name – A great way to advertise!
These ideas and any others you can think of will help you stand out and get people talking about your band which is a great way to get more enquiries and gigs.
Once you have all your promo together then you can start contacting entertainment agencies and get your band added to their roster. A good tip is to search for a band yourself as a customer and contact those agencies that show up first in the results. Because they show first they will be the most visited/relevant sites and therefore will receive more enquires.