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Start a wedding band

Updated on December 6, 2012

How to Start a Wedding Band

Making a living out of playing music can be hard. Even if you're not looking to write your own music, the competition out there for wedding bands, function bands and cover bands can make earning a decent living a challenge. Here's a guide to help you get on your feet.

Forming the Band

If you've been playing in originals bands for a number of years and have decided that's it's about time you started to earn a little bit of money for all your hard work, then playing in a wedding band is the perfect way to get set up on your own two feet.

You're sure to know lots of great musicians who are perfect for the job. Before you ask around, just remember that playing in a wedding band is a profession and the musicians you choose to work with must be reliable, punctual, talented and easy to get along with. Be extra fussy when finding a singer, they will be the face and sound of the band and many potential clients will purely listen to vocals when choosing a band so they must be very good! So now you have your band, what's the next step?

Choosing a Set List

Before you start rehearsing, you'll need a set list that is going to work. If you've played in pub bands in the past, you might want to re-think your repertoire and crank up the cheese oh so very slightly. I'm not saying you need to have Abba or anything like that in the set but some of those 70's rock classics may need to be replaced by some Motown and a bit of 500 miles - always a crowd pleaser in my experience!

Weddings have guests from 2 years old to 80 years old so you can imagine how varied your set list needs to be. It's a good idea to write all the era's down in a list and choose the best 10 songs from each era. This should give you plenty to get going with. So start off by picking your top 10 favourite 50's rock 'n' roll songs and go from there. All the songs in the set should be upbeat and considered classics aside from the 2 or 3 slow tunes to end the night with.

Example Wedding Band Set List

Here a few ideas to get your wedding band set list going

  • Town Called Mallice - THe Jam
  • Mr Brightside - The Killers
  • 500 Miles - The Proclaimers
  • Twist and Shout - the Beatles
  • Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
  • Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5
  • Domino - Jessie J
  • Valerie - Amy Winehouse
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered
  • Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
  • Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
  • Don't Stop Believing - Journey
  • I'm a Believer - Monkees

Rehearse!!! - ...and then get yourself a PA system!

Wedding Band
Wedding Band

Wedding bands, function bands and cover bands can sometimes get a bad reputation and that's because there are a lot of under-rehearsed bands out there who think they can throw a band together, borrow their mates 100 watt PA system and start charging over £1000 for weddings. A wedding band is a business and if you're serious about making a living from it, you need to make your band the very best that it can possibly be.

This means, first of all, rehearsing like crazy to perfect your set list and get the songs as close to the originals as possible. Then, putting your money together and investing in your own PA system. This will mean you can be more competitive when pricing your band as you won't need to hire in a PA. Many wedding bands do the sound themselves to save hiring an extra sound engineer so if there's someone in the band who is good at this sort of thing then that should be their job. Otherwise, you may need to employ a freelance sound engineer.

Starting a Function band
Starting a Function band

Promote the band...

... and get some gigs!

Once you've been rehearsing for a good few months and you think you're ready to get gigging, it's often a good idea to play a few low-key pub gigs first. You don't really want to be diving in at the deep end and this will get your confidence up as a band.

Once you feel you're ready, you need to start getting your promo material together. This means high quality studio demo's, not just bedroom vocals on Garageband. You'll be competing against bands who have spend thousands of pounds on video's and photo's so it's very important to do everything at the highest level you can afford. Next it's photos - extremely important when promoting your band. You need to look the business, whether that's a smartly dressed band all suited up or something a little more smart-casual. Keep it fresh, cool and conservative; nobody wants to book a half-cut band!

Once you have your set list, photos and audio demo's, it's time to start looking for gigs. If you're promo material is good enough, it's a good idea to approach some music agents. There's no need for a big sales pitch when emailing agents, just a simple email asking the agency to listen to your demo's on Facebook/Soundclound etc will do the trick. If the agent likes your stuff, they will let you know what else they need.

The other approach is to do it DIY. This can be time consuming but if you're good at web design and SEO, you'll already have the tools you need. There's also the option to pay a web designer for a professional website but bear in mind that agencies may not be able to use your website as a promotional tool if it has your contact details on the site.

Example Wedding Band Video

For a really busy wedding band, you'll need a video. This can always be done at a later date but just so you know what you're aiming for, here's a good example of a wedding band video.

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