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The Essential Guide for Wedding Musicians

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Working in the music industry is hard graft, wherever you find yourself. While many musicians strive for success and recognition in writing, producing and performing originals, there are no guarantees of financial security even in the event of runaway success – and much of the financial success musicians enjoy comes from bookings of a quite literally functional nature.

This is, of course, the function band: a group of highly skilled musicians that play a repertoire of covers for different bookings and events, most often being weddings. The wedding band industry is a highly lucrative one, whether as a side hustle for gigging musicians or a full-time career. As someone thinking of getting involved in wedding music, what are some things it might help you to know?

The Repertoire

Arguably the most important consideration for wedding bookings is your repertoire. You and your band need to have common knowledge of a veritable library of songs, in order to be able to cater to different audiences and potential last-minute requests. Chart-toppers new and old are a safe bet, as are classic first-dance artists like Elvis or Elton John. Don’t be afraid to learn some left-field tunes, too; much of the energy comes from the band as opposed to the song!

Logistics and Administration

While the gig is the purpose of the wedding function band, it is unfortunately counts for a very small proportion of a wedding band’s work. Much of your time is taken up with arranging bookings, sorting basic logistics such as transport and accommodation, and arranging for essential expenses like musical instrument insurance for all band-owned equipment.

Customer service skills and experience are just as important here as musical skill and expertise, given the ‘customer-facing’ nature of for-hire function work. Taking bookings requires attentive conversation, and an attentive approach to arrangement and organisation with vendors thereafter – including independent liaison with the venue’s AV engineers (if any).

The Gig

The gig itself is, of course, your product – and should be treated as such. You as a band are striving for consistency, on practically every level. Not only do you need to be well-rehearsed in general, outside of gig-specific rehearsals, but you also need to look the part. Your function band should have a dress code, and should liaise with each wedding planner about any potential dress requests on their end.

Being a personalised product, your wedding set should be adapted for each wedding – hence the wide repertoire mentioned above. Asking for requests ahead of time also means you can work in new songs via your preparatory rehearsals. These gig-specific rehearsals are a great time to check equipment and ensure you’re bringing everything you’ll need.

As well as being adaptable to different venues, crowds and bride or groom demands, you also need to be well-prepared and adaptable with regard to the human element. Alcohol is a major component of many weddings, and can create unpleasant frictions between guests and your band – particularly if their interactions and requests are unreasonable. This is where good people skills come in especially handy, to keep things light and protect your band!

Conclusion

Playing in a function band is a great way to turn your talent with an instrument into a relatively stable source of income. It keeps you well-practiced, has you networking with other musicians on the wedding beat and gives you opportunities to up your game in exchange for more competitive rates. It is no walk in the park, though, and heeding the above can be vital to long-term success.

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