It isn’t guaranteed work, and it certainly has a peak season. But, once established, a working wedding band is a good way for a musician to have a solid income base. As Musician Wages website author Joe Beech says, “starting up … a wedding band offers a better guarantee of regular income than you might have with your original music.” He offers a good step-by-step plan for getting a band off the ground in “Start Your Own Wedding Band.” While I’ve outlined a few major points below, the article is a must-read for any musician considering getting into this business.
Most musicians may think only of the reception, assuming the service music will be taken care of by someone else. But why can’t one (or more) of the band members be that someone else? When forming the band, try to pick members with abilities in multiple genres, such as sacred music for the service or jazz for the cocktail hour. You increase your chances of getting hired, you’re able to command a larger fee, and the bride will be relieved that she only has to deal with one band.
In addition to picking good musicians, the wedding bandleader must also consider dress and repertorie. No shorts or jeans here, folks; very likely you’ll wear formal attire, or at least suits and nice dresses. And the set list will probably include several tunes you probably wouldn’t play in a bar. “Sunrise, Sunset” comes to mind as an example.
Remember: this is an industry, and you’ll need good marketing tactics. Booking agents are one way of getting gigs, but they may not be as consistent as you’d like, and they’ll also add to the cost. Other marketing avenues include networking with wedding planners, attending wedding expos or bridal shows, brochures, wedding planning phone apps, and the obligatory video demo.
As I’ve said elsewhere in my blog, it is critical for musicians to diversify their incomes from many different sources, even as they work toward their ultimate dreams. But whether that dream is writing the next big hit, becoming a regular session player, landing a job as a Broadway orchestra musician, or touring with a famous band, the bills still have to be paid. And good wedding bands make good money – from $1,200 and up – without the hassle of promoting the show. So while performing in a wedding band may not be your ultimate goal, it is certainly one way of making sure that your progress toward that goal remains funded.