Life as a function musician sure has its perks. You get to see people having fun, you get to learn a load of great songs inside out, and you get paid a lot better than you would playing at your local venue.
As a guitarist who has been trained in various areas of musical performance, I have seen the journey many of my peers have made in their musical life. From starting out with an interest for playing an instrument, to touring the world in their own function band. There are highs and lows of being a professional function musician, and at some point you will go through them all.
In this guide I will show you some of the traits you will need to have to take that step from being a local musician, to a function musician. This guide is also relevant for function bands.
Note: This guide was written for Music Industry How To on behalf of Licence to Ceilidh.
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Function Bands Need To Love Performing
If you want everyone to have fun at every wedding and cruise you play, you need to love playing to the audience and enjoy the music you play. What's more, you have to show you enjoy what you're doing. It really is that simple: if you aren’t showing that you enjoy the show, how do you expect the audience to have fun? Out of the many function musicians I've have spoke to, they all share the same tip after about a year of touring in their band.
“Enjoy seeing how happy the guests are and you won’t physically be able to play without your full energy and conviction”
So remember, you can train your skills and refine your technique within rehearsals and in your own time at home, but you have to make playing with conviction a conscious thought process. John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers once said “Play every note as if you are performing to a crowd of 10,000, even if there is only one person listening”.
Presentation Of Your Function Band Is Important
Do you like dressing for the occasion? Being a professional function musician is not just about being a great player, a excellent vocalist or a good performer. If you have stepped away from playing your local open mic night or doing the circuits in your originals band, you will soon find out that your band is a brand. By this I mean that you have to look like a band and be known for a certain image that is associated as soon as someone says your band name.
Function musicians quite often dress very sharply to fit the attire of the wedding. They have a professional nature that makes the audience have confidence in their performance, and often initially get considered for gigs based on their looks.
You can get more tips on forming a band.
Have A Good Song Selection And Be Adaptable
If you don't want to just be an average function musician, you will need an extensive repertoire of songs and styles under your belt. Imagine the bride politely coming to the stage and asking for her favorite song to be played. You stop and think “I haven’t even heard of that song, why didn’t she ask this all those months ago”. So what do you do? You could say “sorry we don’t know that song”, or you could get the band backstage in between sets and give it a go. If you can’t learn the intricacies of the song then replicate it in your comfortable style. I promise you that this will make a big difference to your performance and potential word of mouth bookings…
Creating Awareness Of Your Band
In the function music industry, one of the best ways to get your name out there is by having some good contacts. If you are lucky enough to already have some good contacts, you may know someone who is already part of a function band who can hook you up with gigs they can't personally make. Just make sure you do the same for them.
A good idea if you're starting out is to find bridal shop owners in your local area, and show them your portfolio. This might lead to them providing you with that all important first booking.
It's all about positioning yourself in the right place and being consistent with your efforts. You can do this by advertising both on and offline, and by encouraging word of mouth marketing to make the most of any gigs you do play. Make sure you have a professional website, and start building up your name in your local wedding and cruise scenes.
Be Prepared For Investments And Sacrifices
Before you embark on the journey of a lifetime and enter into the exciting / scary / rewarding life as a function musician, there are a few things you should consider.
From the beginning, you should be thinking about the possible investments and sacrifices you will need to make if you start getting regular gigs. Both time sacrifices and money investments will need to be made if you start doing well.
Do you or one of your band-mates drive? If so, you will save a lot of money by cutting out the costs of hiring a man with a van to trek you across the country. If not, can you as a band afford to buy a van to carry the equipment?
Do you have a partner that will understand you being on the road from time to time? If you are doing wedding gigs, you won’t necessarily be away more than 1 or 2 nights a week. But factor in rehearsal time week day evenings and time can start to add up.
The biggest question you should ask yourself is “Can I perform the same songs with the integrity needed to make the crowd happy every time?” Whatever you decide, good luck.
About The Author
Tom Clark is a musician and writer, writing on behalf of Licence to Ceilidh. Licence to Ceilidh is a London based wedding band, who you can see more information on at http://www.licencetoceilidh.co.uk/locations/brighton-sussex.php.
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