You would be surprised at how many artists and musicians have tribute bands running on the side.
There are a ton of tribute bands in the world. Some are “just for fun” tributes – usually started because a group of musicians have a passion for a particular artist.
On the other hand, there is a whole world of tribute acts that are putting on professional productions and making a great deal of money.
These acts are the Elvis impersonators, Journey tributes, Pink Floyd tributes, etc.
There is an Eagles tribute in North America called Hotel California that can sell out 2,000 person theaters – they’re making a lot of money! But the band is so good that they might as well be The Eagles.
What I’m saying is that whether you are doing a tribute for fun or as a way to make extra cash, it’s a great idea.
How To Market Your Tribute Act
Marketing a tribute band isn’t nearly as hard as marketing an original act. People don’t need to be convinced that your music is good – everyone already knows the songs you’re playing!
All you need to do is convince people that you deliver a professional show.
Here are the first few steps you should take to start marketing your tribute band.
Play A Few Practice Shows
Before you start making promo videos or start trying for bigger, better-paying shows, you should play a few practice shows.
You need to refine the band’s set list, start working out kinks, and develop your stage show to a professional level. This takes a bit of trial and error.
Luckily, booking a tribute into a bar is not hard. Bars love tributes, because they basically market themselves.
Do a little research and figure out which local bars have tribute nights, and then book your band in.
Film Your First Shows
Half of a tribute band is the look. You should film your first shows (even if just on a GoPro) and watch yourself.
This will be telling. You’ll be able to identify areas that need improvement, and you’ll be able to watch the show, and make sure everything looks cohesive.
You can also use these preliminary videos to book more shows.
Put Together A Live Promo Video
Once the band is looking and sounding great, it’s time to take things to the next level.
Before you do anything else, you need to shoot a good quality live promo video.
The promo video may require a financial investment if you don’t have the means to do it yourself. The better quality the video, the better the gig you’ll be able to get.
Shoot the promo video either in a cool, unique location that suits the style (a Buddy Holly tribute could shoot it in a tiny honky tonk bar) or on a stage that you would like to play on (if you want to play casinos, shoot at a high-production casino stage).
Either way, the point is to put yourself on the kinds of stagse you want to be playing – this shows talent buyers the caliber of band you’ve put together.
Shoot a live video, but don’t be afraid to overdub vocals and make it sound great. Everybody does it, and if your video doesn’t sound amazing, it won’t stand out.
Hire a couple of camera people, and don’t cheap out on the editing. A great edit makes for a great promo video
Putt Together Your EPK
Next, you need to make a basic website.
You do not need anything fancy. Your whole website should basically be an EPK.
Front and center, feature your live video. This should be the first thing people see, as it leaves the best impression.
You can also have an EPK video that features interviews with the band members. Maybe it contains some quotes from people who have booked you, or testimonials from satisfied audience members. This is optional, but it can help.
You should have good quality, era-appropriate promo shots. These should be featured on the website, and should be easily downloadable.
If your tribute act is paying homage to an artist or band from the 60s, try to stick to the theme! Pick a promo shot that the artist used in their time, and try to imitate it. This sort of attention to detail sets you apart.
Then, a short bio, maybe some press quotes, and contact info. That’s all you need!
How To Get Gigs With Your Tribute Band
Once you have your promo material all sorted, you can start getting gigs.
There are many ways you can go about getting gigs.
Pitch Yourself To Bars, Casinos & Festivals
Look to get yourself booked into good quality bars that pay guarantees. Find local bars that are hiring the good quality tribute acts, and send them an email pitching your band.
Make sure you’re charging plenty. Tribute acts are a lot of work and you should be paid appropriately.
Casinos also hire a lot of tribute bands. Get in touch with the talent buyer at a casino and pitch the band. Again, make sure you’re charging enough money. Casinos have big budgets.
Small-town festivals and rodeos often have tribute bands – these gigs are super fun and lucrative.
Again – just get a hold of the artistic director or whoever is in charge of booking the event, and pitch the band.
Get On Tribute Act Booking Websites
There are a number of websites you can list yourself on as a tribute act, such as this one in the UK.
See which are the best in your area, list yourself, and see if any are good for getting you new bookings.
Find A Booking Agent
There are booking agents who specifically work with tribute acts. This is because tribute acts can make a lot of money – and, agents like to make their share!
To find out who is booking in your area, look into whoever the top tribute acts are in your locality and spy on their websites. You will likely discover that there’s a local agency who books most of these acts.
Agents can be great for tribute bands, because they have contacts for almost every gig a tribute band can play.
Tribute bands can also go on tour – playing casinos, bars, etc. These can be very profitable and are a lot easier to set up with an agent!
How To Promote A Tribute Band Conclusion
All of the above will help you get your tribute band off the ground.
But keep in mind that the best advertisement of all is word of mouth. You’ll play an event, someone will see you and book you for another event. Someone will see that, and book you for their wedding.
Keep playing, keep making cash, keep putting on good shows, and eventually you’ll have a nice little side hustle!