I think you'll get a variety of answers here. In the case of the guys I play with here in Toronto:
Q1: How much do wedding bands get paid? Also how does a band put itself out there as a wedding band? Is there some sort of agency involved and does that agency take most of the money? WE'VE PLAYED ABOUT A DOZEN WEDDINGS, BIG AND SMALL, AND HAVE BEEN PAID BETWEEN $1,000 AND $1,500. FOR US, A LOT OF THE TIME ITS PEOPLE THAT WE ALREADY KNOW. THAT BEING SAID, WE HAVE MENTIONED AT BAR GIGS THAT WE DO WEDDINGS (AND GOT A FEW GOOD LEADS AS A RESULT).
(Ok that was actually a few questions within itself, but anyways)
Q2: How much does a band usually get paid at a bar? Do house bands always play covers, and what qualifies a decent song that people like to hear? (I know good music, trust me, but some drunk idiot wouldn't appreciate Coltrane as much as they would a classic Poison cover). WE GET ON AVERAGE $500 - $750 FOR A 3-SET 30-40 SONG BAR SHOW. DECENT SONGS? ITS ALL ABOUT WHAT GETS PEOPLE UP AND DANCING. I WOULDN'T LISTEN TO MONY MONY IF YOU PUT A GUN TO MY HEAD, BUT WHEN WE PLAY IT LIVE THE GIRLS GET UP, DANCE AND LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR PERSONAL TASTES ON THE SHELF IN THE PURSUIT OF THE GREATER GOOD (ie HOT CHICKS THAT WANT TO GET SHAKE THEIR ASSES).
Q3: For either a wedding band or a house band, is it professionally acceptable to take a leave while working with an original band and expect to have a spot in the band when the leave is over? (I'm thinking studio time or touring time, nothing extensive). CANT SPEAK TO THIS ONE. ITS ALL OR NOTHING FOR OUR BAND. WE ARE ALL ADULTS WITH CAREERS SO THE BAND NEEDS TO BE FLEXIBLE TO ACOMMODATE OUR LIVES - NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. STILL WE'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO GIG A FEW TIMES A MONTH.
HOPE THIS HELPS>