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Getting those high paying gigs

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mward69, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. mward69


    Jan 20, 2007
    Conyers, GA
    OK so as a cover band member, I feel like we are good enough to get those "high" paying gigs, via cooperate party's etc...
    I would like to hear from others in the cover band field to know the "tips" on getting some.
    I also welcome your opinion on our material. Weather we are average or good enough to shop for them...you can listen here...
    http://www.lostdogsband.com/ the the "listen" tab :)
  2. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I play in a disco/funk cover band in Boston (www.bootyvortex.com). We're sort of like a show band in that we all dress up in 70's clothing and have a stage show. About 40%-50% of the gigs we do are high paying (+$5,000) gigs for corporate parties, weddings and parties for rich people. Around Christmas time we do a lot of corporate holiday parties, and the summer is filled with weddings and gigs at yacht clubs and country clubs.

    All of these gigs come to us from either someone seeing us at a club gig or another private event, or just from word of mouth. I don't know of any way to go out and get these kind of gigs. They call us. We just try to be professional and give the customer what they want.

    I looked at your band's site. I think one of the reasons you might not be getting these types of gigs is that your band and site have a heavy metal/hard rocker look. Your site is all black and your guitar players look very menacing. IME, most rich people and corporate parties aren't looking for that type of an act. They want dance music and pop hits.

    Your location should be a good one. I imagine Atlanta has a lot of rich people.
  3. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Oh yeah... I tried to listen to the clips on your site, but they took too long to load and I gave up.
  4. I agree about your website... you look like a bar band.

    I waited for your clips to load, you sound great. May I suggect you invest $20 and buy the coverband101 book that others were talking about on TB a while back.
  5. Stegre


    Aug 14, 2007
    OK, I'll go through my list of starting points.

    These kind of gigs are all that I have done for the last several years.

    1) Change your band name. You can still keep the name you have for your bar gigs, but it won't appeal to high end clients. you need to soften it a bit and develop an "alter ego"

    2) Get a new website and promo pack. Get the website professionally done. Get a professional logo designed.People paying a few thousand for a band want a really pro look. While you don't necessarily need to totally revamp your personal look, I'd sure try to get more of a hip GQ image going in good clothes and new photos.

    3) Add at least a female vocalist and a sax player. Those two additions really help sell the band to an upscale crowd.

    4) Look on Gigmasters.com and find similar bands in the price range you are trying to hit, and copy their songlist.

    5) Make a demo video based on your new songlist. Video is virtually demanded by customers now

    I know all of this sounds like a radical shift, but I guarantee you, your success will be quite limited and the dollars much lower if you don't do these things.

    Here are a couple of examples of bands that really do it all right:

    Partyquake.com (incredible video !!!!!)

    Their demo videos are great, websites excellent, and both bands work a lot for a lot of money ! Very high level.

    Stefan (author Cover Band 101)
  6. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    getting higher priced gigs....somethings worth considering

    People will pay big bucks if; the band puts on a complete and professional production. Great sound, high fidelity and not too loud. Corporations will not pay to have there hearing damaged. They want a lite-version of a kick ass show. Great show, coordinated lights, great stage lights, truss, backdrop, segues and great pacing all get the audience involved. Great showmanship, charisma, humor.... too much to try and explain and I don't know if you can teach this stuff. Visually pleasing, customs, stage clothes, dancers, all should look great. Messy guys with beer bellies is a turn off. Great singing and playing with accessible reportois are important. Vocals, vocals, vocals!
    Once you have the entire product, then you need someone doing sales. Not easy to find the potential customers. Once you have identified the decision maker, you then need someone who can extract the maximum dollar out of potential clients...like any other business.
  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Really great advice on this thread so far. I wanted to add some links to some bands in the San Francisco Bay Area that do well for themselves. This is a fantastic area for corporate gigs. You've got San Francisco, sure, and there's plenty of corporate money, but you've also got the affluent Marin county, the demanding Silicon Valley and upstart San Jose, wine country, (which should NEVER be dismissed), and areas as far north as Sacramento. There is a wealth of opportunities here.

    I'll echo what some others have said. You absolutely have to have a great website and media package. Think about a promo packet. You can splice together audio and video so easily nowadays. If you don't have the equipment, run it. You'll need to spend some money at first, (you have to spend it to make it, right?). You can always just use proceeds from the first gig to pay back these things. Anyway, a nice video/audio package that has performance material on it, (especially because anybody can do a glossy "studio-style" demo nowadays). Show the crowd having fun, and make sure your web page isn't overloaded with photos of killer guitar solos. Show the crowd getting into it. Show that the crowd couldn't care less about their vodka/red bulls and just wants to dance and groove all night. Your audio and video needs to be clean and polished though. Make it professional. Hire somebody and pay them fairly if you can't do it yourself. Review your set list, (you'll have to play some industry standards that may not be your cup of tea, that's just the way it goes). Make sure that your set list is cohesive. You can have variety, but make it work. Pay attention to what song is first and last. You should have the experience to know what songs crowds love, and when they want to hear them. Also, make sure your band is tight, and make sure that your equipment is up to snuff. It's no good if your PA or snare can't be counted on night in and night out. And for that matter, is your transportation reliable?

    Are you presentable? Can you speak confidently and casually? Can you schmooze? Are you punctual?! This one is HUGE! Don't be late! Ever. Personally, I also think that it's nice to have a sub list. My last party band had a list of horn players, drummers, guitarists, bassists, and singers, that, if at the last minute there was a scheduling conflict, I could phone somebody and know that they could learn the material off a CD and just show up and play.

    But above all, most importantly, the single most important thing ... Networking. It's all about who you know. Shake hands, kiss babies, play the politician. Like somebody said, many wedding and corporate gigs come from playing bar gigs or other parties. Be ready with video demos and business cards at every gig. Have somebody specifically in the band who knows how to charm and talk to people.

    And ... write contracts for each gig.
  8. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I would say that Zac is being a bit modest here. I have been to one of his gigs and I can tell you that all the toes were tapping, heads were bopping and booty's were shakin' from the first down beat until the end. IIRC, they started about 9pm and played until 12:30 or 1am with about a 15 minute break. The tunes ran into each other (not more than a few seconds b/w tunes). I don't think it hurts that the ladies in the band are somewhat attractive too. There's a lot of energy on the stage (with 14 members) and the crowd loves it.

    my .02
  9. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Fred, I gotta start cutting you some scratch for this kind of advertising! Thanks for the props.
  10. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Holy $HIT!!! That video is amazing. My band need this!
  11. Stegre


    Aug 14, 2007
    Yes, it is amazing. It appeals to a wide variety of people. You can do a good video on your own and do it relatively cheap, but I heard (from a very realiable source) that video cost $12K !!

    Worth every penny considering what they make.

    I noticed it had been updated from the last time I looked a couple of months ago. Another sign of real pros !

  12. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I'll see you Saturday at Andy's. Bring the envelope . :D
  13. It really depends on what you want. High-paying cover gigs = weddings & corporate events. Everything about it is different than bar gigs; the marketing, the songlist, the way the band looks, the production...the money (spent and earned). In some sense, you become more of a marketing business than a band. That's ok if it's what you want to do.

    I'm in the same boat (same city too), my band is trying to break into bigger and better paying gigs without donning suits and playing KC and The Sunshine Band's catalog. The problem is we want to remain basically a "rock" band. So it cuts us out of a lot of opportunities for certain events. We accept that and keep pushing what we're doing. We don't put much money into our promotional material (it shows). We just try to do it by playing good shows, building a loyal fan base and networking as much as possible. It seems to be working somewhat, albeit very slowly. Yeah, it's not the fast track, but we enjoy what we're doing.

    Some essentials:
    - a good well-connected promoter/agent.
    - male and female lead vocals
    - keyboards
  14. Stegre


    Aug 14, 2007

    Sorry, it will be pretty hard to do without some suits and some KC.

    Yes, there are things I'd rather play, but when I see great crowd response, while playing in beautiful location right next to the ocean, or a gorgeous country club, and see people who are dressed well and look great.... hmmm. I guess I can skip playing the solo to Steely Dan's Peg...... even though I love doing that.

    That's even BEFORE considering the money. Also... often, less work, less ear strain, smaller gear, shorter hours, chance to practice jazz chops etc.

    Please don't shoot the messenger here, but I hear from agents all the time that classic rock is dead in terms of a high end band. There are a few songs that work, but if they see any more than 5% classic rock on your list, they'll move to the next band.

    And ... you are right !!!! The key to this all is to enjoy what you are doing.

    If you like being a "rock band" great. I had my run of doing that and it was fun, but I like the high end business a lot more.

    The coolest thing is that there is room for eveybody. I will say.... if we all "raise the bar" a bit and polish up not only our musical, but our promotional and performance skills, pretty soon bands will be in more demand (we'll hopefully get rid of a lot of DJs) and we can start making more money regardless of what style we want to play.

  15. I completely agree. It just depends on what you want out of it. One reason I really like clubs is that we've built a regular following and I enjoy the interaction with them. With our approach, making the corporate/wedding/countryclub money is few and far between. But we like what we're doing and are making good progress towards better money.

    It really does come down to "raising the bar", no matter what your market is.

    I guess I need to just order that book. ;)
  16. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    Look, I did the Rush tribute thing for 5+ years here in New England. It was lots of fun to play, but talk about niche. We made next to nada. It was a lot of work for very little reward financially - considering how much I spent on keyboard stuff alone! LOL

    So now the remnants of that band (including myself) are putting together more of a GB thing to just have fun, make some money, and not be so serious.

    I've done the private jazz gigs in the past (jazz is my heritage actually) and that can be very nice financially. I'm going to get back to that in the fall, actually.

    I agree with most of the comments here - chops is part of it, but you have to bring more to the table to get those high paying gigs. You also can't take yourself too seriously as that kills a vibe. If you get people off their @$$es dancing, buying beer and drinks, and get a following, club owners will keep you busy for a long time, and word of mouth may get you those private parties and gigs.

    Just my $.01.
  17. Interesting thread. mward69, I checked out your site. You guys sound like a very solid, tight rock band (with strong vocals too!), and it looks like you have a pretty full calendar so you must be doing well.

    But I'd agree with the consensus here it's a lot tougher for rock bands to get high-dollar corporate and wedding gigs (unless you happen to have a connection thru a friend or something).

    Most of the time they're terrified of anything that might sound or look remotely "heavy". So no overdriven guitars, no modern/alternative rock, etc. They're more often looking for background music (i.e. light rock, jazz/pop), or dance music (lots of Motown, disco, and/or upbeat blues & swing). Or even some combination of those. I agree that it helps a lot to have both male and female vocals, along with keyboards and/or horns. You would also want to lose the bar-band wardrobe, i.e. no jeans, tennis shoes, t-shirts, sweatshirts -- you can't even let them see PHOTOS of you on your website wearing those, or they'll likely turn and run. You don't have to go with the flashy suits -- button-front shirts with collars and dark slacks can get you there.

    Unfortunately, everybody's recommending that you become a pretty different kind of band. But maybe another approach is to just form a SECOND band: keep your existing members, add female vocals and keys, work up a separate set list under a new name, and keep both bands going. Just a thought.
  18. Stegre


    Aug 14, 2007
    Good solid thinking there. A second band, spun off your original is a good idea. That is often the way people make the jump.

    Another way is to learn the tunes yourself, and then get on the "sub" list of every band in your area that does that kind of music. Pretty soon your name will get out.

    Sorry to be a spolier in one regard, but one person mentioned developing a following at bars. You can get a gig from time to time that way. Overall though it just does not work to get you a lot of corporate and wedding gigs.

    All it does is show a client "Here's a band I can get for cheap if I want to have a beer party in my back yard, but when my daughter is getting married I'll get someone good."

    If people see you once in a bar, in jeans and a T-shirt, that is their image of you and your band. You can have people up and dancing, but it really doesn't make any difference. The whole bar vibe kicks in and most high end clients just won't even consider you.

    The only reason to play a club (not a bar) gig as an upscale band is to give prospective clients a place to come and see you. If you can find an upscale club or casino and do it 3 to 4 times a year, dressed nicely, playing the right music at the right volume, it gives you a good venue in which to show yourselves to prospects.

    You do have to work this though, in other words you need to be in contact with prospects to make sure they will show up. Otherwise you've wasted a date on the calendar that you could have booked something a lot better.

    Side note to all.... I am making a prediction for all musicians. There is a big undercurrent of popularity in jazz happening now. It may very well be the next big thing in about 5 years. Time to learn those tunes as well.

  19. Hey Stefan, I'm curious what makes you think jazz might become more popular in the next few years?

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