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A Guide To Starting A Cover Band

by | Master Your Craft

While we all dream about performing our originals to crowds of thousands, reality often doesn’t play out that way, and many musos seek some other form of income as a side gig. Cover bands are a pretty good way for musicians to make some extra cash as there’s a decent amount of money pumped into entertainment for weddings, events, and venues when you play other people’s songs. Yes, it can be a reasonably profitable business venture, but it also takes a fair amount of hard work and passion. Here’s our guide to starting a great cover band and how to find band members through BandMix.

What to consider when starting a cover band

  • Material & genre – are you going to be a dance band, a tribute act, or background music for a venue? Think about what genres you want to cover and what era you’re going to focus on. This will also impact your line-up and band setup – will you be a 6-piece brass band or a solo pianist?
  • Where you want to play – consider where your band’s sound would fit best. It could be weddings, functions, social clubs, coffee houses, jazz lounges – the world’s your oyster!
  • Goals & commitment – have an aim of how busy you want to be and how much commitment you should make. Are you willing to travel across the country every weekend, or would you prefer one or two local gigs a month?
  • Band name – make sure your name is relevant to your act and that it is memorable.
  • Rates – decide on how much you will charge as a function band. A soloist will charge a hugely different rate to a much larger band, keeping an eye on what other similar local bands are charging.
  • Your bandmates – getting your line-up right is very important. You’ll want to find musicians who can play the material and ultimately share the same goals as you. It’s crucial to find people you get along with because you’ll be spending a lot of your free time together!

How to find bandmates

A musician search can be frustrating at times and often very time-consuming. You could spend your entire weekend posting on several classifieds pages and social media sites to no avail, and that’s where BandMix comes in. Finding musicians in your local area is made much easier by BandMix as we have thousands of musos in one place, all of whom are already seeking bands or musical opportunities. 

To begin finding local musicians, simply login to your BandMix account and make sure your profile looks great. Add your profile picture, video, or audio clips and describe yourself, including your experience level, genre, and influences. With a strong profile, you’re more likely to get people responding to you once you reach out.

To start your search, use the search box at the top of the home page or click the ‘Advanced Search’ section to see a list of filters for a more precise search. You’ll be able to adjust the radius around your area or city, so you’re pinpointing local musicians, and you can sort the results to view them in an order that is preferable to you. You can also use the ‘Now Seeking’ section of your dashboard to input what instruments you’re searching for, which will help us match you with relevant musicians.

BandMix also offers a directory style format, showing results by state and city. An additional part of our service is our targeted Match Mailer feature, where you can receive a list of relevant musicians and band opportunities via email – make sure you’re signed up for it! 

To go one step further, you can use our Digital Audition feature, which helps you reach up to 100 relevant musicians at the click of a button. You can put in your criteria for a potential bandmate available to our Premier members, including instrument, experience level, genre, location, gender, and age-range. BandMix processes the filtered search and will notify any relevant musicians of your audition. This is by far the easiest and quickest way to get responses to your ad, meaning you’re one step closer to forming your dream cover band.

What to do next

Once you’ve found your complete line-up, you’ll need to consider how to present yourself well to get booked for gigs.

  • Rehearsal space – having a room or area to rehearse in is a must. It could be a bedroom or a friend’s shed to start with, but it might be worth hiring a good rehearsal room as soon as you can make it work financially.
  • Material – putting together some solid material is crucial. Work together to make your sound and performance the best it can be, and make sure you’ve got a long enough setlist as some gigs may require 2 or 3 hours of material.
  • Recordings – figure out how you will record some of your songs to showcase to potential venues and clients.
  • Image – talk to each other about your overall look and how you will portray your image through photos, branding, stage presence, or gig costumes.
  • Photos – get some professional band photos done. Some good-quality images will help your case when trying to get gig bookings.
  • Live videos – even more importantly, you’ll need to be able to show off your sound as a band, so invest in a live performance shoot with a videographer to create a showreel of your best songs.
  • Online presence – get some strong profiles on social media and start to get a buzz going around the band. Don’t forget to update your current BandMix profile or sign up for a new account for your brand new covers group.
  • Website – create a professional band website where viewers can see your video/audio, your full setlist, and a contact form for bookings. If you become a BandMix Elite member, there’s a website option to help you create a personalized www. domain name for your band via BandVista.
  • Finances – remember to keep on top of the business side of your band. It might be worth keeping a log of money earned, how it was split between members, plus all your band outgoings so that there is always a record. It will then be a lot easier to keep track of it for tax purposes, too. 

Finding gigs

Now your cover band is ready for a gig; it’s time to get booking! First, think about your band rates and see if they line up with similar-sized acts in the area.

Consider the places you’re targeting as a cover band – are you solely going to focus on weddings & events, or are you looking to become a resident band for a venue? This will help make up your mind on where to target, as you’ll either be trying to get in the door with wedding venues and planners or contacting local venues and promoters. These are just examples, of course, but you should be able to think of some ways to get booked by focusing your efforts on the type of gigs you want to play.

If you’re still struggling to get any gigs, go back to square one and reevaluate your product. Is it unique enough? Have you got some strong promotional material on a website? Is your live performance good enough, or is it worth rehearsing hard until it’s right? If you’ve checked all these boxes, you need to keep going. Even if you can get a few bookings at a lower price to start with, it will solidify your brand experience and open a few doors in future bookings. And, at the very least, you could start building up a local crowd of people that will regularly want to see you play – having a following is great for turn-outs, and they might request to have you back at the venue again.

For more information about how to search for musicians or bands in your area, head over to our FAQ’s:

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