Starting a band is one of those lifelong dream kinda things, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of your reach. In truth, the likelihood that you’ll hit it big and become the kind of international superstar who performs to sell-out crowds around the globe is really, really low. But if you’re simply looking for a way to get a little extra cash and have some fun, starting a band that plays at weddings, local events and small venues in your region is a real moneymaking possibility. Keep in mind that small bands playing a specific subset of music may end up in more demand than a generic band that tries to play everything- so try to keep a balance between being a generalist and specialist. Think outside the box to find your ideal band- it may be a small chamber music orchestra or a zydeco band or a mariachi band or a tribute band that focuses on music by a small subset of groups from the late 80s. There’s room for all kinds of bands out there, and your community may be particularly lacking in a specific type, leaving a niche you can profitably fill.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Starting Your Own Band
The big advantage of starting a band is the fun factor- if you love performing, this can be a big draw. The biggest disadvantage is the time needed for practicing- you’ve got to maintain a regular practice schedule if you want to get gigs.
Getting Your Band Together
You can’t start a band on your own, so you’ll need to advertise for other members and hold tryouts. Be clear in your ad what type of band you’re developing- you don’t want someone well-versed in heavy metal showing up to your jazz band audition. Determine what you actually need before you advertise, too. If you and a friend are both bass players, you don’t need any more bass, but you might need a drummer, guitarist, or singer. Advertise specifically for the talents you need to complete your band.
What to Play
You’ll do best money-wise playing covers. While it isn’t as exciting as making your own original songs, covers give the people what they want to hear- and that’s what keeps clients paying to have you come play again and again. If you get really good at playing specific well-loved songs from the 70s, 80s or 90s, you’ll likely be in high demand as a wedding band or event band for people who were in high school during those eras.
Finding Gigs as a Startup Band
Keep your search local when looking for band gigs. Volunteer to play for a few smaller events, such as private parties or festivals, and hand out flyers so people who hear your band know how to contact you to hire you for their events. If your band specializes in a specific type of music, check out local venues that cater to that population. A band playing Irish sing-alongs might get a weekly gig at a local pub, while a big-band style group might work with an established dance club to implement a weekly swing night.