Agency owner Adam Mezzatesta shares real-world advice for bands who want to make more money.
Adam’s agency Bands-for-Hire gets work for 200 bands. That’s why we thought he would be just the right person to reveal what really makes the difference for bands who want to reach larger audiences:
Venues and music agencies face an overwhelming torrent of new bands looking for gigs and representation.
How can you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
As the owner of a music agency, I’m going to be focusing on the bread and butter side of the business – the events industry.
I think you’ll find that the principles are similar for singer-songwriters performing their own material or vocalists in a function band.
Before we even begin to look at sourcing work, the number one reason why cover bands find themselves stuck on the pub band scene is their promotional material.
From an agent’s perspective, I’m looking for a complete product that I can pitch to clients. That means high quality studio recordings, professional photos and a video that clearly demonstrates quality and trust.
So, don’t scrimp on your promotional material; you’ll find all the major agencies fighting to fill your diary – this is the perfect position to find yourself in.
You may well be able to produce reasonable quality demos in your home studio, but unless your engineering and mixing skills are exceptional, this could well put you in the “average” category.
2. Price Yourself Correctly
The aim of your function band is to create a comfortable income – or, at the very least, be a major contributor to your living costs.
With highly paid mid-week gigs a rare occurrence, it’s essential to generate enough at the weekends to get by.
However, all too often, musicians come across established bands on the web charging £2-4k ($2.6-5.3k) a night and assume this is instantly attainable.
The truth is that the bands demanding the big money have most likely built up their brand and, as with all supply and demand situations, are now able to focus on those higher budget clients.
My advice for any function band starting out is to work out a fee that each musician is happy with and stick to a firm pricing structure based on travel expense and day of the week.
In general, agencies have a solid roster of experienced function bands that cover the upper range of budgets, so when we find a new band at an affordable price, we’re keen to make them a key part of our business and fill up their date sheet.
If you’re well received and you find yourself with a full diary, you can of course increase your price to reflect this.
3. Keep Organized
It’s time to start booking those gigs. First of all, assign the most organised band member to be the person in charge of admin – if you’re reading this article, it’s probably you!
As a band leader I always found this part of the job equally as rewarding – you are essentially now running your own business and to watch it grow can be extremely satisfying.
Reply quickly and efficiently. Ensure that emails are dealt with on a daily basis and not just every other day.
If an agent finds your replies to be quick or immediate, you’ll no doubt be the first point of call when faced with urgent last minute enquiries.
There’s a fine line between being professional and personable with your emails – keep your quotes brief but be sure to cover everything that’s included and always read through the client’s requirements before quoting.
Keep your diary organised. My suggestion is to set up a Google calendar that can be accessed by all band members. As well as your bookings, this can also include any dates that band members are away, leaving you with plenty of time to train up stand-in musicians if required.
I also suggest an Excel sheet or similar to keep a detailed record of where you are with your bookings. Remember, a booking is never a booking until the contract is signed.
Talking of contracts, don’t forget to sign up to a Musicians Union/Association to make use of their sample booking contracts, Public Liability Insurance, instrument insurance and various other benefits.
4. Find Your Niche
With literally thousands of function and wedding bands creating an abundance of options for clients, you may want to consider fine-tuning your act to cater for a particular market, or even focus on covering one specific genre of music.
The majority of function bands stick to the same tried and tested repertoire and while this does have its merits, it’s not a bad idea to throw in your own unique spin to stand out from the crowd.
Whether that’s turning songs on their head and performing them in a completely different style or simply thinking more about what the band are wearing in your photos and videos, having a unique look or sound will make your band more desirable to both wedding and corporate clients.
5. Be Accommodating And Build Up A Strong Reputation
Building up a strong reputation is not only down to your performance, but also the overall service you offer.
While it’s important to lay down ground rules for set-up times, song requests and set times, being able to cater to your client’s specific needs is always noticed and will ensure positive reviews and testimonials – vital for gaining repeat bookings and recommendations in the future.
If you’ve got the talent along with the qualities above, you’re certain to shine through.
Adam Mezzatesta is the owner of live music agency, Bands For Hire. Bands For Hire provide function bands, jazz bands and musicians for thousands of events across the UK each year, and are constantly on the look out for aspiring new talent.