How to Start a Successful Function Band

Every musician dreams of playing shows in packed out venues to enthusiastic audiences and being able to make a tidy sum off the back of their passion for playing music.

There are few markets as saturated and impenetrable as the music industry. With supremely talented musicians regularly falling by the wayside and unable to force a breakthrough, more and more musicians are forming function bands in an effort to acquire many of the goals they set out to achieve as original artists.

As musicians are often all too aware, it can be really deflating to play shows to empty rooms for nominal fees or even for no form of remuneration at all. A function band offers a far more assured route to guarantee many of the objectives of the modern musician.

That being said, don’t expect that forming a function band will immediately result in big paychecks and copious free wedding cake. Forming a successful function band needs more than a group of competent musicians able to perform a selection of ‘crowd pleasers’.

If you want to command sizeable booking fees, you will have certain expectations to meet. When booked for someone’s wedding or party, your band’s performance will be a huge part of what will be a very special day for them. This means you’ll likely to feel under pressure to deliver a first-rate performance.

Here’s what you need to do make a success of your new venture.

Build an extensive setlist

Function bands have to learn to play a huge selection of songs and be prepared to adapt their setlist for each client. In doing so, they will also have to accept that there may be no room for their original music.

Building such an extensive repertoire of cover songs will take a considerable amount of time and dedication. For this reason, you cannot expect an instantly profitable return from starting a function band. You need to be in it for the long-run.

You must continually update and refresh your setlist with new songs to avoid it becoming dated. Ensure that your setlist has a diverse array of artists, though it’s always best to identify a certain genre or musical era you will specialise in. It’s important to give this some real thought and pick a style that you are well-suited to, enjoy playing and is also regularly sought after by potential clients.

Present yourselves in the right way

As a function band, you may get booked to play some pretty sophisticated events, which means that you will need to dress for the occasion. Make sure that each member owns a suit or cocktail dress to be suitably dressed for such events.

All musicians in a function band should love performing and show their passion while playing live. The crowd will feed off your energy and if your body language suggests that you’re not enjoying the show, the audience is unlikely to show much enthusiasm for your performance either.

You need to be fronted by a quality singer with a natural ability to entertain an audience. They should boast a great stage presence and capable of enticing any crowd into dancing.


Unlike original and casual cover bands, you’re less likely to be booked to play at dedicated music venues and pubs equipped with lighting and PA systems.

This means that there is an expectation that the band should supply this equipment. Investing in a high-quality PA system and microphones will be crucial as you must be able to deliver a crisp and clear performance at every venue, every time you play.

For this reason, you should be willing to reinvest a percentage of the money you make to regularly purchase new equipment to enhance your live performances.

High-quality recordings or videos

Unlike the average cover band, content with playing local pub gigs, you cannot expect potential bookers to offer you the kinds of fees that you may well be worth if the quality of your recordings isn’t up to scratch. Therefore, phone recordings or amateur Garageband productions are unlikely to cut the mustard.

For this reason, you’d be wise to pool some money together and visit a good quality recording studio. While this represents a significant outlay, your band is likely to recoup this several times over once you’re up-and-running.

Moreover, if your band prides itself on its great live shows. Perhaps you could consider having some professional videos produced to showcase the energy of your performances. This will also provide a useful glimpse into what a potential client can expect from hiring your act, and may just prove to be crucial in swaying them to go ahead with a booking.


Organisation and reliability are vital attributes of any reputable function band. You should know exactly what the client is expecting from you – and vice versa – well in advance of the performance date. Spend some time discussing the kind of music you’re able to play and whether that suits your client’s requirements, as well as whether there are any specific songs they would like to hear on the day.

Ensure you know exactly where and when you’re expected to arrive. You should also know beforehand what equipment will be supplied for your performance and what you’ll need to bring with you.

Schedules and the finer details of big events are subject to change. Therefore, you would be wise to double-check the event information you’ve received nearer the date. Being proactive in this way will instill a lot of confidence in your hosts and give the impression that your band is a safe pair of hands they can depend upon.

Similarly, there are no excuses for being late or canceling at the eleventh hour. Not only can this have an adverse impact on your band’s reputation and therefore affect future bookings, you will be responsible for tarnishing someone’s special day.

Offer a personal service

It’s important to be polite and friendly in your discussions beforehand, at the event itself and in any further dialogue you may have after the event. Remember, you’ll be helping people celebrate some of the biggest days of their lives. Make sure you offer your congratulations and always look to go the extra mile and do anything you can to make their day – and your performance – even more memorable.

Are you in a function band and have some tips you’d like to share? Please post in the comments below.

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