10 Tips To Make More Money In A Covers Band
Updated: Mar 12
Being in a covers band is a great way to support yourself whilst you’re building up a career as a musician. It can help you avoid getting a crappy job in an office or shop because what creative mind really wants to spend all day scanning documents or barcodes?
When I was in my second year of uni, I went from working in a BP Petrol Garage every Saturday and Sunday to gigging with a covers band every weekend and I made around 3 times as much money and had SO much more fun!
If you need to find a way of paying your bills without getting behind a till so you can work on your music career, you should seriously look into joining a covers band.
Trouble is there’s THOUSANDS of them in the UK alone. Yes, a lot of bands are happy gigging once a month but you’re gonna need more than that if you want to support yourself. At least once or twice every single week.
Competition is fierce so how do you stand out from the crowd and gain a reputation as one of the best covers bands out there?
Here’s ten ways to do just this:
1. Keep on top of your damn admin
Even if you’re with an agency, you’ll still have some admin to manage and that will include liaising with the clients. Be professional at all times and get back to people quickly. One of the worst things you can do is to keep a nervous bride or groom waiting days for a reply and you don’t want any (easily avoidable) negative feedback showing up in your reviews.
Another bit of incredibly important admin you’ll have to stay on top of is your diary! If you’re gigging in both a covers band and your original band, you’ll need to make sure you never double book anything because that would be disastrous.
2. Make sure you have a list of great replacements in case someone gets, like…..Coronavirus or something
Unfortunately, disasters do happen. At the time of writing this, the world is currently going ape shit about the Coronavirus and Alex the Drummer might have just decided he’s going to self-isolate a few hours before your next gig because he sneezed at lunch time. So what do you do?
You’re going to have to find a new drummer….fast.
I beg of you…..don’t leave creating a replacement (dep) list until it’s too late and you’re unable to find a musician, meaning you have to cancel a gig. This would be (and rightly so) catastrophic for your bands reputation.
As soon as you’re in a band (or you’ve built it yourself), make sure you have a list of names and contact details of multiple musicians for each instrument. And for the love of god, make sure you’ve actually heard them play before you add them to the list. Don’t just take their word for it that they’re amazing!
3. Join an agency…or not
Being part of an agency has it’s pros and cons.
· They deal with the majority of the admin so you don’t have to
· They source the gigs for you saving you a shed load of time, money and energy
· Chances are they have a MUCH bigger ads and marketing budget than you meaning you’re likely to get more gigs than going it alone (unless you’re already established)
· You might get some really shitty clients that you would have rather stayed away from
· You’ll probably find yourself traveling a lot further than you wanted to
· You’ll have little/ no control of the amount of gigs that get booked or what days and times they get booked on, making things tricky for your “proper” music career development.
It’s up to you what you decide to do. If you’re pretty flexible with your time/ travel and you’ve never gigged before, you’re probably going to find it much easier going with an agency, at least at first….
Sure, going it alone will give you your freedom, but you may also struggle to get enough (well-paying) gigs. Pub gigs are fun but you need more gigs like weddings and big corporate events that pay more money. 50 quid a month isn’t going to cover your rent unless you live in a literal shoe box.
4. Have a niche!
Please for the love of god do not play what thousands of bands play at every gig. I swear if I hear one more band play “Somebody Else’s Guy” or “Signed Sealed Delivered” I’m going to implode. I love Stevie but STOP. PLAYING. THAT. SONG.
So many bands still have the exact same set list so how are you going to stand out?
I was at rehearsal a few years ago at Brighton Electric Studios, and as I was leaving I overheard the most incredible vocals and absolutely bouncing tunes coming from one of the rooms.
Honestly, it was insane!
The band are called Rhythm of the 90s (check them out!) and they were so incredible I ended up going to see them perform live at a few gigs. As far as I can see on their social media, they are still incredibly busy and righty so…
This is an example of a covers band that has absolutely NAILED their niche. The musicianship, the set list, the arrangements and even the clothes are just perfect.
Man, I fancy a rave now……
5. Make sure your set list is SHIT HOT
Make sure your set list is shit hot and keep updating and evolving it.
If a song hasn’t got your last two gigs’ audiences jumping up and down like lunatics, you may need to bin it, no matter how much you love playing it.
Let’s go back to Rythym Of the 90s….you might be thinking, yeah but how the hell can they update their set list? Easy, they create new melodies and arrangements and keep things sounding fresh even though no one has made these songs well…..since the fricken 90s.
Keep practicing and take pride in your band, yes….even your covers band!
Your audience and your bank account will thank you for it.
6. Do NOT let your mum do your photoshoot!
You’ve GOT to spend some money and invest in some high quality photos, music videos and demos……that’s just the way it is. There are so many bands out there that substandard quality stuff just isn’t going to cut it. You need to stand out and knock people’s socks off with your promo material!
Getting your mum/ nan/ weird uncle to take some photos of you all in the back garden will
NOT help you get gigs, even if they take awesome photos of their dogs for Facebook.
Check out what your biggest, most successful competitors are doing…that’s the sort of stuff you’ll need to be aiming for….
7. Get as many reviews as possible
People are much more likely to book you if they can see that other people absolutely adored you at their events.
Unfortunately, people are more likely to leave a review for something they didn’t like so you may have to chase your clients a couple of times before they bother to write a testimonial for you!
(FYI: Keep your clients happy and always get to your gigs early. So many musicians I know are absolutely useless at getting to places on time that I don’t know how they’ve manage to survive for so long.
The happier your clients are, the more likely they are to leave you a raving testimonial and shout about you to everyone they know....meaning more gigs)
8. Choose your price point carefully…
Choose your price point carefully and don’t forget to cover things like mileage.
The average price for a UK covers band is around £1000 at the moment for a standard 4-5 man (or woman) band.
If you have 10 people in your band, your price is going to have to be a lot higher to cover everyone’s fees as you’re going to need multiple vehicles to travel to and from each gig.
Make sure your band is worth the money!
9. Market yourself properly
Remember, competition is fierce and the standard is high, so make sure you market yourself properly, otherwise no-one will pay any attention to you.
If you’re not posting on social media regularly, people might assume you’re not gigging and look elsewhere.
Get footage and photos from all of your gigs and post exciting updates across your platforms.
Being active on social media build trusts and shows people that you know what you’re doing!
10. Treat your covers band as a business
Whether you like it or not, being in a covers band is basically your business, so you have to
treat it that way, if you want it to work.
Being in a “covers band” doesn’t have to be a dirty word and it can be a really fun way of supporting yourself, whilst you work on becoming the next global superstar.
I hope you found this article useful. If you’re in a covers band and you’d like some help in dealing with the social media or admin side of things, you know who to contact ;)