Advice Clinic

How to be a successful functions band

4th April 2019


Close your eyes and picture your fantasy gig. Chances are, it’s the Hollywood Bowl at sunset, not a damp marquee for your Aunt Ethel’s golden wedding anniversary. But don’t be too quick to dismiss the function band circuit – it’s a great way to sharpen your chops, learn how to work a crowd and make some no-strings-attached cash. Here’s how.

Be ready for any song request

Back in the Britpop boom, a functions band could get by with the standard guitar-drums-bass lineup required to bash out ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. But tastes change, and you’ll lose bookings if you can’t deal with first-dance requests from today’s non-analogue pop scene. Add a synth player, freshen up your pedalboard and keep an eye on what’s big in the charts.

Know your equipment

From the bridal car’s burst tyre to the mad uncle who hijacks the speeches, timings go awry at weddings, meaning that you’ll often need to set up fast. Invest in quality gear – a top-notch PA system is particularly important – and learn its functionality inside-out, so you can get a good sound in seconds, even with a bridesmaid chewing your ear off about what a perfect day it’s been.

Get insured

Weddings are swarming with drunks, all of them liable to collapse into your PA, knock a speaker onto a flower girl’s head – and get you stung with a third-party claim that bankrupts the band. Public liability insurance is your shield against this scenario – and a thousand others – and credible venues insist on it before they’ll let you play. A bare-bones policy can cost under £40 a year – but supplement this with instrument cover, for when the bride kicks a hole in your bass drum with her stiletto heel.

Sign a contract

It’s vital to agree with the event organisers exactly what you’ll be providing on the day – and to get this locked down in writing. This needn’t mean hiring a lawyer: it’s easy to download a bog-standard live contract from the Musicians’ Union, and this can save you endless headaches, from an unpaid last-minute cancellation to the couple who insist you stick around and play Barry White covers in their bridal suite.


BIMM University

BIMM University provides an extensive range of courses in modern music, performing arts, filmmaking, and creative technology to over 8,000 students across 14 schools in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. We have a long-standing commitment to providing the highest quality in creative industries education, allowing students to maximise their career potential in an inclusive community built on a culture of shared passion, creativity, and collaboration. Berlin | Birmingham | Brighton | Bristol | Dublin | Essex | London | Manchester