Wednesday, 12 June 2013

How to Become a Cover Band or Tribute Band - Advice and Tips (Part 1)

Becoming a Cover Band or Tribute Band Tips
After speaking to various bands and people in the know I have decided to compile a little list that outlines some top tips for becoming not only a cover band or tribute band, but, actually becoming a successful one. So, with this in mind if you are looking to get more gigs and earn a bit of extra cash check out this guide to cracking the market :D

Firstly, make sure that you spend the time to record good, high quality demos. It really is worth spending the time and extra cash to ensure that your MP3s are the best sounding that they can possibly be. Also, check that your instruments are in tune before (and during all sessions) starting to record and that all vocals and backing vocals are in tune before saying 'yep, that'll do nicely'. Sounds obvious, but bum notes and bad tuning will immediately make you sound amateur.

Next up, once the sounds are brill, make sure that you get the best quality photos you can as well. It doesn't matter if you are a dirty, rock and roll type cover band or a high class Frank Sinatra tribute singer - make them count! There's nothing worse than the standard 'standing by a wall', or, 'sitting in the pub with pint glasses on show' type photos for putting people off and making it look as though you don't take yourself seriously. And, to top it off they've been taken by a really poor quality camera. So, spend and get somebody professional to take the photos. Dress smart if that's the style or dress casual to suit. Look the part, get the shots and be prepared to pay for it. These piccies could represent your band for the next few years so it's actually a really good investment.

Similar to investing in great photos, make sure you have brilliant equipment! Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying buy boutique or crazily expensive stuff that is just overkill. But, make sure you have high quality, reliable and fantastic sounding kit. (NB. If you are a Beatles tribute, you may have to invest in high quality boutique style equipment to ensure you look the part, but, if that's the path you choose enjoy the trek I say.) And, this doesn't just include your own personal use equipment, ensure that the PA is top quality and also that you have some lighting to set the performance area off perfectly.

Make sure you have a reliable mode of transport! Some bands opt to buy a van... some will hire one for each event, and others will divvy everything into an assortment of cars for getting around. Whatever your choice just make sure that the transport is serviced, reliable and not falling apart. Obviously, even the best taken care of cars or vans can still encounter problems so make sure as well that you are equipped with breakdown cover. A good idea if you are in a band (i.e. there is more than one of you) is to take out 2 different breakdown policies. This way if you breakdown en route to an event you can ask to be towed to the venue so you are not letting anybody down. But, the additional policy will mean that you can also get yourself towed home after the gig and avoid having the worry of what you'll do all night.

OK, so you have what I call the practicalities sorted now... next on the list is to make sure you know lots (and I mean lots) of songs! This applies whether you are a tribute band or a cover band. To be a great tribute band you will now only know all the main tracks by the band or singer you are tribute-ing, but you should also know the album tracks, B-sides and even rare recordings. You are expected to be an authority on the subject... so, get swotting up! With regards a cover band you need to remember that the best paid gigs will probably be weddings or private functions and for these types of events the crowd will vary in ages and tastes. So, you need to know a LOT of songs from the 50s and 60s right up to the present day chart hits. Your songlist should be constantly growing and evolving. Use pub gigs to trial and error certain songs and find out what gets the crowd moving. NO trial and error at weddings.... these are such important days that you need to be a well oiled machine with a great setlist. Take no chances here because you will not be forgiven and it could seriously jeopardise future events and bookings for you. Do a great job though and it could easily lead to another 4 or 5 bookings. But, I digress..' learn loads of songs and execute them brilliantly!

That's enough info to get you started on becoming a successful cover band or tribute act, but... part 2 will follow soon :D

Thanks for reading.

Written by Matt Warren


  1. Good advice so far :D looking forward to the next part.

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