The Future Of Function Bands

February 11, 2015

Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of working alongside one of the UK’s busiest and fastest growing entertainment agencies. Director of Tailored Entertainment, Nick Leigh, shared some insight into the agency and how they select musicians for their roster in this past post. Now, two years on, I have the word from Nick on how times are changing for career musicians and the steps Tailored Entertainment are taking to re-define the future of function bands.

Nick, the last time we spoke we talked about ways bands can stand out in the competitive function music industry. Aside from the exceptional talent required, you touched on the need for quality promo material in the form of recordings, videos and photos with emphasis on bookers often making decisions on photos alone. How has this developed over the last few years and what trends have you seen in the market?

I would say that quality photos and video is as important as the quality of the music when marketing a function band. Wedding and corporate bookers alike are keen to visualise their event and what the band will look like is an important consideration. The bands presentation should be true to their style – if they’re an indie rock band, they should look like an indie rock band – the generic function smart blacks with a tie is an outdated look now. And for us the most popular style of the moment is vintage/festival style – the Mumford & Sons look & sound!

In the wider industry, music and style go hand in hand with music fans identifying with their favourite artists through their look and visuals as much as the music. How would you say this translates to the function industry and what can bands be thinking about to help them stand out in their promo material and creating their own niche?

Bands should style themselves as if they were an original artist in that style. Our vintage style bands are doing particularly well as they appeal to the many clients looking to book for vintage or festival theme events. It’s unlikely a booker will be able to get the real Mumford & Sons to perform at their event (although we have tried once on behalf of a booker!) but if they can have a band that look and sound a lot like them then that is the next best thing.

I work with both function bands and original acts alike and there can be some negativity about the function industry. Bands don’t want to be seen as selling out or compromising their image by being seen to play in ‘covers’ bands. What would you say to them in a time where making a career in music is extremely hard and with access to labels or industry reps proving more difficult?

We work with many brilliant original acts who perform as cover bands to help fund the original project. A busy function band can pay a good enough wage to enable the musicians to spend the rest of their time working on the original music. Alternatively, the function band earnings could fund recording/releasing music and touring. On top of that, it gives the band more opportunities to play live together – it’s difficult to find negatives! I don’t really understand the negative approach to playing covers – as a professional musician a lot of what you do is perform other peoples music, if you got a ‘pop’ gig you’d likely be performing music that is already written and arranged, so from a creative point of view it offers nothing more… it’s just a bit more rock n roll! I’d advise any young musicians to get involved with functions, it’s all great playing experience, pays enough to mean you won’t need to get a job outside of music & you will meet a lot of other great musicians who may prove great contacts in the future.

We are at the start of another year and you have had a very busy January already. What new things have you got coming up this year that will excite both potential bookers and the musicians at the agency?

We have launched a lot of great new bands in the last couple of months, so we are now busy filling their diaries with bookings. We also have a few other projects we’re working on – including Rock Band Team Building (we had a great event recently at BAFTA in London and are looking to source more of the same), Tailored Music Lessons (getting some of our great musicians teaching the musicians of the future!) and working with Sherfield School on running festival weddings and events on their site. We also have plans for a new website and look forward to launching that in the coming months!

Below, I have included just some of the new videos produced for Tailored Entertainment over the last few months as an example of Nicks points made above.