Alternate Career Titles:

Bar Band, Tribute Band, Lounge Band

Career Overview: Performs covers of popular songs so the audience can dance and have a good time at clubs, bars, casinos, lounges, and schools.

Career Salary Range: $250 to $15,000+ Show

Dance/Cover Band

Start a Dance/Cover Band

Career Description

Dance Bands provide music for people to dance and listen to in hotels, clubs, schools, etc. When employed by a specific person, Dance Bands can be contracted to play a certain number of sets, with each usually lasting from forty-five minutes to one hour in length. In total, the band may play from two to five sets per night. Like all bands, a Dance Band may consist of Guitarists, Bass Players, Pianists, Organists or Synthesizer Players, Drummers, Singers, Horn Players, and more. In terms of music played, Dance Bands usually specialize in one or two varieties of music, like rock, pop, Top 40, disco, jazz, or country. To ensure perfection when performing, Dance Bands must set aside rehearsal time, and they must know how to perform most of the current hits. In addition, audiences always appreciate it when Dance Bands know an assortment of other tunes – especially when the audience makes requests, which is often the case. Dance Bands work on either a part-time or a full-time basis. It is common for many Musicians to get their start in a Dance Band. Because they usually perform during night times and evenings, Band Members often hold day jobs or teach on the side in order to earn additional income. The Band may work with a Booking Agent, Manager, Road Manager, or other personnel when necessary.

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Depending on the popularity of the Group, where they are located, the depth of their experience, and more, Bands will earn anything from $250 to $3,000 plus per engagement. Dance Bands working in bars earn between $250 and $1,500 plus per night, while a group playing in a lounge or nightclub might earn from $500 to $15,000 plus per engagement. However, Dance Bands with large followings may earn considerably more! Also, if Band Members belong to the Musicians Union (AFM), their base pay will be set.


With some many available venues looking for Dance Band talent, those bands looking for part-time work on weekends will have a fair chance of finding gigs. However, Dance Bands seeking full-time employment will face a more difficult time.


Talented Dance Bands are faced with fair advancement prospects. If they can attract large fan bases, they will have a much easier time scoring work. No matter the case, there is always a bit of luck involved. So, if the band is talented, lucky, and in the right place at the right time, they may become successful.

Education and Training

Dance Band Members are not required to have a formal education, but they must have the ability to play an instrument and be able to sing. Dance and vocal training can be obtained in school or through private study. Those who are lucky enough to have the ability to do so can teach themselves. This is not to say that Band Members are uneducated – as some have degrees in music or other majors.

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Experience, Skills, and Personality

Successful Dance Bands are able to build large followings, and they do this by having an advanced musical ability and talent. Also, group members should work well together, and should really be able to gel as a group. Those Dance Bands that are formed of college schoolmates have the understanding that their time as a Band may end once graduation comes around and members move away. Other groups may stay together for years on end. This usually can happen with groups that contain members who have common goals. Necessary skills include maintaining a good stage presence and professional behavior at all times.

Unions and Associations

Dance Band Members may belong to the bargaining union, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). This union assists Musicians in setting salary guidelines and health insurance plans.

Suggestions for Getting Started

  • Search local newspapers for people looking to hire bands.
  • As is the case with all professional jobs, remain as professional as possible by showing up on time for all interviews and performances.
  • Have a professional Photographer take pictures of your group, and include your group’s name, and your Agent‘s name, along with contact information.
  • Practice makes perfect, so set aside adequate time for rehearsals.
  • Design marketing materials like small brochures or flyers to spread the word about your group.
  • Once a gig is landed, get the commitment in writing to form a contract that states all relevant information.
  • Consider taking an ad out in a local paper to spread the word about your group’s availability.
  • Assemble press kits to give to the media and potential buyers.