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Alternate Career Titles:
Show Group, Floor Show Group
Career Overview: Entertainment performers who work at hotels, casinos, halls, clubs, and more.
Career Salary Range: $250 to $15,000+ Show
Start a Show Band
Show Bands put on shows for patrons who frequent nightclubs, hotels, cruise ships, cafés, bars, and concert halls. They are not only considered performers, but also entertainers, taking on all different types of music, and engaging in skits, jokes, and more, playing a specific number of sets per night. Usually, Show Bands will perform two shows, and may also have to play one or two dance sets during the course of the night, which consist of popular new songs and old tunes.
No matter what the show consists of, Show Bands plan their sets extensively, freshening their acts with new material if necessary. During the shows, they usually wear costumes, changing for each set. It is common for Show Bands to work in one place for two or three weeks before moving on to their next gig. For their services, they are paid weekly or semi-weekly, with hotel rooms and food being part of the deal sometimes. This is important because the Show Band travels quite a lot. So, the group must not only be free to travel at most times, but they should also be comfortable living out of a suitcase for months on end.
As is the case with any job, the Show Band must remain professional at all times, arriving on-time for their sets. Working hours are usually at night, and in order to achieve success, the Group should develop good working relationships with Club Managers and Agents.
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The way the group splits up fees, how popular they are, whether they are working under a union contract, expenses and more all play into how much Show Bands earn. Generally, it is a rule that Show Bands earn more per engagement than lounge acts because of the increased level of talent. And, according to the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) union, group leaders earn more than the other group members. Each Show Band works a different schedule, with some working sporadically and others touring fifty weeks a year, earning larger fees. All things considered, fees for Show Bands run from $250 to $15,000 plus per engagement.
Show Bands survive by attracting a large fan following. When this happens, employment prospects are fair because they will usually always have somewhere to perform. But, until a Show Group has a following, employment is difficult. Working with Agents helps, but some Show Bands also try to book themselves – which can be difficult.
In terms of advancement, it is difficult for Show Bands to move forward because most group members are aspiring Recording Artists and will focus their attention on this aspect of their careers. But, as mentioned, if Show Groups can develop a following, they assure themselves constant bookings and larger fees.
Education and Training
Like Bands and Recording Artists, there are no formal educational requirements for Show Band members. However what is required is the ability to play an instrument and/or sing well. Some of these talents are natural, and some may take part in high school training, college or university education, private study, or self-teaching in order to build their skills.
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Experience, Skills, and Personality
To be successful, Show Bands must be exciting and entertaining, and their members need to have a good stage presence and charisma. As mentioned, group members must have musical and/or vocal skills, along with the ability to perform dance and show sets. To come up with entertaining sets, at least one group member should possess advanced creativity.
Unions and Associations
The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is one option for Show Band members. This union negotiates fees, terms of contracts and more on behalf of musicians. These unions also help protect the musician from being fired unjustly, treated unfairly, etc. While not all musicians belong to the union, most major clubs work with the union and do not hire any groups that do not belong to the union.
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Unions often know of openings, so be sure to join. Also, try spending time around union members to build a contact list.
- Like any job, remain professional. Show up on time for interviews, etc.
- Have pictures taken by a Professional Photographer to promote the group. Be sure to include the group name and your Agent’s or Manager’s phone number. If you don’t have an Agent or a Manager, make sure to list someone who has the ability to answer the phone at all times.
- Keep organized lists of where you have worked previously. If previous shows went well, make sure to ask for recommendations from Club Managers.
- Print professional lists of songs you can perform for interested parties.
- Put together brochures, letters, or other materials to let people know you are available for entertainment.
- When a gig has been landed, be sure to get a commitment in writing as a contract, which should include dates, times, monetary amounts, and other relevant information.
- Be sure to incorporate the audience in your shows to keep them interested and build a following.