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Booking a Tribute Band, Everything You'll Ever Need To Know

Booking a Tribute Band, Everything You'll Ever Need To Know

Everything you'll ever need to know about booking a tribute band. Find out what a tribute band will do at your event, how various types of tribute bands differ from each other, what type of music they'll play, how much space they will require, how to ensure quality, how much it costs to hire a tribute band and much more.

Adore Michael Bublé but don't quite have the budget to hire him? Love the music of Queen or Abba but never got tickets for their shows? Book a tribute band or tribute act and you can experience all the famous hits and musical magic of the originals, recreated live at your event.

What is a Tribute band and what will they do at my event?

A tribute act or tribute band recreates the sound and performance of a famous band or artist, often with authentic costumes and instruments. Where it’s no longer possible to see the original artist, a great tribute band gets you as close to the 'real thing' as is possible, short of going back in time to see the original act in their prime!

Tribute bands are available in the following popular formats:

Tribute bands: a live band playing music only by the artist they’re paying tribute to, matching the instrumentation and performance style of the original artist, and featuring authentic costumes and instruments. Some tribute bands try to recruit ‘look-alike’ musicians to get their image as authentic as possible, but this isn’t considered as important as it is with solo tribute artists.

Solo tribute singers: a live singer mimicking the performance and songs a famous artist, in authentic costume, often a close personal resemblance to the original act, performing over pre-recorded backing tracks.

One of the first ever successful tribute bands, the legendary Bootleg Beatles formed in the early 1980s and became the first western rock band to tour the USSR in 1982. The trend for 'accurate' tribute acts really took an upsurge in the early nineties, thanks in part to legendary Australian ABBA tribute band Björn Again. Although many Elvis Impersonators might disagree, it’s been said that Australia was the real birth place of the tribute band phenomena due to many famous touring bands having a reluctance to include the distant continent on their tour schedules. Unable to see their favorite artists live, Aussies formed ‘tribute bands’ to fill the gap.

Either way, a seed was sown and those roots have grown world-wide to produce many successful tribute acts mimicking everyone from classic artists such as Freddie Mercury and Queen, David Bowie, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra and Elvis, through to modern chart artists such as One Direction, Take That, Adele, Maroon 5 and Robbie Williams. As an indicator of the level of acceptance of tribute bands into popular music culture, The Bootleg Beatles supported Oasis in 1996 at the height of their fame, playing to 250,000 people a night at the infamous Knebworth concerts.

You can also hire a tribute band to an era, for example the So 60s show pays tribute to the music of the 1960s, That 70s Show play 1970’s disco music, Alive and Kicking play a 1980’s themed tribute show, The UK Ska Club perform a tribute to Ska music or The 90s Anthem Band who play tribute to the dance music of the 90s. These kinds of tribute bands make terrific entertainment for weddings and office Christmas parties, where guests may want a variety of music but they also want a theme to tie the party together!

Popular tribute bands for hire

Popular solo tribute acts / singers

What to look for in a quality Tribute band

All of the tribute bands on the Alive Network web site have been carefully pre-vetted so they represent the very best of what's available in the UK. We have selected our tribute artist roster from literally thousands of applications so in order to ensure quality, all you need to do is choose a tribute band from our web site. It's risk free and you have peace of mind that we've already done the hard work for you.

If you do choose to look around elsewhere, here's what you should look for:

1. A regular fixed band line up

Something which Alive Network tries it's best to be strict about is ensuring that the tribute bands we represent maintain a regular line up of members, especially with regards to vocalists, so that our customers can expect to have the same singer turn up and perform at their event that they booked from our web site. If you look at tribute bands outside of the Alive Network agency, be sure to ask (and have written into your contract) that the singer who will perform at your event will be the same one that you've been looking at prior to booking.

Our booking contracts only allow band members to be swapped where there is a force majeure emergency, or where the band has made it clear in their advertising that they use a number of different members. It's actually quite common for bands to use a selection of musicians in order to maintain their availability, and this is unlikely to impact on the quality of their performance, but it's important that you the customer know what you're booking. In particular, customers often book a band based on liking the singer, so where as it might not matter much to you if the drummer or bass player change, it will probably matter much more if the singer is swapped out.

Some unscrupulous band leaders and agencies accept bookings only to subcontract it on to an entirely different band who are told to turn up and perform under their name. Others swap singers without letting their customers know, which can cause disappointment on the day of your event. To be sure you're getting a professional tribute band who won't let you down, book them through Alive Network!

2. A great demo CD / MP3s

The band's music recordings should be in time, in tune, and sound well produced (it should sound like a high quality recording). It's also important that you can hear how authentically the band cover the music that they’re paying tribute too. Not all tribute bands are trying to be exact ‘sound-a-like’ bands, so be sure to listen out for how accurate a tribute they are. Compare recordings against other bands to get a good idea of how well they stack up.

3. Great photos

Being able to see that a band have made the effort to present themselves authentically and professionally shows you they are serious and care about what they do. As with audio, not all tribute bands try to be ‘look-alike’ tribute bands, but this should be clear from their photos.

4. Customer reviews and testimonials

Make sure you can read genuine reviews from previous customers. You'll find loads of customer reviews for our tribute bands readily available here on the Alive Network web site.

5. Equipment

The band should use professional quality PA, instruments, amplifiers and microphones. For tribute bands who are trying to be an accurate copy of the original band, they should use authentic looking instruments. The better the equipment, the more reliable it will be, and the better they'll sound at your event.

For large events (upwards of 350 people) you are likely to need to hire PA and lighting as most bands only carry systems suitable for average sized private events. Check whether the band provides stage lighting.

6. Experience and background

Check that the band consists of high calibre musicians with a good track record of performing in a tribute show. Review the experience of individual players within the band as well as the experience of the band as a whole. There's nothing wrong with booking a great 'new' tribute band - but you would expect to pay a little less for a band with no track record.

Experienced tribute bands who are 'in demand' charge a little more but they bring a wealth of experience and ideas to the table. If you’re booking a tribute band for a ticketed event, then obviously the more well known the band is the more chance you have of selling tickets off the back of their name.

7. The backing of a reliable agency

No agent, no backup if anything goes wrong. If you book a tribute band 'directly' and they let you down either intentionally or unintentionally, you'll be completely on your own trying to find a last minute replacement. This would not be fun on the day of your event! Alive Network offers 24 hour-a-day emergency cover, 365 days of the year - with 1000's of artists to fall back on.

Look for an agency that responds quickly, efficiently, and takes the time to listen to your individual requirements. They will be your point of contact so you need to be happy that they're providing a high quality service too. If you're looking at companies online, make sure that they clearly advertise their contact details and address (not a PO Box) and that they actually are a real business (as opposed to website run out of a bedroom).

Alive Network is the largest entertainment agency in the UK, specialising in live entertainment for private events. We've been in business since 1999 and have booked bands for tens of thousands of events - something which you don't get to do without offering a reliable service that customers are happy to recommend.

8. Cost

You get what you pay for, so don't cut corners unless you don't mind risking the success of your event. We represent thousands of musicians, all of whom define their own fees, so our tribute band prices are a good indicator of what's usual to pay for private events.

Tribute band costs can vary greatly depending on the status and reputation of the act. Solo tribute singers cost from around £450 - £600, 4-5-piece tribute bands average around £1500, though established tributes like The Bootleg Beatles ask upwards of £12,000 per event.

What exactly will a tribute band do at my event? What will the format be?

Tribute bands are best enjoyed, as their original counterparts were, on a raised stage, with lights, and an audience who are able to get up, dance and enjoy the show without distractions. They will usually play two sets with an interval (just like a rock concert), or one set as a 'headline' act.

Many tribute bands can adapt their line-up to suit your budget and venue. Abba tribute band Abba Live, for example, offer a standard 4-piece band that bring the magic of Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid (Frida) to the stage, but can expand up to a 10-piece live band for bigger events and an authentic concert experience, complete with three backing vocalists.

Some tribute bands also offer an additional show of music in a similar style, such as disco, or era, such as the 1960s, which can form the second set. So, you could have Abba for the first half and a skool disco party for the second half, or Beatles for the first half and a 1960s retro pop for the second half, usually at no extra cost!

The format for a private event or party might look something like this:

Arrival, unload, setup, soundcheck
The band will arrive at a time to suit you and set up their equipment where required. To unload, set up and sound check takes on average 60 - 90 minutes. This time is important if you want the band to sound good as levels will need to be balanced correctly. Usually they will play background music from a laptop or iPod whilst they get changed and ready for the performance.

If your event includes a sit down meal, it is usual that set-up and sound check would happen after the meal whilst the room is cleared, and whilst guests leave the room to get drinks and stretch their legs. If you would prefer the band to be set up before guests arrive, this can be arranged but usually costs more because of the extra time involved.

The band’s first live performance would usually commence about 8.30pm and last 1 hour. They would then take a break until the next set is required. If a wedding, this usually covers the time when the evening buffet is served or when the cake is cut. During this time the band would play background music from a laptop or iPod.

The second live performance would then usually start around 10.30pm lasting 1 hour until 11.30pm, plus hopefully a few encores! When the performance is finished, the band will usually play more background music until the contracted finish time. Most bands will leave this music running whilst they dismantle their equipment at the end of the night.

The band should start loading their equipment back into their vehicles only after the agreed contract finish time. It takes around 45 minutes to an hour to pack down and load out.

What equipment will a tribute band provide?

99.9% of the tribute bands working with Alive Network will provide all of their own equipment. This would include PA, instruments, amplifiers, basic stage lighting and either a laptop or iPod to play background music through their PA between performances. Some of the larger corporate events tend to use a dedicated audio visual company, and often they will provide PA and lighting for the band.

Although there is a difference between the size of PA systems used by the various tribute bands we represent, they should all bring a PA system suitable for up to 150 people, which covers most private parties and weddings. Bands with larger PA systems won't necessarily turn them up any louder but the option is there if needed, and larger systems usually sound much higher quality. Looking at the size and quality of their PA and lighting systems is a good way to judge value for money between several bands. Ask your Alive Network co-ordinator if you need help with this.

Important note: If your event will have more than 150 people, or if the room where the band will perform holds significantly more than 150 people, it's worth remembering that a larger PA system will need to be considered and you should discuss this with your coordinator. As a guide, you need roughly 10 watts per person, so a 300 capacity room will ideally require a 3000 watt (3K) PA system. Most of our tribute bands can arrange larger PA if they don’t provide it as standard.

How much space will a tribute band need?

Although it might sound obvious, the space required really depends on the size of band you book and whether their show requires a large performance area. A Michael Jackson tribute act requires enough room for dance routines, so even though you might book them as a solo performer, they might need more space than a 6-piece band!

Here are some guidelines based on ‘normal’ function band space requirements. These would work well for most tribute bands unless additional dance routine space was required:  

Minimum tribute band stage size requirements

Solo artist: 3 x 2 meters.
2-3 piece band:
3 x 3 metres
4 piece band: 4 metres wide by 3 metres deep
5 and 6 piece band: 5 metres wide by 3 metres deep
7 piece and bigger: 5/6 metres wide by 4 metres deep

Allow roughly 1.5 metres across per person. Allow 2 square meters for a drummer. Remember, space is needed in front and to the sides of the singer/band to accommodate PA, speakers and lighting stands.

The more room the band have, the more comfortable they'll be, and the better they'll perform.
That said, bands will do their very best to fit within whatever space you have to work with, just don't expect miracles.

How long will a tribute band's performance last?

For headline shows most tribute bands will perform one 60-90 minute set. For private events and parties where a whole evening’s entertainment is required, most are able to split their set into 2 x 45 or 2 x 60 minute sets.

When choosing the start time for a tribute bands first performance at a private party, bear in mind that if your guests have just eaten, they probably won't want to dance right away. Also, they'll be more in the mood for dancing as the light fades outside and once they've had a few drinks. For the average wedding/birthday party, 9pm would be the ideal start time, with a 30-45 minute break afterwards, and a final performance running until close.

Are there any options available to customise my tribute band or their performance?

Different tribute bands offer different options ranging from adding extra members or dancers for bigger shows through to the provision of a DJ service or extra PA/lighting. The booking options available for each tribute band are shown on their profile page and are selectable when you make an online enquiry.

You can also make put forward your repertoire preferences (based on the artist’s repertoire list on their profile page) to be sure your chosen tribute artist sings your favourite songs!

How much will it cost to hire a tribute band?

This depends greatly on the size, quality and experience of the band. All Alive Network tribute bands are carefully vetted and so therefore represent the top percentage of quality live bands in the UK.

Solo tribute singers cost from around £450 - £600, 4-5-piece tribute bands average around £1500, though established tributes like The Bootleg Beatles ask upwards of £12,000 per event.

The best way to reduce cost is to avoid early arrival fees (most bands charge extra to arrive and set up at private events before 5pm) and try to find a band who are based close by so you're not paying for lots of travel time. The home town location of all Alive Network tribute bands is shown on the roster pages and also on each bands profile page. You can also ask your coordinator to recommend the best band local to your event.

Why is there a difference between what different tribute bands cost?

As mentioned previously, you pay more for an established tribute band with a high level of experience and demand. The minimum standard of our bands is already very high as we carefully vet everyone we work with, but you get what you pay for and experience counts for a lot.

Also, when you search our web site for tribute bands available on your event date and in your event location, those bands who are travelling from outside the area will add travel fees, and these fees are included in the prices you'll see advertised. Travel fees can sometimes be 50% extra on top of the bands local price, so there can be a big difference in the cost of local tribute bands compared to acts from outside the area.

The number of members in the band also greatly affects cost, with 3 or 4 piece bands costing much less than 10 or 11 piece bands.

Some higher earning tribute bands are also VAT registered which pushes the overall cost up, though most band aren't.

What security will I get when I book a tribute band?

When you book a tribute band through Alive Network you'll receive a legally binding contract which protects you against any foreseeable eventuality. This means that short of the band being seriously injured or abducted by aliens, your booking is 100% safe.

You also get the full backing and support of Alive Network, the UK's largest live entertainment agency, as well as the assistance and advice of your personal Alive Network coordinator who will always be on hand to help if you have any questions or concerns.

You can think of Alive Network as your entertainment insurance.

What happens if a tribute act is ill?

It's very rare that problems occur, but if the unthinkable does happen, Alive Network will help you to source a replacement artist, even at very short notice. We work with hundreds of bands across the UK and have a huge database of contacts to fall back on in an emergency.

Alive Network runs a 24 hour-a-day emergency hotline, 365 days of the year, manned by a minimum of six on-call staff. We will always have your back.

If the artist you've booked is ill, and given sufficient notice - you will always be fully informed and involved in agreeing a replacement. In many cases tribute bands have deputy members who are able to cover for members who are ill, in which case you would still get the same band, but with the missing member replaced. If the whole band needs to be replaced and you aren't happy with the replacement band that we suggest, you can choose another similar priced act from our web site yourself, or else receive a full refund. If you chose a more expensive artist, you would need to pay the difference in price.

If an emergency happens on the day of your event and we cannot contact you, we will liaise with your venue, and send the closest matching alternative artist so you are not left in the lurch. You still have the option to send the artist away if you are not happy to accept them, but if you do accept them, the terms of your existing contract would transfer to the new artist.

Is there anything else I need to provide for a tribute band?

The band will need a safe performance area, preferably a raised stage, with at least 3 or 4 power sockets in close proximity.

They will also require parking, and if you can ensure they have easy access at the front of the venue to park and unload, this will ensure the band can get in and get set up quickly.

For tribute bands performing in the afternoon, refreshments and sometimes food (depending on how long they’re at your event) will be required. Soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are usually sufficient, but please make sure you inform the bar staff that these should not be charged to the band (you might want to set up a tab for them). Please ask your Alive Network coordinator to confirm whether your afternoon band will require food.

Evening bands will require food and refreshments (preferably a hot meal as they'll be on the go for approximately 12 hours and will be hungry). If you are unable to provide a hot meal, some of the evening buffet will usually be sufficient. As above, soft drinks as well as tea and coffee should be provided for the band. Food is usually provided before or after the band’s first set.

Established tribute bands like The Bootleg Beatles may have a ‘rider’ which lists specific hospitality and technical requirements which you must meet at your own expense when you book them.

A changing room is very important, including enough seats for all the band members, and a mirror. If the band need to do costume changes mid-show, the changing room would need to be next to the stage.

How do I make a booking?

To make an enquiry simply submit an enquiry form from the artists profile page on our web site (click the 'add to basket' button and follow the instructions) or give us a call on 01782 740 839.

Once we have all your event details we will contact the artist to confirm their availability, discuss any requests you might have made, and get a confirmed quote.

Once your Alive Network coordinator sends you a confirmed quote and you're happy with it, simply let them know that you'd like to secure a booking with the artist. You can do this via phone or email. They will contact the artist to confirm the booking based on the quote submitted.

You will then be required to pay a deposit, usually over the phone by credit card, and we will send you and the artist a booking confirmation form which shows exactly what you've both agreed to and all your event logistics.

Once we've sent you the booking confirmation, both you and the artist have 48 hours in which to cancel the agreement should you no longer wish to go ahead, otherwise your booking is in place and is non-cancellable.

If you need to discuss any aspect of your booking, or if you need to make any changes, your dedicated Alive Network coordinator will be on hand to support you as much as you need.

You will be put in touch with the artist approximately 3-4 weeks before your event to run over the arrangements, fine tune the details and make any changes necessary.

Useful links

View our full Tribute bands roster here

Need help to hire a tribute band? Give us a call!

If you would like help selecting the perfect entertainment for your event, simply give us a call or submit the quick enquiry form below and one of our talented entertainment coordinators will be happy to assist.

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