The secrets behind a 12 piece band

Multiple award winning band, SALUT, formed in 2014 as a funk and soul band. They quickly shot to success, playing to large crowds at the likes of The Isle Of Wight festival. We’ve gone behind the scenes to find out what makes this 12-piece so successful.

A 12-piece band is so unique, how did SALUT start?

We loved the idea of having three male singers in a similar vein to Bruno Mars’ live show. To play the music we love, we wanted a 4-piece horn section and so settled on 12 musicians in total. It was also crucial that every member was young, enthusiastic, danced and of course was a great player!

How did you all meet? We know you work with a group of talented musicians, how did you hear about one another?

When the band was forming, we already had several of the perfect members lined-up for key positions. For the rest, we were open-minded but knew what we looking for. We were lucky enough to own a large recording studio in London that gave us the flexibility to meet and try-out hundreds of young, talented musicians. We were amazed with the how many great players wanted to be involved and in the end couldn’t have been happier with the final line-up.

Many entrepreneurs start their career as a solo entity – being in a team, you must be a fantastic support for each other. Do you all bring different attribute to the band?

Very good point! It certainly helped being in a team. In fact, speaking as the band manager, I couldn’t have done it all alone. I believe having a number of people to input and bounce off is crucial. Although I was involved in every aspect, I delegated certain tasks to those who had a particular interest in that area. After a year into the process I realised that too many opinions can sometimes be unhelpful. There are times to involve others and times to be headstrong and decisive. The band is now in a fortunate position that we have a great reputation in the market and the day-to-day running is very smooth.

The hardest time is growing a new business and having faith that others will buy into your vision. In many ways, the start is also the most enjoyable time – passion and enthusiasm is super high, the creative juices are flowing and everything is exciting. Maintaining consistency over several years whilst also trying to innovate and grow is the new challenge.

What was the ‘tipping point’ for your business when you knew you were onto something…?

We approached the project extremely seriously from the start. I had great confidence is SALUT’s future success and that the business may well dictate my life for years to come. We launched with a blank website containing a promo video, a phone number and an email address (no text or pictures). We had nearly a booking a week from this and played at some huge events for 10K+ crowds in our first year. I truly believe you have to fake it to make it. No one would hire a band for a million pound wedding, international corporate event or to headline a festival with little or no experience.

The key is to work as hard as you can behind closed doors so from the outset people think, ‘wow, these guys are tight and must have been together for years’. We spent a year before we launched doing exactly this, so when our first booking came, we were as confident as we could be. I don’t think there was a defined tipping point exactly. Although, after a year of very hard work, we took the product to market and thankfully it bit immediately.

You have come so far… and so quickly! What have been the biggest lessons that you have learnt along the way?

As mentioned, we spent the first year getting all the crucial building blocks in place. It’s this foundation that we still very much use today, although none of us made a penny during this time, thank goodness we didn’t rush. The advice I would share is that your customers are absolutely key and not to ever forget that. Without them, your business is simply a hobby, so every new booking is super valuable and should be your main day-to-day focus. I would also say managing people’s emotions can be tough – getting the right mix between running a business and wanting people to like you and pleasing them can be challenging. Overall, be generous and understanding as well as picking and choosing your battles wisely.

What has been one of the best moments in business so far?

The first ever band booking was a great celebration! Then the first abroad event and then the first long haul trip together. As time passed and demand for SALUT increased, we began playing at two events on the same day and then three in the busy summer dates. Having 40+ musicians working at different events knowing that every client will be thrilled is certainly a great sense of achievement. It’s easy to take it for granted now, but sometimes I sit back and watch SALUT performing and think how far we’ve come and what a fantastic band they truly are.

What’s been your favourite event so far?

Most of the events we pick to appear on our blog are interesting and worth sharing. The events in the Middle East are super enjoyable, summer weddings in Italy are breathtaking and the very big corporate events are good fun. We played at HP’s conference last month (10K+ attendees) and will perform next month for Aviva at The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, which will be the biggest crowd so far. It doesn’t get much bigger than a national stadium!

Your favourite on site memory…

We performed at the Isle of Wight festival a few years ago, which was fantastic. We played in one of the biggest tents and just before we were due on, the heavens opened to one of the biggest storms I can ever remember. All festival goers ran inside for cover and were shoulder to shoulder like sardines in our tent. The energy was incredible and to play our own songs to such a large appreciative crowd was a great high that we will always remember.

However, the story doesn’t end there… we were booked to perform in Florence the following night and we had to catch the last ferry back to the mainland to take the first flight from Gatwick. The ground had turned to thick mud and we were all running around like headless chickens trying to get our equipment safely out in the storm, leave the site and drive as quickly as possible to the ferry. Despite our best efforts, we were late and would have comfortably missed the ferry if it hadn’t also been very luckily delayed by the storm. Needless to say, we made it and the rest of the weekend in the cloudless skies of Italy was a great success.

Tell us a secret about yourselves…

The guitarist, lead singer and I were in a 3-piece band together called, Crows Don’t Cry. My nickname from school days is Crow, which led to the unusual choice. We were slightly better than our name and played many times across the UK, although we can safely say, SALUT are in a totally different league!

Collectively, how many instruments can the band play?

I would imagine over 100, but not at the same time. Unless if one day I‘ve had enough of this industry – it would make a loud exit!

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