Written by Lucia Del Vecchio
Covers bands, tribute acts, and celebrity impersonators: improbable careers, or lucrative career paths?
In the world of performance, it’s unlikely you can find someone who sets out with the sole goal of performing the oeuvre of other artists, or even impersonating the artists themselves. Yet somehow, local music spots regularly have tribute bands on their schedules, impersonators can be found for hire outside of Las Vegas, and most of us remember that covers band at the wedding that could really, really play, and even got the people who don’t normally dance to kick off their shoes and join the party.
What once might have been considered quaint facsimiles or even illegitimate forms of entertainment have become viable, potentially lucrative, career paths. Equally important: They offer the fans in the audience something meaningful and, often, downright moving.
So what’s in it for the artists beyond a mere paycheck? How does someone find themselves in the midst of a 20-plus year career as an Elvis impersonator, or working as a dentist who is also in his fifth tribute band? How does a Halloween costume purchase turn into a lucrative and enjoyable side gig, and how do full-time musicians round out their work schedules by happily playing weddings as part of a covers band that’s been in business for 15 years?
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