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Attention all future bandleaders

Samba dancer in headdress

So you love carnival and decided to get into the carnival business? Well I hope that you are ready for the work it involves. Let’s face it folks, producing a carnival band is extremely hard work that may or may not payoff. At the end of a carnival cycle you run the risk of not even breaking even depending on several factors such as cost of materials, size of the band, winning prize money, etc. The success of a band largely depends on how hard you work and the team helping to put on the production. Success also depends on your marketing and presentation to a lesser extent. I say presentation to a lesser extent because we’ve all seen a band sell-off with a bunch of ugly costumes--just the way it is.

Before forming any type of business entity you should definitely create a business plan. A business plan will help you to determine your target market, goals, and the financial aspects of your band. You need to consider your target audience--is it going to be a band for children, young/middle-aged adults or seniors. Then you want to determine where your costume designs will come from and compare how much money other bands in your region sell their costumes for. In addition you should ask yourself the following questions:

1. What type of band will this be? i.e. pretty mas, mud, paint, t-shirt

2. Who will design and produce the costumes?

3. Where will I get my supplies?

4. What size do I want the band to be?

5. How will I obtain the seed money to get things started?

6. How do I go about registering the band? Is there a registration fee?

7. Who is going to provide the sound system and truck?

8. How do I select the right DJ(s)?

9. How will I get masqueraders?

These are just some of the questions to consider before falling in love with the idea of starting a band. My recommendation for beginning the process is to see if it even worth it financially. Visit your regional carnival committee’s website to get a list of bands. Compare the size of the band and how much they sell their costumes for. This is very important because you want to ensure that the cost of your costumes is comparable ESPECIALLY if you are going to be involved in a regional (US Based) carnival.

I highly suggest figuring out the financial aspect of the carnival band business since it is very labor intensive. From there you can get a general idea of what your presentation will entail, specifically the theme, amount of sections, and materials you will use. Once you figure out what the costume production costs are, then you have to determine all the other costs such as the DJ, models, band launch, truck/sound equipment, food, and many more not mentioned. From this you can get an idea of your potential for profit. I’ll blog more on this process in the weeks to come...stay tuned.