A question for those in coverbands...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by MatticusMania, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Ive been toying with the idea of joining a coverband lately, so my first thought was that I should hit the woodshed and start learning some covers. Then I started thinking, well, what should I learn first? Which lead me to my next thought... what kind of coverband do I want to play in? Classic rock? 90s alternative? A variety band? Hmm....

    To those of you in coverbands, what kind of coverband are you in, and how did you come to the decision to play what you play?
  2. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
  3. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    I guess it really depends in your market, but I've heard that 80's music is big in the cover band scene.

    Or I would just ask jive1 :bassist:
  4. Right now in a couple. Dock/beach bar band since I'm surrounded by water. Everything you'd expect, minus the Buffett (except Coast of Marseilles). Very lucrative.

    Guitar rock cover band, primarily classic rock B sides and less obvious choices, also some cherry picked dance stuff and more recent covers. All very accessible stuff. Very lucrative.

    Recently left a funk/disco/dance band. It morphed from funk/motown dance to more disco edged and my soul literally started dying. Between the set getting stale and the disco addition I had to quit. Too bad because it was a great gig - 15+ festivals a year, awesome singer. Very lucrative.

    I regularly sub for a mixed cover band that straddles classic rock, modern popular rock, some funky dance numbers, and sure kill songs.

    The common thread here is simple. These bands play songs that people want to hear. We only get away with the B side playing band because they are mixed in and the playing is excellent. Know your audience. Play what they want to hear. They will dance or rock or sway, but the key is that they will stay all night and buy drinks. The bar/club owner will be happy. You will make money.
  5. True. The 80's stuff is through the roof right now. Really crappy bands are cashing in. That may be next in line for me if I can buck up and swallow it...
  6. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hi Matt

    Cover bands can offer many different things to a bass player.

    First I would think about what you want out of a band experience and figure out why you want to be in a cover band.

    If you don't know why or what your looking for in a band your headed for disappointment.

    I'm in a blues/ rock cover band. I wanted to gig every weekend with an established band with good marketing, even pay split with a $100.00 per man minimum. Genre didn't matter to me.

    With your experience I would stay away from cover start ups if want decent paying gigs. Most start ups never see their first gig.

  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Top 40 is the place to be. A good mix of cheesy tunes from the 80's 90's and 21st century is very marketable. Also, a lot of that stuff is fun once you get past the initial Ewwww factor.

    Get the women out on the dance floor, and the guys will follow.
  8. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    I already know the answers to these, Ive thought about the questions for years.
    All I want out of the deal is to get paid playing music that I enjoy. $100+ gigs 4-16 nights a month.
    As far as enjoyment goes, there is music in just about every flavor of coverband that I can enjoy, maybe with the exception of country/western (which I dont think is a great choice for Southern California anyway).
    Eventually I'd like to front my own coverband, but in the meantime I think it'd serve me well to get some experience.

    This is what Im getting at here... how did your band come to the decision to play blues/rock?
    Genre matters only to a small degree for me. I know some classic rock tunes already, I know some alternative 90s stuff, I like pretty much all music. Do I confine my coverband to one genre, do we mix genre's and play stuff from the 60s to 90s, cover all eras of rock? Im really looking for some more meat than "what do you want out of a band experience". That question was answered, Im looking for some direction.
  9. georgiagoodie

    georgiagoodie The winged monkeys showed up

    Jan 8, 2008
    I'm currently in two cover bands.

    The first is a 19-piece swing big band.
    I play double bass and some electric bass.
    We play the classic 30s & 40s swing big band tunes and some 50s, 60s, and 70s jazz-rock and funk.

    The second band is a 3-piece power blues band.
    I play electric bass and sing half the tunes.
    We play 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s high energy danceable blues.

    'Not making too much money, but I LOVE IT!
  10. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    One thing I learned,
    Find a type of music that you really like.
    I never really cared for Hair Metal but there are so many cover bands with good bookings that I got into that type of band.
    I got so sick of playing that music that I quit.
    I thought long and hard about what I wanted to play and play and play......
    I will not play any classic rock, Hair or prog. Even though that type of band gets a lot of bookings and can make good money.
    You have to find what you like but it also has to be marketable.
  11. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    What kind of tunes are included in Top 40 kind of stuff?
    I think the only defining factor in the music I want to play is that I want to rock, and not play songs like "Call Me Maybe", though if it pays Im not exactly against playing that kind of pop music.
  12. Big Brother

    Big Brother

    Feb 13, 2011
    San Diego
    Roving sub-demon
    90's bores people, the music isn't very club friendly.

    I got in a cover band because (electric) bass was a new instrument for me after playing most of the other bass instruments out there and I had already developed an ear, so playing cover tunes made more sense because I could just listen to them and learn them.

    I joined 6 weeks after buying my first bass and was gigging a month later. :bassist::help:

    I would do more of a variety where you just focus on whatever entertains, don't box yourself in with any certain genre or time period.
  13. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    Good plan, in your area you have more of a chance of finding a match.

    With your level of experience I would avoid "start up" cover bands. They usually never see their first gig.

  14. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    I guess thats really where I am right now. I dont mind playing classic rock, or prog, but Id prefer not to play Hair Metal or contemporary pop. However, I might go down that route if the money is good. What kind of music are you playing in your band?
  15. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
  16. "Corporate" cover band here. Weddings, Events = primary focus, Bars = next tier focus.

    Band Makeup: male and female lead vocals, keys/synth player, lead guitar player (male vocalist also plays guitar when needed), drummer and bass. We all do backups.

    Our target audience is the events/weddings crowds first then bar crowds.

    Our list consists of:
    Current and Retro Pop (Gaga, Madonna, Cee Lo, GroupLove, Neon Trees)
    Current and Retro Rock (The Killers, Pat Benatar, ZZ Top, Weezer, Awolnation etc.)
    Current and Retro Soul/RnB (Mariah Carey, Rihana, Marvin Gaye, John Legend)
    Current and Retro Funk (Commodores, EW&F, Maroon 5, RHCP, etc)

    Our focus is to get people up and dancing and try to keep them there all night with the occasional 'sit-down rocker'.

    My approach to melding with this band was to get their entire list, create a Spotify playlist with every song and to hound the BL for a weekly 'punch list' to have ready for rehearsal. Since joining in Oct, I've crammed over 50 songs into my head - some of which make me want to take an ice pick to my frontal lobe - but all in all an OK experience.

    My personal attitude about this project is to detach from the content and focus on delivering the goods regardless of the song. That means nailing my parts (as simplistic and mind-numbingly repetitive as they may be) filling out backups where needed and always being fully prepared for every rehearsal.

    This has paid off big time in helping me create a solid, at-home practice routine. It's increased my book of transcriptions/notes significantly and sharpened all of my chops.

    I highly recommend keeping an organized binder of song notes/transcriptions. You may not "need" notes to meet short term goals - but when a song drops from rotation for a few months then suddenly reappears, you'll be happy you have a reference.

    Also - the more complete your binder is, the easier it is for you to sub-in for other bands. Our singer/guitar player (and lifelong friend of mine) has a binder that has over 300 songs of all styles - lyrics, changes - He can take a gig with anyone and be reasonably sure he has most of their set covered using his 'great big book of everything'.
  17. Variety bands do usually do very well if the set list is well crafted. The only problem I've found is that there are many of them so you don't really own a niche in your market. If you are the only 80's band you will be drowning in good paying gigs.

    I'll agree with the sentiment that 90's cover bands are a no win if you are trying to book and make money.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I will keep collecting until I have 40 basses
    Most bands play covers ... even big name bands.

    Blues and jazz bands do lots of covers.
  19. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Im definitely avoiding start ups, as I want to get some footing and experience. After playing in a coverband for a while its likely that I'll start up my own, me being a natural leader and all.

    Does 90s really bore people? It certainly doesnt bore me (its my favorite genre) and I know lots of others who enjoy it as well. Im thinking a lot of people who grew up during that time now frequent bars and wouldnt mind hearing some of that stufff, either. In fact, when my originals band does a 90s tune it usually goes over really well (also, when we play Pink Floyd). Im kind of keen on the idea of keeping some variety and covering lots of eras of music, the whole 50s/60s to Now kind of stuff. Any one in a coverband like that, here?
  20. Big Brother

    Big Brother

    Feb 13, 2011
    San Diego
    Roving sub-demon
    We made the boxed-in mistake. It was painful to hear realy good songs just outside of our sworn genre that we couldn't play, and painful having to play some of the songs in it... :smug:

    The other thing I recommend is only play a type of music you enjoy, you will hate going to work after awhile if it isn't 'you.'

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