1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Advice For A Friend/Purpose of a Coverband

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Haysoochreesto, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. The band I just left is a coverband. My best friend is the guitar player in the band. Apparently what's happened is that the drummer and singer have decided that they don't want to do dance tunes anymore and are coming up with songs that while popular among a certain subset of 80's rock/metal will almost certainly be lost on most crowds.

    My friend's really discouraged. The direction the band's going in isn't what he wants to do and if they play outside of Hometown, USA they're going to flop. Badly.

    I told him to bail. Finish out your obligations and don't personally book any gigs because they won't get asked back and the stink will certainly be on him.

    The other guys are attempting to use the argument that they want to do these relatively obscure songs in order to differentiate themselves from other coverbands. But I think that's wrongheaded. The purpose of a coverband is to entertain people with songs they know and love and can dance to. Not every song has to be bubblegummy stuff from the Top Ten but I think they need to make up a significant portion of each set. You can certainly still be unique and cover some songs most bands don't but you can't just decide you're only going to do songs that you like.

    It's a business. People are going to an establishment to be entertained and you, the band, are getting paid for it. That means playing stuff that a wide general audience knows and loves whether you personally like the song or not.

    Personally, I never had a problem picking out songs that I liked that catered to a wide audience. I always found something. But I was also always willing to play stuff I hated as long as the crowd dug it.

    What should my friend do? I think he should GTFO as soon as he can because those guys are gonna drag him down.
  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Wow. This is the exact opposite from my situation. The drummer and keyboardist want to do the cover/dance stuff and the guitarist and I are really close and are sick of the variety of styles that is leading the band into oblivion.

    I want out because this whole playing boring old covers for people to dance to is getting as old as the songs that are covered. The guitarist and I have been playing for 30 years or more and are at a point where we want to do what we like as musicians.

    My advice? Unless you are only doing it for the money, do what you love. If you or he isn't happy doing the music you are doing then do the kind you love to play. Believe it or not, there are enough people out there who like to see bands that aren't playing Brown Eyed Girl (and the like) over and over again. Plenty of great music to play without compromising yourself as a musician and still appeal to loads of people.
  3. thudfromafar


    Dec 12, 2007
  4. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    I tend to agree with Hays.
    I'm fairly certain the band with "popular" covers will have more and better-paying gigs.

    If you want to play what you want to play, start your own band and do it.
    If you want to play a lot of gigs and see folks dance, do popular covers well.
    Do both if you like.
  5. There is an audience for all types of music. The size varies.
  6. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    If by "more and better-paying gigs" you mean being lost in the background at weddings, bar-mitzvahs and corporate parties where people couldn't tell if they actually attended or were just stuck in an elevator of muzak for 4 hours?

    Yeah you are probably right.

    IMO, play music that you have a passion for, do it well and you will play a lot of gigs and see folks dance.
  7. Atticus


    May 26, 2010
    Memphis, TN
    I don't have a problem with cover bands doing obscure stuff. You just need to be able to do the old standbys when a barfly yells "Mustang Sally!"

    I think a lot of people will treat a band playing songs they don't know as originals, booking guys included. If you're alright with that, then you can enjoy the downsides to playing in an originals band without some of the benefits (like the hope of a record deal). Of course, the biggest benefit is playing music you like.
  8. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.

    Mix them in with the less obscure stuff. That would help too.
  9. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    My view has always been as a coverband you can get away with any song that hsas been big on the radio. We did an open mic/audition for a bar. We play Veruca Salt Valcano Girls a step down. I only threw it in audition because I needed another song to go with Bad Girlfriend. I suggested and love the song, but consider it filler material. We play. I ask the bar owner how we did. He said he loved us, especially Veruca Salt. I was hapilly surprised as hell that he even knew who they were.
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Maybe you can mix a few "obscure" covers in with all the other songs you do? Keep the obscure covers that get people dancing and replace the others until you get want you want and what the crowd wants. Where to draw line for well known vs. obscure as far as a set mix goes, I guess you could play that by ear. Maybe it's 80/20 or something like that. Only time would tell.

    I played in a band for a couple of years and we mixed it up quite a bit with the scure vs. obscure idea and never had a problem getting a gig.
  11. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI

    I played in a "Top 40" band years ago that only did the "B" side of the hits by any band we covered. Crowds seemed to recognize that we were covering well known bands music, yet we weren't playing the tired old stuff that everyone is bored to tears with (audience and musicians alike).

    People are far more musically aware these days. Yeah, someone will request Brown Eyed Girl or Mustang Sally almost every gig, but I'm finding that while honoring those requests satisfies one or two people far more people are turned off by it.

    There is a difference between being a cover band and being in a wedding/company event band.
  12. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Straight up..............if making money is NOT the objective, then by all means, build a band playing whatever you like. If money IS the objective.........cover band playing popular top40 hits period! And I'll add, playing obscure tunes is a sure way NOT to get booked! Unless your demographic is bars and clubs. At high paying corporate events, weddings and private parties (which my band does exclusively), obscure is a no-no!

    This is from my 30+ years experience in NY and now SE-VA.
  13. lpbass3


    Oct 31, 2010
    I've played with the exact same lineup for over 15 years. We cut our teeth as a cover band while writing original music. We then moved to a good mix of both so we could generate cash, and make fans. Lets face it at least here in the midwest original bars are usually filled with mostly other musicians and that is not a legitimate fan base. We had modest success, released and paid for several albums, and did a slew of shows including some at major venues with national acts. As time passed and we all married and had children our focus moved from recording, and we stopped playing for a year and a half. We enjoy working together, and decided no need to quit. We do alot of standards including browneyed girl. We also throw in obscure ones like Great white buffalo, big balls, hymn43, even the rover by zep that one we sandwich into whole lotta love, by the time we switch the dance floor is full, then when they are about to give up dancing we are back into a hit. You can get away with alot as long as the show has good flow. Play 4 dance songs, then your floor usually empties anyway for people to drink, so time in a good self indulgent number, people will appreciate that you are really into the song. We usually take the first song of the night and make it a really indulgetn song like hymn 43 because people aren't dancing for the first song anyway, so impress the guys with some good guitar work, and follow it with a dancer for the girls.
  14. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Good point. If one is doing the wedding/event thing yeah you gotta be a live jukebox, but you can also put in the music that mostly the musicians will appreciate playing more than the crowd will dance to. It's a matter of timing it right and getting a feel for the crowd. Mostly it's a matter of being flexible and not sticking to a written out set list. Being able to change it up to find out what the crowd is into at any given moment helps a lot.

    And I'm still sticking my point that the really tired old, worn out songs like Mustang Sally and Brown Eyed Girl turn more people off than it satisfies. I've made a point of keeping a journal of my gigs for the past year as I develop a new band. Time and time again, every time those songs (and others like that) are played more people leave or ignore the band (if they stay) during those songs than those that enjoy it.

    In some ways it isn't the crowds (by crowds I don't mean one or two people requesting them) that are demanding those old songs as much as musicians themselves continuing to perpetuate the myth that they are necessary. Honestly, with ALL the popular music written over the past five decades that people would love to hear and musicians would still love to play, does any musician really believe that they will not get hired if they don't play Mustang Sally for the one millionth time? Sometimes I think it is just laziness on our part to just play them rather than learning some different standards that would be equally popular yet far more appealing to musicians.
  15. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    We don't usually have those songs on the setlist but more than likely, before the evening is over, someone always asks for it. Even got a $300 tip for playing it at our last gig! Again, it depends on your motivation. Myself, I love playing covers!
  16. thudfromafar


    Dec 12, 2007
    I've had this belief for a while now, it's something that has seemed obvious to me. Much agreed! Everyone should read this paragraph.
  17. thudfromafar


    Dec 12, 2007
    And this I wanna put in my signature. Not necessarily because you can't make money playing whatever you like, but it's a good point.
  18. I think there's room for songs that aren't strictly in the Top Ten. There's lots of music out there that people know and love that isn't always candy and skirts. Now that I think about it, that's my point exactly.

    I've never hated a song I picked because I like and appreciate different kinds of music whethere it's popular or not. But for the cover band gig, it has to be popular and well known; and anyone who isn't a complete music snob should be able to cull at least 50 songs from 4 decades worth of music that have mass appeal while also satisfying their own desire to play songs they like.

    I'll repeat again, the cover band business is a business and it's about pleasing the crowd, making the bar owner money, and having a good time--in that order. That's why, even though I'm not in the band anymore, it's frustrating to watch those guys pick songs that don't even have decent sing along ability.

    Oh well... maybe when my friend leaves we'll start something up that's infrequent but still satisfies my urge to play. I miss it already and I've only been gone two weeks (more or less).
  19. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yes, there a many way sot go about it, but if you purposely do covers to be booked as a cover band, the whole point is "covering" popular music. So might as well cover popular tunes that not only the general public knows, but also please the musician performing them. Lots to choose from. It certainly doesn't need to be Brown Eyed Girl and Mustang Sally all night long (or at all really). But it still needs to be recognizable to the average Joe.

    If you can't/won't do that, then the only option is to not be a cover band. Perhaps you just want to play music you like that others don't know so much. That isn't my idea of a "cover" band even if it's all covers anyway. If the music is so obscure no one even knows you are covering a song then you need to market yourself different or suffer with fewer gigs and less popularity. Ultimately you gotta love what you are doing.
  20. stoneboy26


    Jul 11, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Thump Music
    My coverband goes against the grain in my city and we are playing every Saturday night for great money.

    Most bands here always play Summer of 69 and Jessie's Girl and have done as long as I can remember! We won't touch them...in fact if someone asks for them, we have a hard time not laughing at them.

    In fact, we have been told by management that if we put these songs into the set, we will no longer have a gig there, as they are just as sick of hearing them as we are of playing them.

    At the opposite end, we do a 24 min hair metal medley. 16 songs, all of which the crowd goes nuts over. What we play is not for everyone (mosty my mates), but there seems to be plenty who come back to see us, and the crowd certainly has a great time.

    We leave the typical coverband stuff to the DJ to play in amongst the dance stuff.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.