Allowing Bar Management to Choose Set List

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by CrashClint, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer
    In a previous band we used to post our song list on our website in a form-fill PDF and would allow managers to pick what they wanted played, when they hit the submit button it Emailed us the list.

    We listed 100 songs we knew well or could brush up on within one practice and the manager had the choice of picking some or all 50 of the songs. We had calculating fields so when a song was selected it added the length of time so whomever was filling out the form had an idea of the run time. Very rarely did someone pick all of the songs but on average about 15 were picked. We were normally booked out far enough so we had time to prepare, on short notice gigs we didn't offer this option. We seemed to always get good feedback from the bars.

    I am thinking about doing this with a new band I have been working with on the side, anyone else doing anything like this at all?
  2. troy mcclure

    troy mcclure Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Central Florida
    Very cool idea
  3. kris pung

    kris pung

    Jul 25, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Sounds like a PITA to me.
  4. as long as you have a fill in space for mustang sally.
  5. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer
    We were a little worried about this to start but it actually wasn't that bad. When I think back, I think there may had been 3 venues where all the songs were picked but for the rest it worked well.

    Yes, sadly Mustang Sally was on the list along with Brown Eyed Girl which I loathe.
  6. FWIW: Back in the old days it was common practice (and expected) for cover bands to include a song list in their promo packages along with recordings, pics, write-ups, etc.
  7. cableguy


    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    If they knew you possible set list when they hired you, they shouldn't have a gripe about you playing any of them unless they metioned it ahead of time. That said, this may be a way to increase your money. The bar can pick any 5 out of the list that they want played for your normal fee. Another 5 = X amount, another 5 = X amount. Bar manager picks the entire nights music, band fee goues up say 25%. Sort of like an electronic tip jar for request. Otherwise you may get bars trying to micro manage your setlist.
  8. BobaFret

    BobaFret Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2008
    I'd be fine with it if they accepted that I would be in charge of determining the drink specials for the night.

    Otherwise they can get eff'd
  9. My aunt posted a youtube link to brown eyed girl on facebook the other week talking about how much she loves that song and it always brightens up her day and I cringed just a little.
  10. shastaband

    shastaband Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    In the 1970s and 1980s, I worked the hotel/motel circuit, Top-40 cover tunes, 6 nights a week, 5 sets a night (boy, a band could get really tight with that much playing). We did that about 48 weeks a year. The entertainment director of the hotel chains would send us a weekly list of suggested new cover songs, songs that their bar managers reported were popular with patrons. If you wanted to continue to work for those chains, it was a good idea to learn at least some of the tunes on the list.
  11. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    I think it's a great idea and shows that the band understands who the customer is. Live music is a customer service industry and so are bars so a bar hiring a band is going to appreciate anything that adds value and/or makes their lives easier. I'd say it puts you above 90% of the other cover bands with that one move.
  12. Vanceman


    Feb 14, 2007
    So. Cal.
    I think it's a good idea. We would do that for private parties. There's a local band that puts it's songlist on the tables, and encourges patrons to call out selections during the night. Works out really good, and it's fun to participate. Of course, we're yelling out "do some cheech and chong."
  13. If you already know all the songs it can't hurt to provide venues with the option to select. It is very customer focused. However, what if the patrons at the bar ask you to play different songs that night? Who gets precedence - the bar owner or the patrons who paid a cover charge to see your band and are buying drinks that night?
  14. +1 Very well stated:

  15. Martin89


    Nov 8, 2010
    Glendale, AZ
    Unofficial Endorser: Ibanez, D'Addario, Zoom
    Seems like an effective system. I wouldn't mind playing in a band like that and I think that's kinda the norm for wedding gigs(these are songs we definitely want to hear, or songs we don't want to hear at all etc)
  16. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I think it's very clever and sophisticated, from a business operations standpoint; the kind of thing that most musicians never even conceive of. You score major points for thinking outside of the box.

    That said, I personally would be very reluctant to allow a venue owner even more control over my band than they would typically have already. While I realize that playing cover tunes in bars isn't exactly high art, there does still exist something called creative integrity - a valuable, yet abstract quality with the potential to establish your own brand, and set you apart from all others. Give that away, and what do you really have left? :eyebrow:

    Catering is also a "customer service industry", yet one would hope most people could see that there is a world of difference between serving coldcuts, vegetables & dip...and putting on a musical performance. One is strictly a commodity; the other should never be.

    Anything you do that essentially turns a living, breathing, unique human entity into the equivalent of a jukebox, wrings a substantial amount of creativity from the process, degrading it from a specialty, value-added service to the level of commodity. While it might make club owners happy - at least until they begin to demand an even greater degree of control - it hardly does anything to sustain the creative morale and esprit de corps of musicians, now does it? :eyebrow:

  17. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    Making food is commonly regarded as an art. Our most popular restaurant in town (NOMA) has a waiting list running up towards a year.

    While I prefer a good steak rather than what they serve, I do believe they put on a nice show and they are the pride of our nation. There is no doubt that what they do is art.

    With regards to OP, seems like a great idea :)
  18. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer
    There is always creativity on how you play the song, we tended to add our own sound/style to the songs. I see what you are saying, but what I found was most venues only picked out a few songs they absolutely wanted to hear so we had pretty much control of the rest. Of course the call for Free Bird is inevitable, though this song wasn't on our list we always made it dependent on how well the bartenders and waitresses were tipped.

    We did throw some extra songs in, we pretty much kept the selection to 50 songs, this gave us about 5 or so songs we could work with in case the venue selected 50. I might want to drop that number to 40 or 45 this time around and give us more control to play some of what we want or what is requested.
  19. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    If you are concerned about artistic freedom then why play covers? Being inflexible about a preplanned setlist and ignoring the chance at input from the people that are paying you isn't really much of an example of creative integrity anyway. Plus within the confines of the set the band already knows there is still plenty of room for creativity.

    When people give a band (or anyone else) money it's generally because they expect a return, either in entertainment value if they are an audience, or financial value in the case of the bar owner hoping to sell more drinks.

    Anything you can do to add value, increase return on their investment, or just make life easier and/or less stressfull for them is very good. And in this case it is a very simple thing for the band to do that costs them literally nothing, I don't really see a downside on either the practical or the creative/artistic side. Smart business sense and marketing skills.
  20. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    And that is the crux of it. If you and your bandmates have no issues with doing this, and feel like you would be playing most of these songs during most gigs anyway, then it is a splendid idea. If you have even one valuable bandmate who feels uncomfortable doing this, don't do it.

    The band I am in does a decent amount of event/function gigs, and we will do this for those gigs. Our experience is much like the OP's; it is very rare for the person paying the piper to really want to call ALL the tunes. They ask for some, and you get all the "cover band creative license" you feel you can get away with for the rest.