Cover Song or No Covers

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Gin, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Gin


    Apr 11, 2008
    Manitoba, Canada
    Well here's my situation, in a 3 piece band for now(just started up again), no singer yet. My guitarist is totally against cover songs, because every band does it:rollno:... and thinks making up songs are better. Me being a bassist and all I don't mind making up our own songs, but with no singer?:meh: I enjoy playing tunes that are already done by another artist and I think it really helps develop a better understanding between all of us with timing etc. I know my guitarist will get pissed and tell me to go listen to RUSH all day if I say anything about it.:spit:

    If we were to land a gig at the local town fair(with a singer), would we do a few cover songs or a just all made up songs?:eyebrow: I'm leaning towards cover songs that the audience will enjoy instead. Thoughts?

  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Covers are where the money is. Not very many people write well enough that people will pay money to hear stuff they've never heard. My band does all covers, but we try to avoid the stuff that all the corporate bands do ... you know, Brick House, Celebrate, Play That Funky Music. Our main criterion is danceability. That's what bar owners want to see, and that's what people want to do at parties.

    I'm with you on this one.
  3. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008

    No shame in doing cover songs for the reasons you stated (the "I enjoy" part...) And if you change it up later, and decide you want to do all originals, more power to you. The main question is what are you, the band, going to sound best doing? I ask as I'd say you probably want to make the best impression at the town fair so you can be invited back, so chose your best songs and give the audience your best effort.
  4. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Your guitarist might want to rethink things: Almost every guitar has six strings, but yet he still plays one of those, despite everyone else playing a guitar with six strings. Good luck dealing with this individual... :rollno:
  5. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    The masses want covers. That's just the way it is. Even with my "original" blues/rock band we do about 70-75% covers, or about 8 to 10 originals in a 3 hour set. Even then we'll announce that the song is original after we play it, so people don't automatically become critics when you say it's original beforehand.

    EDIT: +1 for Munji's dance-ability clause. That is what club owners and patrons want more than anything.
  6. Inverness


    Dec 21, 2007
    Marina, CA
    And sing-a-long songs! I mean, if the people aren't dancing. That's why I chose to start an '80s glam cover band. I think almost everyone knows the words to "Here I Go Again." I know, I know - that keyboard thing in the beginning. Listen to that song unplugged and just go with the clean/acoustic guitar in the beginning.
  7. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    covers or originals? do you want to actually make money and play in front of a lot of people? Then you do covers

    We have a term for originals - "floor clearers".
  8. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    My own personal experience:

    Back when I was doing the original thing, the leader of the band (singer songwriter guy) would not touch a cover tune with a ten foot pole. He was about 45 or 50 years old, gray hair, goatee, looks a whole lot like Bob Seger. On top of that, he has an amazing voice, and actually sounds a whole lot like Bob Seger. He could have made all sorts of money with a tribute band, but that's beside the point.

    So anyway, the guys a great singer, writes a pretty good song, but he won't do any covers at all ever end of story. So we're getting jobs doing weekends at places playing four 45 minute sets. He had about 2 CD's worth of material recorded, and we were working on more, but we didn't have the material to cover 4 full length sets.

    Soooo... The guitar player and I along with the drummer and backup singer would fill in with cover songs. We went over big. We went over bigger than the guy we were backing up. Guitar player thinks this is pretty cool, and asks me what I think about a "side project". We were so busy with the cover band on the side, that we had to quit the original thing because of constant scheduling conflicts.

    I'm still with that cover band, and we even do a few originals. I dig it!

    If you can sell your own stuff, go for it. But don't turn your back on cover material because "every one else does it". Every one else does it because covers are popular, and people will buy it.
  9. :D that's great

    I think even during an "original" show a cover or two is a good idea (as long as you don;t end w/ one)
  10. jschwalls


    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA
    I will play any song that will make the girls get up and dance in front of me... my reason for playing in a band. BOOBS!.. and my wife is very aware of this fact. Even says so on the back of my bass.. lol

    If you want to be expressive in your music, then take a cover song, change the beat up, alter tempo, give it a different feel and play it your way.. Every now and then thats good to.
  11. playing covers was good enough for the Beatles and the Stones...
  12. If you want to land good gigs, you need to have covers. Covers get people interested, keep them there, and ultimately make the bar/club/venue more money. When they make money they want to invite you back.

    Get the crowd interested with covers and then sprinkle the originals throughout the set. That keeps the band, the crowd, and the establishment happy.
  13. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    Are you a player or a writer?

    Me: I'm a player. I like to play bass. I get given/pick a song, learn to play it, then go out and gig it. I don't find writing particularly fun or appealing. When I've been in originals bands it's usually been the guitarist bringing in the main song ideas.


    For me the question is to I play average songs written by a guy in the band, in empty venues for no money, OR do I play great songs written by someone I've never met that get everyone dancing, and earn my good money?

    mmmm - lets just say that it's a question which doesn't keep me up at night (though trying to fit in all the gigs I get offered does!).

  14. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Thinking about this gig, let's consider this:

    If you had a shot at playing a local fair/festival, which would you do?
    -Play covers to please the audience even if you don't play them nearly as well as your originals which makes you seem like a worse band than you really are, though you're just trying to please the crowd with songs they know.
    -Play your originals which you are much better at and can play will more confidence and conviction and show your best side, knowing that there's only once chance to make a good first impression, particularly for a once a year festival.

    I don't know the answer to this. Why do I ask?

    I know some indie bands that if asked couldn't play "Sweet Home Alabama" or "Brown Sugar" or sound like a train wreck trying, but can surely play the hell out of their original songs, and sound fantastic doing it.

    If you are a band that fits this description, for this festival and knowing you have one chance to make a good first impression, what do you do?????

    And ps, I'm not pro or anti-cover band, nor am I a promoter or appologist for any original song/thought idea. I feel very neutral on this, but offer it up for grabs.
  15. Some of the most famous bands around started their careers playing covers. Rush and Dave Matthews band to name a couple.
  16. Gin


    Apr 11, 2008
    Manitoba, Canada
    Yeah, that I try to tell my guitarist, but he's being ignorant. :scowl: Im enjoying all your guys posts at least, and I would think we would be better at doing covers than originals if we were to do a gig of some sort.:smug: my band will give in sooner or later hehe.
  17. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Who wouldn't like to play originals? I would, but I'm savvy enough to realize that I'm not that creative (and don't know anyone else who is that's worth playing with). So I play covers and get paid to play out 50 times a year with other players, some of whom I really admire.

    I'm going to ask why the folks you mentioned couldn't play Sweet home or Brown sugar? Competence on one's instrument (meaning familiarity with the language) enables one to better make an interesting (musical) statement, no?

    I don't know what "fantastic" means to you, but I can't seem to find more than a couple of bands online (or elsewhere) that plays material that I think worth a damn. Phalex post was very interesting.

    The VAST majority of original material that I've heard lately isn't good. It is in fact very, very bad and I suspect appeals only to those who create it and maybe some of their immediate close friends and family members (the latter two groups likely leaning towards polite).

    If you want to play originals, they have to appeal to more than just the band that produces them. To acheive even the smallest degree of success they have to be GOOD songs! Unless you are close to someone with access to large sums of money and willing to part with it on the crapshoot of promoting you. Now days money beats talent every time!
  18. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    I'd rather play originals for free than play cover songs that people have heard a million times for money.

    It's about musical expression and the joy of playing for me, not the money. That's just a nice side bonus.
  19. Rudyboy98


    Jan 25, 2008
    South Bay, CA
    My answer to this works two ways:

    If people are actually coming to hear YOUR BAND play, then playing originals s/b fine. Ending your set with a cover tune or two would be perfect.

    If on the other hand, you are being paid to entertain people as a side or pre-course to the main covers people like! Wedding receptions are a perfect example of this.
  20. I like watching a good cover band as much as the next guy, but, reading all these posts makes me despair a little... where are all of you out there with the ambition to write the song that the next generation of cover bands will be wanting to cover?

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