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Covers vs. Originals

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Casey C., Oct 1, 2003.

  1. Covers

    26 vote(s)
  2. Originals

    46 vote(s)
  3. A mix of both

    56 vote(s)
  1. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    one of the coolest bands i knew played a lot of classic rock and originals
    they didn't rip off any covers to write their own songs but every one of their originals, you could swear it was a 70's tune you heard a few times - god they were good at that
    originals are cool, but they have to be good (sounds like a no brainer but i've sat through some original bands that ugh)
    to me nothings more fun than the audience being into it, and if that means i play covers i dont give a crap.
    to keep it really fun and to make a name for yourself play covers that no one else does but that still have appeal
    when was the last time you heard a cover band play "atomic punk" or "the song remains the same" or "toys in the attic"?
    i know those are a bit esoteric but there are plenty of popular and dancable songs out there that almost no one plays cause they are a little too hard to learn in 5 minutes
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    gee, i thought of more to say - lol
    one band around here is an 8 piece (with horns) playing a lot of very popular music ranging from chicago to "YMCA". The band is um, ok performance wise. The bass player plays a crappy bass through a crappy amp, his tone is um, crappy and he is ah, less than talented. The crowd LOVES them wherever they go. Do i wanna be him? Hell no, but i sure wouldn't mind havin his gig.
    Personally i get more pleasure and satisfaction out of really grooving on a song and having the audience react positively than i do out of satisfying my inner musical genius (genius, lol)
    I can usually satisfy all my creative urges my making the bass part mine, either by adding a lil tasty something here and there, giving it a new feel, or whatever. The best is when the band makes the song their own without changing it so much that it becomes unrecognizable to the audience.
    I remember being 11 and hearing Cheap Trick live at Budokan and thinking "man these guys really rock", and then hearing the audience and thinking "hell yeah, that's what i wanna do". If the band is cooking and the crowd digs it, i don't care if my grandmother wrote the song. :D
  3. Covers are fun to play, it's easier to get gigs when you play covers, and the audience recognizes the music and has fun with it. A cover band was ideal when I was starting out, as at the time I didn't have the experience or musical knowledge to write songs and perform in an original band. It's much easier to play parts that are already written out for you.

    On the flip-side, limiting yourself to cover bands will hinder your abilily to create and come up with your own parts. IMO, you'll never find your musical 'voice' on the instrument if you are never required to seek it out.
  4. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I reckon if you pick a cover song and got 3 different bass players to play it, each would play it differently. You may be playing someone elses lines but you're adding your own signature to it wether you reslise it or not.
  5. I couldn't agree more - everyone will interpret the line differently and add their own personal touches. But you're still forced to adhere to the basic harmony, chord structure, etc., so there's only so much you can add or change w/o drasticallly changing the feel of the song (I'm referring to your typical cover band here, which plays the songs similar to how the audience is expecting to hear it - not bands that take a pop song and turn into a punk song, etc.). I personally find that it's hard to change a line too much, as no matter what you try, you're still hearing the original song or bass line in your head. When you're coming up with a song from scratch, you're forced to try new things, figure out what works/what doesn't, etc. The guidelines aren't already laid out for you, so to speak.
  6. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    If you want to do originals, I would think you'd better do at least 50% covers to get decent bookings, unless one of the following circumstances apply:

    1. You have already built up a substantial local following.

    2. Your original material is so good, it really lights up the crowds everywhere you go (in which case # 1 won't be far behind).

    3. You can find one or more club owners who is impressed enough with your stuff to take a chance on you (not very likely, cause we're talking about his livelihood).

    Even at 50% your originals better have some pretty wide audience appeal.
  7. I like doing both, mainly covers with originals thrown in!

  8. Originals.:D
  9. Essexbass


    Nov 8, 2003
    Reading, U.K.
    I started out in bands playing original material, but soon found out that unless the band I was in was totally unique (which it wasn't), then gigs were few and far between.

    Since I started playing in covers bands, I've done far more gigs since. I just try and play other bass players lines with my own interpretation, but stay within the feel of the song.
  10. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    For me, playing covers now (cause I've done it before) is like selling my soul. Like grinding my teeth on concrete and smashing my fingers with a hammer. Like choking.

    Can you tell I hate it.

    BUT, If it floats your boat, if it sails your ship, if it gets you off, then rock on. I'm glad you're having fun and enjoying music.

    I just can't do it anymore. I'd much rather make my own music now. I don't care if you like it, or anyone likes it, except me. I'm doing it for me.

    I'm absolutely not advocating this position as the "right" one or "correct" one or "better" one. I'm absolutely not dismissing other differing opinions.

    I just absolutely hate playing covers. :spit:
  11. UnsungZeros

    UnsungZeros The only winning move is not to play.

    I usually play orginals, although there is no shame in doing a cover. My band usually starts or ends a set with a cover. Sometimes we start and end a set with with covers. It's all good.
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Welcome to Talkbass. Your signature sucks.
  13. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    If you're going to play a 4-string, why don't you just play a ukulele? :D
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I like playing good songs. If noone in the band can write any, then play covers.

    BTW, those who say they hate to play covers...I'll bet you all play rock music. Only rockers waste any time worrying about who wrote the songs.
  15. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    My bands in the past (except my jazz ensemble) have done covers and originals.

    I like to do covers and make them as original as possible.

    My last band (hard rock, but not metal. Kind of like RHCP) did a really funny cover of Jungle Boogie. We called it "Metal Jungle Boogie". We just played Jungle Boogie with full distortion. We also covered the meters Cissy Strut and Dizzy Gillespie's Birk's Works.
  16. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I would prefer to play covers. Unless its an original project that I can get off on. IME theres more money to be made in that market.

    Those rare times Im in an origianl band, I feel it's best to balance the mix with covers. Once you start getting some what of a following then I think it's ok to drop the covers and slowly go the all original route.
  17. snapple


    Nov 25, 2003
    Victoria-Vancouver Canada
    Endorsing Artist: PCL Vintage Amps
    Well, im starting my first cover band in the hopes of making some extra cash and getting my name out more... I'm really excited about that. My goal is to become a professional musician so i feel this is a good first step.

    That being said, I absolutely LOVE originals, BUT only if they are of excrement-in-your-pants quality. I've been in a lot of mediocre original bands with mediocre players who all think they're going to be huge. I've also been in an original band that could've been mildly successful, but died partially because of no drive to go anywhere. I'll always keep a look out for an awesome original band, but for the mean time i think i choose covers.
  18. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    A cover band will almost always make more money. It is also a very good first step in that you will gain the necessary experience in playing out, managerial stuff, etiquette and other stuff you just would never think of until you've been down that road.

    If you're looking to get your name out there, though, I think you might be better off taking the time to look for a good original band. It's true that a good cover band can draw a crowd more easily, but a good original band will get press in the media more easily.
  19. thrash_jazz, it depends in what way snapple meant being a professional musician. Like you say, if he wants to get his name out there (by this I assume you meant be famous), then yes he would be better off in a good original band. However, you can be a professional musician by just being in a cover band that plays the circuit, if you're good enough and can get some good, regular gigs playing clubs, parties, weddings, cruise ships, etc., and can earn enough money to live off from doing this. In fact, you've got probably a lot more chance of doing music professionally by going down this route, especially with the way the music industry is now (Damn Pop Idol, Fame Academy, etc.).

    As for the thread's question, at this stage I just prefer playing covers. I've been in a few original bands over the years and it's just really hard to get good gigs and get anywhere doing it. The gigs we could get, at these supposed 'premier' live venues, even there we were expected to bring our own crowd of people. Add to that the fact that no neutral people would really walk into these venues just to check out what kind of band was on, and at the end of the day all we were doing was playing to a bunch of our mates and whoever the other bands brought along as well. Where did that get us??? Maybe in other places there's more of a scene for original music, but around here it's completely dead. Plus the pay was turd!

    So, like I said, at present I prefer just playing covers. It's a good laugh to jam really good songs with my mates and we've had some good gigs so far. I'd much rather just have a laugh and play a few 60s/70s cover tunes down the pub and get paid a bit of money for it as opposed to writing our own music only to play some pretty thankless gigs for no money. Just my opinions from my experiences.
  20. snapple


    Nov 25, 2003
    Victoria-Vancouver Canada
    Endorsing Artist: PCL Vintage Amps
    Thanks for the advice, thrash jazz & hobbes. I'm not counting on being a rockstar, but I can't possibly see myself being happy doing anything other than music for a profession. For starters I want to get my name out locally and don't want to pigeon hole myself while doing so. I already have trouble trying to jam with other people because of my last band - a well known (locally) metal act. Im sure a cover band could display my diverse playing ability and interest. Anyways, my grammar sucks but if you care to give me any more tips feel free to Pm or email me.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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