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First Band - Originals or Covers?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by rollyolly, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. Cover band is better for a rookie

  2. Original band is better for a rookie

  1. rollyolly


    Nov 10, 2011
    I'm a relatively new player, and I'm having a very difficult time finding a cover band looking for a "newish" player on craigslist. I'm married with kids, and have a full time (non-musical) career, so making money through my music doesn't matter at all, I'm just doing it for the love (and maybe tips!). My initial thought was that a cover band would be easier for a rookie to learn the songs, but having never done an originals thing I can't really say.

    Should I start replying to ads for originals projects? It seems like there's a lot of these ads looking for bass players.

    For what it's worth I do have some experience playing in a band situation. A local music shop puts together groups that rehearse a few times, culminating in a live performance at a local music joint. I've been doing this and it's been pretty fun, but it costs money and is kinda stressful for having such a short amount of time to make the songs tight. As far as my skill level, most are shocked when I tell them I've only been playing for a year.

    So now I ask talkbass for opinions on what I should do(based on your experience with both.) I'm not looking for a some kind of tangental heated debate amongst TB'ers :bag:

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I think covers are easier for a new player because you always have songs to reference. You can start out with songs that you like and develop your technique while learning them. I think its difficult to write quality original songs if you do not have a good understanding of your instrument and the ability to play what you are hearing in your head.
  3. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Apply for a cover band first, since that seems to be what you pursued first. Don't tell them you're "newish". Just learn your parts, show up, and be nice. If you're good enough, they'll call you back.

    If you wanna go the originals route, do the same thing.

    Don't over-think this. And don't offer information unless someone asks.

    Your ability and personality (not being an a&&hole) are far more important than anything else.
  4. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    One thing to think about is what kind of time commitment you can make. An originals band often rehearses once a week, because material is developed at rehearsals. A cover band, once up and running, often only rehearses when adding new material.

    An originals band will usally play out less often, unless they travel for gigs. Mine does maybe 2 gigs a month. A cover band can play a lot more, if that's what you want. You can also limit your bookings, but you need to have that discussion with any potential bandmates.

    Gigs for an originals band tend to be showcase gigs, where you play with two other bands, everybody going an hour or so. For a cover band, you will generally be playing much longer shows. Four hours, with two 15-minute breaks, is a common format.

    Also, while I share your attitude about money, many others do not, so be sure and have that conversation with any potential bandmates too.

    People not being on the same page about these various expectations is the leading killer of bands, IME.
  5. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I didn't take your poll.

    You should play what moves you.

    There is good and bad that comes along with either choice.

    If I had it all to do over, I would be a cover band that plays some originals, and keep trying to record the originals.

    But that's just me, and remember, I DON'T have it all to do over again.
  6. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    I didn't take the poll either, because IMO it can be either depending on the person and your goals.

    However, having said that I would advise you to go the covers route. Why you ask? Because I gather from your post that you want to join a band to have fun playing with others and for others, not to create something original and new.

    So, join a cover band if your desire is to play with others and for others, or join an originals band if your desire is to create something new. As already pointed out, you probably will not play out as often or for as long with the original band.

    Do you have a burning desire to entertain people? Or to write and play your own songs? There's your answer...
  7. yes it depends. original band only if you are actually co writing the songs. this way you can develop a lot of musical skills. if you just want to play your bass part a cover band is much better because you will develop more technical skills.
  8. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    As a beginner, and even today, I would seek a band based on the quality and character of the musicians. Preferentially, I want to play with cats whom I can learn something from, and who are pleasant to work with.
  9. I'd agree with what others said but between the two I'd say covers. My thoughts are, if you pay attention you can learn a lot and having the musical thought process "done" it will allow you to work on the dynamics of playing with other musicians.
  10. Piggy8692


    Oct 2, 2010
    Northern Utah
    A lot of good input so far. I'm an originals guy myself, but I started out playing covers, which is what I would suggest personally. Being 'new' doesn't mean you can't play originals. Playing covers first will get you where you need to be as far as understanding song structure, how different instruments compliment each other and also how it is to work with others.

    I would think that jumping into an originals band head on, you would have a hard time convincing the others that your ideas are worth implementing. Unless you just 'have it'.

    But, even now, having played originals for a long time, I learn something everyday. Just keep playing, try a variety of things, that's the only way you'll find out whats for You.
  11. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I am not sure where you guys are coming from.

    First of all covers are in no way easy.

    Take a look at the production involved with the better cover bands.

    A good established working cover band is not going to to consider or audition rookies. Most don't even advertise, they usually have the local "A" list guys waiting in the wings.

    I would advise the op to look at the better " start up" projects. Keep in mind original bands are much more open to giving new players a chance.

  12. If this is your first band, I think it's better playing covers. I'm not saying it's easy, but when you're familiar with the songs it's much easier to learn them, and practise them at home.
  13. Dash Rantic

    Dash Rantic

    Nov 12, 2005
    Palo Alto, CA
    Key term: "better cover bands". What you posted is also very much true for "better original bands" as well... A "better" originals band isn't going to want a rookie any more than a top-notch covers group. As a generality in my experience, it's better for beginners to find a decent cover band to start with--that way the material is already set, likely plenty of instructional videos online to learn the material.

  14. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Learning covers will familiarize you with different musical patterns and figures that you can use later should you decide to try an originals band.
  15. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Covers are great, it's a very reasonable suggestion. If you want to embark on the path of creativity, go original. The originals thing is probably harder on every level but it's a path of greater glory IMO. You can learn classic bass lines on the side and incorporate that into your own stuff.
  16. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I see where your coming from and I partially agree the better originals and cover bands are not giving rookies much consideration, probably none at all.

    However I completely disagree that it would still be easier to find a decent cover band because instructionals are easier to come by and easier to learn the material.

    First of all even a decent cover band carries a lot of production. I am talking about bands that can and have the musical talent and production values to recreate songs that were recorded with huge production values. I'm talking about multiple guitar, bass and vocal tracks. Keep in mind most rookies are not going to have the skill level to handle the required background vocals.

    That level cover band is not going to consider a rookie that probably does not even know how to be in a band.

    My point the rookie is not a good candidate for either the better original or cover band. His/ Her chances are no better with getting into the established cover band.

  17. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    My opinion based on what I've seen of our local originals bands in Milwaukee would be the material is much easier on every level than our "A" level cover bands.

  18. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I'm thinking a lot of you guys must live in areas where original bands are offering a much higher level product.

    In my opinion that is not the case in Milwaukee.

  19. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    go to every audition you can get, the question will answer itself.
  20. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Agreed, it's how new guys learn the ropes on what it takes on all levels.

    Go out on all auditions and you will get a good perspective on the pros the flakes and everything in between.