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Gigs and Sets - Two Countries Separated by a Common Instrument

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by hec86, Dec 28, 2011.


  1. hec86

    hec86

    Dec 6, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Having read the forum for a while it's came to my attention that, with a predominantly American membership, users talk about gigs in a way that I, being from, and gigging in, Scotland (UK) can't relate to.

    To be more precise (when talking about the average gig): bands playing in the UK are expected to be an originals band whereas across the pond a covers band is what is expected?

    Also, people talk about two, three or four sets a night when in the UK (at least, in Glasgow) we're only expected to do one half hour set in a four band bill.

    If this is true (come to think of it the half hour of original material may be peculiar to Scotland so correct me if I'm wrong), do you think that encouraging bands to produce original material is a good thing or is the North American model better where, as a cover band, it's easier to become a working musician?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. WhoSeyes

    WhoSeyes

    Aug 18, 2008
    Barcelona.
    First of all, I'm from Barcelona (Spain).

    I've been twice in London City (UK), in several clubs, and I can tell you that all I heard there where non-original bands that played two or three sets (2 hour gigs, more or less).

    Here in Spain cover bands are not that usual. You can see "themed" cover bands, like a RHCP tribute band, Iron Maiden tribute band, disco tunes cover band, etc. but normally original music is the one that gets played the most. Don't misunderstand me, thought: playing in an original band here it's not easy, venues tend to hire bands that can bring crowds in or do the "pay per play" thing.

    That's my two cents.



    Another thing: introducing the "cover VS originals" debate is opening a can of worms in this forum. Do a search and you'll see that it has been discussed often...
     
  3. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    Depends on where you are in the US. Here in Seattle original bands are more the norm and you generally play one forty-five minute set within a three or four band bill. This, of course, varies between and clubs and genres, but that's been my general experience. There is a metric ton of original bands in Seattle...

    Outside of Seattle proper, while I don't have a lot of direct experience, I would expect cover bands to be more the norm, or, at least, majority covers/some originals. Outside of Seattle it seems the audience is more inclined towards classic rock, country, and metal. Within Seattle you can find pretty much whatever you're looking for, from straight up noise bands to jazz to country to anything between.

    As for what's better... There is no 'better'. Play what you want and have a good time doing it.
     
  4. hec86

    hec86

    Dec 6, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I take your points.

    I'll clarify: London is in and of itself. When thinking of the UK it's worth thinking of London and the rest of the UK (London has a greater population than Scotland).

    However, the rest of the UK, to my knowledge (Scotland in particular) is more like what you describe as the situation is in Spain.

    Yeah, I know it's a 'set-topic' but I thought, perhaps naively, that I'd raised a point that was worth discussing. The point being that musicians where I am from are encouraged to make new music instead of becoming an old-style dance band.

    Edit - I've notice that 'old-stlye dance band' may be a pejorative...the irony of the paraphrased quote in the title is not lost on me.
     
  5. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    The North American market has both:
    Coverbands, playing 4 sets a night for below average to above average pay (depending on how good the band is in multiple areas)
    as well as
    Original bands, playing 30-45minute sets on a bill with 3-4 other bands, usually for no pay.

    IME, its easier to make money as a working musician in a coverband than it is in even a really good original band, though the opportunity is there for either band.

    Please, though, dont think that all American bands are coverbands, as this is not the case at all.

    From my experience, being in a major "music city" like Los Angeles, one tends to see a good amount of both original and cover bands. You'll likely find a higher number of bands whose music is a little more "out there" like noise & math rock, while at the same time, in the venue down the street will be a cover band knocking out classic rock covers to those who enjoy that.
     
  6. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Really? So when there's a band at a Scottish wedding, it's an original band?

    BTW, there are plenty of original bands on this side of the band that play just the kind of gigs you describe.
     
  7. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Certainly a topic thats been covered MANY times on TalkBass, and tends to bring out vitriolic responses from those who favor either/or. Then you'll find the middle people, who enjoy and play in both types of bands.

    Its not a "which one is better" type of question, but more of a "what is your preference" ordeal. Seemingly, a thread can't be started on the topic with it resulting in an argument.
     
  8. hec86

    hec86

    Dec 6, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Thanks. This is what I was wondering. There's always a lot of talk of people's sets and covers come up with a regularity I didn't expect.

    I don't think all american bands are cover bands. In fact, the very reason I like this forum is that I get the point of view from musicians from North America.
     
  9. hec86

    hec86

    Dec 6, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    A Scottish wedding will usually have a céilidh band or a dj. A wedding band isn't as popular as you might think, which I think is a shame.

    As for the 'BTW' point that's what I was asking but cheers for the reply dripping in sarcasm. I wasn't having a go at anyone; I was asking what it's like to be a musician in a different part of the world.
     
  10. hec86

    hec86

    Dec 6, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Thanks for the reply.

    I love being in a band and I'd never belittle someone doing what they wanted to do as a musician.

    The point I was trying to make was: is a music scene improved by having musicians forced to find their own voice from early on or is it preferable that more people can play on a regular basis to, perhaps, more appreciative crowds while they're finding their voice?

    If it's a topic that's been played out to it's tedious inevitability though, I'm sorry.
     
  11. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    No snarkiness intended...sorry if that's how it came out. I was just disputing this statement:

    Both camps (cover bands and original bands) are well represented in the States...I'm not sure what the ratio is but I suspect it varies depending on the location.
     
  12. Very valid question and glad you asked. In the state of Michigan, which is IN quite a state currently (boom, crash) you really do have it all. Lot's of original bands, the mostly play in a couple of suburbs of southeast Michigan (somewhat strangely, like it's segregated in a way, but from my experience, you go to a couple areas and can find orginal bands galore) and other areas, more of "mainstream" cities if there is such a thing, seem to have more of a vibrant cover band scene, though this isn't gospel by any means. Also, a number of tribute bands and wedding/special event bands. So not a bad place to see live music, though the oppertunities to see it have lessened over time. You can also find real jazz without TOO much difficulty and some country and blues bands, though harder to find compared to others. Not bad for a state with a pretty horrible economy, reflected in the pay many of these bands get (so club/pub/bar/owners will tell you, even when you do a pretty fine job of sellling much beer, same old story of course. They do want to underpay most acts and I go out of town often as the pay is better in other states, course you're driving hours and not sleeping in your own bed, but at least you can get paid what you are worth, somewhat.
     
  13. hec86

    hec86

    Dec 6, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland

    Sorry, probably due more to my frustration of not putting my point across as I'd've liked.
     
  14. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    I think the problem is often the way people bring the topic up in a non-neutral way. It can be pretty obvious when the person bringing the topic up has a certain bent already, unlike the manner in which you raise the question.

    To answer your point... I think a "music scene" generally encompasses original bands, unless its in an area where cover bands are the norm. It seems to me like the question you are asking is more in regards to original bands, but please do correct me if I am wrong.

    Is a scene improved by having musicians forced to find their own voice from early on? I think so, if we're we're talking in the original band sense. It would serve the scene well for more original bands to create original music that doesnt sound like everyone else. But that could also weaken the "scene" in that certain bands might not be a good lineup match with other bands that sound radically different. If the bands dont sound alike, but fit into a common genre, that definitely helps promote the scene and gets bands working together to create something that transcends just a few good bands playing shows.

    Is it preferable that more people can play on a regular basis to, perhaps, more appreciative crowds while they're finding their voice? Maybe, but I dont think its common that an original band plays to large crowds before having developed their style and sound. I dont see how that is really conducive to a band "finding their voice". IMO, finding your voice comes first, the well attended gigs follow when the band begins to understand the further logistics to putting on a good show. There is a lot more to getting a big crowd than simply having really good songs.

    Hopefully I provided some perspective, and as always, my experiences may vary from other peoples.
     

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