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How do you get ahead in the covers game

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by theshadow2001, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Im in a covers band at the moment and the goal would be to eventually go pro. We've been gigging for the past year and I things have taken off for us quite well.

    We have a booking agent giving us gigs occaisionally but 3/4 of our gigs are got by the band itself which I think we all prefer since theres no dependence on anyone else for our gigs.

    Right now we're playing 3 or 4 nights a week and we would like this to get up to 5 6 or seven nights if we could. Sometimes it can get a bit slow with only the one gig or on the odd occasion no gigs.

    But what I would like to know is how do you seperate yourself from the rest of the bands on the circuit. What is it about some bands that can mean they are booked almost every night while others are just left waiting in the wings for gigs yet both bands are doing more or less the smae thing. Do you need a gimmick, a hook. Is it all about image and stage presence more than musical ability or do you need a band of virtuosos? Could it be a matter of just keep playing and over time popularity increases? Should all the songs be played exactly as the CD is or should there be some musical expression included in the covers? Or does it simply boil down to band A has the magic x factor that no one knows exactly what it is and band B doesn't

    As always I'd like your thoughts ideas and suggestions on the matter
  2. Couple of things from my experience:

    Be totally professional in your dealings with club owners/promoters.

    Promote your band via website, posters, mailing lists, CD promo's, t-shirts - whatever you can do.

    Look for popular songs that might be a bit more obscure -don't just play the same songs everyone else is doing.

    Make sure your frontman is an entertainer. Good patter, audience participation and showmanship make your band a more enjoyable performance to watch.

    Don't get drunk/high before or at gigs. And even when you have finished performing, don't hang around the bar getting smashed - it looks unprofessional both to your audience and the club owner.

    Ask for feedback/advice. Bar owners see a lot of bands, and when it comes to booking, they will go with the ones that bring in the crowds. If you're not getting as many gigs as some other bands, ask why.

    Thats all for now, best of luck!!
  3. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    I think you have had some good advice already.

    Some of this is regional, too. Some regions probably have the gigs more than others. I know in my area, trying to get gigs every night isn't feasible. There's barely money to be made on the weekends.

    Having said that, it's all about entertainment. You have to be technically good, but most important, you have to entertain. And, part of the entertainment is to succeed at getting the people there to consume - food, beverage, whatever. The bands that do that well are the bands that get asked back regularly.

    Finally, if you Really want to do this for the money gigs, your band has to be willing and able to play Anything. Corporate parties and weddings pay a Whole lot more than the bars and restaurants.
  4. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Thanks for the tips peter and bassman

    My band have some nice posters and about 10 are sent to each gig that we have and a website is on the way at some stage.Its something we are looking into (how important is one?)

    There's no drugs in the band. Business is business. Drinking is usually none or one or two after for me and a hot port or guinness for those that sing.

    I think frontmanship maybe where we are being let down a bit. He tries but it could be better. Then again my own stage presence is quite lack luster its someting I'll have to keep working on.

    As for the regional thing think of Ireland as our region there's absolutely no where we won't go for a gig :D Believe it or not bars and night clubs can pay as much €1200 or even more to some of the top cover acts in the country for certain gigs. There's definitely money to be had from this game the trick is to be near the top.

    Anyways keep your experience and advice rolling in
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    If you want to go pro you need to look WAY beyond the bar gigs...parties, weddings, corporate functions, etc. Here in Boston we call that "general business" (GB) in other parts of the country they are known as "casuals" (although you dress up) or "club dates" (although they're not in a nightclub!).Those gigs will pay MUCH better.

    As far as chops everyone has to be good, not stellar but SOLID. The more of you that can sing lead well the better and you need to have 3 part harmonies, too. All that's just to be competitive with the other pro outfits in your area.

    Consider specializing...all Motown revue, all Elvis, all Beatles, whatever brings in the crowds. Also side projects based out of the main band (i.e. just 2 or 3 of you doing soft rock covers "unplugged", etc.) that can work on "off" nights. Have at least one solid substitute for EVERYONE in the band (this is where having more than one person who can front is worth it's weight in gold) so you needn't cancel gigs due to personnel emergencies.

    You can NEVER have too much repertoire.