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How do you guys document the songs your band plays?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SmokinJoe992, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. I have recently started my own band (a 3 piece rock n roll, blues cover band, each member sings). After numerous false starts with various members, I believe I finally have a lineup that may stay together for a while. We have already started gigging and things are going great. However, I realize that keeping musicians together is like herding kittens sometimes, and if one of my band mates decides for whatever reason they can't play with us anymore, I don't want to start from scratch again. I would like to be as prepared as possible to just add another member and march on. We currently have about a 50 song set list, and are adding songs weekly.
    With all of the above in mind what would be the best way for me to document all the songs we play in a way that would make it easier for an incoming member to pick things up?
    My question mainly applies to cover bands, but I suppose all of this would apply to originals as well.
    I guess another way to ask this question would be, If you were joining a new band that already had an extensive song list What would you want them to give you to help you pick up the songs quick and in what format?
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
    instrumentalist likes this.
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Google Docs, IME.
  3. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    For a newbie, the easiest way is to make sure the band does the tune like recordings availbable on Youtube, or your own recordings of the band. Assemble the tunes into yoru own Playlist on Youtube using Youtube;s playlist feature. Send a link to the playlist to your newbie so s/he can listen to the playlist and come prepared to the gig without rehearsal. Or with minimal such.

    If you have originals, upload them to Youtube and include them in your playlist.
  4. We keep em on a spreadsheet.
  5. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    Email me a song list with the REAL names of the songs, the version you’re covering -see Eric Clapton and just about any of his covers fo multiple examples- and, best of all, links to the best versions on youtube.com. I’ll have that list ready to go before you know it. Finally, if you have working set lists, that’s a plus too, but not required. That’s what I like to see.
    smogg, 3Liter and SmokinJoe992 like this.
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    Google is your friend. Document sharing and editing, Band Calendar, Gig date/pay/expense spreadsheets, mail, etc.
  7. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    I manage a Word document with lyrics, chords and song structure for every song. This way it's easier for a new band member to catch up and for all of us to update what is the officiall song list.
    Off course, managing that document gives me small opportunity to push some songs that I prefer more than others ;-)
  8. Yea. Google drive. Share a spreadsheet for your song list. Column for song title, tempo, feel, and key. Super helpful for shaping effective setlists.
  9. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    One of the guys I play with occaisonally has a Word doc on Googledrive - he's got title, artist, key, performance notes and embedded links to either audio or video on the web in various places. Makes it super easy to onboard new stuff. I then print out the Word doc and bring that to rehearsal. Makes a good memory jogger for unfamiliar tunes (or originals).
    SmokinJoe992 likes this.
  10. 3Liter


    Feb 26, 2015
    I play in a blues "project". I guess I'm the leader since it's at my house. Anyhow, I put it all in a spreadsheet. With keys since the usual bass player never remembers. Since a lot of this has many versions, I'll note the version we're following and the original version (if I know) so to allow folks to go back to the basics if need be.

    We have a few originals. I capture those via a recording and have a separate box folder of those recordings. We haven't had much turnover, but did have a guy sub on bass so I sent him the list.
    SmokinJoe992 likes this.
  11. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    clear recordings along with some basic "cheat sheet" if you're doing originals. if they are covers, all I ever ask is the basic notes - 1. do you do the song in the recorded key? 2. If there are any deviations from the original - recordings helps both.
    TheOxRocks, pcake and SmokinJoe992 like this.
  12. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Assuming you're talking about reading musicians, you can't give them anything better than sheet music.

    If that's too much effort (and I can totally understand that it would normally be), see other posts in this thread. But from my own experience, just glancing over written music tells me more, and in a much simpler way, than having it explained or having to listen to playlists first. Plus, no rehearsal required.

    Well, you did ask for the best way. I've been in a situation recently where I had to fill in a temp position in a classic rock band that plays the lesser-covered minor classics (to set itself apart from the same old, same old). They gave me a giant list with artist names, song names, version covered. I wish they'd just given me a stack of dots.
  13. hs123


    Aug 11, 2011
    Westminster CO
    Be aware that for YouTube some videos are converted to the wrong key to get around copy-write violations, so make sure you're all using the same link and charts are for that link, (maybe not the original).
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i use charts and recordings, but the charting is more important if you can't record. the two together = no excuses.

    good luck with your band! :thumbsup:
    Wisebass and SmokinJoe992 like this.
  15. I second the Google Drive suggestion, but bear in mind there's always going to be one luddite who is technically challenged and will ask you to hold his hand and send everything via email by attachment. We keep a song list on a spreadsheet and we have various recordings of our originals that can be listened to, along with chord charts for those. We expect everyone to be skilled enough to chart covers on their own but when one of us does it we'll usually put that online, too.
    instrumentalist and SmokinJoe992 like this.
  16. zznewtzz


    Mar 22, 2017
    Alberta, Canada
    We put audio files of the versions we play in Dropbox. Along with the songs, a spreadsheet of the setlist is in there with the running times of the songs, who's starting the song, and who's singing lead.
  17. I joined a working cover band back in '03 that had been around for a long time. In fact, they still are today. The BL gave me an Excel spreadsheet with one page of currently active songs, and an archive list on another page. It was freaking huge. I don't even remember how many songs they had listed (300+ -ish, maybe?), but I do remember that he also gave me a bundle of three CDs full of MP3s of every song on both lists. As new tunes were added, the package was updated and redistributed. Every band member had this stuff, as did any regular fill-in musicians, so there was never any reasonable excuses to show up not knowing a song. Made it very easy for me to get up to speed as well when I was new.
  18. electrichead


    Nov 29, 2013
    I keep everything on an excel spreadsheet. I have columns for song name, original band name, tuning (we use 3 as well as several songs in drop d), a spot for each member to list what bass or guitar they are using (makes it easier when trying to arrange set lists), and an empty column for new members to track which songs they learned and are ready to play. Possible new songs are listed at the bottom and songs we are working on are highlighted in yellow. Songs that are stage ready are highlighted in green.
    SmokinJoe992 likes this.
  19. foolforthecity

    foolforthecity Supporting Member

    Same here
    SmokinJoe992 and Jimmy4string like this.
  20. I kept a typed list for a while, and added stuff by hand. I've kept most of the setlists the drummer has made so now that it's getting out of control I recently compiled it all into a spreadsheet with the new potentials that we seem serious about adding.

    I made myself a mp3 disc to practice along to when i first joined these guys. (pitch corrected) . When we've added any members i make them a copy,

    and tell them about UltimateGuitar.com :thumbsup:
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