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How to Succeed as an Original Band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TRichardsbass, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    I have been reading this forum for many years now. I also find myself posting a lot of critiques, information and criticism on many threads by newer bassists.

    Seems that there is a need for those of us with uber experience to help educate the up and coming bassists so that they will not only succeed but also carry on our bass legacy long after we are gone from this planet.

    This is thread number one. I will start with my two cents, and I encourage the rest of us to add to it.

    Any bassist may post a question or ask about content.

    Only rule for posting replys or information is that you must have at least 10 years of gigging experience in original bands. That way the info will be coming from experience.

    This should be good for everyone. My first info starts below:
    lowplaces likes this.
  2. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    Being in an original band is very much different from being in a cover band, but in many ways has similarities to cover bands. The biggest difference comes from the fact that original bands are playing all new content. Cover bands and original bands have to work just as hard at rehearsing, promoting, performing and booking. What they don't have to worry about is playing untested material. Lets face it, if its a hit on the radio or YouTube, and you can play it decently, it will be received well when you play it.

    Cover bands can therefore build a following easier, as if they play any of the music styles decently they will be able to find a few clubs that will book them consistently. The bar patrons will react to them well and then the cover band is on its way to steady paying gigs. What doesn't exist for cover bands is the ultimate payoff, the ability to get signed by a label and one day play Madison Square Garden.

    Original bands not only have to be superior performers (not musicians but performers) but also have to create at least one hours worth of new songs, record them, shop and promote them. Since most bars will hire only cover bands, the number of venues is exponentially smaller.

    Today's tip for original band success: Spend at least one hour a day writing songs and lyrics. Bassists can too. Create at least two hours of songs that you can choose from to beat up, hone, change, record and then play live. For every 10 songs you write maybe three will ever see the light of day. Make sure everyone contributes to the song. Have all of the songs critiqued by either people you know like that kind of music or someone who is not close to you. Don't get discouraged by their reaction, use it as constructive criticism to either improve your song, improve your songwriting or as a big thank you for screening out the crap no one will ever want to hear.

    So, get to it original bands. Start writing today, one hour!
    lowplaces likes this.
  3. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    while playing in an original band ... how did you keep yourself financially afloat knowing that clubs dont usually pay original acts (or do they? ... in my country, they dont), while waiting for that "paying" gig?
  4. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Like anything else, you have to be good;

    Good material

    Good look

    Focused with a plan
    Ductapeman likes this.
  5. 10 years experience? There are bands that have had multiple gold albums in less than 10 years.
  6. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    "Invest" $1/day in a powerball lottery ticket to increase your chances of success by 1000%. :D

    If there are 49 white balls in which 5 are chosen, the order does not matter. Then one of 42 balls is chosen. Thus we have the formula:


    Work it from there!

    Good luck!
  7. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    TRichards, I really do appreciate what you're trying to do here... pass on the knowledge / experience... heaven knows I would have benefited greatly from TB twenty years ago...

    But a fundamental question about your post is what do you mean by success?

    Financial success or artistic impact?

    My advice would be very different depending upon which question your asking.

    There are plenty of bands that are / were influential that didn't enjoy too much financial success (Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard for example...) And there are obviously plenty of original bands that enjoy massive financial success, but their music is unpalatable.

    (I don't know why I keep getting sucked into threads like these....)
  8. Subscribed :) My band is getting bigger and bigger, we're looking at how we can improve ourselves and really get noticed by labels.

    Thanks for starting this thread!
    lowplaces likes this.
  9. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    There are always exceptions to statements presented as "fact". For example, there are exceptions to OP's statement: "What doesn't exist for cover bands is the ultimate payoff, the ability to get signed by a label and one day play Madison Square Garden."

    One exception is George Thorogood & the (Delaware) Destroyers. They are a cover band. They had a pretty good record label contract and a pretty good run at rock 'n roll superstardom.

    Another example of a cover band that gained wide popularity was Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.
  10. Jonyak


    Oct 2, 2007
    Ottawa, Ont

    Success means alot of different things to alot of different people.

    My advice:

    Do what you do
    Do it well.
    Do it often.
    Don't let anyone tell you how to do it or what success should mean to you.
    Have fun doing it.
    KromaatiKlauun likes this.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    george wrote a lot of his songs, too...including "bad to the bone" and "i drink alone," his biggest hits. he is also a blues player, and playing covers is way more accepted in blues than other kinds of music.

    yeah, 45 years ago! not applicable.
    Rocker949 likes this.
  12. OPBASSMAN1994


    Jul 30, 2010
    Still in high school. I'm worried sometimes, because we never have enough practice time. We've got 5 songs in our inventory that are original. we've got several covers. we do both. We want to have a ton of songs, but we can only really practice once a week for 3 hours at our drummers house...

    Sometimes I get discouraged.
    I've written probably 50 songs in the past 2 or 3 months, but we just don't focus on new original material in the light of our gigs, where we always do some covers. I just don't know what to do. Should we drop the covers? We have one frequented, constant place to play when we want: the youth wing of our guitarist's church (AWESOME PLACE TO PLAY!). I guess we can always do that. Should we just start honing our own stuff to perfection and forget about most covers? maybe throw in a few per gig?
  13. OPBASSMAN1994


    Jul 30, 2010
    should we work much more on originals?
  14. OPBASSMAN1994


    Jul 30, 2010
    much less on covers?
  15. Only the good ones. Be prepared to throw away anything that is just OK.
    Better to have three good songs than a set full of OK ones.
    lots of bands I see don't have an 'average' filter.

    We've got 16 to choose from at the moment out of the 40-50 we've worked up to a giggable level. Old ones get ditched if they're not up to the current standard.

    Drop the covers as soon as possible unless you're doing an arrangement in your style that's a lot different from the recording.
    lowplaces likes this.
  16. LaklandBass


    Jan 26, 2005
    I think a cover can be a fun way of adding something to your set.... I dont really mind an original band throwing in a fun version of an older song.
    Cover bands? I dont morally agree with cover bands. You might and thats fine, its your right to an opinion.
    To stay on track.............. I think original bands should take some advice from the movie "Boiler Room"... act as if. If you act is if youre pro.... people will see you that way. If you noodle between songs, tune with your volume on, dont start/finish songs tight... people will see you as a local band that isnt professional.
  17. Nice try OP. You really expected only ten year vets to respond?? You must be new to the internet.

    I've been playing in bands for more than ten years but our originals have all sunk without trace. We did a cover of Smoke on the Water that I truely believe was way better than the original and that band still failed.

    If you're going to be original be good, really really good.:D
  18. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Aye, I think the ten year qualifier is a wee bit silly. My own "original" band has only been playing for five years, yet we've gone through european tours, a small record label, a much bigger record label, dealing with booking agents, dealing with sponsorships/endorsements and negotiating contracts. I know many bands who have been playing original material for a LOT longer than ten years who haven't got a fraction of the experience with this that we've built up in five years.
  19. Well, I have over 10 years of gigging experience, both in cover and original bands, and there is at least one philosophy that I've had to come to the hard way:

    If you suck, admit it and get better. If someone in your band sucks, same deal - get better or get out.

    I know that sounds harsh, but I've been in a couple of bands that had real potential - solid songwriting, catchy tunes, the right look - but one or more members of the band just couldn't hack it. I've parted ways with one group because I just wasn't the same caliber a musician as the rest, and couldn't hope to get my chops up to their standards in a reasonable amount of time.

    In particular, one of the bands in my Youtube - Twice Removed - had great songwriting, catchy modern-rock type stuff - but the vocalist, while a great (IMO) writer and guitarist, couldn't sing in key to save his life. And he couldn't own up to it, either.

    Onstage at the NorVa - the local big venue for bands that can't fill an arena - also a great spot for original bands to get experience on a "real" stage.

    I'm kinda bitter about this band, in retrospect. There was a lot of potential there, but my singer/guitarist had this huge blind spot for his singing.

    A second band had the same situation going, only in a more metal genre, and I finally left when I couldn't get the drummer OR singer to actually work - egos got in the way.

    Anyway, YMMV and all that.
  20. brandau


    Jan 30, 2008
    Since I began playing I've always been in an original band... Some on labels, some independent, some with expensive publicists, tour support, others without...

    One thing has remained true... The only thing that kept any of the bands going are fans. Fans will support you, give you money, spread your music, even inspire you

    You've got to attract people and then keep them coming. Play great sure. But, record and release music often. Its super easy to record and put your music out... don't worry about a label. Play cool gigs- Be Creative... Make every show special. Can't get into the venue you want...? Play a house party! Even if 40 people show itl be packed and if you rock out you'll have 40 new fans. Have some merch to sell too(this is important and realistically the best way for an original band to make money). No one buys CDs anymore but they do at shows!

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