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My band doesn't do covers

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Broke, May 14, 2019 at 4:51 PM.

  1. Broke


    Sep 9, 2015
    In Louisiana we are expected to do "Swamp Pop" or covers. Anything else is looked at as well as herpes. We will do 2 or 3 covers per show but they are almost unrecognizable after they have been tweaked to "our liking". We have about 30 original songs so we can play for a while. I'm stuck between pushing for what the audience actually wants and what gets them dancing and the creative awesomeness of the band. I'm truly in a tough spot. These are a group of really talented musicians but they don't necessarily have a fundamental understanding of entertainment. We get friends and relatives coming to shows but nobody knows these original songs. I've been trying to get them to go 50/50 as a concession but so far it's been 90/10. I don't think we will ever progress unless we give the audience at least something to get excited about. Thoughts?
    Last edited: May 14, 2019 at 5:04 PM
    tekhedd, dhergert, Ellery and 9 others like this.
  2. Skeezix


    Sep 28, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    MrLenny1, strat59, hufe and 9 others like this.
  3. 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
    Hence your screen name, eh?
  4. oZZma


    Sep 13, 2018
    Screw people. Playing is about you, not them, unless you're there for the $$$
    I would not even pick up the bass to play covers.
    jdier, db59, GreyMark and 22 others like this.
  5. Broke


    Sep 9, 2015

    It's sort of a joke because I have daughters. I don't actually ever care to make any money playing. I've got plenty to live on. It's just not important to me. But I'm caught between wanting to fulfill their dreams of a truly original band that basically has no audience/draw or my dream of entertaining people. We all have great full time jobs so becoming a wildly successful touring band is out of the question.
  6. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Any reason why you can’t play in another band that does covers?
    corsa, diegom, Tampabass and 12 others like this.
  7. 4 Strings Good

    4 Strings Good

    Mar 6, 2014
    Play what you want to play but don't expect everyone to want to hear it.
    Maybe your originals are fantastic--if so the crowd will let you know. If not, that'll be easy to find out, too.
    Nothing wrong with playing covers if that's what the audience wants and you like to play them.
    I solved the problem by having two bands; one all originals and one all covers.
    BassCliff, corsa, lavmonga and 7 others like this.
  8. denhou1974


    Mar 6, 2008
    30 originals? I don't want to hear 30 originals from ANY band. Not even Zep.
  9. oZZma


    Sep 13, 2018
    I dont get why should the audience be excited after something they already know, anyways:

    Everyone should fulfill their dream. If your dreams diverge, I suggest to find a more fitting situation to follow yours, rather than holding them back from theirs.
    Novarocker, Nashrakh and Ghook like this.
  10. Broke


    Sep 9, 2015
    I don't think I've held them back. I've learned all of the originals and have been playing them for a few years now. But my state is a party heavy, music state (Think New Orleans) and people seem to really get into songs that they know. Songs that they don't know and they sit there staring at you blankly.
  11. Does the creative awesomeness of the band sell drinks and food? ‘Cuz thats what club owners care about.
    SoCal80s, bassliner50, interp and 2 others like this.
  12. oZZma


    Sep 13, 2018
    I understand your point of view but I disagree on this. I get you want people to sing along and dance etc but while from your point of view going for 50/50 would mean a "progress" I assure you, for an originals band that would be regress and, even worse, giving up their identity. I don't see many solutions if you're unhappy with this kind of band. If musicians are talented maybe you should consider changing the audience :roflmao:
    Ghook likes this.
  13. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    This! Honestly about the 3rd time I saw Rush I was over it, because as good as it was, it sounded EXACTLY like the first two times, and some of their songs get on your nerves after a while. 30 songs from an up and coming original band? Hell no. 5-6 is pushing it, and that is if they are GREAT.
    In my cover band experience, the 3 songs that got the best reaction were also the 3 easiest- Funky Music, 7 Nation Army and Talk Dirty to Me. YMMV.
  14. It’s tough to balance. My original band Nephilym has gained a large number of our fans by playing covers. Being able to play covers I believe shows people that the band can play and that you are taking it seriously and want to entertain fans instead of only playing for yourself. But I’m still very on the fence about the subject. The originals scene and cover scene are very isolated from each other here. A lot of venues that hosts original bands don’t want bands to play covers at all out of fear of being sued by BMI and the like. I think the better situation than playing 50% covers is to rotate what 1-2 cover songs you play per night until you find a couple that are really popular. Or to play an actual covers gig and just work in 1-2 originals per set (so up to 6 originals per night if you’re playing three sets, 8 if you’re playing 4 sets) every scene is different but when I play covers with the original band or straight cover gigs the most successful covers tend to be stuff the cover bands in the area don’t play. Around here there’s a lot of cover bands playing 80s music for example. So the covers we play are strictly 90s and beyond. This honestly is our most popular cover btw
    Last edited: May 14, 2019 at 9:46 PM
  15. MikeInSF


    Aug 16, 2014
    You and your band need to define what your goals are and let that drive your set list. Do you want to gig, entertain, and make some cash or is this just self-indulgence? Neither or these are better than than other but you have to be honest with each other.

    You and your band mates may be able to get gigs doing 18 minute prog odysseys. (Well, one anyway.) But unless your audience wants to listen to the same, you’re probably not going to be asked back. We may care about musicianship - most people do not. Save that stuff for the rehearsal space. If you have the nagging suspicion that few appreciate your originals, then you’re probably right.

    On the other hand, if you want to entertain audiences, sell beer, and make people happy, then you’re probably gonna have to play Mustang Sally now and again.
    Munjibunga, CB3UK and movinngruvin like this.
  16. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Well, if you want to play originals, and nobody in Louisiana wants to listen to originals, then don't play in Louisiana.

    That's overly simply, and also not really feasible for the vast majority of people with lives outside of music. Really, what it boils down to is that the venues you playing probably aren't the right fit for your band. Original music is a tough game; the music you are playing might simply not be a right fit for your location. Have you thought about trying to expand your fanbase outside of your geographical area?
    tekhedd, SoCal80s, Nashrakh and 4 others like this.
  17. Same boat. For me it's all or nothing, originals or covers. We almost always play one cover per set but it's "our" version, e.g. a classic new wave song played heavy metal style. 50/50 originals and covers is just weird IMO. Last band I saw like that their Black Sabbath/Led Zep covers just made their originals sound weak by comparison.
    bobba66 likes this.
  18. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    I had the same problem as you. I really don't care what I'm playing as long as there is a crowd and dancing, so I opted for covers. No more playing for an empty room on a Tuesday night.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019 at 11:45 AM
    EdO., strat59, Munjibunga and 8 others like this.
  19. jmon


    Jan 27, 2002
    Jax Fl.
    Play what makes you happy! To me the whole originals vs covers is about the venue. Don’t play at a place that regularly books cover bands (not to be confused with tribute bands). The crowd will not react well. Play at venues that caters to original bands and people walking in the door will know what to expect. It’s that simple.
  20. You've made your own point right there. Entertainment is the name of the game. If people aren't enjoying the originals they aren't going to spread the word about your band and you'll be stuck right where you're at.

    This is because you understand the idea of entertainment. Cover songs are hits that get played on the radio for a reason, because people like them.
    Stumbo, SoCal80s and MobileHolmes like this.

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