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Need help in the world of cover bands!

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by basslover24, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. So im in an original band and the last three bars we've played, the manager has come up to us and asked if we do cover songs. Personally, I feel like we'd be whoring ourselves out, but the general conclusion was that we need some cash.

    If we do start this cover side show thing, what are some guidlines for a good set? What songs are always good? How many should we learn? Please share your knowledge with the world!!
  2. rzpooch


    Nov 14, 2007
    Bonney Lake Wa
    You can do both eh, and your not selling out...your buying in!
    Do a search for the dj top 200 list. These tunes are gold! Learn as many as you need to play the gigs. I also would look thru guitar hero for tunes...LOL You might want to check out the coverband 101 ebook, $20 well spent in my opinion.
    Have fun and good luck!
  3. Just because you play some covers doesn't make you a "cover band" per se. I wouldn't call Faith No More or Killswitch Engage cover bands and they put a cover on their record (s).

    I think playing covers mixed with originals is really fun, and you can put your twist on a it. I'd find out how long the club manager wants you to play for a learn a few tunes!
  4. Hi.

    First of all we are all whoring, some of the time or all of the time.

    It's not called entertainment for nothing, we are there to ENTERTAIN people, not playing for ourselves.

    The choice of tunes depends entirely of the venue, You don't play the same kind of sets to teens/blue collars/rednecks/bikers/in wedding receptions, some of the tunes may be the same, but not the whole set (s).

    We are a weekend warrior type classic rock cover band. We have about 45 regular tunes and about 20 more to fit the occasion.

    3*45min is our typical gig.

    Our songs have three basic requirements, at least two have to be met.

    #1 Folks have to be able to dance to the tune.
    #2 Folks have to be able to "sing" ;) the lyrics (or the chorus).
    #3 Folks have to recognise the tune.

    I don't like half our set that much, but the places we play in, people love those tunes and requests more alike. I suck it up and smile, sing and play.

    Just my 0.02€
  5. basslyon


    Jun 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Non fosters drinking alcoholic.
    General Rules

    Sets are 30-45minutes Long (8-12 songs)

    You generally need 40 songs to get started (3x12 or 4x8 + backups)

    Go see some other cover bands around see which songs work and which do not. There is a post around where everyone posted their sets. search that.

    You will have to taylor a set to suit the abilities of your band, particularly your singer.

    Songs should be performed as close as possible to the album version, as cool as you tangents and jams maybe, if someone walks past and hears you jamming they will keep walking. If they hear their favourite song they will walk in.

    Instrumental sections can be cut down cos frankly general people don't care for them, they just want to get back to the chorus so they can sing and dance. There are of course venues and songs which defy this rule. EG Sweet child of mine; you will have the guitar solo note perfect, in it's entirity or you will bitch slap your guitarist

    Never underestimate the pulling power of a hot singer.

    Also if you want your original band to remain credible use a different band name
  6. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    So I guess the New York Philharmonic is "whoring itself out" since it plays the music of others.

    Or The Beatles, The Who, The Stones, etc etc etc, who have ALL played covers at some point in their careers?

    Music is music....there is very little "original" in original music anyway.

    It's about people hearing what they want to hear.

    So you have two choices - be successful and make money, or turn your nose up at that and plod along playing original music because it makes you feel like you have street cred.

    who said you can't do both?
  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Click on my profile, and go visit my home page. The "schlong list" has been refined for many years and is full of gems.
  8. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Well, I was going to offer some advice, but since I'm whoring myself out, I'll need payment up front.

  9. lancimouspitt


    Dec 10, 2008
    dayton Ohio
    Hi guys I'm new here!

    But anyhow i've played in a 2 cover bands in the past 5 years,and it can be a bummer at times playing other peoples music.

    The band i'm currently in is focusing more on originals (Thank God!),but we are doing covers too.
    However,if were're doing covers,we decided to make them our own,and put our own little twist to the songs.

    That's something maybe to keep in mind.You can change cover songs up a bit to keep it interesting.
  10. Damn, 40 songs to start? I guess it makes sense. and I didnt mean to offend about the "whoring out" comment. Its just that we play only originals with "Killing in the Name" or "Walk" thrown in once in a while. These bar guys want us to play sets only of other peoples material and I'd hate for our band to get known as "That cover band."
  11. Why? Would you rather be known as "another conglomeration of self-indulgent punks with a wildly-inflated and delusional opinion of their original music"? Get over it!

    No offense intended. I don't know you or your bandmates and I've never heard your music, so I don't really know if you're self-indulgent punks or if your opinion of your original music IS wildly inflated and delusional. IME, however, the vast majority of musicians who write and play original music think it is far better than the rest of the world does.

    The point is that your original music apparently isn't getting you all the gigs you want and not one, but three club managers have mentioned doing covers to you. You were smart enough to realize that you need to start doing cover songs, that you need advice on how to go about it and that TalkBass is a good place to seek that advice. Don't be dumb enough to worry about anyone calling you "that cover band". The audience that pays to hear and see you won't call you that. The club owners who are paying you directly won't call you that. Only a handful of other musicians who are, by definition, self-indulgent punks--and yourselves, if you're dumb enough--will call you or think of you as "that cover band".

    Give yourself a chance to succeed when you play covers by doing it with a mature attitude that emphasizes the the desires of your audiences and the club owners, not a foolish and fragile self-image or your sense of creative satisfaction.

    Bluesy Soul :cool:
  12. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey

    Excellent post!
  13. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    +2 Really excellent post.
  14. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I play in "that cover band", just about every weekend, to clubs full of people, for money..........

    I have no problem with giving the people what they want. If that makes me a sell out, I'll sell it for as much cash as I can! :)
  15. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    100+ people came out to hear us last night...that cover band.
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Don't think of playing covers as "whoring out" but rather think of it as playing music that your audience actually wants to hear.
  17. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    The last time my "that cover band" played, we had 147 paying customers come through the door.....in a club that has a 125 person limit. People seem to love watching us whoring ourselves out.

    If a club manager is telling your original band that you should play covers, then that should really tell you something about your originals.
  18. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Lots of bands do both. One affords them the luxury of being able to do the other.
  19. coop


    Jun 22, 2002
    The best way to decide which songs will work in a particular club is to go in during the week. Sit down order your favorite beverage and listen to what's played on the juke box. Make notes if you need to, if one song is played 3 or 4 times within an hour you need to learn it!

    Also, as mentioned before, go listen to other bands and learn the songs that work when they play them. Most likely you will hate the songs that the patrons seem to love the most. You just have to decide if you love cash more than you hate Mustang Sally.:D
  20. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Admittedly this is my first band and we have yet to gig but we decided with ease that the best route was to go half and half, this was my thought process...

    The covers add credibility to your originals: "They play STV I like STV, that must mean I like them too, I should buy an album."

    Covers fill out a set list. It takes a long time to work up a set of originals, what if the bar wants you to play 3 sets and you only have 10 originals?

    You can book as a cover band but toss an original or two in at some point and sell some CD's/Merch while getting paid like a cover band. A straight up cover band can't sell CD's.

    Cover bands play bigger venues for bigger money = more exposure when you bust out those originals. Whats more satisfying, playing 15 originals to 10 people or playing 3 originals to 100 people?

    If your capable of writing original music you should be capable of manipulating the covers and giving them an original spin, extended jams, stylist changes, creating medleys, different instrumentation w/e.

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