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Now what?!

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by abarson, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I've been playing with the same drummer and guitarist for about a year now. We've been slowly building up our song list and skills, and recently added a keyboardist. We're collecting recordings from our rehearsals to start shopping local gigs. We play covers, but a bit more obsure ones (Phish, Big Head Todd, Collective Soul, etc). That's all okay.

    Our drummer brought in a friend to help tweak our PA, (can't tweak, sing and play bass at the same time!) and he gave us some feedback about what he thought of our sound and setup. Now our drummer wants to invest a bunch of money into equipment of dubious necessity (snakes, etc.) and wants us to do dance-oriented covers (think "Mustang Sally"). Ugh!

    Question 1: Can you do well getting gigs playing music that is a bit less familiar, or must we be totally subserviant to the demand of doing the common?:help:

    Question 2: We've got about 24 songs, probably two sets. Is it a requirement to have 3 sets of material?
  2. Regards question 1, it depends on how many bands are in your area. I'd try putting out feelers to see how good a chance you have of getting gigs (PAYING gigs) before investing in "equipment of dubious necessity)

    Question 2: Not sure about everyone, but my band has never played more than 2 sets.
  3. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Question 1# No, not well paying at least. If you are doing normal well known covers then putting in a few b-sides or band fav odd song here and there is cool but a cover band of songs like this will not go far or grow in most markets.
    You will be like allot of originals bands. People who see cover bands want to hear songs they know for the most part, no matter what the type of music it is don't confuse them with weird off the wall artists and songs. Use what they know for getting good paying gigs and staying busy.

    Question 2# No. To be a good all night cover band you need at least 3 solid sets and IMHO 4.
  4. Question 1: I would recommend doing obscure covers only if you plan on doing originals or playing at festivals. I think I speak for several people when I say we are tired of the ordinary cover band standards and are ready to hear people put more of their own touch on songs.

    Question 2: Definitely not a requirement. But typically having more set will not only make a gig easier on a band (emergency songs) but offer the band for more venues. When you make the sets, try to come up with multiple set with different motives (ei.. party set, wedding set, country set, bar set, end of the night set etc...) That way you're sure to have a plan in every situation and the songs that aren't used can be felt out by the band during the first set and added during intermission. Key here! More songs= better

    IMHO- "Mustang Sally" is painfully undanceable unless the crowd is 50+ and wasted. Not to mention if the drummer get bored and adds fills the songs just over. lol not a very smooth groove. Also I know from experience not to throe it in a set with the Thrill is Gone. Those bass lines are wayy too similar. lol

  5. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I'm in an originals band now and we play only 2 sets a night but sometime like this weekend are asked to do 3 which is odd for most originals bands that are not national. We have even enough to do 4 with some covers sprinkled in.

    When I was in cover bands we always did 3 sets, sometimes 4 and always had to submit a demo or songlist to the bar or venue for them to look at. Most places wanted us to play something people could relate to and that is what most places still want today IMO.
  6. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    Not in Milwaukee.

    View attachment 280869
  7. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Depends on your area, of course. But doing obscure covers is almost the same as doing originals.

    Depends on the venue too. If it's a dance club, play music that grooves. Throw in some slow dance stuff (belly rubbers) lol.

    If you really want to be a working, paid, cover band, you need 50-60 songs that you can play well. You're gonna get requests for all the usual songs if you're playing for people over 40. Why over 40? Cuz that's where the money is.

    But again, all of this depends on your area and what kind of places you're paying. There's a huge difference between a bar, a country club, and a "get drunk, dance and hope to get laid" club.
  8. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    Depends on what you mean by "do well". Who is your target audience, and how will you market to them? Certainly, popular music will have a bigger target audience, by definition. If you go into a mainstream bar and play Phish, it won't go well. If you go into a hippie bar and play Metallica, it won't go well. If you bring your own crowd, your options are much more open.

    A requirement? What, is there some organization that makes requirements? It is a requirement to have 3 sets of material to do a gig where they want you to play 3 sets of material. If you get a gig but can't fill the time slot, you find an opening band to help out.
  9. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    Bars that pay cover bands normally don't let you invite other bands.
  10. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I know in Atlanta it is typically expected that you play from 9:30 to 12:30 (or even 9:30 to 1:00 or 1:30)

    It does take at least 3 sets of 12-14 songs to do this, but many times we repeated songs in the third set with my old band as having more than 35 songs down well is a real stretch for just about anybody, whoever says they can do 50 songs and do them well is full of crap in my opinion or they are VERY easy songs... the real key is you can't short change your breaks either, and you will be pressured too they need to be at least 30 minutes...

    However, it is a total- rip-off for the band because you are taking about investing about 7 hours minimum of your time for hopefully $100 each here (4 members). Just is not worth it other than the fun, but my problem is I am so damn tired by the end it just isnt' enjoyable for me. The first two sets I can bring it like nobody's business but third set< i just aint feeling it anymore/ and before anyone asks I am 42 and in good shape.

    Also if you do not have a lead singer/ who can talk to the crowd well during your show, forget it. I've seen band with mediocre singers but who were "good" frontman do better than bands with good singers who were bad frontman (ie my old band)
  11. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    It's possible, but it's going to make things more difficult than they necessarily have to be. I had a band that made some good money for about 6 months playing nothing but jam band tunes. The bars loved us, and there was a market for those kinds of tunes (since we were, and still are, in a college town). That said, I don't see that sort of thing flying too well in a lot of markets.

    As for amount of material, I've played gigs were we were expected to play pretty much nonstop for about 4 hours straight. Again, it depends on the gig and market. It also depends on your band. We played for 4 hours and maybe would play one single song twice. Past that, it was always something that hadn't been played earlier in the night, and that was what was expected from us by the venues.
  12. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    You really have to find out how many bars and which bars book bands that play music like the stuff you referenced.

    In Milwaukee those songs would only work in our originals clubs where the bands play for the door. Which usually won't be enough cash to pay the sound Guy.
  13. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Your ability to market off-beat music will depend on the venues in your area.

    I do have to say this: it took you a YEAR to learn 24 songs? For the average 4 hour bar gig, you'll need at least 40.
  14. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    In the small/medium bars we play, there really is only one criteria......do people get up and dance? Do you get the crowd doing something?

    I've gone and listened to other bands play at the same places we do. Some of it's more country, some of its stuff I don't have a clue about. But it's danceable. We're the nightmare band that does Mustang Sally and Brown eyed girl because they get requested practically every time.

    We play 4 hours plus at our gigs. 24 songs ain't nearly enough. We have at least 6 sets of 12-14 songs we can do and lots of others that just need a once through to get back into shape. You don't want to play all the same stuff every time you show up (even though it doesn't seem like people care that much what you play)..........as long as they feel like dancing to it.
  15. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Right. You'll have to speed up your learning curve....quite a bit, IME.
  16. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    Your right and I have made the same observation.

    There is still a segment, the art segment that is not targeting the bar crowd. It's interesting because they don't have to play what the people want to dance to.

    The sad trade off is they see very few gigs and the shows they do see are usually no pay gigs. These bands have s short life span and break up. This also gives some musicians a bad impression of what being in a band is about and they quit playing all together.
  17. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    It's not about the number of songs, it's about the length of your set. A typical set is 45-60 minutes.

    For most club gigs, it's either a multi-band bill where you play a 45 minute set or an all nighter where you cover about 3-4 hours of time. I've been in bands that do 4 45 minute sets, 3 hour sets, and 2 90 minute sets. Generally plan for about 3 hours of music, with the rest of the time being for breaks, stage banter, instrument changes, etc.

    If you are playing radio-friendly songs just like the recording, then you'll need lots of songs to fill out a set since each tune will average about 3 minutes. For my old variety band and the Country band, we did 12-15 songs in a set. In the Reggae band I work with, we may do about 6-8 in a set since the tunes are long jams. The Country and Variety band had about 40-45 songs we'd do in a night, with the Variety band having a repertoire of about 90 tunes, and about 50-60 for the Country band depending on who was in the band at the time. The Reggae band has about 25-30 songs, and we have rarely done more than 25 in a night. The Blues bands I worked with usually did about 8-10 songs in a set and we did long sets since we could extend just about anything. We'd probably do 24-30 songs in a night.

    In the end, the bar owner doesn't care about how many songs you play, as much as whether or not you can fill the time in an entertaining fashion. IME, sometimes those long jams work, but sometimes they don't. You can never have too many songs under your belt.
  18. Big Brother

    Big Brother

    Feb 13, 2011
    San Diego
    Roving sub-demon
    You are in Santa Cruz, this shoudl be easy for you because it is a college town and you have SJ over the hill too. Use the equipment you have unless it sounds awful.

    - Learn about 20 more songs, there is no reason why you can't do 4 or 5 a week as a band if you practice weekly.

    - DO make them songs that people know and like, and that fit well with a live venue. Choose songs that you would get up and move to - not just songs that you like to hear.

    Find a small bar that will let you play for free, there should be some in Craigslist. If not, ask a few. Bring your girlfriends etc to be your crowd and a friend to take a ton of pics and do the best recording you can of your performance.

    Look like you are having fun in the pics you choose, do two or three places if you can. Put a few good pics playing live, a formal band pic, a sound sample and a little info about your band together into a website, into a Reverbnation page, into Facebook and into a binder with a burned CD for the music. That is your press kit. Make cards with all the above info, you can get a bunch for $10.

    Then scan CL looking for venues, pop into bars during the day to talk to bar owners and managers, meet and talk to other bands, find ways to meet working promoters and get on their booking list. Play house parties, play your own party, just get out in front of people as often as you can and get used to pimping your band.

    If you do a decent job of that you will get gigs, if you put any work into sounding good they will continue to come on afterwards.

    Just don't line up gigs and sound like crap, you won't get another chance. Be a product worth selling, and you will...
  19. After playing in original bands for the past 20 years I just recently got in a newly formed cover band. We are are about 9 months old and have 3 soild sets and growing. I believe the key to being a successful cover band is in the songs you choose to put on your set list. This is were a cover band gets to be creative. We found if we choose songs that gets the girls up and "shaking it" on the dance floor, everything else just falls into place. The guys are buying drinks for the girls, now the bar owner is happy, and when new patrons walk into the club, they see everyone is having a great time and choose to stay and spend money at that club. Last week we were playing a simple song, "Break Down" by T.P and the Heart Breakers. I was watching the dance floor and every women, and a few guys too, were singing the lyrics to the song. Not just the chorus, the 20 girls or so were singing all the verses too. Yeah, kind of a boring bass line to play but we were hired to please the customers. Like I said, we are a new band, we are getting 2-3 paid gigs a month and hope to be playing more. If we were playing obscure covers I don't think we would get asked back or getting new gigs. Just some food for thought.

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