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Percentage of covers vs. originals

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Steve Harris Is, Feb 4, 2006.

  1. Steve Harris Is

    Steve Harris Is

    Jul 4, 2005
    For those of you playing mainly clubs and smaller venues within 100 miles of your home, do you mainly play covers or have you had success finding clubs that book/support original acts? If so, what area of the country are you in? Also, if you play a "mixed" set, how many covers vs. originals?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated...
  2. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Pasco, WA
    Mixed set but the lion's share are covers.

    Until you get a 'following' for your original stuff it's hard to get a decent paying gig around here. Until then introduce your original tunes into your sets one or two at a time and make sure you introduce them as originals. With any luck you will start getting requests for them.


  3. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    The Knowbodys have about 1.5 hours worth of original material, with more coming up. We mix those in with a variety of covers. We do covers from many styles. We'll do a Beach Boys cover and a Black Sabbath cover in the same set.

    As far as where we are: We're north of Austin, on the North Shore of Lake Travis. That's not the same as playing in Austin, not at all.

  4. Jingle_W_Clark

    Jingle_W_Clark Inactive

    Feb 4, 2006
    My band, we've been together since the late 90s...

    We have about 3 hours worth of originals, maybe more... and we could literally go probably 24 hours playing all the covers we've played over the years...

    SO... what do we do?

    Typically we play about 20% covers on the average. Just because people like to hear them...

    We've played certain places and played 3 hours of covers because it was a group of college kids that never saw us before..

    We've done all kinds of stuff over the years... all covers.. all originals..

    We played a set of Stones songs once..

    Just do what you like and make SURE the crowds gonna like it too!!
  5. Keeaumoku


    Dec 29, 2004
    100% Covers... 60s & 70s rock classics. We also do a ZZ Top set:

    Arrested for Driving While Blind
    Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
    Nasty Dogs & Funky Kings
    Master of Sparks
    It's Only Love
    Blue Jean Blues
    Hot Blue and Righteous
    Just Got Paid
    La Grange
    Waiting for the Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago
    Cheap Sunglasses
    I'm Bad and I'm Nationwide
    I Thank You

    We pop these songs off one right after another... not necessarily in this order, and not all of them during any particular performance... It goes over very well...

    We play whenever and wherever we can on the island of Oahu... :D
  6. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    It really depends on the venue for us. For a bar gig, we'll play mostly covers, beacuse face it. Drunk people want to get up and dance, sing, and just be an idiot. They can't do that to an original they've heard maybe once or twice before. We'll play about 80 - 20. 80 being covers, 20 being originals. For a show that is showcasing us as band, playing with other bands, or a rockoff. We will play basically all originals, except for covers we've really re-done, and felt that we made it better (we do that to a lot of bob dylan and lou reed tunes, since really no one knows any of those songs in my age group).

    We play in ohio. Mostly either bars or clubs.
  7. Steve Harris Is

    Steve Harris Is

    Jul 4, 2005
    Thanks for all the replies folks...trying to figure out what the best options are for our band as we finish up our demo...seems likes CT is a VERY tough market to get away from covers, not a ton of "originals only" kinda clubs out here.
  8. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    both of the bands I play in are roughly 50/50. One of the bands I play in does have a bit more originals but we play in midtown Memphis and Oxford, MS which both tend to be places a lot more open to original music.
  9. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    In venues where the crowd prefers covers, we sneak our originals in. We'll pay two or three covers that we know they like, and slip an original with the same kind of feel in with them. After a few weeks of that...BANG!!! Look up, and people in the audience are singing along with your original!

    Cherie :)
  10. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    In this area, mixing your originals and covers live is ok but only if you have a CD to sell or give away at your show...If you don't have a CD to sell or give away don't bother playing any originals because the bar/club owners will give you a lot of flack and you won't be asked back.

    We play 100% covers because we like money and playing in front of people. The original scene in Charlotte is tough...there is a lot of talented singer/songwriters here and an original band on every corner so there is a scene, but less than a few of them make any headway in popularity or money in this area. Most of the best groups end up relocating to a more vibrant scene like Atlanta, Athens, Nashville, LA or NYC to get noticed.

    Charlotte is a very beautiful but a very conservative city. As a friend of mine said...Playing original music in Charlotte is a great way to make tens of dollars.
  11. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton My P doesn’t have flats or tort Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    we play 100% originals.
  12. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Oh, that stinks! How aggravating, to have a scene where venue owners will penalize you for mixing originals with covers. Sigh...I guess the bottom line always rules.

    I like to hear covers, but I want to hear originals, too. I like both. Wish more people did. It would be better for all of us musicians!

  13. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    Sorry if it came across that way...not my intention...it's not a penalty so to speak as much as an expectation...originals are ok if you have a recording to give away or sell otherwise you are not really playing an original but jamming on something no one has heard before and wasting time.
  14. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Inactive

    Nov 20, 2005
    70% covers, 30% originals. Until you become famous you need to break the audience in gently.
  15. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    95% Covers and do the math on the originals here. We play for fun, cash and nothing else. There are more originals that we have, but only a couple are worth a damn.

    One in particular is a sure thing to fill the dance floor. Its a great song and very satisfying to see the folks dancing to a song that they haven't a clue what it is till its over.

    I've said it before, but to be honest it seems to me that most original music (that I have heard) is not very good and appeals more to its creator than to anyone else.
  16. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    We have always been 100% original. My band is young (ages 23-25 with one 31 oldster) and our following is an 18-30 crowd.

    I live in Albuquerque NM which has a pretty centralized music scene. On a Saturday there are 4-7 venues in downtown (walking distance to one another) with live music.

    Though unlike many of the cats here on TB, my gigs are just one slot rather than 3-4 sets over a full night. To get that type of gig out here, you have to be a cover band.
  17. Keeaumoku


    Dec 29, 2004
    I agree... I just didn't want to be the first to say it... :bag:
  18. Steve Harris Is

    Steve Harris Is

    Jul 4, 2005
    While there may be some truth in that, take a look at all the successful bands that have sold gajillions of albums over the years and have countless bands, including many that post here, play their music live instead of their own.

    I just can't iamgine any greater thrill than having someone in the audience getting off on something you wrote. Plus, imagine if every band playing live just got lazy and started playing covers, where would the new music come from??
  19. Keeaumoku


    Dec 29, 2004
    That's imagining a lot... As long as western civilization maintains it's fundamental freedom, there will always be inspired musicianship...

    The three key words in 'Jeb's' post, with which I agreed, "most original music", that either one of us have heard... and I've heard a lot over the years... just didn't do it for me. However, I've heard a few original songs that most certainly appealed to me.

    I played in a band some 23 years ago where we played the originals written by our singer, and these songs were most of our act. I still think some, but certainly not all, of those tunes were pretty good. We got to be the warm-up act for Journey here in Honolulu back in 1981, because the promoter of the concert had heard us play, and gave us the gig. The sight of Steve Perry standing off stage-right behind the massive PA columns, and my side of the stage I'll add, is a fond memory I've carried all of these years. He obviously seemed to be enjoying our act...

    However, the problem with the music, and I'm being brutally honest... was him, the singer/writer himself. Imagine a flat-sounding Jim Morrison. We were a 4-piece- two guitars, bass and drums... and our singer doing the front work. Seemingly every place we played, we always heard something to this effect, "You guys are great! But you gotta dump that singer..." Well, waddaya do? It's his music. After about 16 months together, we called a band meeting, and confronted the guy. We asked him if he would consider bringing in another singer (yeah, right!), and he could manage the band... after all, it was his music, he had it all copyrighted... We never saw much of him after that night...
  20. puff father

    puff father

    Jan 20, 2006
    Endicott, NY
    In my area, I've said for years, if the people didn't listen to it all day at work, all the way home on the radio then all the way to the club where you're playing, they don't want to hear it at all. That being said - we have a few originals and have played them if the venue seemed right and they were fairly well recieved. When you're involved in the creation of the song it can be difficult to be objective about the quality of it. It helps to record and hear what it really sounds like. :)

    We do almost all covers, but at least we do whatever covers we like rather than what is popular.

    I live in upstate NY. It's not New York City at all here.

    We mostly have fun.
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