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Set lists written in stone - Help!

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Alik, May 24, 2018.

  1. You're joining a new band. They do what they like to do. If you like that, then it may be a good match. If not, I think best to move on. Joining a band with questions like yours doesn't look like a recipe for success. By all means, talk to them about what YOU would like to be doing, maybe they're receptive and it's great... but you can't expect to join a band and change them into what you'd like them to be.
    Alik likes this.
  2. As some others have mentioned the first and most important question that should be asked when selecting songs is "Can we sing it". If the answer is no, then there is no point in continuing to discuss it. The vocals are the most important part. I only bring up songs to add for my band after I have practiced it on my own and know I can sing it.
    The only other questions worth asking are 1) Does it fit are instrumentation and style? 2) Would people want to hear it?
    Also, I have been in several classic rock bands with older players and I have noticed that many of them just don't want to take the time to learn new material. At some point in their lives they seem to have decided that they have learned enough songs, and will only play the songs they already know. Any song brought up outside of the ones they already know are immediately shot down with little or no justification.
    Alik likes this.
  3. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Typically you have to prove your worth first. Then they may or may not be open to your suggestions.
  4. FunkBear


    Jan 2, 2009
    In my cover band every time we acquire a new member they get to choose a few songs to add to the set list. It has to clear with everyone to make sure we aren't deviating too much from what we want to do (ex: we turned down a Beach Boys tune because it doesnt really fit with our hard rock repertoire) but 99% of songs we accept when pitched, and it adds diversity to our set. I'm more interested in keeping my band members happy than I am forcing my song choices on them.

    I kind of expect to have a voice in a band when I join. In my college days, when I had first picked up bass, I joined a group of guys in their 50's that were just interested in playing at home on the weekends. The oddest thing when playing with people a few generations ahead of you is that they tend to think they need to teach you what music is by telling you to listen and play every album they love. Then, when suggesting music for them to listen to or for you to play as a group, they tend to brush it off because they're just not interested in it. I really lost interest with that group due to not having any influence in what we were playing.

    Post-college I joined a cover band; again, everyone was in their 40's and I was about 24 or so. They let me pick some songs for the list and we even practiced them. But on gig night the singer would skip over all of my songs on the set list and move directly to the next songs, always with an excuse like "we're going to lose the crowd if we play Dani California or Monkey Wrench, so Desert Moon is a better choice right now." It sucks to be in a band and have no voice, unless you are working as a sub or something and just want to play something to make money.
    Alik likes this.
  5. Nice to see you on TB! I saw Santana here in Ottawa in March.
  6. Very true. And I think this is also why so many cover bands play the same tired, overplayed songs. It’s not just because “it’s what the audience wants to hear”, it’s laziness.
    Alik likes this.
  7. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Having a voice is earned. When you join an existing band, you should first get used to what they do and develop a feel for what makes it tick and its strengths and weaknesses before you start demanding that you have a voice. I would never waltz into a band and expect to be treated as an equal in every way from the getgo, especially if they're successful at making money and keeping a crowd. Plus not everyone has a feel for what works. Took me a little while to learn that lesson. Know what having that attitude got me? Replaced.
    pwhalen, BassGH and theretheyare like this.
  8. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    would i do it, no. but, it really depends on their set. are they just lazy and wont learn anything new, or dont care and just want to play what they like? or have they got a great set that audiences like and is making them some money?
  9. bluesfordan


    Sep 3, 2009
    I thought the OP was going to be about a band whose set list is so rigid that you can set a watch by what song is playing. we have (or had) a very good local band, some of whom were guys from my neighborhood, that enjoyed a solid following for many years. Very talented bunch of guys. And their set list NEVER changed. At one point I hadn't seen them in well over a year. Next time I saw them, exact same songs same order.

    that said, i'd give anything to hear them play again before one of them dies. I see live music maybe 2 or 3 times a year. I used to see it 5 or 6 times a week. I miss it so much.
  10. trofud


    Mar 28, 2018
    Montreal, Canada
    It's a bit early to panic about the set list, don't ya think? Why don't you meet them first, start by knowing them a bit more and talk about what they want by talking face to face. They did not drag you in, you replied the ad.

    Emails and texts are helpful tools, but they are cold and say nothing about personalities.
    Alik likes this.
  11. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    It probably isn't that the band doesn't want to learn something they don't know (ie; lazy), rather, they don't want to add songs that are outside their main focus. "I know I joined a classic country band, but I'd like to add this reggae song to the setlist" ... probably won't get a nod from the BL. "I know I joined a classic country band, and I'd like to add this old Mac Wiseman song to the setlist" ... probably get an entirely different response.
  12. If you can play, sing and drive your song(s) then you have a better chance of the band picking it/them up. If you're trying to get another band member to sing it, much less likely to happen.
    Alik likes this.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    who's band is it?
    - theirs = do what they need from you until things change.
    - ours = suggest ideas to make things 'better' --- until things change.
    - mine = do what you want, especially if you can get some other folks to come along --- until things change.

    good luck with your meet and greet! :thumbsup:
    Sixgunn likes this.
  14. esoxhntr

    esoxhntr Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2007
    Markham, Ontario
    "Naive" would be a good word for that blank...

    Does this band gig? If so, they likely have a formula that gets folks up on a dance floor and keeps them there. That means repeat bookings and money. If you want to play in a band that plays your favourite songs, join that. Whether or not you think it right, the fact of the matter is that regularly gigging bands (that don't play for the door, or have to sell tickets) are most likely playing tunes that people will dance to. That is not Rush.

    More to the point, why join a band that doesn't interest you? Join - or form - a group where the set list is more to your liking. this group you are talking about has an established "thing". You probably think that you are well within your rights to request changes to their set list, but if you are not even a member of the group yet, this is a terrific way to make sure that you never will be.

    I imagine that this post will come off as negative, but it's not meant to be. I'm puzzled... why join a band where the first thing you want to do is change things? It's not a good way to start, not for you, not for them. If I felt that way about a group before I ever walked in the room, I would not be going to a meet and greet.

    On a different topic - I think it is wrong to assume that folks don't want to learn new material because they are lazy. there are tons of variables that affect a set list, lazy is only one of them. Vocal range, instrumentation, venue, preferred genre, and booking gigs usually have far more to do with why folks play what they play.
    EdO., JRA and Sixgunn like this.
  15. Sixgunn


    Jun 6, 2012
    Colorado Springs
    I don't wait 30 minutes after eating, to go swimming.
    Maybe familiarize yourself with the term "band leader". You don't go to work at McDonalds and tell them they need to serve tacos.
  16. theretheyare


    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification
    Assuming this is a gigging/working operation, if I were in that situation my focus starting out would be to establish if i work well (for them and for myself) with their current setlist. Because even if i earn the right to splice in a few personal faves down the line, that will do nothing to paper over cracks in the foundation if my proclivities dont jive with theirs.
    JRA likes this.
  17. Sixgunn


    Jun 6, 2012
    Colorado Springs
    I don't wait 30 minutes after eating, to go swimming.
    I change the station when Working Man comes on. First album Rush? No thank you.
  18. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Walk away. It's their gig.
  19. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Um, you're applying for a job. You have to be a sideman before they'll make you a partner.
    BassGH likes this.
  20. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    "Thank you for the opportunity to interview at your Italian restaurant. I assume your menu is not set in stone? Because I'm thinking we should get rid of the wood-fired pizza oven, then we'd have plenty of room to put in a sushi bar."
    redwingxix, Mr_Moo, Sixgunn and 3 others like this.

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