Starting a cover/tribute band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by MrMcHaggis, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. MrMcHaggis

    MrMcHaggis Guest

    Apr 29, 2011
    Miami (IMAIM), Florida
    Hey guys!

    I'm looking for a bit of advice from the more seasoned TBers on cover/tribute bands. Let me give you a little background info:

    I currently play in an original hard rock/metal band and over-all Im pretty happy with it. Since joinong, Ive improved quite a bit as a musician/performer, developed a little local following and met quite a few contacts in the local scene.

    I'm also a marketing major with a strange addiction to testing new marketing schemes (lets call it research :p)

    Lately I've been intrigued by the idea of starting a Rage Against The Machine cover/tribute band. Mostly for fun, a little something to break out of routine. Ideally, I may also be able to bring attention back to my originals band (IMAIM), and make a buck or two on the side. All this on top of the fact that I think it'll go over well in my area (South Florida, mostly Miami/Ft. Lauderdale)

    My questions, however, are:

    1. What's the real difference between a cover band and a tribute band? To my understanding a tribute band plays note-for-note and tries to emulate the authentic experience (sometimes with a twist) as much as possible. Or are they kind of synonims? (pardon my spelling, by the way)

    2. How easy/difficult is it to find paid gigs in a cover/tribute band (in comparison to an originals band) ?

    3. In your cover/tribute band, do you try to play note-for-note or do you sprinkle your own style songs? And how well does it go over for you?

    4. Can you truly expect a cover/tribute band to truly rise above being something bigger than a bar/club band? Or is that essentially the niche it serves?

    All feedback, advice and constructive criticism GREATLY appreciated! :)

  2. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33 Guest

    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    If you're doing a true tribute band, emulating the look, sound, stage performance, and signature gear, and you're good, you can make a ton of money provided you're not paying tribute to someone obscure. I wouldn't expect to do very well with a Captain Beefheart tribute. I have a friend who fronts a Van Halen tribute, and they pull in about $5000 a gig. But they go the whole 9. Good wigs, costumes, and they're VERY good.

    If you just wander in wearing whatever you had on that day and play mediocre renditions of the songs you'll never get past the bar band stage.
  3. Jarrett


    Jan 19, 2004
    Ditto to what he said. Plus you have to gauge the area you are going to be working in. I know how tribute bands work in my area, but I don't know how they work in South Florida, mostly Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. That's where you need to do your research.
  4. MrMcHaggis

    MrMcHaggis Guest

    Apr 29, 2011
    Miami (IMAIM), Florida
    I had a feeling, and that seems perfectly logical.

    Granted, I wouldn't plan on doing mediocre renditions, but quality renditions with long rehearsal hours put into them.

    I'm also not too crazy about the "going on stage looking like everyone else bit", in my originals band I go on stage wearing a kilt/skirt-like thing ridden with chains and the like, a pair of New Rock boots with buckles left open that put me at over 6 feet tall, and my relatively large frame/piercings complete it combined with an energetic performance. I really can't stand the kids who not only go up there with some sneakers, jeans and a tshirt and are up there looking as bored as can be.

    I very much appreciate your advice though, certainly the bigger the name and the more authentic the tribute the further the band would probably go, I imagine.
  5. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    If its a tribute, expect to play the songs exactly as the original artist plays it, no sprinkling of your own flavor. The closer you can sound and look to the original, the better. For RATM, the look might not be as important I dont know. And as the others have said, it all depends on your location. Around my way, the only tribute acts that work are Led Zep, the Beatles, or some other iconic and insanely popular band.
  6. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33 Guest

    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    The toughest part of putting together any tribute act is finding the right vocalist. Human voices are pretty unique. For example, I'd imagine that a Soundgarden tribute would do very well, but good luck finding someone who can sound like Chris Cornell AND looks similar.

    I saw a Tool tribute last year, and they didn't do any of the theatrical stuff. And they were pretty good, but IMO not good enough to stand there in shorts and a t-shirt. If they had done more visually it would have distracted from the fact that they were really only about 95% on most of the material, or if they had really played each song PERFECTLY it would have made up for the lack of effort on the "show" side. As it was I got the impression of laziness, or maybe just lack of commitment.