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Starting a "Top 40" type band. some questions

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by PoundinThunder, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. hey everyone,

    me and my bandmates recently decided to start playing bars and parties. we usually play in a hardcore/death metal band but there is not much money in that. we do it because we love it. but we figured that we want to have fun playing classics and hopefully get paid as well haha. we arent sure what to play really, we were thinking about kiss, acdc, billy idol, billy squire, judas priest, motorhead, skynrd ect but we do need some more modern stuff to appeal to the younger people if we play parties.

    what kind of music do people want to hear in a bar? im 18 so i really dont know haha. we just want to have a good time really.

    my main question is, how long is a usual set for a band playing a bar gig?

    also, is it good to play songs with energy the whole time, or do some slow songs in between or near the end?
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Bargoers want to hear dance music they recognize. If you can't dance to it, they don't want to hear it. A typical bar gig around here is four 45-minute sets, possible with one longer set to get you to closing time. My last band used to make the second set the long one, when the most people are there. Also, you don't have the long set at the end when your ass is draggin'. You can do it with 10 songs a set, but we try to put 12 or 13 in so the people get their money's worth. I like having a songlist of at least 50 songs to draw from, but 100 or more is better.
  3. so if we prepared about 50-60 songs we should be alright? id imagine that the bar wouldnt book us for that long until they hear us a few times. also, any help with my last question?
  4. undeadbass


    Jun 27, 2008
    New York, NY
    The bars usually will book you that long before hearing you - it's the money that grows when they like you and know that a) you have a good draw, and b) the regulars like you.
    Preparing 3 sets of 10 - 12 songs is easier than it seems, once you get some good momentum going. When you have the right people on board, it's surprising how many songs you can blow through that you forgot you knew, or are similar to songs you knew already - like classic 50's tunes - a I vi IV V progression will get you about 700 songs!
    The trick is in refining the songs so they're flawless, and working the crowd (but coming from a hardcore background, you should have plenty of experience with working crowds!)

    Good luck with the project. I've always found it to be a fun way of making a couple extra bucks and a couple free drinks!
  5. yeah, i will be getting free rootbeer haha. and yeah, hardcore crowds hear are insane. i dont think i will be yelling at the bar goers to get the F up and throw the F down tho haha.

    any suggestions on where to place slow songs in the set, if at all?
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
  7. thanks for that haha. a lot of our songs are going to me older hard rock. but we know a lot of nodern stuff in case we play any grad parties. but young people still love the classics. is it acceptable to ask for some money the first time we play a bar?
  8. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    I've done the cover thing for a really long time.

    Doing just heavy metal and hard music only - even if it was popular - won't get you that far.

    The most successful cover bands do a VARIETY of popular music styles and eras. Not just one type of rock. You have to be able to cover some 60s, some metal, some classic rock, some disco, some 80s, and yeah especially CHEESE. The cheesier the songs, the more WOMEN in bars like you. It's a fact of life.

    You want to kill a crowd? Do a Journey song, follow it up with disco medley, then destroy then with 867-5309 Jenny, and then an Abba song, then Brown Eyed Girl, Sweet Home Alabama, and perhaps a Motown tune, then maybe the Beastie Boys, maybe a huge tune from the 90s...etc etc....just an example.

    I've seen bands that try and only cover Priest, Sabbath, kiss, ACDC, Idol, Crue, queensryche, Wolfmother, etc etc....they usually don't get far.

    Diversify your music to make you the most marketable. I'm not saying become a wedding band - but hit all the marks. Don't turn your nose up at music that you personally don't like. That would be my advice.
  9. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Building a set list is an art. You should play at least one or two slow songs a set. I wouldn't play a slow song at the beginning or end of a set. ALWAYS play for money. If you are not good enough to get payed then you shouldn't be playing out. Wait until your ready.
  10. Four hours, with one 60-minute set, three fifteen minute breaks and three forty-five minute sets was the norm in the Upper Midwest when I played there (near the middle of the last millenium); but here in Colorado, the common bar gig is fours with three one-hour sets and two 20-25 minute breaks. ASK THE CLUB OWNER what (s)he wants and then do it. And DON'T stretch your breaks an extra 5 or 10 minutes until the club owner says something. Some never will (they just won't hire you again) and for the ones that do, it may be too late.

    Agreed. One or two slow songs per set is pretty standard and it works best to react to the crowd, rather than use a prearranged songlist. If the crowd is finally starting to really warm up, it might be wiser to give them "Brick House" even though "Red House" is next on the songlist.

    There's no doubt about it. Chick songs are a key. If they're fast songs, the chicks will dance together--which usually inspires some guys to get out there, too. If it's a slow song a girl likes, she'll drag her boyfriend or the guy in the next chair out on the dance floor. Everyone will drink more and have a good time and the club owner will be thrilled with you.

    QORC's last comment is the key. Without meaning to rag on metal bands, many of the ones I've heard seem to be playing for themselves as much as (or more than) for the crowd. Successful bar cover bands HAVE to focus on what the crowd likes, as prior posters have stated. Even when you're playing "Mustang Sally" for the gozillionth time, it's a lot more tolerable when you see a packed dance floor with lots of folks singing along.

    Ride, Sally, ride.

    Bluesy Soul :cool:
  11. we dont really play on playing only metal. we are trying to play things with some parts that the crowd can join and stuff. heres a rough part of a set list i have been putting together. its in no order and is very subject to change.

    Detroit Rock City- kiss
    I Was Made For Loving You- kiss
    I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night- kiss
    Back in Black- AC/DC
    Hells Bells- AC/DC
    White Wedding- Billy Idol
    Walk This Way- Aerosmith
    Living After Midnight- Judas Priest
    Hell Bent For Leather- Judas Priest
    Breakin the Law- Judas Priest
    Welcome to the Jungle- GNR
    sweet Child O Mine- GNR
    867-5309- Tommy Tutone
    Barracuda- Heart
    You Really Got Me- Van Halen
    Life in the Fast Lane- Eagles
    Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendrix
    Sweet Home Alabama- Lynard Skynrd
    Paranoid- Black Sabbath
    I Love Rock and Roll- Joan Jett
    Shot Through the Heart- Bon Jovi
    Smokin in the Boys Room- Motley Crue
    Brown-eyed Girl- Van Morrison
    Monkey Wrench- Foo Fighters
    Play That Funky Music- Wild Cherry
    Higher Ground- RHCP
    Can't Stop- RHCP
    Rock and Roll- Led Zeppelin
    Every Rose Has Its Thorn- Poison
    The Stroke- Billy Squires
  12. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Another suggestion would be to not show up looking like or sounding like a metal band that's playing covers. If you don't have one already, a J or P Bass probably would be a good idea. Be able to get a nice, clean low end tone for the bass and also be able to play with a pick for some tunes. The band may also need to adjust it's overall sound, as well. The guitarist's tone needs to reflect the songs that you will be playing.

    Here's a few TB thread links (not exactly about setlists) that you may want to check out that could help you organize your band for your new venture:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=429034 If I only knew then
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=434246 Best musical advice
  13. Greyvagabond

    Greyvagabond Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2007
    Los Angeles
  14. Joe Murray

    Joe Murray

    May 14, 2008
    Fairfax, VA
    I've been doing the covers gig for about 6 years now. I will share with you the two most important things that I have learned....
    The most important lesson.....To be a succesful cover band, you must have a GREAT singer!!
    NO great singer = poor gigs (bad money).
    Number #2...Play for the women. Play Chick songs. Think Bon Jovi and Def Lep for hard rock. Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, Backstreet Boys and Nsync...don't worry, you can rock them up. I've found that they like that. :hyper:
    Only my 2 cents.
    Good Luck brotha'!!
  15. thanks everyone. i have a jazz so thats good. the only thing is my guitarist both have bc richs yikes! the do have strat knock-offs they might be willing to play. and our singer is honestly probably the best singer around here that i have heard. especially for his age. im not tryin to toot my own horn either haha. we are playin a bon jovi song or two also. but backstreet boys? idk we want to have fun as as well haaha
  16. ...also, think hard, do you want to play top-40 music, if not long term it becomes a burden for everyone...
  17. Joe Murray

    Joe Murray

    May 14, 2008
    Fairfax, VA
    You may be surprised. I thought that at first as well....but we learned it, played it like a rock song and sure enough. Women dancing. Believe me. Ask your girl friends what songs they want to hear. The Judas Priest (as much as I love them) type stuff will only attract drunk dudes. The cheesier (as was suggested) the better. Its easy math....
    Play songs for women....
    women come... (stop giggling :scowl:)
    Guys follow..
    Guys buy lots of drinks..
    Owner is happy..
    Owners pay money...

    You'll find that alot of the songs that you think you may hate, are alot more fun to play when they are for attractive women!!
  18. I guess if you are looking for women, not that there are other ways to achieve that than playing top-40 songs.

    Anyway, just want to reinstate it, kind of sounds cool playing top-40 but if you don't have your heart to it then it becomes a drag.

    Personally I would not do it unless:

    a) I could rearrange the tracks inside out
    b) pick any cover, not the current top-40 or top-40 songs only
    c) be surrounded by a group of musicians that could pull off anything and at the same time have fun.

    And definitely not for picking up girls.
  19. Joe Murray

    Joe Murray

    May 14, 2008
    Fairfax, VA
    My point is that the Money is where the women are. Didn't you see my math equation???? :rollno: :)
  20. Well, I don't think you will earn that much as a bar band, anyway. Unless you get really big locally of course.

    I guess if you are Only In It For the Money, of course....

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