What Counts More - The Content or The Effort?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by CJ_Marsicano, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. Playing obligatory "standards" whether you and your band like them or not

  2. Playing material that your band believes in and can get behind 1000%

  1. I was giving thought yet again to getting a new group together or finding the right band to work with, and my girlfriend got into a discussion with me this evening, knowing what I've felt about the local scene and some of the very lame, soundalike bar bands in the area (those of you that remember my earlier posts will recall my issues in that aspect).

    Anyway, we were here having dinner and I had beel flipping channels on Sirius when, after a Metallica song on the "BuzzSaw" channel, a Lynyrd Skynyrd song ( :spit: ) came on. I immediately changed the channel before my dinner got ruined. My g/f couildn't understand what my problem was with that particular band. I told her that one main reason was that I never liked them (duh) and the other was that too many bands find themselves forced to do a couple of their songs. She was like, "Well shouldn't you do a couple of songs of theirs anywa?" I said, their songs wouldn't fit in a set list of the kind of material I was thinking of (very alternative-leaning [non-emo]), but more importantly, I think that the audience deserves a whole set where the band is playing their hearts out behind songs they appreciate playing, without halfassing their way through supposedly "obligatory" material.
  2. If you want to make money, you'll probably need to be flexible and play songs you don't like as well as songs you like. I'm not speaking from experience, but it seems quite probable to me.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I think there's enough songs out there to get together a repetoir of all kinds of stuff, that everyone likes playing. i also think it becomes apparent when a band hates the stuff they're doing.

    it's also important I think to know what your motives are. if you're playing to make money (which most cover bands are) then i think you oughta practice being happy playing what people want to hear. that's your job. not making yourself happy, making the people in the bar happy.
  4. CJ,
    as the other two posts have alluded to you need to think carefully about your desired outcome. If you are doing a 100% covers band then your audience picks the songs in my opinion. If you don't play their favourite Lynyrd/ Bon Jovi /Metallica /Maiden /Whoever song they won't come to see you again. No audience...No gigs!

    I play in bands that do mostly original songs, even then the covers we do are crowd pleasers, that's the point of them. To tap into the feelings these tunes bring out in the audience and associate our material with those good feelings.

    One final point. If you play live you are a performer, and by getting on stage you have made a contract with the people that have paid to be there. Look like your enjoying yourself playing the songs they want to hear and they will cheer, clap, shout and be happy. I always enjoy a gig where the audience have fun. That's what playing live is about! At least in my opinion.


  5. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    East Coast
    it may be diffeent in some cities, but in northern virginia, it's CONTENT.

    I see many very TALENTED bands who are into somewhat more obscure music or originals and who have a great stage presence...bands with better musicians than MY band....

    and who get no reaction from the crowds in the bars and are, consequently, not really getting anywhere.

    You gotta play stuff people know if you want good bookings around here.
  6. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    In other words, you have to learn to like what you don't like.
  7. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    East Coast

    you learn to enjoy really NAILING a popular song and watching people get excited.

    and you learn to enjoy working at better clubs for more money.

    you CAN do whatever music you want around here, but you probably will not be playing at great venues in front of a lot of people.

    It's more of a choice, than a must.

    I got in this to have fun and make a little coin. I can't have fun if the people aren't digging us. So yeah, while we do some "surprise" stuff and stuff we all like, all of them are known at least to some degree, and yeah, we have to play the usual stuff too:

    Mustang Sally
    hard to handle
    brown-eyed girl
  8. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I had to quit a band over their playing "Crazy" by Patsy Cline. Yes, I know this is the number one requested song of all time, but it really makes me physically ill to play it,let alone hear it... The band in question played it five (5) times one night, twice in one set! That was a little much. I warned them, told them that maybe they should consider playing that one song only one time per nite, but they did it five times. I can only handle so much abuse, people! I asked if maybe they could narrow their set list down to one tune- Patsy Cline's "Crazy"...and find another bass payer that only knows that one song. I'm sure he's out there somewhere... :D
  9. In the last band I was in (nine years ago, for the record, and I wasn't in charge of the band or things would have been way different), we had made a vow not to play any songs we couldn't get behind, because we knew that there was better material out there. With that in mind, we also vowed to keep adding to our set list, rather than just play the same 40 songs over and over.

    Guess what happened? Our lead singer, who loathed Skynyrd as much as I did (in fact, most of us disliked or were way sick of them) kept getting pressured by the one or three rednecks that would find our way into the shows into putting a Skynyrd song (or better yet, a whole set of them, given their tone) into the set. Six months into our existence, he caved in and brought up doing a Skynyrd song at the next practice. I've posted the whole sordid story months ago but a continuing war of all wars pretty much started when he brought that up.

  10. I'm not very good at lying. :scowl:
  11. OMG, five times?!? That's overkill for any song. :p

  12. I just quit a band in the No VA area because the list kept getting lamer and lamer...Stacie's Mom, 1985, puuleeaase. It became to much of a burden to get these guys to play some harder edge stuff that I HAD to I move on.

    The funny thing is is that crowd response, although barely acceptable at times, could've been so much more if the other members would've just gone a little harder edged.
  13. xonebass


    Feb 17, 2005
    Orange, CA
    Well it sounds like to me that you have to define your objectives to really determine how many (if any) covers you want to play and if there is anything you won't play.

    If you are in it for the money, for an easy time in gettin the audience to show up and can stand it, you do the cover band thing or the partial cover band thing.

    The path of hard work and frustration is that of the band that plays strictly original material (or a few obscure covers only). You will need to have very good material (with easy to understand lyrics), you will need to be a marketing god (since you need to get butt's in seats), and you will need to have a great deal of patience.

    That being said, personally, I don't do any gig for the audience. I play for myself first. I am just as comfortable playing for 3 people who are really into it as I am when there is a huge crowd that's into it. To make matters worse, I play a style of music that is inherently unpopular (progressive metal) except with a few people.

    If I've worked my tail off and I know my material rules, then I don't worry about it. That being said, I'm not trying to make anytype of income (even supplemental) off my gigs. So it's all about priorities. I give mad props to the guys on stage who can pull off Free Bird 7 times a night. But that just ain't me. You're mileage may vary...
  14. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    They're both options for a cover band - the former is probably a safer course (better?) if you're aiming for a paycheck and the latter if you're just making music for your own enjoyment and having a big crowd / lots of gigs doesn't matter so much.

    Personally, I prefer the second (including taking liberties with the covers rather than getting too hung up on accuracy) but that doesn't necessarily make it a "better" approach, just the path I'll choose to take.

  15. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    we've got along fine by going out under the description 'classic punk and new wave'... our point of view is that we're there to please the audience, so we'll give them all the Sex Pistols & Clash stuff etc that they want, but it's unreasonable to expect us to play 'Smoke On The Water' or Stairway

    but within the range of the 'punk & new wave' remit, we will try and play the big crowd-pleasing hits of that era tho... I think it'd be unreasonable of us to give people B-sides and rarities considering we're there to entertain them and make sure they stick around to drink plenty beer
  16. One of my first guitar tutor books in the mid '70s referred to a 60/40 band being the norm. 60 percent covers and 40 percent new material.

    Does it help to specify how much of your material you plan to show the audience each night?
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    This should really be a non issue.

    If you are in a cover band you are playing other people's music, not yours...so get over it already. I'm also an artist. I paint what moves me, but I also create paintings that sell. It's not hard to do both at the same time. How well do you think it would go over if I painted copies of other artist's paintings? Think about that. Then get off your idealistic high horse.

    What on earth makes anyone think that they are somehow expressing themselves when playing covers? At best you are just repeating what someone else has already said, but with your own interpretation.

    There are so-o-o-o-o many songs out there that any musician in a cover band could find appealing, interesting and fun to play that also makes crowds happy to hear, dance to, and come back and see you perform them again.

    I played in a cover band that played what we called "bottom 40". We played the great songs we loved off the albums of the groups that had Top 40 hits. Take Aerosmith. Everyone wanted to hear "Walk this Way" or "Sweet Emotion". We played "Big Ten Inch" and "Toys in the Attic", just as an example.

    A musician that can't find covers to play that make both the musician and the crowd happy, aren't looking very hard for them.
  18. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    + 1
    well said ...
  19. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Maybe if you're taking the "tribute band", note for note approach. However, somewhere along the way, I think you can make a song your own - improvising and laying out your soul over the changes rather than just churning out somebody else's tune.

    To go back to the painting metaphor, plenty of people have painted a bowl of fruit but it's possible to approach colour, texture and form so that it reflects something about how I see the bowl and the fruit rather than just copying how someone else saw it.

  20. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I wouldnt join any band that wanted me to play any form of Skynard.

    I dont like them and the clubs here that play that type of music cater to the scumbags. I just dont wanna be a part of that scene.

    I'm sure if you look hard enough you'll be able to find a boat load of songs that you and your band can play without compromising your integrity.

    To me the song list is about quality of the content. Your content is going to vary depending on the types of establishments you wanna play.

    Unfortunately when in a cover band, you often have to play a few tunes that you despise.

    But I'm sure you already knew all this.