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Why so many cover bands?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bushfire, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. It seems that a lot of the bands you guys are in are mainly cover bands. Not that there's anything wrong with coverbands mind you, just wondering how many of you are in bands that do (near) only originals? I am for one.
  2. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Because people want to hear covers, and playing covers is what pays. A decent cover band will have regular gigs. I can't say how it is in New Zealand, but in my area, if you play all originals, you "pay to play" and often have to share a venue with 3 or 4 other bands. The venue makes money, you make nothing.
  3. ++1.

    That is certainly the case in the UK. ;) ;)
  4. cossie


    Apr 29, 2005
    covers for the money!

    but also you get a lot of experience in a covers band from playing live, and dealing with crowds etc which helps a lot.

    i'm also in an originals band too, with the guys from the covers band.
  5. MazeMouse


    Jan 27, 2005
    I'm in a new "coverband" now. At least, we're playing cover to 'get started'. We have a 7 song setlist (for short gigs) and all extra songs will have to be originals. But we didn't want to jump into it without having something readily available to play :)

    So eventually the goal is to be an all-original band (with the occasional cover for fun)
  6. Rat


    Mar 15, 2005
    Boston Sewers
    you can Do both with the same band!! We played as a Cover band under a different name to support our Original Gig.... :hyper:

    we did 8-12 cover gigs / 1-2 Original Gigs a month
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It's all in your perspective. If making money is one of your goals, you go to where the paying gigs are.

    Cover rock/top 40 bands have access to a wide range of gigs that original rock bands are shut out of: weddings, private parties, corporate fucntions, boat cruises, etc. Those gigs may seem onerous to you, but they pay well. Best money I ever got for a gig was doing a wedding where each player pocketed $600. Now imagine getting two gigs like that every weekend, you could be pulling down $60K a year working only two days a week.

    I can think of worse things to be doing than playing some songs you like with good players and then getting paid well to boot :D

    As I always like to mention, if you look beyond rock music there is no stigma attached to doing covers anyway.
  8. In my late teens I did the original thing and felt like a hamster on a wheel. Although it was very rewarding to us in the band musically we never really got anywhere. They were probably the best musicians I've ever played with. Many times, we paid to play, played for free or food.. you name it.

    A bit older now and back in the "scene" after a 9 year layoff and college, I only want to have a little fun on weekends and make some money. I don't think it's selling out or anything, just what I want to do right now. Original acts require much work and effort. If you have the time and energy, more power to you - perhaps you'll be rewarded!

    Good luck all.

  9. I am in both. I play in a tribute band that has three different shows organized. I also play with a group of guys that are the core rhythm section of that band (drums and guitar) in an original band.
  10. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    What cheezewiz said. Establishment patrons like to hear what is familiar to them and establishment owners hire bands to keep their patrons happy.

    No offense, but just about all of "original" bands I have heard present songs that don't appeal to anyone other than themselves.

    Unless you have really good material, you don't get booked.
  11. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    I can't do the coverband thing. I just like being able to create my own music and have fun that way. Now I'm not saying I don't learn other bands songs but I would much rather play my own stuff.
  12. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'll echo what others have said. Cover bands make money. You also have to cover the right stuff. I live in a small town so it's even worse.

    For example, I played covers (the usual stuff) with a few guys and made $80 for the night. I played a smoth jazz gig and (Yellowjackets, Spyro, etc.) and made $80 for 2 nights.

    Around here they want covers that they know with people sininging. That "jazz" stuff is background music. We don't want to have to watch you perform it on stage.

    Very frustrating.
  13. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    some people play covers to make money.

    i hate how nj has sooo many cover bands playing the same 90's crapola.

    honestly, i think that all these bands who play all covers, just cant write good music so they have to play other peoples.
  14. CQBASS


    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    I'll preface this by saying that I agree with what everyone here has said on the topic. Coverbands make money and it sure as hell beats gettting a day job. Now that's out of the way; The fact that cover bands make the money and it's almost impossible to make a good living playing original music is very sad and indicative of the general lameness of our society. People don't want to be challenged, people don't want to have to think, people don't like originality or change. People like to feel like they are part of something cool without having to do any of the work. that's why cover bands do so well. Everyone's heard Mustang Sally or Celebration or KISS songs or whatever a miilion times before so they can be around it without having to pay attention and they still feel like they've seen some music. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking people who play in coverbands. I've done it myself....alot. It pays the bills. What I am knocking is the general audience who wants this stuff. Where I live there's a TON of great, original musicians, and they're all waiters and bartenders and coffee jockeys because nobody goes to their shows. Yet you can't even get in the club on "80's night". It's very, very sad. All one has to do is look to Hollywood to see the same trend. What movies are out? Bewitched? I Dream of Jeanie? Starsky and Hutch? The Bad News Bears? The Longest Yard? The Dukes of Hazzard? For some reason, "media executives" have decided that original thinking is no longer in vogue. Or maybe they think the public can't digest anything new, and maybe they're right, I don't know. But forget "nascar nation" we're living in "coverband nation" and it sucks. This may sound dark, but I'm really an optimist. I still hold on to the notion that if we provide people with new, thought provoking things to digest they will come around. I hope, I hope. Now I reiterate, this is not a dis on people who play in these bands, I do it too. It pays the bills and requires legit musicianship to do it well. It's just my general rant on the way I see things as being a sad state of affairs with our industry , our art and our livelihood. :(
  15. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    You're kidding, right? :)

    Consider it also depends on the genre you are doing. I am in a rock trio(cover) and a Celtic Quintet(cover). In BOTH bands, we have the audience come up to us and either ask if we do originals or they simply ask to play one(they assume we do).

    In the Celtic band, we could easily do a 1/3rd of originals and the crowd would be none the wiser. I realized that most of the Celtic crowds we draw are more into the dancing and drinking aspect(good for bar owners). The rock aspect is similar but WAY less people groove to something they don't know.

    And of course, the crowd comes first. If they want Brown-Eyed Girl then so be it. I also had a guy come up to me and say something like this: "We know you are good at your instruments but play something we know and can dance to."

    For those reluctant to be in the cover scene think of the benefits:
    1. You learn other styles and techniques
    2. You learn how to emulate vocal styles(if you sing)

    The Stones and The Beatles were nothing more than cover acts when they started. Do you truly believe they were just born knowing how to write good material?

    My .02 worth,

  16. phaneo


    Mar 14, 2001
    Fort Worth TX
    I agree, I've played in many original bands and had tons of fun, but never made any money. Now that I'm older and married it's harder to justify playing for free. So some friends and I from other local bands put together a cover band. We pick tons of songs we thought were cool and go with it. We've had amazing response, and are all making good money. I also liked the point about learning other styles of music. I've learned quite a bit of reggae, and funk that i might not have ever tried being in all rock bands. We write originals faster and better than ever now. When you force yourself to learn 50+ songs, you in turn become a better player. It's been great all around for me and the guys in the band. We can't complain!!

    An old man from a country band told me this once.....
    "People don't know what they like....They like what they know"

    Seems to hold pretty true.
  17. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000

    The same could be said the other way around. Many bands write original music because they don't have the chops to play other people's music (Bono of U2 said that is exactly the reason they started writing their own music). Many of the local bands around here that play exclusivley originals suck. Their originals have no musicianship or songcraft. Many of the cover bands that have ventured into originals have killer material. They've challenged themselves to play other's music, which in turn built up their chops, and that is reflected in their original music.

    Again, there's nothing wrong with wanting to play original music. As I said in another thread about a week ago, the problem is many guys go about it ass-backwards. They go write a bunch of original songs, book some shows, then complain when 10 people show up. For the most part, covers will draw people (even moreso if you're an excellent band). After you build a following/fanbase is when you should start introducing the original music. Of course, someone with "integrity" would say that's "selling out". I say that those who make it in the music industry have the business sense of an MBA graduate. If you don't think about the "business" aspect of music, you're going to hit a ceiling before you're barely out of the rehearsal room.
  18. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Damn, didn't read that. :D

    You illustrated my main point to a T.
  19. I have to agree with you on that one... :rolleyes:
  20. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    seems like the typical answers have been covered here. Cover bands get gigs, and more importantly, get paying gigs. I play in two bands that do the cover thing. One of em does no originals. The other does an original or two per set, with generally very good crowd response. We are adding more originals as they pop up. I also play in another band that plays almost all originals, with probably the best musicians of the 3 bands. It's fun, but worthwhile gigs are hard to come by.

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