11/8/2009-BAND PRIMER-Picking Songs in a Cover Band-Pt.1

-Before I start, I just wanted to say that-although it seems like there was a 2-3 month gap between articles, there’s no gaps at all. I just messed up on the dates and stuff. So I’ll start putting the BP’s in here when the paper comes out-it’ll be easier to keep track-I hope. πŸ™‚ Without further ado…




-Hi everyone! Last month I talked about playing cover songs within your abilities-or just slightly higher than them to work on your skills. The next issue is often highly debated among musicians. When playing covers, do you pick songs that are part of your influences and that you-as a musician-want to play? Or…do you play what is on good to heavy rotation on the radio? It’s rare that the two meet. I’ve known people to quit the bands they’re in over this issue. How to avoid getting to that point? Read on…

-1st, as I’ve mentioned in past articles, you have to have a clear idea of what your band is about; what style it’s music is, and what it is that you wish to accomplish. It’s akin to writing a business plan. If everyone in the band is clear about all this, picking cover songs becomes less of a chore.

-When performing, does anyone ever say that you sound like another band/musician? If you’ve heard that a number of times, it would be good to grab some songs from that band/musician to cover-you already have a jump on other bands that cover the same material. For example, I’ve been told more times than I can count that when I sing I sound like Paul Stanley-especially on KISS songs. And since my band-CAROLINE BLUE-writes music in a similar style, it’s only natural that we’d pick KISS songs to cover.Don’t pick too many though-or, if you do, plan on rotating them so you might play maybe 2-3 songs from the same artist in any given night. Cover bands are basically viewed like jukeboxes-albeit breathing ones. This is especially true if all you do is play covers-which leads to my next point..

-If you’re a pure cover band that wants to play all night and make money-as well as get return gigs-your best bet is play popular cover songs-specifically ones on the radio. If you go w/ this approach, your goal is to get as many people to your shows as you can and get them on the floor moving-not because you want to see how well people do/butcher dance moves, but because doing that will get a person thirsty-leading them to go to the bar to buy drinks (which if you haven’t noticed, usually have a lot of sodium in them). The more money you can help generate for the bar/club, the happier the owner will be and the more you’ll get paid. Go to any scene and watch the top cover bands there. Are they playing obscure covers? For the most part, no. They’re playing the hits-what is familiar to people. That’s 1 of the reasons why original bands have a harder time building a crowd initially. More on this in another article.

-But what if you have musicians in your band who think all the stuff on the radio is puke-invoking and all the “good” stuff is what’s not played on the radio and/or the old stuff from 10-20 years ago? You’ll have to come back next month to read my thoughts on that πŸ™‚


About Wayne W. Johnson

Hiya-this is Wayne W. Johnson (WWJ) & thanks for dropping by to my site! I hope you enjoy your visit to my home away from home online. If you have any questions, comments and /or concerns about this site, please let me know via the CONTACT page. Thanks & best wishes to you & yours!
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