1/19/2010-BAND PRIMER-Playing popular songs vs. less popular / obscure songs




-Hiya-hope everyone had a great Christmas! Last month I talked about how some musicians don’t have a problem playing popular covers-as long as they’re at least 10-15+ years old. Now comes the next part-musicians who are in cover bands, but who can’t stomach playing popular cover songs. You hear things like “selling out”, “integrity” & more in these discussions. Some are such that anything deemed popular makes them want to puke. So what happens if you’re in a cover band & you have this situation?

-First, you have to go back to what the band is all about & what are it’s goals. Cover bands are formed for a number of reasons-to make money (usually the most popular), to have fun, to help you get laid, to have an excuse to party, to live out your Guitar Hero/Rock Band aspirations, etc. All are valid. If a cover band is formed for reasons besides making money, it usually doesn’t matter what is being played per say. Those bands are into having fun & if there’s money involved-that’s a bonus. They don’t mind not playing out much in clubs because they’re jammin in their practice rooms, garages, etc.

-However, if one of the primary goals is to make money, then you have to start thinking about business. While it’s great if a bar/club owner likes you &/or your music, the bottom line is-are you helping them make money via ticket and/or drink sales? If so-great. If not-you won’t be playing that place for long. In general, Joe Public (JP) likes to hear songs that they are familiar with. Remember the jukebox analogy from last month? JP usually just wants to unwind from the work week & party. JP usually is not in a mood to be exposed to new stuff-especially in large doses. Yes, there are exceptions to all of this but, in general, you’re a jukebox. Popular means appealing to a large number of people. Play covers that are popular and chances increase that you’ll play to more people. If you play covers that are hardly well known except to a few, you might as well play originals IMHO.

-Of course, there are other factors involved. We’ve all seen bands that play a very hot cover, but don’t have the ability to pull it off. Sometimes that’s OK-per say-because people are basically replaying it in their heads so as long as you don’t make any major mistakes, it’s usually OK (not to the musicians in the crowd though-they’ll pick up on every mistake-usually). And what about songs that every cover band is playing? Like anything else, over exposure can lead to lessening the impact. In this case, what usually happens is the top cover bands still get great reactions from the hot covers, while the lesser known/popular bands get a lesser response. One way to help overcome that is to play in new areas..

-Also, you’ll have people who just don’t like songs by popular artists. And that’s fine. Bottom line-there’s basically 2 ways to deal with this. #1-compromise. The ‘if we play this song we play this song” deal. This also helps everyone feel more involved. And #2-change members. You have to get along-constant bickering will increase tensions & problems which, unchecked, will lead to breakups.

Next month-I’ll start into original bands. Happy 2010 to you all!


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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