Band Primer 2010

The following are articles written for the column ‘Band Primer’ for FOURTH COAST ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE.

-Feel free to leave your questions / comments-thanks!


    DECEMBER 2010-“THE MY SPACE BLUES”

-Last month I discussed My Space and why it’s still a good idea for a band to have a page on it. To recap: it’s a quick / easy / free way to set up your band presence on the web via pics, audio, video & blogging. My Space music has connections to the major labels-which may or may not be good for you. There’s millions of people on it that you can potentially expose your music to-plus many promoters, agents & managers still use a band’s My Space stats when deciding to use them.

-So, what’s the flip side? Many bands use their My Space page not only as their main site, but their ONLY site. That’s a mistake IMHO. Remember me just saying there are millions on My Space? There are-but that number is dwindling at a major rate-in large part because people have migrated over to Facebook. Yes, you can still do a lot of promoting on My Space-but at times it seems like you’re just promoting to other bands and/or spammers-both who basically don’t care what you do. It doesn’t help that My Space has a bad rap in regards to users getting hit w/ virus’ either. Many sites can now do what My Space does-and better. My Space’s music player can hold up to 10 songs (unless you’re signed to a major label-in which case it’s unlimited). Reverbnation’s player has no limits-whether your signed or not. With pics-one can use Flickr or Photobucket-with less worry of possible virus’. Blogging-Word Press anyone? Same with You Tube for Video. While Facebook isn’t as “band friendly” as My Space-a lot of people like it that way. For ex., how many times on My Space have you looked at your bulletins to see some band sending out a bulletin for their event-not just once, but 10+ times in 1 hour (!). Now multiply that by the 20 other bands on your friends list. Plus the other 20+ bands requesting that you add them, ad nausium… My Space is also slower-especially when you get to a page where someone puts codes / graphics / videos all over and, even w/ broadband, it takes awhile for the page to load up-let alone run.The comment system on Facebook is similar to a blog / message board-whereas with My Space’s it’s linear. I have seen many comments from people saying Facebook is easier & quicker to use than My Space-which is one of the main reasons people left. As for My Space stats-well, let’s just say 50,000 friends on your page doesn’t equal 50,000 hardcore fans-or even 50,000 casual fans. It just means 50,000 pages (not necessarily people) clicked “accept”. Take your friend count and multiply it by 1-3%. That’s more accurate.

-Of Course, My Space wasn’t just going to sit around and watch all their people migrate to Facebook right?….Umm, let me rephrase that…. After finally realizing something had to be done to fix things, My Space “reinvented itself”-just a few weeks ago in fact (after I’d already written last month’s article). Tune in next month for my thoughts on this. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

    NOVEMBER 2010-DID SOMEONE SAY…MY SPACE?

-When you’re in a band, you need to have a online presence. A place where you can define who you are & what your music is all about. A place where people can listen to your music and make comments about it. A place where you can put up pics & list your show dates and have a blog where you can discuss all things that are your band. A place where you can “add friends” and “grow” your fan base. Where is this place you ask? Well, it SHOULD be your own website but for many bands, it was-and still is-having a page on My Space.

-My Space you say? Remember them? It’s kinda funny, but when I mention to people about My Space, I mostly get a look that reads “who the hell goes there anymore?” A few years ago, My Space was sitting high up on top of the social network ladder. It seemed like everyone was on it. How things have changed. It seems that on a daily basis people are abandoning My Space for Facebook and / or Twitter-not to mention other sites. There are still reasons for a band to have a My Space page though-as well as some reasons not to.

-Some of the reasons why it’s still good for a band to have a My Space page are the following. My Space is now known as a place to find bands & their music. If you Google a band, chance are it’s My Space page will be at and/or near the top of the search. My Space also has strong networking with major labels-which may or may not be to your liking depending on how your band is set up. And while many people have abandoned it, there are still millions of people on there-especially overseas. I did a promo campaign recently where I targeted people in Japan for a little while and noticed an increase in my royalty statements from ASCAP. Not a huge increase mind you-very little actually-but it was still an increase. In addition, bands & bars still use it to set up shows. Many agents, promoters, bars & A&R people still use a band’s My Space page friend count as a start to indicate how a band would draw. Of course, it’s still free to create a My Space page and if you need a cheap / fast way to get your band on the web, a My Space page will do it. It seems like every band on the planet has a page on My Space. You can still put up pics (remember years ago when you could only put up to 12 pics on your page-till the movie 300 came out?), list your show dates, send show invites and start a blog on your My Space page.

-Sounds good huh? So why are people-and bands-abandoning it? My thoughts on this-and more-in next month’s article. Keep rockin!

    OCTOBER 2010-BAND NAMES

-When you’re starting out, one of the 1st things you want to do is come up w/ a name for your band. Sounds pretty basic right? You would think so. Come up w/ a name so people can identify your band so when you do promo, people know where to go in regards to your band. Here’s a few things to keep in mind.

-1st & foremost, when you pick a name, you have to make sure no one else is using it. Again, you would think this is basic, but you wouldn’t believe how many bands I’ve seen w/ the same name. We’re not just talking something like bands in different countries or states. I mean, bands even in the same region of the same state. There are so many bands out nowadays that it’s really hard not to pick a name that isn’t already taken. Fortunately you have the internet. Do your research. Check to see if there’s another band using the name you’ve picked. If there is, check to see if that band is still active-and what they’ve done. If it was some local bar band that hasn’t been out long, released no product, and has broken up-you may be in luck. You still have to do your due diligence though. The last thing you want to happen is to see your band taking off, having a good sized fan base, and reaching higher & higher…only to get hit with a ceist & desist order from a band who has the same name yet was around before you and/or has the name trademarked. It happens a lot-even for signed bands.

-You might think you can get away with the same name but a different spelling. Not really. The main question will be is there confusion with the public when the 2 bands in question are brought up? If there is-there’s a problem.I know of 2 bands-one in CNY and the other in NNY-who have the exact sounding name-yet spelled differently. Does that matter? Yes. Although printed promo with look different, audio promo will have the names sounding exactly alike. If, for ex., the NNY band came into CNY to do a show, there would be confusion-because everyone in CNY will think it’s the CNY band playing. This can even cause legal issues-which are not only stressful but costly.

-When you’re starting out & picking names, don’t get too attached to a name until you’ve done your research. Even if you find a name that no one has, you’re not off the hook. The best thing would be to trademark it-but that can be costly. Most starter bands don’t have the money to do this. What I would suggest is to get that name associated w/ your band as much, and as fast, as possible.Release product w/ your band name & logo and get it out as far as you can. Save & document everything that has the band name / logo on it. You still need to check the internet from time to time to make sure that someone hasn’t picked up the name. You don’t need someone causing confusion w/ your fan base. Contact a music/entertainment lawyer for more info on this.

    SEPTEMBER 2010-Tips on Promoting Online-Part 2

-Last month I shot out a few tips on band promoting online. As I said in that article, some of these are pretty basic &,you’d think, would be common knowledge. However, I see bands time after time doing stuff that just makes people want to hit their delete buttons. Yes, I’ve made some of these mistakes myself. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes & advice.

-On sites like Facebook & My Space you have what’s known as an Events area. This is most commonly used to promo your shows-although it can also be used for meet & greets, contests, CD release parties & more. When do you start doing the promo? I’ve seen bands & promoters sending out event invites 4-5 months in advance. Unless you’re a huge name, I wouldn’t recommend that. Why? Think of how people are these days-very busy and w/ short attention spans for the most part. Sending an event invite that far in advance will disappear in a person’s daily routine very quickly. So just send them the same thing every week right? Wrong. Do that and you’ll start to get people annoyed and then “delete.”

-I will say though that the above is better than what I’ve also seen a lot of bands do-wait until the day before the gig-or worse-the day of the show to send out their FIRST event invite (or email). Then they wonder why no one was there. Like all your fans / friends log on at the same time right? Worst yet are bands who are doing this thru your cell phone via text. I’ve never done this-and this was before I heard a HUGE number of people complaining about this. No everyone has free texting for one thing.

-My suggestion is to 1st make sure the event is listed on your online calendars as soon as it’s confirmed. Then, 2 weeks before the event, send out the 1st invite. Wait a week before sending out the 2nd as a reminder. You can then get away with sending a 3rd one the day of the event.

-This is a little different than status updates or bulletins (which you can do a little more often-not too much though) because those are among all the other ones that all their friends update / send & people can see the topic and then choose if they want to look at it or not. With an event invite, it goes directly to that person. This brings up another point-targeting. Most event pages allow you to target who to send your invites to. You don’t want to send someone from Australia an invite to your gig in Syracuse, NY. Do that a number of times and “delete.”

-I also have to mention that online promo is great to do & cost effective (the trade off is you have to put a lot of time into it) but you still need to do traditional promo as well. That means making sure the event is listed in the local papers. Flyers up at the place you’re playing. Small flyers to hand out at clubs. Interviews/ads on local radio shows / papers if you can.Go all out. While it can be time consuming, it’s really not that hard. See you next month!

    AUGUST 2010-TIPS FOR PROMOTING ONLINE-PART 1

-Before I begin this month’s Band Primer, I just want to say thanks to all the people out there who are in support of this & thanks to 4th Coast for letting me do this. It’s very much appreciated.

-This month I’m going to write about some tips I’ve learned thru out the years about band promotion online. Some of this stuff will seem pretty basic, but you won’t believe how many bands don’t know and / or ignore these tips. I’m going to be concentrating on email, My Space & Facebook for all this.

-Unless, you have a ton of money & time, you’re better off w/ an email mailing list than a list via regular (“snail”) mail. Some bands use postcards and, while not as expense as reg. mailings, will still add up. Email lists are free-hence why almost everyone uses them. A good rule of thumb is to use an email service like what’s on Reverbnation to coordinate your lists. With them you can track your mailings and see how effective they are. They’re also great in organizing the people you have on your list into categories. There’s no use sending a show invite that’s in Syracuse, NY to someone in Australia for example.

-One very important thing w/ email mailing lists-make sure you have an “unsubscribe” button on each mailing that you send & that is easy to use. If someone does use it-don’t get offended. You can’t please everyone. I know a number of bands that just grab email addys from anywhere they can and send out their stuff-and then won’t remove you off their lists when you ask them. Not good. Now you have someone who doesn’t like you and word of mouth is still pretty effective.

-On My Space many bands use what’s called “bulletins” to send messages out. While that’s great, many of them get ridiculous with them. Sending out 25 bulletins (or more) in a 30 minute time span is not only going to annoy people, but chances are, will get you deleted. It’s one of the reasons why many people migrated to Facebook-they got tired of being hit by so much band stuff everyday. If you’re going to do the bulletin thing, do it once per day. If you have to do more (on the same thing) do it up to 3/day, but make sure to erase the previous bulletin you put up. If it’s different subjects, make sure it’s only 2-3-maybe 4 per day. People get annoyed real quick when they look at their bulletin page and all they see is page after page of bulletins from your band-especially if it’s the same damn one.

-On Facebook-when you want to tell people of an event, use the “create an event” page. Do NOT send a message out with everyone you know on it. Why? Because when people reply back to the person who posted it-you will get it too-as well as everyone else. Nice to get 20 messages in your inbox that have nothing to do w/ you right?

-More tips next month!

    JULY 2010-HOW TO LEAVE A BAND-THE WRONG WAY

-Last month I talked about leaving a band the right way. This is bound to come up if you’re in the game long enough.. Someone will either leave the band you’re in or you will leave a band yourself. As mentioned last month, the most important thing is not to burn any bridges if you can help it. Sometimes this can’t be avoided. Networking is very important in this game and the person you dis today could be the person you need in your corner tomorrow. You can’t get along w/ everyone, but that doesn’t mean you have be a jerk to anyone either. Treat others like you would like to be treated and it will help you in the long run.

-So what’s the wrong way? The most common is bad-mouthing. While it’s rare to have it done to your face, it’s very common to have it done behind your back. Sometimes it happens while that person is still in the band. While talking to your close friends about frustrations / problems is one thing, talking to the bands fan base and/or writing about it on public blogs / social network sites can lead to a lot of bad blood between people. There is a fine line between explaining a situation and bad-mouthing. Be selective in your language. The line is usually crossed when the words get personal. Saying someone is late all the time is one thing. Saying someone’s late and that they’re a total jack off lazy **** is another. Unfortunately, one very common skill among many musicians is the art of criticizing. If you haven’t experienced it, you will soon enough.

-One of the worst ways is to leave a band hanging-especially in regards to shows (but it could also mean other things-recording in a studio, filming a video, etc..) The band has a bunch of gigs lined up and suddenly the person bails-leaving not only the band in a bad position but also cheating fans of the band who wanting to see those shows. I had this happen to me in CAROLINE BLUE. We had 3 shows lined up in 3 months. Right after we finish the 1st show (while we were still in the bar) this guy in CB hands me a resignation letter (while I’m with a bunch of our fans mind you) and walks off. We had an Ezboard forum at that time and the reactions from not only CB fans but fellow musicians was not too good on this guy. So we’re left with 2 shows that , if I hadn’t found guys to sub in a few days later, would have been canceled. I’d also heard thru several sources how I was being heavily ragged on by this guy. A few years later I ran into him and I was polite. As I was leaving he said if I ever needed his services again to contact him. Nice huh?

-Bottom line-the business is hard enough as is. If you’re leaving, be upfront about it, honor your commitments to them, and be helpful & respectful.. You can always trash talk later when you write your autobiography (HA!).

    JUNE 2010-HOW TO LEAVE A BAND-THE RIGHT WAY

It’s happens to the best of bands. Things seem to be going great when suddenly, someone is out of the band. Sometimes it’s voluntary, sometimes it’s not. There are many reasons why this can happen-although it seems that “musical differences” is the reason that pops up the most. While that may be the case, it can also be used as a cover up for a more intense reason. Certainly-saying that you’re leaving because of “musical differences” is a lot easier for everyone than saying you can’t stand someone in the band & if you’re in it any longer you’re going to kick their head in! 🙂

-This month’s article is about the right way to leave a band. One thing to keep in mind is that, if at all possible, you should conduct yourself in a professional matter. What does that mean? If you’re leaving, get the band together and tell them. The last thing you want is to have them hear it 2nd hand. State your reasons & be prepared to have people try to talk you out of it. If you wish to try again-great. If not, do the right thing and tell them. If the band has shows/promos/videos/interviews lined up, you should be willing to fulfill your obligation to them. You do not, however, have to agree to any new ones. A variation of this is to say that you’ll stay until they find someone to replace you, but if doing that, put a time limit on it. Otherwise, 6 months later they’ll be like “well, we can’t find anyone, but here’s another 10 shows….”

-In addition, offering to help out the person who replaced you not only makes you look good-but it’s a really nice thing to do.

-Be as helpful as you can. You want to make sure that you leave on good terms. Do your best not to burn bridges. Sometimes you have to, but if it’s not necessary-don’t. A major part of the music business is networking and you don’t want to be on the bad side of someone very influential (potentially or otherwise) if you can help it.

-If you’re still doing shows or appearances, don’t go blabbing to everyone in ear shot on how you’re leaving-especially if the band hasn’t officially announced the news. No one wants to hear it (well, maybe the people who don’t like the band…). You & the band will be cast in a much better light when the news does come out cause it’s like you guys were still solid through out all of this. It’s much better than being seen as drama queens.

-The times when you do get together after the announcement will be hard. I’ve had to go thru this many times w/ my band CAROLINE BLUE. Sometimes it’s OK, but sometimes its like a fog of tension has entered the room & you can’t wait till the time is up & everyone goes home. Being a pro and being helpful makes this less uncomfortable.

-On top of that, people will view you as being more pro which can lead to more opportunities for you. In addition, if you’re known for bad mouthing, complaining, making scenes and/or being a jerk when you leave…let’s put this way-would you want someone like that to join your band?

-Looks like I ran out of space-right when I was getting into the wrong way to leave a band. Next month for that one!

    MAY 2010-VIDEO SHOOTS-PT.2

-In last month’s issue I mentioned why video shooting for bands has become easier & cheaper, a little bit about the digital format & the 2 ways to shoot a music video-either lip sync or live performance. Here’s a few more things to keep in mind. Again, this is for those who are doing more than the lo-fi approach (using a personal camcorder to film some stuff, do some quick editing & then launching it on You Tube).

-So where do you go to get a music video done? You could try searching the Yellow Pages and/or the web, but you may find that some of these businesses can be quite pricey. You could also check out bands in your area that have had them done and see who they worked with. If your scene is lucky enough to have a local music TV show ( For years Syracuse had UVTV.info-now in Chicago), check them out. No matter who it is though, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

-If at all possible, make sure that not only do you own the finished product, but the raw footage as well. This is so you are free to use the footage as you choose. Sometimes you might have to negotiate this for a lower price. An example might be getting a lower price and ownership in exchange for the producer playing the video on their music show royalty free. Make sure that-whatever agreement you have-it is in writing. Also make sure to talk to the person filming & ask to see examples of their work. If it’s bad, chances are your video will be too. Ask what type of camera they use. You want someone who can shoot in the latest format if at all possible. Currently you want someone who can make a HD video, not someone who’s using a VHS-C camcorder.While multiple cameras are preferred, a single camera can work if you have a really good person running it and/or a lot of time to shoot all the different angles. Do you have input on how the finished product turns out or is the producer a control freak? The more info you have before shooting starts the better.

-Another important issue is sync rights and sync licenses-which is part of copyright law. If you wrote the music being used-no problem. There is one if you didn’t write the music. A Sync license is the right to “sync” the music to a type of media output.This also allows you to re-record the song for this purpose. If you want to use the actual master recording, then you also need a Master Recording License This is very important to take care of-last thing you want is to put all the time and money into making a video, and then have it yanked away because of this. For those who use samples-the same rule applies. Contact a good entertainment lawyer for more info on all this. You can also read up on this via books an/or the net. You’ll be glad you did.

    APRIL 2010-VIDEO SHOOTS-PT.1

-Hi everyone! Since my band CAROLINE BLUE is in the process of shooting music videos for songs off of our “Not For The Innocent” CD, I thought I’d share a few things in regards to this.

-Back in the days when MTV actually played music videos 24/7, it seemed like a dream for a band to have a music video made. Costs for a 3 minute video could easily rise to $15-30,000 or more & you needed an actual filming company and/or studio to make it. Today, prices have come down drastically & it can all be filmed by home camcorders & edited on your computer. What’s popular as of late are small camcorders w/ some editing capability. For less than $200 you could film a band live, tweak it a little and have it up on your site and/or You Tube by the end of the day. Not bad! Course, if you’re going for a more polished video there’s more involved…

-One of the main reason why costs have come down is the digital format. Each digital media has a time line on it. This applies to both video & audio. With this being in place, it’s a lot easier for someone to edit parts around. The base line is the same so, depending on the program used, you can just move stuff around via the time lines. This is a simplified explanation of the process. If you were to do this via analog format, the process takes much longer because there’s no time line to use as a basis. Remember the stories of engineers having to cut analog tape w/ razor blades back in the day? Digital makes editing so much easier in that sense.

-There are 2 basic ways to film a music video-you can either perform the music live or you can lip synch to a pre-recorded track. There are advantages / disadvantages to both. If you shoot while performing live, it’s best to have at least 3 camcorders running at the same time-unless you have someone who’s really good with editing and / or filming. The reason why is no matter how many times you play the song live, there will always be some change involved. Maybe the song’s tempo was slower on the 3rd take or the bassist made a mistake here, or the drummer played something different here, etc. This makes editing harder because if things aren’t in synch, then the person editing has to make it so-which takes more time-which costs more money (mistakes are obviously edited out). With lip synching, that problem is eliminated because the music will be the same each time. In addition, if performing live & you have multiple camcorders running, you won’t have to film as many takes. One of the most important things when filming is the angle of the shot. A great angle can make or break a shot. If you have multiple camcorders, each one can focus on an individual band member. Let’s say the band performs their song & it’s hot. Even if no other take comes close, you at least have 3 different angles with the same audio track-and it’s amazing how having different angles can create the illusion of movement in a video. You could make a pretty decent video just with that.

-More video shoot info next month!

    MARCH 2010-BAND CONTRACTS

-Hiya! Hope everyone is having a great 2010 so far! This is a continuation of last months article on starting a band that writes / performs their own material. While the following can also apply to cover bands to a degree, it’s more important with original bands. Cover bands, in this aspect, have things a little easier cause they’re mainly covering other peoples songs-hence being a “cover band.” Things become more complicated when in a band doing your own stuff.

-This subject always makes people feel uneasy. Think about it. If a friend of yours presented you w/ a band contract to sign, for most people, their 1st reaction is “What-you don’t trust me?” It can potentially cause some bruised feelings. However, in this aspect, you have to look at it as a business. And it’s always best to have people agree & sign stuff when things are going good. If things are going bad & you try to do this-you might as well forget it so it’s always good to get this out of the way 1st. If things go bad or worse, get ugly, you’ll be glad you did.

-A band contract can be simple-or very complex. You can hire an entertainment lawyer (no-not Bob the real estate lawyer) to make one up for you or get an up to date book that has forms in it. You can even get copies on the web. I’ve seen band contracts as short as 1 page and as long as 12+. The ones I have w/ my band are only 1-2 pages long.

-One of the 1st things in it should be who owns the name &/or logo and it’s usage. This ex. has happened to 2 bands that I know of in the Syracuse area. A band is formed with one guy doing a good chunk of the work (which-BTW-is common). He comes up w/ the name & logo and works his butt off to make things happen for the band. Time goes on & people get replaced. Eventually he’s the only original member. Then he gets kicked out of the band he formed & they carry on-with the same name & logos. Or how about having a former member of the band form another band & use the same name. How would you feel if all this happened to you?

-Another thing you can use band contracts for is to determine what happens to any money the band makes and, if equipment was bought w/ that money-what happens with that. You put a ton of work into a band that makes a lot of money & buys a full lights/PA system. Then you leave for whatever reason yet the band is still going on. Or worse, same scenario but you’re kicked out & things are getting ugly-all that money down the drain?

-Another use-rights to use songs. Song writing will be on other articles, but basically, if you co-wrote a song, you don’t have to worry too much about this. However, what if your most popular song (s) was/were written by the guy who’s getting kicked out of the band because he had an affair w/ your girlfriend (or one of many other reasons)?

-It’s really no different that a prenup. No one wants things to go bad & everyone is on great terms in the beginning. But fame, money, ego, sex, new relationships-all these & more can change people and their thinking over time.I have people who I’ve known for over 15+ years sign contracts.Most pro bands do this-why not you?

    FEBRUARY 2010-STARTING A BAND THAT WRITES/PERFORMS THEIR OWN SONGS-PT.1

-I hope everyone is off to a great 2010! The last couple articles have been on advice / suggestions for starting a cover band. Now we’re going to the other side-to bands that want to write & perform their own material AKA “original bands.”

-As in starting a cover band, you need to have a strong foundation-& that starts w/ the band members. It’s very important to be specific in what you’re looking for. It may take longer this way, but it’s also less of a time waster. Example-years ago I was looking for a drummer for my band CAROLINE BLUE. I put an ad out in the paper & received about 11 calls.1-2 were into the style of music CB is-most of them were blues & / or classic rock players. Be specific so when you do get a response, you already have some common ground-the more the better.

-Like most types of bands, when you get someone who might work, one of the 1st things you do is set up a jam session to see how good the person is-as well as seeing how the vibe / chemistry is.As important as skill / ability is, just as important is attitude-if not more so. You need to know if you can get along with this person. Communication is very important for any type of band. Don’t forget that he or she is also auditioning you as well. The type of music the person plays is a factor too, but not as much as a cover band per say. Example-a cover band that does jazz interpretations of Metallica tunes probably won’t go over well in a cover market-most people want to hear the CD versions-not someone’s interpretation of it. However,in doing your own stuff-that could be your “style”.

-It can take a long time to find the right people to fill out a band. There are other options though. Many bands consist of 1-2 people who play all the instruments & their main thing is creating their own music & recording it. Nothing wrong with that-in fact, there have been times when CAROLINE BLUE had only 1 member in it-and that was me. Our last CD, “Not For The Innocent.” had me hiring a drummer to play on the tracks. The rest of it-with the exception of a gang vocal on 1 song-was all me. Another way is to have one person doing the above-and then hiring a “live” band to play out the material. I’ve done this with CB as well & both subjects will be discussed in more detail in future articles.(443)

-See you all next month!

    JANUARY 2010-PLAYING POPULAR COVER 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 jamming 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!

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