As an active member of the cover band community I see people pontificating about the kind of music they play a lot. The general gist (I’m paraphrasing from a post I saw this week) is that they play the music they want to play and that the audience is merely invited to their self-indulgent wank-fest. If you are in the cover market and this is your approach you will not last. Actually, you will most certainly fail. Here’s why:
After the demise of my original band I got together with some slamming musicians and put a group together that was going to do things differently. We decided we were going to be a band that played covers of songs that other bands didn’t cover. Instead of playing the big hits we’d do the other songs that were popular but not as obvious. This was easily the best band I had ever played in and we were a force to be reckoned with. We named the band “Jukebox Zero” and thought we were the smartest guys in the room.
We started gigging out and within a year it was over. Bookings dried up and we were done. It had nothing to do with how good we were. It had everything to do with our arrogant mindset that we didn’t need to conform to the whims of the bars we were playing at.
In case it hasn’t been brought to your attention, live bands are in the customer service industry. Your customers are the venues/events you play and their patrons/guests. Your ability to make money is solely based on your ability to satisfy those customers. If you are unwilling or unable to change your approach to meet those needs you will fail as a business. Period.
Does that mean you have to be one of those “Mustang Sally” bands? Not at all. There is plenty of business to go around and plenty of music to fill out a night. But if you do not consider what is viable in your market when creating a band or a song list you are not doing yourself any favors.
Being in a cover band isn’t about you. You are a vessel to deliver a service. Unless you are the songwriter there are plenty of people in the world to do what you are doing. I have no illusions of my role or ability. I am actually actively looking to replace myself in every band I play in.
If you want to succeed, you may want to put your theory classes to bed and start using all the business courses you took instead. But thats for another post….