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  #1  
Old 09-07-2016, 06:36 PM
Likestodrum334 Likestodrum334 is offline
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Default What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Hey all. It has been a long time since i have been on here so if there is another thread with this information sorry for the repost and please direct me toward it.

So i am pretty new to the gigging world and i am still trying to figure out what the best way is to go about things when it comes to getting paid gigs consistently. My band and I are trying to get to the point to where we are playing paid shows every single week, hopefully 2-3 a week. We have been focusing all of our practices into learning covers because we figured thats what would get us regular shows. We are doing a lot of rock and blues like the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The allman Bros, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Rolling Stones, the kinks, and so on.

Is this type of music going to actually get us gigs that pay? or would it be better to maybe learn danceable music tunes that get the crowd moving like more mainstream pop tunes? Or should we try and keep it more current and learn stuff that came out more recently? Seems like there are a lot of gigs for lower volumes acoustic guitar type stuff maybe we should learn stuff where i play a cajon rather than my drum kit and my guitarist plays his acoustic and sings with the bassists amp turned real low?

So what do you guys recommend my band puts on our setlist for covers? We are up to playing just about any genre as long as it helps us play paid gigs regularly. I am so new when it comes to playing paid gigs weekly and any advice from someone who has been doing it for a while and already knows how to score them would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:15 PM
AudioWonderland AudioWonderland is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Country, Country and then move onto Country.

If you can play the rock tunes it might get you an extra gig or two
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:25 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Definitely tunes that are danceable. I don't know what the music scene is like in the DC area, but anything you can boogie to is a plus for helping get a gig.

Lots of blues and classic rock tunes fit that criteria, but mix it up with some classic pop music too.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:27 PM
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  #4  
Old 09-07-2016, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Beach music...

...but you will hate yourselves and each other.

Wedding gigs pay really well though.

I'd do a search for top 50 songs that everyone dances to, and start there.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Research some cover bands that are getting gigs and take a look at their set list. Top 40 that covers multiple decades should do it. As much as I love them, no one wants to hear Black Sabbath covers in bars. As someone else said, stick to stuff you can dance to.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:44 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

I'd spend some time at some places you're looking to play. Observe other bands that are. Take notes. See what they're playing that packs the floor. See what they're playing that empties it. Pay attention to what it being played for house music too, sometimes that will go over better than many songs the band played.

Different venues are likely to have some built in crowds with their own tastes, but you'll probably also find some overlap. I wouldn't stick to one genre, at least in my area. The highest profile cover bands getting the most work are all variety acts. They play the hits, if it moves butts it doesn't matter if it's James Brown, Jackson Browne, or Alan Jackson.

Second to that type of thing in my area is a group that specializes in Motown/stax type of stuff, which always seems to have some universal appeal.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:45 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Depends on the gig. A venue with no space to dance, and people who are there mainly to drink, will need a different set to a venue that has lots of females who are there to boogie.

You can either structure your music to suit a venue type, or decide the music you really want to play and try and find venues that suit that style.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:51 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Danceable things for sure.

Every area is different, so a bit of trial and error will be necessary always. If you can, have a big eough set list so that you can modify depending on what seems to work.

Make sure to do things professionally and clean. No awkward silence. Good intros and endings which you can customize a bit yourself.

Extended solos belong to the guitar player and should really happen only once or twice. Maybe to prolong a slow dance number or something.

Wanna look real pro, have everybody sing backing vocals and do it well.

Looking into the country stuff is a good idea. Doesn't have to be old. Modern country rock is good. Shania and Urban stuff gets all the girls out on the dance floor.

There are radio stations that focus on top 40 stuff of the last 4-5 decades. That should give a good indication.


There's also the option of specialicing and having a clear identity either by being a tribute band or following a clear party band formula. Then people alredy know what they get and it might be easier to travel a bit more.

When on a gig, be weary of how crowds react. Don't be attached to things that clearly don't work.
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:11 PM
Likestodrum334 Likestodrum334 is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Thank you so much for your advice and replies so far!

I have heard weddings are where all the money is at, we would love to get into being a wedding band as well if possible. What are good songs to learn that would be commonly requested of your band at a wedding? Also i played as a hired gun for this dance band this past Saturday at a bar and they played a bunch of high energy mostly pop tunes that were danceable but a few people as well as a friend of mine who were there recommended they should have added some slow dance tunes to their set list. My question was what are some good slow dance tunes lol?

It seems most of you are saying we should do danceable tunes and i have an idea of what to play for dance tunes at a fast pace but i have no idea of what would be some classic slow dance songs to play so suggestions in that vein would be greatly appreciated. For country we have some songs on our list but they have not been learned yet: Mama Tried - Grateful Dead, Act Naturally - the beatles, A few buck owens tunes, Southern Nights - Glen Campbell, and Some old classic country Elvis tunes. How does this list sound when it comes to country? maybe we should have started with learning our country list before we did the rock and blues??
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:14 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

The most successful cover band I played in was a 4 piece (guitar/bass/drum/keys) that would bolt on different auxiliary musicians so that we could bill ourselves as several different bands. We had one singer/guitarist that we would use to be a Country band, we had another singer we could use as an R&B band, three horn players we could call in, a Hip Hop artist we could back, etc. While we presented ourselves to club owners as different bands', we were really just musicians collective with 4 core members and some business savvy.

This is in line with the saying: Don't pursue your passion... Pursue opportunity, and bring your passion with you.
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:39 PM
tcspears tcspears is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Being in a cover band is just like being in an original band, except you don't have to write the songs.

This means that you should still find out what niche your band belongs in, and then see if there is a need for that in your area.

For example, I'm mostly a jazz player. One of my friends had started a 50s rock and roll, and rockabilly type band. It's not my style per se, but the drums parts all swing. We're all in our 30s, are resonably stylish, are good players, and come off as passionate about what we play.

There really weren't any bands doing the 50s thing around us (Boston area), so we ended up building a big following, playing bars, clubs, and even some festivals.

We're playing "covers" of 50s songs, but we're playing them in our style. We also took some more modern songs, or even tunes from the 70s and 80s and made them sound like a 50s song. It works for us, as the style bridges jazz, rock, and country, so we can reach any of those crowds.


Ultimately you should do something similar. Find out what your band's style is, and what you play most authentically. Now figure out if there is a demand for that sort of music in your area. I will say that the songs/bands that you mentioned are the same ones that most GB bands do, so you'll want to figure out what sets you apart from the other groups.
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:50 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

The sacred music of the Watusi tribe always mows em down :P

I can't add anything because everyone already said it.
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  #13  
Old 09-07-2016, 09:15 PM
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Odd-Arne Oseberg Odd-Arne Oseberg is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

The god old last slow song choice, Wonderful Tonight is way old and used up unless you play for old people who never go out. It depends, though. If you can still get away with a bunch of Creedence and Eagles tunes, it would still work in that situation.

This is where you certainly can get creative, though.

Wanna play it safe out in the country, Shania got you covered:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsqbURUUAO4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-Lp2uC_1lg


If it were my school mates, just turning 40 around now, I'd do this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COKOs4oeiTc

It was the typical slow dance a discos when I was a kid.



Random google search gives:

Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Lady In Red – Chris De Burgh
Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
At Last – Etta James
Unforgettable – Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Amazed – Lonestar
God Bless The Broken Road – Rascal Flatts
Have I Told You Lately – Rod Stewart
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You - Elvis Presley
Into The Mystic – Van Morrison
When A Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge
You And Me – Lifehouse
Faithfully – Journey
Lucky – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
You’re Still The One – Shania Twain
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith
If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys


Really, the list of what you can do is endless. What has held back cover bands I've been in is the quality of the musicians and the want to practice/rehearse, not the amount of possible material.

If it's been a hit and most people know it then it's viable. You don't have to challenge people, non-musicians don't get bored the same way musicians do, but if you can do a song well that's unexpected it will only be a pluss.


I've gone in one direction here, but it doesn't matter. You could do just as well with a soul identity, rockabilly, even jazz of the right kind. You can do a full package in several areas, too. What do you like, what can you do and what can you singer handle?

The well produced pop thing is a bit overdone. Nothing wrong with it, there's just been so many people doing it that if you want to set yourself apart you have to do it really really well and deliver a the full package, also visually. There's really no reason at all to do the exact same material everyone else is doing. Same type, not the same songs.

Even in weddings there's no set formula. There is a market for people that don't know what they want, but if they care about the music it could be anything. There will probably be requests for certain songs that mean a lot to the couple when they call. It is a niche. Once you got a foot in the door it grows, the their guests will hire you or spread the word because they know what they'll be egetting.


Basically, just choose a direction and go for it.
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  #14  
Old 09-08-2016, 09:25 PM
BruceW BruceW is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Like others have said, it pretty much depends on your target market and what is popular in the bulk of the clubs that you hope to play in. Around here, that means classic rock, with a touch of country thrown in. Certainly variety bands that cross between classic rock, country and pop always do well.

Other places could be any number of different genre's, especially in bigger markets than where we live. We live in a medium-small city in a rural state, and play the clubs here as well as many places in the small outlying communities surrounding here. In bigger cities. you usually have far more options, and more diversity as well.

As for which songs to know, well.....have you seen the meme that runs around Facebook? The one that lists all these songs that bands hate to play, with some supposed price list next to each song that gets higher as you go down the list? Learn those songs! :p (Smoke On The Water, Cocaine, Mustang Sally, Freebird, Old Time Rock and Roll, Sweet Home Alabama, etc) Seriously, even tho many seasoned working musicians hate them, having the ability to play those songs when it works is important, and it gives you a baseline in classic rock, even if you go in another direction being able to pull one of those out might save a night for you. Don't make your setlist out full of them, but be able to play them.

You want to play stuff that you enjoy, but remember that your job is usually being a beer salesman. Keep the customers happy, dancing and drinking and the owners will love having you there. Finding a mix of stuff to play that you enjoy, and that works for the crowds in your area is the magic formula. As others have said, go out to these clubs, listen and watch. You wanna know what the regular bands around you play anyway, and how the crowds react to them. We tend to not play much of the standard stuff that other bands around here play, but strive to find stuff like it that folks still know and will enjoy. (Other than "the list" songs, lol, which is actually funny cuz since no one else will play them, we've started using them more often. They never fail, at least here.)

Good luck!
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:30 PM
BruceW BruceW is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

And as for being a wedding band.....my opinion on that subject is that if you folks are just learning to be a band and learning to gig, that's not really your best option. Weddings are a whole different animal, and the more successful ones will be able to play a whole bunch of material.

Remember, a wedding is someones BIG day, and if it doesn't go well, no one is happy.

I have all the respect in the world for folks that can do the wedding-band thing successfully, cuz to do it right is difficult. Not saying you and your guys can't, but understand that is a whole different animal there. If you can do that and do it well, you will get all the work that you want, for sure. (For more money than clubs.)
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Old 09-09-2016, 04:59 AM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

What type of music you should play depends on where you live and the demographic of people in the area that are willing to PAY to go watch a cover band. If it's a college town with a lot of younger people then you need to play some modern tunes if you want to get the young crowd to come out to your gigs, if you're in the middle of nowhere Kansas or something classic rock and country will probably work fine!
You have to play what people want to hear, mainly people that are willing to pay a $3 cover at a bar to watch a band perform!
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Old 09-09-2016, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Playing devil's advocate here,

But it is really rewarding to come in there with the wackiest covers that YOU love, play them well with passion, and get a good response from people who had no idea what they were listening to. At least to me, I dig that very much. And I'm lucky in that I'm old enough and financially sound enough that I can do it all I want ha ha

My group is soul/funk-ish.....so we might bust out something expected like Bill Withers or a James Brown groove, but also weird stuff that is just so cool you can't help but catch people's attention. Like for example Quincy Jones Money Runner, there is NOBODY around here playing that tune....or even heard of it.....but every time we bust it out people are just dumbstruck by how cool it is.

To me it's like having a great reaction to an original tune, awesome feeling
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Old 09-09-2016, 05:46 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Sorry just re-read your original post. If it's strictly for paid gigs then my advice probably isn't the best,

Disclaimer: we do get paid for our wacky covers, and do get asked back usually
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Old 09-09-2016, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Quote:
Originally Posted by bonerpizza View Post
You have to play what people want to hear...
That's the basic answer, and obviously that varies depending who you're playing to.

Weddings (and what remains of corporate gigs) will pay the most on the local scene. Odd-Arne's list is great for weddings (add Celebration and Happy Together to that list) and depending on the age of the guests of honor, you should learn the Chicken Dance as well! You'll also need tuxes, a decent p.a., maybe some basic lighting. Bands that do those kind of gigs have to come prepared, and be pro on every level. A band doesn't show up at a wedding the way they do at a bar... not if they want future work. Gigs like that are called casuals, but they're far from it.

And don't sell younger crowds at bars short, they dance to Brown Eyed Girl and Mustang Sally and Midnight Hour right along with the older folks who grew up with those songs. A healthy mix of '60s oldies, Motown, and '70s classic rock will get you through most non-themed gigs (such as a wedding.)

It's a good idea to be able to take requests, which means learning maybe 3-400 songs. Have different players handle the vocal duties, so one guy doesn't have to memorize all the lyrics. Actually, if you're going to do varied gigs, you'll need to know that many anyway. The more you know, the more you can work.

Re the OPs list of bands - "Beatles, Black Sabbath, Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The allman Bros, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Rolling Stones, the kinks, and so on." - it's a good start, and Paranoid is a rockin' Sabbath song that works for a dance crowd. But also learn the key songs and one-hit wonders from artists like Paul Revere & The Raiders, Animals, Monkees, Standells, Cheap Trick, Turtles, The Dog Night (sorry, but you're going to have to play Joy To The World at some point) and '70s soul/funk/dance artists like Ohio Players, O'Jays, Barry White, KC and the Sunshine Band (you're also going to have to play Get Down Tonight at some point!) Add some more modern and accessible songs from U2, Green Day, Pharrell (you can expect someone to request Happy at some point) etc.

And it's a BIG etc. When I suggested 3-400 songs, that's a minimum number for a band that wants to be able to accept any gig and please any crowd.

It goes without saying that you should all be able to actually play well. So, I won't say it.

Bermuda
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:55 PM
Drummer_Sully Drummer_Sully is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

I’ve been gigging in a function band that mainly plays weddings and corporate events full-time for the past 8 years, so I just wanted to add my 2 cents and hopefully it will help you out…

I think promoting yourself within a niche would be a good start for e.g. pop/rock, fuck/soul or blues/rock etc. There are so many function bands out there promoting themselves as playing ‘all genres’ that you will probably just get lost in the noise. Plus you still want to enjoy the gigs and play the music you like.

When I got started we promoted ourselves as a rock band, which was great for us as we got to play music we love like Guns n Roses, AC/DC, Foo Fighter, Queens of The Stone Age etc at people weddings… people who like rock do get married! That being said I would still advise including some of the more obvious wedding songs in your repertoire such as:

Superstition
I Got You (I Feel Good)
Pay That Funky Music
Johnny B. Goode
Brown Eyed Girl
I’m A Believer
Sweet Home Alabama
Mr Brightside
Sex On Fire
Happy
Living On A Prayer
Summer of 69
Don’t Look back In Anger

Generally just music people can sing and dance to.

It can also be fun to include more modern pop songs in your set and add your style to them. I have rocked up many Rihanna and Lady Gaga tunes in the past and people seem to enjoy it.

You can also promote the addition of an afternoon acoustic set - this is a great way to earn a little extra cash on the same day, essentially doing two gigs in one day. My band has done this many times and typically we play the same genre of music, but unplugged versions (acoustic guitar/vox and cajon).

As for getting gigs, you can either get a portfolio online and promote it in various online wedding forums or head to a local wedding fare. This is not something I’ve had too much experience with as my band joined a wedding band agency who we have been with exclusively for the past 8 years. There are tons of agencies out there, so just make sure your promo looks great as agencies are always on the lookout for good new bands.

Good luck :)
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:58 PM
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Odd-Arne Oseberg Odd-Arne Oseberg is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QyoRzZrF00
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Old 04-19-2017, 02:17 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

You are in the DC area so I would ask, what are the other gigging bands playing on the DC/Md/Va area playing? You don't have to copy but you can get a general idea.
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Old 04-19-2017, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

In my city there's a thriving 50's Rock n Roll dancing scene, so there are regular gigs around for Elvis, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry songs. That provides 20 - 30 gigs per year for a dozen or so bands.

I also play in a large cover band which plays as a ten piece with horns, then shrinks down to a six piece without, plus an 'unplugged' version with acoustic guitar and bass, small kit with brushes, etc. Same songs, quieter versions with less gear. That band does 24 - 30 gigs a year. If we play weddings the setlist is what women want to hear. In pubs and bars its a bit heavier.

There's also a blues scene, and a rockabilly scene, and a few concept bands like Reggae, African, Gipsy Tangos, Swing, etc. And a bunch of tribute shows like Kiss, Creedence, Fleetwood Mac, etc..

Some musos have multiple bands in different styles so they can get more wirk.

Pop dance music is modtly covered by DJ's, so its usually best to find a different style than just being a genruc cover band.

My point is - find out what the venues want, find a niche and fill it.
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Old 04-19-2017, 04:07 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Throwing in a couple Grateful Dead tunes never hurt anyone.
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Old 04-19-2017, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Likestodrum334 View Post
I have heard weddings are where all the money is at, we would love to get into being a wedding band as well if possible.
Weddings pay well, and couples get married all the time, so the opportunities are always there.

BUT... you have to know a wide range of material, and obviously play it all well. You'll need to know new and classic country, oldies ('50s and '60s), classic rock, frat rock, Motown, blues, Disco, new and classic ballads, etc. And because the age range at a wedding is wide, you'll need to know 'standards' for the older folks (Tennessee Waltz, etc), as well as some Katy Perry, One Direction, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, and other popular/established artists that appeal to the younger crowd. Depending on the age of the newlyweds, you'll need to tailor the majority of the set list to them. It's a safe bet that you'll be playing Celebration (Kool & the Gang) and Happy Together (Turtles) a lot.

So arrangements and vocals need to be tight. Wedding bands do get paid well to do a good job. Jam bands and players who are up there for themselves aren't suited for this relatively mercenary direction. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way, there are plenty of players who make a nice living with in-demand wedding (and corporate) bands.

It's also worth noting that wedding bands don't typically have a consistent/permanent line-up, so if you're not able to hookup with one for regular work, you might be on their list of subs. In fact, you can sub for 2 bands for more opportunities.

If you're looking for work for an existing band, it's smart to talk to the local event planners, who handle just about all of the logistics for weddings and corporate events and parties: location, theme and décor, food, and the entertainment. The bands that look good, sound good, play appropriate material, and know how to talk to a crowd, tend to work the most and get paid the most.

Bermuda
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Last edited by bermuda; 04-19-2017 at 04:28 PM.
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  #26  
Old 04-19-2017, 04:19 PM
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TripleStroke TripleStroke is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

I play in a cover band that covers wider range of 70-90s rock that we pick and choose depending on the scene we play in. As heavy as guns n roses ot motorhead, to CCR and Queen and firehouse lol

Agreed with most here saying the more danceable the better tho
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Old 04-24-2017, 02:35 PM
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SquadLeader SquadLeader is offline
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Default Re: What Genre of music should my cover band play to get gigs

Depends on the scene.

Out where we play, East/South Greater Manchester, and South Yorkshire, there is an absolutely thriving punk rock covers scene. In fact arguably to the detriment of original punk rock bands.

We play original punk rock but have also learned a set list of audience friendly covers so that we can snap up local gigs at smaller venues as well as going for the festival/multi band scene.

The most popular one that we play....which has never yet failed to get people up and dancing....

Swords of a Thousand Men - Tenpole Tudor.

They absolutely love it
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