Marketing strategies for cover bands

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Ok, bit of a weird thread this, but I thought it would be of interest to go into a bit of detail about our journey on this subject.

It's taken a while to get to a point of consensus in our band. Like most acts, we're searching for differentiation - something that gets us noticed.

We considered:

1/ Many bands have become a "tribute" to something, & every tribute is apparently "the #1 tribute to (insert act / genre here).

2/ Feedback from event promoters indicates we're on the downward curve from tribute heights - mainly because of saturation from mediocre multiples of duplicate / similar tributes.

3/ Events still like to pigeon hole acts to match theme events / days. Identity is a requirement.

4/ Many event organisers neither have the time nor interest to filter. They want something that's easy for them to identify instantly. If you have to explain what you offer, your message needs looking at!

5/ Our band tends to create our own arrangements / delivery of well known songs, so we're some distance from the concept of faithful reproduction of anything.

6/ For purely self satisfaction reasons, we don't want to limit the material we work with. We do this for the pride of musical achievement & great experiences, not "advancement" per se.

We looked at what we believe we're good at, & what we already do. We deliver big / atmospheric & anthemic well. 70% of our current set is from the 80's. We've successfully rearranged & delivered pop songs as rock songs. Over the years, we've acquired a delivery style identity.

Against this background, we made two decisions;

1/ We'll position the act as a show.

2/ We'll offer two shows. One that covers multiple decades that leaves us free to craft as we see fit, and one that is exclusively 80's focussed for events that must have that box ticked.

To maintain equity in our current URL, we decided to rework to represent both acts on one site. https://www.firedupband.net
Only published a few days ago, when linked, the difference in booking interest for 2022 is noticeable, especially for the "Rock the 80's" act.

For reference, here's a little video edit we made to support the marketing identity for one show choice. Another point made by some event organisers is how bored they are of receiving studio audio stitched to live footage. Many want an insight into the act's live delivery. We took note of that.


It's early days on this refocus, but our approach has been to augment & major on what we're already modestly accomplished at, rather than go down the ever changing rabbit hole of fashion lead reinvention.

This posted purely as an insight into our thought process in the hope it promotes thought in others here.
 

Erberderber

Senior Member
Despite playing in a cover band these days, I don't think I could ever play in a tribute band. For me there's something creepy about them. That said, I do understand why promoters like them as they offer a product that is instantly understood and people know what they're going to get.

An advantage cover bands have over tribute bands is that they are not limited to one band and can offer variety to an audience. But yes, covering different bands takes away the band's identity and they therefore need to find other ways of distinguishing themselves from other bands. The question of staying faithful to the original is a tough one. I think most audiences would prefer the songs to resemble those they know and love but I don't think bands should be anally pedantic either. Famous bands get away with doing covers in their own style because they are already esrablished.

The '80s thing will always draw in audiences so I think offering that as a product will work. Versatilty is always a good thing, especially when you consider venues of different sizes and atmospheres. I like to think that the band I'm in could fit in playing light acoustic gigs in tiny pubs as well as fully amped in larger venues and even big outdoor festivals changing the set up to suit the request. Branding is important too. Always good to have a little quirk that people remember, but again that needs to be done with caution not to appear like a cheap gimmick. All the best with it.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Always good to have a little quirk that people remember, but again that needs to be done with caution not to appear like a cheap gimmick. All the best with it.
Thanks! We're taking the slack winter period to add around 6 numbers to the 80's repertoire. That'll equate to around 90 minutes of full impact stuff, so it should hopefully have some title legitimacy.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
All I know is I would want to go the dread zeppelin route. Take a popular band and do covers of their music in some other genre. Maybe not as side-showy as them.
 
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BruceW

Senior Member
It's fun and interesting to get insight into other bands thoughts and practices on this subject.

We kinda break all the rules, tho not by design. We're all over the road. We dont stick to one genre. Primarily classic rock, with a goodly portion of modern country mixed in. Some dance tunes, and some pop stuff too. Mix it up, depending on the venue, and adjust as needed.

Shouldn't work, but somehow its seeming to. One thing we're not, is boring or predictable. 😉 We also know our lane, we're really just playing bars and clubs, for the most part. We haven't had an open date that we wanted to fill since things opened back up in the spring...and the rest of the year only has a few left to be filled.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
All I know is I would want to got the dread zeppelin route. Take a popular band and do covers of their music in some other genre. Maybe not as side-showy as them.
That's a great route to differentiation, & especially viable if starting from the ground up. In our case, we wanted to better identify, expand on, & deliver something we've already been doing & shown to work well.
It's fun and interesting to get insight into other bands thoughts and practices on this subject.

We kinda break all the rules, tho not by design. We're all over the road. We dont stick to one genre. Primarily classic rock, with a goodly portion of modern country mixed in. Some dance tunes, and some pop stuff too. Mix it up, depending on the venue, and adjust as needed.

Shouldn't work, but somehow its seeming to. One thing we're not, is boring or predictable. 😉 We also know our lane, we're really just playing bars and clubs, for the most part. We haven't had an open date that we wanted to fill since things opened back up in the spring...and the rest of the year only has a few left to be filled.
In your case, it's obvious there's no real consideration needed. You're already fulfilling all your requirements, both artistically, & in terms of desirability to venues. Great to hear!
 

Jasta 11

Well-known member
1/ Many bands have become a "tribute" to something, & every tribute is apparently "the #1 tribute to (insert act / genre here).

hahaha I know a local black sabbath tribute band who is labeled as "The number 1 Sabbath tribute band in our state" i believe locally they are the ONLY one so...

2/ Feedback from event promoters indicates we're on the downward curve from tribute heights - mainly because of saturation from mediocre multiples of duplicate / similar tributes.

Paid a lot of money in 2019 to see a nationally recognized Zep tribute band and...NEVER again! the guitarist didn't play correct guitar solos and the drummer wasn't playing the correct drum parts. Zep was allowed to jam live, a tribute band is not. it made them look incompetent.

Andy nice video, i see the new bassist seems to fit in well.
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
Once you experience your band that's about all the marketing you'd ever need. Word on the street I think would be enough. Wonderful job.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
A few years ago I was contacted by the bandleader of a popular local band to help ”update” their image. I was expecting them to want new images of the band members, in a group, with the usual dour look on faces but I was wrong. He wanted everyone photographed alone and isolated on the set so that he could ”mix and match” as needed.

When the band members began showing up with multiple changes of clothing and costumes I began to wonder what kind of band this was. “We’re a party band! We rev people up, get ‘em dancing, grease their brains.”

When I asked what kind of music they played, (all they’d heard on my studio stereo was everything but 80s pop music) he told me to come to a show.

I was shocked at how good they were. Very tight, lotsa costume changes for the singer (the band leader’s wife), wireless guitar & bass players danced with the crowd, no gaping mouths or googley eyes wondering when the end of a tune was coming. The definitely sell themselves as an 80s day-glo pop band, and they work all over the state.


880232DB-6EE6-4211-810D-D45D9579AC5E.jpeg
 

petrez

Senior Member
I wouldn't want to play in a tribute band only dedicated to one band, as another guy mentioned above, it seems a bit creepy (to me) to try and mimic another band to the tee. But my band right now started out as a tribute to 80's thrash metal in general, so we covered a lot of different bands from that era, which seem to have worked for us, as the only other cover/tribute bands with this type of music around here only focus on one band, say Metallica... We do everything from Slayer, Annihilator, Testament, Exciter, Tank, Accept, Kreator, Sodom etc... We soon started incorporating our own songs as well as covers, and now our setlist usually features a mix, which the audience seem to really enjoy. We don't market ourselves as the #1 anything though, we say we are a tribute to old school thrash/heavy metal in general, as well as play our own originals. Might be confusing for some but we love doing those covers and learning new ones as well, and that element of surprise to play live with a new cover song is really something (sure, can be with a new original as well, but it is different if the crowd has a connection to the song already).
 
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harryconway

Platinum Member
We looked at what we believe we're good at, & what we already do. We deliver big / atmospheric & anthemic well. 70% of our current set is from the 80's. We've successfully rearranged & delivered pop songs as rock songs. Over the years, we've acquired a delivery style identity.

2/ We'll offer two shows. One that covers multiple decades that leaves us free to craft as we see fit, and one that is exclusively 80's focussed for events that must have that box ticked.
I think there's a lot of material that would fit your current "style" ...... that would be fairly easy adds.

I don't think Black Dog or Whole Lotta Love would be a good fit (unless you wanna get heavier) ..... but I could easily hear (in my head) you guys doing No Quartet, Kashmir, or Carousleamba. Paranoid or War Pigs might be a little much, but Spiral Architect would work. Hush and What's Going On Here. Keep Me Hanging On. Candy's Gone Bad. Love To Love (UFO) ...... maybe even This Kids/Behind The Walls.

And then the 90's ..... damn ...... Ya'll all take off your shirts and just do 30 minutes of Rage Against The Machine cause we're all going to hell in a hand basket anyhow:ROFLMAO:
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
My covers band is a bunch of guys in their 50s and up. We're not gonna be running all over the place or doing a lot of jumping around (for at least one of us, it's no longer medically possible!) Where we get our placement is our dependability, our adaptability, and our ability to be whatever the gig calls for. We've played parties, corporate functions, weddings, memorials, coffeehouses and festival stages. We can go as loud or as soft as need be. We take requests and more often than not pull them off. We can go old school jazz and swing for a quiet dinner set or go amp-crunching classic rock. We have all our own sound gear and all our own lighting (the bass player also does live sound and lighting regionally). So our marketing angle is that unless you need a bunch of young eye candy in spandex and ripped denim, we can be your band.
 

toddmc

Gold Member
I wouldn't want to play in a tribute band only dedicated to one band, as another guy mentioned above, it seems a bit creepy (to me) to try and mimic another band to the tee. But my band right now started out as a tribute to 80's thrash metal in general, so we covered a lot of different bands from that era, which seem to have worked for us, as the only other cover/tribute bands with this type of music around here only focus on one band, say Metallica... We do everything from Slayer, Annihilator, Testament, Exciter, Tank, Accept, Kreator, Sodom etc... We soon started incorporating our own songs as well as covers, and now our setlist usually features a mix, which the audience seem to really enjoy. We don't market ourselves as the #1 anything though, we say we are a tribute to old school thrash/heavy metal in general, as well as play our own originals. Might be confusing for some but we love doing those covers and learning new ones as well, and that element of surprise to play live with a new cover song is really something (sure, can be with a new original as well, but it is different if the crowd has a connection to the song already).
Would love to see you guys (but Norway is a bit far) 😁
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
That's a great route to differentiation, & especially viable if starting from the ground up. In our case, we wanted to better identify, expand on, & deliver something we've already been doing & shown to work well.

It’s possible your band could use more concise, modern editing on your promo video. Your band looks and sounds great, and the crowd is into it, but one stationary camera angle is a snooze, right?

To really take it up a notch you’d need drones, variable speed cameras, etc. Get some young talent.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think Black Dog or Whole Lotta Love would be a good fit (unless you wanna get heavier) ..... but I could easily hear (in my head) you guys doing No Quartet, Kashmir, or Carousleamba. Paranoid or War Pigs might be a little much, but Spiral Architect would work. Hush and What's Going On Here. Keep Me Hanging On. Candy's Gone Bad. Love To Love (UFO) ...... maybe even This Kids/Behind The Walls.
Whilst great songs Harry, we're going more in the pop to rock direction (taking pop songs & giving them a rock delivery / rearrangement). We also need to keep song selection UK hit centric.
Once you experience your band that's about all the marketing you'd ever need. Word on the street I think would be enough. Wonderful job.
Thank you - if only that were true! In terms of repeat gigs & referrals = absolutely. In terms of reaching out to new opportunities / event circuits, it's all about positioning / identity.
Andy nice video, i see the new bassist seems to fit in well.
Thanks, & yes - for his first gig with the band, we couldn't have asked for more.
It’s possible your band could use more concise, modern editing on your promo video. Your band looks and sounds great, and the crowd is into it, but one stationary camera angle is a snooze, right?

To really take it up a notch you’d need drones, variable speed cameras, etc. Get some young talent.
Oh you are so right on the money! Anything video we shoot ourselves. Most gigs, there's neither the time nor facility to set up multiple cameras.
Of course, we could do the hire a theatre thing & get a crew in, but that has a sterility about it. Even worse, do the usual stitch studio audio to live footage.

With a modest budget and event variability, getting all elements to come together in a single event is a tough one. Good audience, good stage, multitrack capture, etc. We do however plan to do exactly that, & absolutely get a good video crew in to capture it all. That'll need to be next year unfortunately.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
We let a booking agent do the marketing side for us. I'm the worlds worst salesman. If anyone asks me what kind of stuff my band does the answer is usually generic function shite!

We've done the usual photo and vid shoots which fell well cringe.

Agents can be a double edged sword as they can mis-sell you. Funnily enough we played a gig on Saturday where the client had sent a custom set list with 29 requests on three days before the gig and had a whinge when surprise surprise we accommodated the songs we knew into our set. My reply to the agent was to tell them to book a DJ next time or a spotify playlist or pay the astronomical fee we'd charge for a custom setlist.

Covers band are a bit tricky to market unless you're trying to corner one corner of the market like my band.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
A few bands around here have two names and two styles.
For example Dance-On is a modern cover band, while Rave-On is a 50’s band with matching jackets. and ‘shadows’ dance moves. Venues know what music they’re getting and the band members get twice as many gigs.

Another band offered Chesterfield Acoustic, Chesterfield Gold and Chesterfield Brass, but it became too confusing for people booking the band. Better to have completely different names.

Concept bands doing touring shows are still thriving around here, but the crowd is getting older and there’s more competition. There are three Fleetwood Mac bands in my town, two Linda Ronstadt shows, plus several Elvis, Stones, AC/DC and Zep tributes. Nothing from this century. Nothing from the last 40 years!
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Oh you are so right on the money! Anything video we shoot ourselves. Most gigs, there's neither the time nor facility to set up multiple cameras.
Of course, we could do the hire a theatre thing & get a crew in, but that has a sterility about it. Even worse, do the usual stitch studio audio to live footage.

With a modest budget and event variability, getting all elements to come together in a single event is a tough one. Good audience, good stage, multitrack capture, etc. We do however plan to do exactly that, & absolutely get a good video crew in to capture it all. That'll need to be next year unfortunately.

As for a proper, multi-camera video shoot, they’re often expensive, laborious, and usually lame. Bands usually do them bc they don’t (yet) have larger, well-attended gigs. But your band already has good gigs, so I’d go with a one-man videographer and take advantage of that.

You can still use what footage you get from past gigs, but you probably won't need it. Someone with a good eye who is moving around can get cool, short clips and stitch them together into short 3-10 second clips that will play well on social media. The videographer can be filming while the band walks to the stage from a backstage room, or is in the crowd looking up at a guitar solo, standing next to the singer and panning out to the crowd, etc. One person can do a lot, on just one gig, but I'd have him/her shoot about 4 or 5 of your biggest/best gigs. A 1-second flyover drone shot of a packed, large festival gig will look very good on social media.

Short clips can have your bands' music in the background, or not. Many people consume video without audio, usually on their phones.

Many event organisers neither have the time nor interest to filter. They want something that's easy for them to identify instantly. If you have to explain what you offer, your message needs looking at!

5/ Our band tends to create our own arrangements / delivery of well known songs, so we're some distance from the concept of faithful reproduction of anything.

6/ For purely self satisfaction reasons, we don't want to limit the material we work with. We do this for the pride of musical achievement & great experiences, not "advancement" per se.

We looked at what we believe we're good at, & what we already do. We deliver big / atmospheric & anthemic well.

The phrase you might be looking for is: Stadium Rock. Your band can offer multiple "packages", the first is Stadium Rock, the next is Extremely 80s (or something similar, this phrase is off the top of my head), and so on if you want to add other genres/styles down the road.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
My covers band is a bunch of guys in their 50s and up. We're not gonna be running all over the place or doing a lot of jumping around (for at least one of us, it's no longer medically possible!) Where we get our placement is our dependability, our adaptability, and our ability to be whatever the gig calls for. We've played parties, corporate functions, weddings, memorials, coffeehouses and festival stages. We can go as loud or as soft as need be. We take requests and more often than not pull them off. We can go old school jazz and swing for a quiet dinner set or go amp-crunching classic rock. We have all our own sound gear and all our own lighting (the bass player also does live sound and lighting regionally). So our marketing angle is that unless you need a bunch of young eye candy in spandex and ripped denim, we can be your band.

this is pretty much the same situation as my jazz/country/rockabilly band...pre COVID, there would be weekends where we did a wedding cocktail hour in tuxes, me with brushes only, no amps etc on Friday; an Eagles Club or VFW on Sat night doing country and Americana stuff for dancing and drinking; and then a car/hot rod "greasers and pin-up girls" type thing on Sunday <--- those are my most fav gigs other than metal ones

post COVID, we have been really successful at getting the car show, outdoors thing going. Have not had to do a lot of "outward" advertising for that b/c word travels in those circles...we sort fo let our playing do the selling.

WE do have a very small promo package with a CD (or link to an mp3) of 1 minute versions of our covers, a picture, and small description of what we do that we can hand to people. We aslo have the typical FB and InstaTweet access I think...
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
As for a proper, multi-camera video shoot, they’re often expensive, laborious, and usually lame. Bands usually do them bc they don’t (yet) have larger, well-attended gigs. But your band already has good gigs, so I’d go with a one-man videographer and take advantage of that.

You can still use what footage you get from past gigs, but you probably won't need it. Someone with a good eye who is moving around can get cool, short clips and stitch them together into short 3-10 second clips that will play well on social media. The videographer can be filming while the band walks to the stage from a backstage room, or is in the crowd looking up at a guitar solo, standing next to the singer and panning out to the crowd, etc. One person can do a lot, on just one gig, but I'd have him/her shoot about 4 or 5 of your biggest/best gigs. A 1-second flyover drone shot of a packed, large festival gig will look very good on social media.

Short clips can have your bands' music in the background, or not. Many people consume video without audio, usually on their phones.



The phrase you might be looking for is: Stadium Rock. Your band can offer multiple "packages", the first is Stadium Rock, the next is Extremely 80s (or something similar, this phrase is off the top of my head), and so on if you want to add other genres/styles down the road.
Good advice on very short clip video promo.

Until now, we've always made a point of putting out video with audio simultaneously captured live. We like the honesty of that, but a very short clip of fast / high impact imagery certainly has it's place.

Our only themed act is titled Rock the 80's. We felt this fitted well as a good portion of our focus is rocking up 80's pop songs.
 
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