My band never wants to play cover songs and when we try to (mainly because of me bugging) we usually just learn the parts but never make it a major routine. All we do is mainly just keep making new songs. So, what is the importance of cover songs? I have seen a couple local bands in my area and most of them dont even have cover songs when they play.

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Usually when people play covers, it's to satisfy the audience... And used to help beginners get started I guess.
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Yea, bands do popular cover songs to make the audience pay attention and make them happy. Then you go into your original songs and they will pay more attention to them.
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If you plan to play places such as bars, clubs, country clubs, house parties, etc & actually want to make some money, covers will become extremely important. The typical bar crowd doesn't go there to hear original music, as others stated before.. they want to hear songs they know to be satisfied. Then when the dance floor is packed, you can throw out an original.

The band I just parted with sounded like your band. I would bug them to play covers and they would either not bother learning them or make up some lame excuse for the band not doing covers. Needless to say.. there was no money in that band.

You should try to get 4 hours worth of material, then you can promote yourself to other places. In my small music community area, there are very few cover bands. There are a ton of original only bands, but they are usually playing places like VFW halls, someone's backyard, paintball places, etc. You know. places where you might get 20 kids from Hot Topic that come in.

If you have a decent cover list and really good originals, you are in good shape. You could also be like me.. if your band absolutely refuses to do covers.. join a 2nd band that plays them. I don't know why some bands think there was no music before them and people only want to hear their music.
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Covers show how good your band is technically because they know how the song is supposed to sound and if you screw it up they know. It also shows your influences. And if you suck at writing, you still have good songs.
I find that learning and playing covers is a good way to get your band to gel together before you start writing your own stuff. In a live situation, they're good for working the crowd and getting a positive reaction.
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In any of my bands, we would generally always have 2 covers in the set. One early on, possibly opening, as something to catch people's attention. Then one more near the end of the set, right before our final couple of songs, as a kind of recharge for anyone who's getting tired of the orignal stuff. But you have to play a cover extremely accurately or make it your own in some way, 'cause unless you're impressive with it, it'll make everyone leave.
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I agree with the above postings about starting out and grabbing attention. Until you have a good solid set of your own material and also a following, covers are going to bolster your band.

Bad covers aren't worth playing, stereotypical covers are a bit hit and miss too. In our band we have a couple of covers that we can throw in, ones that we all like and like to play, or do it as a tribute to a band. If you can add your own flair to a cover then it's going to be well remembered in a "hey they did that rad cover of _____" so it's going to help out loads.

Stick closely to songs that are in your genre, that don't stand out too much. We're a fast paced punk rock band, we cover Rise Against and Propaghandi, in the same vein you wouldn't expect us to cover Dammit or something
A cover song should be a different version of the original song. If it offers nothing new or different or exciting from the original song then there's no point in playing it and nobody ( or at least I ) would listen to it.

Covers are there to play before you write your own stuff. Once you have your own stuff you play covers that you know to fill time, see if you can remember them, because you like them, sick of playing the originals. I know a band that does all covers - doesn't impress me.
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There are a ton of original only bands, but they are usually playing places like VFW halls, someone's backyard, paintball places, etc. You know. places where you might get 20 kids from Hot Topic that come in.

that post pissed me off. You must be looking at the wrong music scene, because the semi local scene around here, theres quite a few original bands (including us) playing for hundreds of kids every show. Yeah, there might be ONE whole cover in the entire show if that, and people still love you.
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Doing a mix of originals and covers is the best way to go.
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^i'm kinda the same way, i like to start with a good cover for the whole, "hey check it out, get in the groove and get ready to rock" feeling in the crowd, then close it up with one more cover for the whole "ya'll were a kickass audience and we want to give ya one more song of something ya know to show our appreciation" kinda vibe ...... maybe a mash up in the middle of the set with songs rearranged for just guitar or just bass, or an improptu drum bit so that everyone can get a couple minute break to get a drink or smoke a cig ,like just an acoustic cover of 'simple man' or something that can be traded off back and forth for 5-10 minutes so everyone can get a break.
batman123, when I described that, it was based on my current music scene (yes I know.) But seriously the only original band in my area that is HUGE is Lennex..they are the band that Phil Ritche (From rock star: Supernova) is the lead singer of. They have been together for close to 10 years and I believe they played covers beforehand as well.
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Personally I've always found covers harder to play than originals simply because it was written by someone in a different mindset with different strengths. As for their merit covers are good to have always know a couple for emergencies but, if you play a cover like it is on the album join a cover band. It's true that to play in bars you need covers and they have to sound like people think they should but, if you're playing to make money always remember to make separate setlists for pleasure and profit.

Covers are great for getting the crowd worked up. One of my best gigging memories was when one of my old bands was playing this club in Cambridge and we got EVERYONE to sing Last Caress, then we went straight into Horror Business, then Paranoid and the place erupted. It was awesome.
cover songs are a big no-no if you plan on spreading your name by playing gigs in clubs on the originals scene, i know my band have been black listed from playing venues because we played 2 covers in a set....

and what really pisses me off is that we where doing them a favour, a band had dropped out and we offered to play for them with less than a days notice!! and we had a stand in bassist and he didnt know all the songs...ungrateful bastards
IMO u should either be a covers band or an originals band. decide at the start. i know in australia, most venues are either covers or originals. the pub atmosphere is usually for covers bands who can play 3 or 4 sets where as original venues put on shows with 3 or 4 different bands.

if ur an original band it can sometimes be good to do a cover but
1. you have to make it your own.
2. you need to change something about it to give it appeal.
3. it musnt suck...if u destroy a classic song the audience will destroy u
My band does a couple of covers but we change them drastically. We pretty much cover pop songs and make em way heavier and better.
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I play in bars and in that situation you need cover songs to connect with people. Even if your originals are good it's hard to connect. They can't chant the chorus if they don't know it
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Yea, bands do popular cover songs to make the audience pay attention and make them happy. Then you go into your original songs and they will pay more attention to them.

Totally agree.
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My band will usually do a couple of covers to get the crowd more into the music. We'll play stuff like Space Oddity and Ziggy Stardust, as well as You got Lucky or Norweigon Wood (Gotta love having a Keyboardist in the band)
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Covers are an optional but useful tool to an original band. I am in busking (playing on the street) jazz/blues trio (trumpet,trombone and guitar). I'm the trumpet player and we play some original improve blues and some covers but we totally rearange them. Most of them don't even have trombone or trumpet in the songs originally so it comes off well. I can't relate to a regular band that plays in bars because we make pretty much squat on the streets, they're all cheap but covers are great when rearranged and with a genre change because then it still shows creativity but don't ruin a classic song with your arrangement or they'll hate you
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somerimes i really like to play covers. it means alot to me to kinda pay tribute to some of my favorite artists. bob dylan covers are always cool for me to play, highway 61 is one of my favorites to play
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Covers are a great thing to get people 'into mood' - if chosen correctly. If you start playing something nobody ever heard before, chances are people won't even really pay much attention to it, regardless of how good it is. But if it's a tune familiar to them, and it's something they like - it's a huge plus (as long as you don't screw it up :p). If you/your band don't really like doing full covers, that's not really a big issue either; if you guys are creative enough you could try and 'weave in' some parts of other's songs into your own music, stick a familiar riff or intro or chorus here and there, or whatever - if done right, it can do wonders.

Hope this helps.
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We do 2 covers

Slither - Velvet Revolver

Nightrain- GNR

First off they showcase who has inspired us and what attitude we repreesent. Also if we pull them off good ( which we hope we do ) people usually are like well if they do -insert band- song justice their originals might be decent. I remember we played Nightrain second song into the set , and as soon as I said this song is nightrain , the whole place turned. "Whats this a whole bunch of 15 year olds playing a song for an amaizing rock band , HA!" but we proved them wrong. That night we had them in our hands!