#1
This is an extension of a (half-joking) conversation between myself and the bassist last week. Which is better: To be in a cover band, or to be in a tribute band? What are the pros and cons of each?

And, by "cover band," I mean a band that plays a variety of popular cover songs. By "tribute band," I mean a band that dedicates itself to playing the music of one particular band or artist (ie, The Beatles, Metallica, etc).

Yes, we do realize that an all-original band would be best. That's not part of this discussion, however.

Thanks, ya'll!
#2
IMO, cover band.....
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#3
Quote by Freunleven
This is an extension of a (half-joking) conversation between myself and the bassist last week. Which is better: To be in a cover band, or to be in a tribute band? What are the pros and cons of each?

And, by "cover band," I mean a band that plays a variety of popular cover songs. By "tribute band," I mean a band that dedicates itself to playing the music of one particular band or artist (ie, The Beatles, Metallica, etc).

Yes, we do realize that an all-original band would be best. That's not part of this discussion, however.

Thanks, ya'll!


Why would an "all original band" necessarily be best? There's lots of weekend warriors (and some not-so-weekend) that do both and seem to be happy campers.

A variety band will probably get more generic gigs more often. A tribute band is probably trickier to get a lot of gigs for, but if you're really good
#4
Depends on how versatile your vocalist and gear is. If you have a singer that sings like James Hetfield from Metallica, your only gonna wanna do Metallica songs. But if you have a singer who can pull off more than one artists sound, youll wanna do a cover band.
#5
Speaking as a person who has done both, I can see pros and cons for both.
For instance, in a covers band, you can constantly change your set around and add or drop songs as you wish because you have an almost infinate number of songs to choose from.
In a tribute band, you are stuck with one band's back catalogue.
That said, it's the gigs that make all the difference.
When you play in a normal covers band, you play to mixed crowds who quite often are at the venue you're playing at more for the ambience of the place than for who happens to be playing that night. Tribute bands play to crowds of people who are die-hard fans of the band you are tributing, so they are here to see YOU and because of this, you get a bigger reaction.
This though can be a disadvantage, because if you don't do their favourite band justice on stage, you'll die painfully, which brings me to another point.
In a covers band, you can take a song and completely re-work it and change it and play around with it, and people will appreciate that, but in a tribute, it has to be the same as the original, or as near as possible, because if it isn't, well... let's just say you'd better have a good getaway driver.
It's that attention to detail that matters in a tribute, not only how the song is played but the same sounding instruments and even the image of the band must be at least compatible with the original band's image.
Slack Babbath for instance have a guitarist, bassist and drummer who all have very short hair and look nothing like their counterparts, but wear all black clothing on stage, but I wear a long black wig, round blue shades and basicaly dress up like Ozzy. We've found that as long as the focal point, (in this case the singer, if we were maybe an AC/DC tribute, it would be more important to have a guitarist dressed up like a schoolboy) of the band at least looks like the original, then that is enough image wise.
Of course, sticking to one band's back catalogue get's boring after a few years. My own band get around this by each member being in a side project, but I can honestly say that being on stage with a Black Sabbath tribute band is the most fun I've ever had onstage, which is why I do it. The music is challenging but fun and the crowds are mental and extremely responsive. I get to run around and act the fool on stage, just like Ozzy would, and no matter how bizzare I get, people just assume I'm simply playing a part, so practicaly anything I do onstage is acceptable.
My favourite part of a Slack Babbath gig is the walk on. When I walk on stage, the band have already started playing 'Black Sabbath' and the stage is dimly lit and I walk up to the mic stand and raise my hands above my head making 'V' signs in the traditional Ozzy manner. It's at that point that the crowd usualy go wild and it's an incredible adrenaline rush.
#6
My uncle and I were discussing this last night.

We came to the conclusion that being in a covers band is better, due to the fact that you are free to do whatever songs you like. You can also work up a large number of songs and so when yu are doing a gig you can play off the crowd (by which i mean you can judge the crowd and play what you think they will enjoy). The problem with a covers band is that it becomes all too easy to do the songs YOU will enjoy doing, which quite often end up being songs that the audience arent gonna enjoy.

Example: My uncle and I went to a place near to us called The Lodge (anyone in south east england, specifically the south of essex in the chelmsford/basildon area? The Lodge is in South Woodham). We were bored one Friday night so thought we'd go out to see some music and found this band called 'Zest'. By their description (bluesy classic rock) it seemed like they were right up our street. Well, we rolled down there and they were playing 'Honky Tonk Woman' (Stones) and we were like 'oh cool'. They preceeded to do mainly covers from that era of music (although i admit there were some originals). However, the problem was that they were playing what they liked. In most other situations, this would be fine, but on a friday night, when people are winding down for the weekend, they wanna have fun and be able to jig around a bit and it just wasnt happening.
I caught a look at their set list during their break and they had some real crowd pleasers. What they should have done is noticed when the crowd was thinning as they are all going out for cigarettes and switched up the set list by playing the crowd pleasers (such as 'Hard To Handle' -Black Crowes).

The other thing they did that didnt work was putting in 10 minute guitar solos. It just didnt work in that situation and became musical wanking basically.

Now there is another covers band I know of (Where Beagles Dare) that play a variety of music and cater for the audience in question and therefore have quite a following and also are respected because they play for the audience, not to the audience.

Moving swiftly on to Tribute Bands.

If they do the covers well, then its practically like seeing the real thing and its brilliant. If not, well then yeah lets not go there.

The problem is that the audience EXPECTS you to sound exactly like the real thing. Therefore it is expected of you to have all the equipment and gear etc etc that the band have. Whilst this would be alrite if you were an ACDC tribute band, I dread to think how an RHCP tribute band would fair, what with Frusciante's massive board these days.
The best bet for a tribute band, in my opinion, is to go for a representation of the bands live sound.

Example: Whole Lotta Led (obviously a Led Zep tribute). When they formed, they studied live footage of Led Zep and the live recordings extensively, so that they could reproduce these nuances when they performed their tribute act. They even managed to get hold of a double knecked gibson (i can never remember the name of it but you all know the one i mean) that belonged to Jimmy Page!!

Whilst Tribute bands seem to be much more expensive initially (well in some cases) and also hard work (in getting everything perfect) they are also seemingly more popular and get more money. A local (ish) Beatles Tribute regularly do shows for £1000. So thats £250 each. Doesnt seem like much but they are playing about 5 days a week. So thats £1250 a week for each member. Not too bad in my opinion.

Personally though? Im happy in my band, doing mainly covers with the odd original here and there. I think we plan on becoming more original but you know we are progressing and we are happy. Basically I just love playing music and i dont care what we play to be honest so long as its fun.

Sorry for the Mammoth sized post,

Izzy
#7
Quote by darthbuttchin


Whilst Tribute bands seem to be much more expensive initially (well in some cases) and also hard work (in getting everything perfect) they are also seemingly more popular and get more money. A local (ish) Beatles Tribute regularly do shows for £1000. So thats £250 each. Doesnt seem like much but they are playing about 5 days a week. So thats £1250 a week for each member. Not too bad in my opinion.

This is of course true, you do get better payed as a tribute and it's easier to find gigs too, infact, we don't even bother looking for gigs anymore, they find us.
As for the pay, it is justified, the amount of work that goes into a tribute act is much more than what goes into a standard covers band.
It's not enough to just get up and play, you have to have a stage show worked out, including lights and such, which requires someone to control them, and the whole stage production actualy resembles theater more than anything else.
#8
Quote by SlackerBabbath
This is of course true, you do get better payed as a tribute and it's easier to find gigs too, infact, we don't even bother looking for gigs anymore, they find us.
As for the pay, it is justified, the amount of work that goes into a tribute act is much more than what goes into a standard covers band.
It's not enough to just get up and play, you have to have a stage show worked out, including lights and such, which requires someone to control them, and the whole stage production actualy resembles theater more than anything else.


Yeah definitely. If i managed to sound like i thought it was unjustified i didnt not intend to.

I can only begin to fathom the work involved in creating and maintaining a good tirbute band and i respect the people that do it i really do.

Where i was talking about the pay i was merely stating that £1250 a week seems pretty good to me.
#9
Quote by darthbuttchin
Yeah definitely. If i managed to sound like i thought it was unjustified i didnt not intend to.

I can only begin to fathom the work involved in creating and maintaining a good tirbute band and i respect the people that do it i really do.

Where i was talking about the pay i was merely stating that £1250 a week seems pretty good to me.

No problem bud, I wasn't actualy implying that you had meant anything of the sort, it's just that many people look at a tribute band, see how much money they get on average for a gig, and say it's unjustified for somebody that's basicaly just a covers band to get that much without taking into account everything else that goes into a tribute, so I'd purposely left out the money aspect in my original post..... until you mentioned it. So I thought I'd better at least say something about it.


I'd also like to take another look at this that you wrote;
Quote by darthbuttchin
A local (ish) Beatles Tribute regularly do shows for £1000. So thats £250 each. Doesnt seem like much but they are playing about 5 days a week. So thats £1250 a week for each member. Not too bad in my opinion.

It's worth noting that it isn't all profit. The bigger your show and the further away from home that you play, the more expensive it is to play. And tributes generaly move around a lot.
For instance, let's say that a tribute band has a gig on a Saturday night 200 miles away from home and they don't own their own van, but have quite a large stage show.
They'll have to hire a van, but because the gig is on a Saturday and most hire places are closed on Sundays, they'll have to hire it for the full weekend.
Let's call this £150
Then there's petrol, add another £60-£80 for that.
Then, remember you're 200 miles away from home, you don't really want to drive home after the gig, so that'll be four or five rooms in a B+B at £20 each.
Then there's roadies.
You really can't do the tribute thing properly without roadies, at least a sound guy and a lights guy anyhow, so add their wages into the mix, plus another couple of rooms at the B+B.
Then you all want to eat as well, so that's five or six meals, then if you are all staying over for the night, you just know there's gonna be some drinking involved, let's call it a tenner each.
Basicaly, by the time you've done, you can easily spend £400 in expenses if you're not careful, that leaves, from a £1000 gig, £600 to be shared between the band, which, if it's a Beatles tribute would be four members, so that's about £150 each.
If they gig five days a week, it comes to something more like £750 per week each, less taxes, (about one third of earnings) less rent/morgage, less weekly shopping, less general spending. Then of course you want to spend money upgrading/repairing your gear and then there's also rehearsal costs and maybe even storage costs for your gear if you have a big PA for instance.
It soon gets wittled down.

This of course is all provided that the band gets their own gigs, if they go through an agent, say bye bye to another 20% of the initial £1000 gig wage.
And guess what, £1000 is right at the very top of tribute band wages, it's generaly something more like £300-£500 for most tributes.

Is it any wonder I'm skint all the time?
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Jul 24, 2008,
#11
Quote by Steel Skins
Holy extremly long posts. Summarize.

In short: you're a lazy mofo
Just read it all, it's good for you.
#13
Quote by Steel Skins
I just don't really care, the answer is cover band or tribute band, you need to write a novel.

Plus I actually do write novels so I have no problem reading long writings.
#14
Quote by Steel Skins
Holy extremly long posts. Summarize.

OK.
There's a lot of costs involved in an average tribute band gig, most of these costs were mentioned in my post which was purposly made long just to emphasise how many costs were involved.

But you missed that.
#15
both a cover and a tribute band are just a lack of creativity and wont go anywhere. if you just wanna jam then cover band. cuz you got a variety. tribute bands are just ppl who are obsessed with a band but dont know how to handle the obsession. im obsessed with nirvana. so i am in a grunge band. and i write my own songs using the basis nirvana used
#16
Quote by lithiumftw
im obsessed with nirvana. so i am in a grunge band. and i write my own songs using the basis nirvana used

That may be one of the healthiest attitudes (other than Slacker's) that I've read on these here forums in hours.

#17
Quote by lithiumftw
tribute bands are just ppl who are obsessed with a band but dont know how to handle the obsession.

Really? So how come when we put Slack Babbath together, we had to learn all these Black Sabbath songs? If we were obsessed with Black Sabbath, surely we'd already know them?
We could have been an AC/DC tribute, or a Judas Priest tribute, or a UFO tribute, or a Motorhead tribute, we weren't really too bothered what band we tributed, we just wanted the challenge of being in a tribute band to a classic rock band with all the theatrics involved, in a market place that we could seriously compete in and quickly start earning (we've all been in cover bands and original bands, hell, we've even all individualy got albums credited to ourselves, not CDs which anyone can produce but actual vinal albums that were much harder to get onto back in those days but the simple fact is, if you wanna pay the bills with music, then tribute bands is the way to go) so we chose Sabbath because we thought that a Black Sabbath tribute was more viable business wise.
I'd obviously heard of them and even knew a couple of songs, but I was more into Ozzy's solo stuff. Our drummer knew a couple of their songs but was more into stuff like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, likewise with our bassist who was into much more up to date music of the time. Even our guitarist, who knew more Sabbath songs than any of us, was more into the idea of a Judas Priest or UFO tribute.
We just thought that a Black Sabbath tribute would pull a larger crowd than any other classic rock tribute, so we all learned a bunch of Sabbath tunes, studied our counterparts and became a Sabbath tribute.
I don't even listen to Sabbath at home nowadays, partly because I'm actualy obsessed with more punky metal like Motorhead but mainly for the same reasons that many other people don't bring their work home with them.
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Jul 25, 2008,
#18
I've always wanted to be in a Buckethead tribute band, and when I get older and actually get a job I'll probably start on that dream by customizing my Les Paul and getting a Dual Recto - it'd be something for kicks, though, not entirely serious.

I'd rather be in a band that writes originals, however.
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