Playing Covers Vs OriginalsFeb 22, 2023
Playing in a band can be a thrilling and exciting experience, and there are many different paths that musicians can take when it comes to making a career in music. One of the key choices that a drummer must make is whether to play in a cover band or corporate band, or to pursue a career with an original band. While both options have their unique advantages and disadvantages, it's important for drummers to be aware of the realities of these different paths so that they can make an informed decision about their future.
What does "cover" mean? It means you're covering someone elses music. So technically, any band you play in that is not playing music you wrote, is a cover band. If you're playing 'Autumn Leaves" in your jazz trio, you're a cover band. Beethoven's 5th in a symphony orchestra? You're a cover band. That said, usually when we talk about cover bands, we're referring to some kind of pop outfit, like a wedding or corporate band - because they are so much more popular, and there's lots of gigs around for them.
Cover bands and corporate bands are typically hired to play at private events, such as weddings, corporate parties, and other similar functions. These bands typically perform covers of popular songs, often with a focus on dance music and other upbeat genres. They may also be hired to perform at bars and other venues, particularly if they have a strong following in the local area.
One of the key advantages of playing in a cover band or corporate band is that the gigs tend to be fairly predictable and reliable. Since these bands are often hired for specific events, the drummer can usually count on a steady stream of gigs throughout the year. Additionally, these gigs tend to pay well, since the band is usually hired by the event organizer and not the venue itself.
However, there are some downsides to playing in a cover band or corporate band as well. For one, the music can sometimes be repetitive and lack the creativity and spontaneity that comes with playing original music. Additionally, the gigs themselves can be somewhat formulaic, with the band playing the same set of songs and interacting with the audience in a similar way from one gig to the next.
In terms of the types of venues that cover bands and corporate bands typically play at, it can vary widely depending on the region and the type of band. Some bands may focus primarily on private events, while others may play at bars and clubs on a regular basis. The size of the venues can also vary, with some bands playing at small bars and others playing at large concert venues.
When it comes to making money as a drummer in a cover band or corporate band, there are a few different options. The most obvious way is through gig fees, which can vary depending on the band and the event. Some bands may charge a flat fee for each gig, while others may negotiate a percentage of the event's total budget. In addition to gig fees, cover bands and corporate bands may also be able to make money through merchandise sales, such as T-shirts and other branded items.
One of the challenges that drummers in cover bands and corporate bands may face is finding new gigs and building a strong reputation in their local music scene. Unlike original bands, which may be able to build a following based on their unique sound and creative output, cover bands and corporate bands may need to rely more heavily on their marketing and networking skills in order to stay relevant and book new gigs.
Here's a few photos from recent cover gigs I've done across Melbourne.
In contrast to cover bands and corporate bands, original bands focus primarily on writing and performing their own music. These bands typically play at clubs and music venues, and may also participate in festivals and other larger-scale events. The music of original bands can vary widely, from indie rock and pop to heavy metal and alternative music.
One of the key advantages of playing in an original band is the creative freedom that comes with writing and performing original music. This can be a particularly rewarding experience for drummers who are interested in exploring new rhythms and techniques. Additionally, playing in an original band can be a great way to build a loyal fanbase and establish a strong reputation within the music industry.
However, there are some downsides to playing in an original band as well. For one, gigs can be less frequent and less predictable than those of cover bands and corporate bands. This can make it difficult for drummers to earn a consistent
income from their music, particularly if they are not yet established in the industry. Additionally, the financial compensation for playing in an original band may be less than that of a cover band or corporate band, particularly in the early stages of the band's career.
In terms of the types of gigs and venues that original bands typically play at, it can vary widely depending on the genre of music and the band's location. Some bands may focus primarily on playing at small clubs and venues, while others may be able to secure larger gigs and festivals. The key to building a successful career as an original band is often to establish a strong local following and use that as a springboard to larger opportunities.
When it comes to making money as a drummer in an original band, there are a few different options. The most obvious way is through gig fees, which can vary widely depending on the size and location of the venue. Some bands may also be able to make money through merchandise sales, such as T-shirts and other branded items. Additionally, original bands may be able to earn income from record sales and licensing their music for use in commercials, films, and other media.
One of the challenges that drummers in original bands may face is the need to constantly create new and original material. Unlike cover bands and corporate bands, which may be able to rely on a set list of popular songs, original bands need to be constantly creating and refining their own music in order to stay relevant and build a strong following.
Another challenge for drummers in original bands is the need to balance creative expression with commercial viability. While it's important to create music that is true to the band's vision and artistic goals, it's also important to create music that will be commercially successful and appeal to a wide audience. This can be a delicate balance, and requires a high level of creativity and business acumen.
In terms of making more money, both cover bands and corporate bands and original bands have their own unique opportunities. For cover bands and corporate bands, the focus is often on securing high-paying gigs and building a strong reputation within the event planning industry. This can involve networking with event planners, building a strong online presence, and developing a reputation for professionalism and reliability.
For original bands, the focus is often on building a strong fanbase and leveraging that fanbase to secure larger gigs and opportunities. This can involve developing a strong social media presence, building relationships with local promoters and venues, and collaborating with other artists and musicians in order to expand their reach.
Tours and festivals can also be a key source of income for both cover bands and corporate bands and original bands. For cover bands and corporate bands, touring may involve playing a series of private events or traveling to different regions in order to build their reputation and secure new gigs. For original bands, touring may involve playing at clubs and music venues in different cities, as well as participating in festivals and other larger-scale events.
In conclusion, playing in a cover band or corporate band versus an original band has its own unique challenges and opportunities for drummers. Cover bands and corporate bands offer reliable and high-paying gigs at private events, while original bands offer the opportunity for creative expression and building a loyal fanbase. Ultimately, the choice between these two paths depends on the drummer's goals and priorities, as well as their willingness to take on the unique challenges of each path.