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Spazmatics - Is this the new business model for cover bands?


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I was in Cleveland last week on business and my boss took a whole crew of us out to a local place to see "his favorite band" -- the Spazmatics. Near as I can tell, this is a franchise, as there are a half-dozen or so bands with the same name and booking agent around the country.

 

Dressed like over-the-top nerds, they put on a great show and the club was filled with people of all ages. The sets consist of all 80s material, and the lead singer is The Show: Great voice, great front man. The instrumentation was guitar, bass, drums, plus the lead singer.

 

I don't think anyone else in the crowd realized they were playing to tracks. I don't know where they thought the keyboards, extra guitar tracks and perfect harmonies were coming from; but they didn't seem to care.

 

Given that most local scenes are now dominated by tribute bands and other nostalgia groups; is this the future? Doesn't anyone want to hear live music from the last 20 years? Are the Spazmatics the leading edge of a movement to "brand" the human jukebox?

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They are here in Austin too and pack the house every time. Seems that costume/track bands are in these days. I don't mind the use of tracks to fill out the sound but some of these bands the tracks are rediculous.

 

One of the popular bands around here the bass player is a mime, all bass parts are tracked.

 

Also remember that 80's is the new classic rock. We play a bunch of it, just change the key/synth stuff into guitar licks and make it appropriate for a 3 piece rock band. Crowd loves this stuff.

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mime bass player = :facepalm:

 

unless he was truely a mime, with the facepaint and the black-n-white stripped outfit on. Now that would be cool....

 

Here in CNY we have what I think must be a franchised cover band: "Nik and the Nice Guys". Near as I can tell, they have a rotating cast of musicians, and several different bands for corporate events, festivals, weddings, etc..

 

They specialize in medleys and variety. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but it gets old after awhile. They never finish a song!

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They are here in Austin too and pack the house every time. Seems that costume/track bands are in these days. I don't mind the use of tracks to fill out the sound but some of these bands the tracks are rediculous.


One of the popular bands around here the bass player is a mime, all bass parts are tracked.


Also remember that 80's is the new classic rock. We play a bunch of it, just change the key/synth stuff into guitar licks and make it appropriate for a 3 piece rock band. Crowd loves this stuff.

 

I saw those guys a few years ago and noticed they were using tracks. I thought it was interesting. They packed the house eventhough they were performing every Wednesday. The frats and sororities were there in full force.

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So what part of this "human jukebox" are you curious about? The tracks? The branding? The franchising? Seems like a good business idea, really. If you figure out the cover band market and start filling clubs, why not franchise?

 

I don't use tracks and probably never will with this band. But if I was in it for the money, heck yeah I would. Why not? These bands understand their customers well. Give people a party atmosphere and do it reliably every time. It ain't rocket science.

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I saw those guys a few years ago and noticed they were using tracks. I thought it was interesting. They packed the house eventhough they were performing every Wednesday.
The frats and sororities were there in full force.

 

bold added... bold says it all... :D

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There is a band out of Kentucky called the Velcro Pygmies. They are exactly what you guys are talking about. Rehashing the exact same songs as every other band in town, but they are touring with the act.

 

They come through 2-3 times a year and a LOT of my non-muso friends all make a point of going to see it. Every time.

 

I've seen it once.

 

Good fun show. Focus is completely on the "party" and the music is almost an afterthought.

 

 

Its amazing how simple and undemanding non-musicians are. I'm starting to relax in my ways as this becomes more and more clear to me.

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We take a bit of a unique approach, too -- we book under the singer's name (Jason Swain), and we have several musicians we can bring to the show. Depending on the gig (and the price) we can show up as a solo acoustic act (Jason), a two-guitar acoustic act, a 3-piece full band, a 4-piece (added lead guitars), 5-piece (dedicated vocals and two separate guitars, instead of the singer playing guitar too), or 6-piece (keys, though we haven't done this yet). We can bring out backing samples or keep it stripped down. We can roll in with a totally electronic drum kit or a regular acoustic one. We have backup guys for all positions, so if one of us can't make it (except the main singer), we sub out. If it's a more country-oriented show, we've got a drummer who focuses on that; if it's a typical cover show, I'll play it on drums. If we need a country guitarist, or an alt-rock guitarist, we make the appropriate call.

 

As a result, the club gets exactly what they want (or exactly what they're willing to pay for), we get nights off when we need them, and people who come to the shows get to see a different performance all the time (as opposed to seeing the same band do the same set every few days).

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Wow - I had no idea. Turns out the name is owned by this company:

http://www.perfectworldentertainment.com/index.html

 

they must license it to various groups in different markets. I wonder how much they control the song list too - my guess is 100%. One of my band-mates has seen the Northern CA variant and says they are an awesome band. I wonder if they are also using backing tracks here and he didn't even realize it? I would not at all be surprised if that were the case. He had no idea it was a franchise deal.

 

Looks like they have several themes for bands developed:

Disco - Boogie Nights

Metal - Metal Shop

Hip Hop - Dope MC's

Funk - Dr. Funkinstein

Variety - Platinum Groove

Classic - Anthem

Swing - Zoot Suit Revue

 

and maybe the worst idea of all (that is actually pure genious and will no doubt sell)

Rockstar Live - a real life karaoke where the audience sings with the band, aka American Idol. Wow.... I hate that, but it probably would sell really well...

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Wow - I had no idea. Turns out the name is owned by this company:

http://www.perfectworldentertainment.com/index.html


they must license it to various groups in different markets. I wonder how much they control the song list too - my guess is 100%.

 

Their site describes the performers as "cast members" -- so I think that's a good guess. The groups are probably not even licensing the name (which PWE has registered as a trademark for "Entertainment services in the nature of live new wave music of the 1970's and 1980's as performed by live musicians"), but are performing as employees of PWE. Very interesting business model. Guess they've put a tight enough production together to bring the crowds in, so hopefully the performers are making a decent living at it.

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Their site describes the performers as "cast members" -- so I think that's a good guess. The groups are probably not even licensing the name (which PWE has registered as a trademark for "Entertainment services in the nature of live new wave music of the 1970's and 1980's as performed by live musicians"), but are performing as employees of PWE. Very interesting business model. Guess they've put a tight enough production together to bring the crowds in, so hopefully the performers are making a decent living at it.

 

i havent seen them, but looking at the PWE website gave me the impression that this was actually musical theater more than actual bands, so referring to the performers as "cast" seems like the appropriate title.

 

i sorta hate to admit it, but its a very good idea, business-wise. look at the success of the large theater productions of "Mamma Mia", and "Jersey Boys". sounds like PWE brings this into a bar venue for less, which attracts people who dont want to pay $100 for a ticket, and would rather be in a bar than a theater.

 

brilliant, really.

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i havent seen them, but looking at the PWE website gave me the impression that this was actually musical theater more than actual bands, so referring to the performers as "cast" seems like the appropriate title.

 

Here's the full description from PWE's site:

 

Perfect World Entertainment has been the world leader in the production of musical era tributes since 1992 when "The Boogie Knights" first exploded onto the scene. Today, PWE continues to be the number one choice in live entertainment with over 100 cast members performing a variety of themes worldwide.

 

Credited with single-handedly igniting the disco revival of the 1990s, PWE has applied the same innovative approach to its other shows like "The Spazmatics," a nerdy new wave dance party, and the comedic pop rock spoof known as "Metal Shop." But the party doesn
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We've got Spazmatics, Boogie Nights and Metal Shop (though they just changed their name to something ridiculous) and Platinum Groove and I think Anthem here in Vegas, interesting to see they are a package, not surprising... They get a lot of work and probably make some easy money... ugh. They are what gives live music a bad name, notice the company calls them 'shows' instead of bands, I think I almost auditioned for these guys..

 

Did sound for a Stones tribute band a few years back, turns out there are a few of the same 'show' around the country.....

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There is a band around North Central NJ for years called The Nerds who were this exact model and I think the Spazmatics stole the idea, The were really good and worked all the high end functions and best clubs. Novelty Idea that seems to have caught on. Whatever works!

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and maybe the worst idea of all (that is actually pure genious and will no doubt sell)

Rockstar Live - a real life karaoke where the audience sings with the band, aka American Idol. Wow.... I hate that, but it probably would sell really well...

 

A bass player friend of mine has a unit he does this with mid week. The crowds love it.

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As far as tracks, I guess that it's no different than most of the "big name" acts using them which probably gripes me more. Obviously most of their genres are geared to the dance/party atmosphere.

 

FWIW, this page lists how many of each "group" there is and their location. Several different names listed too, I love the "Afrodisiacs" lol.

 

http://www.perfectworldentertainment.com/technicalspecs.html

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There is a band around North Central NJ for years called The Nerds who were this exact model and I think the Spazmatics stole the idea, The were really good and worked all the high end functions and best clubs. Novelty Idea that seems to have caught on. Whatever works!

 

Yup, Steve Tarkanish's brainchild ( STARS Productions). I once heard on any given nite you could see the Nerds at several NJ area gigs...........At the same time :)

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Yup, Steve Tarkanish's brainchild ( STARS Productions). I once heard on any given nite you could see the Nerds at several NJ area gigs...........At the same time
:)

 

Actually, The Nerds are just one band. They don't franchise themselves out. I've seen them MANY times and haven't seen anyone but the same 4 guys playing. www.the-nerds.com

 

The band mentioned earlier, Metal Shop, who then became Metal Skool then Steel Panther. I saw these guys in LA recently. Their guitarist is one of the nastiest lead players I've seen in a while. You can't say these guys don't have talent. They play alot of covers of 80's glam metal but also write original songs too. Again, always the same players. Look up Steel Panther on Youtube, you'll see these guys (while they do use alot of backing tracks) are really good players too.

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When they use backing tracks, how can you be
sure
they are good players?

:poke:

 

 

Like I said, look up some Youtube clips. There's one of the guitarist doing a nasty solo by himself, no backing tracks. It's pretty clear he's a good player. And the singer himself has a great voice. I think Steel Panther used to be part of this group and then went their separate ways, I'm not entirely sure.

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mime bass player =
:facepalm:

unless he was truely a mime, with the facepaint and the black-n-white stripped outfit on. Now that would be cool....


Here in CNY we have what I think must be a franchised cover band: "Nik and the Nice Guys". Near as I can tell, they have a rotating cast of musicians, and several different bands for corporate events, festivals, weddings, etc..


They specialize in medleys and variety. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but it gets old after awhile. They never finish a song!

 

 

I know Nik &TNGS. They actually played my college 15 years ago. I wouldn't consider them a franchise, just a good business. From what I understand Nik (the band leader) owns the business and pays members to fill in. Good paying gig and they been doing it for over 20 years.

 

We're trying to do nearly the same thing in our area. We have one band for the niteclubs and parties and another band for wedding and corporate, although the band members are nearly all the same.

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