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


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Yeah, right. I can tell by the way you write that you're probably not capable of recording a backing track.


Just 'being real', dude!

 

I think you guys are arguing about two different things. I think.

 

There's a big difference between playing with a backing track and PRETENDING to play what's coming off a backing track. I don't see anything wrong with a backing track adding a few sounds here and there. But when it gets to be that the backing track is playing guitar and singing and the "players" are just pretending to do those parts, that's crossing the line.

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I think you guys are arguing about two different things. I think.


There's a big difference between playing with a backing track and PRETENDING to play what's coming off a backing track. I don't see anything wrong with a backing track adding a few sounds here and there. But when it gets to be that the backing track is playing guitar and singing and the "players" are just pretending to do those parts, that's crossing the line.

EXACTLY. If you make your own tracks I don't really care... but pretending to play the fiddle part on your guitar while the track is playing "come on Eileen" is AWFUL. And that is an actual example from a Spazmatics show.

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... having the same between song banter every track which feels very UN-rock-and-roll to me. When you have a script which you follow between songs its just...

 

Check out the Van Halen bootleg videos, and you'll hear DLR use the same segue banter over and over. I'd guess that the most rock-and-roll of artists often feel very UN-rock-and-roll. Don't you think Mick Jagger sometimes dreads singing "Satisfaction?" But his boss (his manager, record co., anyone with whom he's contracted, his fans) dictates, to some extent, that he do the same schtick, over an over.

 

Any time you agree to take money for playing live, you have a boss and a script, in a broad sense. Who is spontaneous, when they say, "Hello, Cleveland?"

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Check out the Van Halen bootleg videos, and you'll hear DLR use the same segue banter over and over. I'd guess that the most rock-and-roll of artists often feel very UN-rock-and-roll. Don't you think Mick Jagger sometimes dreads singing "Satisfaction?" But his boss (his manager, record co., anyone with whom he's contracted, his fans) dictates, to some extent, that he do the same schtick, over an over.


Any time you agree to take money for playing live, you have a boss and a script, in a broad sense. Who is spontaneous, when they say, "Hello, Cleveland?"

 

Very true.

 

For that matter, how many bands take the time to go over set lists, arrange them just right, put in a spot for banter, etc.

 

Like it or not, if a band is going to go anywhere at all they need something resembling organization. Sitting on your moms couch in the basement mumbling "Im sick of your rules, man!" is going to get you real far. :thu:

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Actually, as a cover band that's one of the hardest things for us to get past. Playing originals and touring, you can pull off the same banter every night. But if we play three times a week in the local area, we really have to change things up so that people aren't getting the exact same show. Our solution is to never use a set list and just go with the crowd; that way we literally can't play the same show twice (of course we have certain songs that always segue into another certain song, etc... and we know after which songs we need to take a short break to tune the guitars differently, etc).

 

A really good example is, we play "1985" by Bowling For Soup. Near the end there's a spot where he says "Stop!" and the song stops. At one show, as soon as the music stopped, our bassist started playing "Ice Ice Baby". Everyone started laughing, etc. Then he did "U Can't Touch This". People loved it. So I started playing some random intros, too. So did the guitarist. We were having a blast on stage seeing who could come up with the worst possible thing.

 

Now we do this at almost every show. And we try to look spontaneous when we do it, and most of the time people get into it and have a good time... but you just know there's that group of regulars that says "didn't they do this the last two times? Why do they look so surprised?".

 

I try to change it up by thinking of new things, but there's only so many drum intros one can do that people recognize (Dance, Dance... Walk This Way... etc). So now I just load a random song onto my sampler and play the intro (the last few shows it has been the intro from The Final Countdown). Keeps band members on their toes too ;)

 

I like the comment about the Rolling Stones and such. It seems to me like an artist or band's job is to make the crowd think they're seeing something special and unique, to give them a memory, even though you might be doing that same thing every night. With the popularity of YouTube and such, it really does ruin a lot of that "spontaniety" of a live band. I tend to not watch performances of a band I'm about to see live, because I don't want to ruin the moment while I'm there by knowing exactly what the banter is going to be at every moment.

 

It applies to all forms of entertainment too... think of how bored a comedian must be by the end of a stop in a certain city. He's played probably one or two sets a night on Thursday, Friday, Saturday... and now he's got to go through that exact same material Sunday. Of course, good comedians can change it up to mix with their crowd... just like good bands can... but I find that they're in the minority. One weekend if you're bored, go buy tickets to a comedy club for Thursday night and for Sunday night, and attend both shows.

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Jamie and Roger, who run Perfect World Entertainment have been doing this for a long time. These people know how to run their business enterprise exceptionally well.

 

Roger has been a keyboardist/Musical Director for people like Michael W. Smith and Kenny G. He is a pop/R&B/funk guy. Jamie is a guitar player and a smooth Jazz guy.

 

If you find their pedigrees detestable, just know there are some good lessons on marketing and franchising to be learned from their approach.

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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!

 

Yep - The Nerds have been at it for twenty-odd years. They are the archtype of cover bands, and they are still arguably the most successful cover band in the Northeast.

I would have to speculate that these guys totally copped their look and turned it into a franchise.

It's a great business model, but it kind of smells like what Wal-Mart did to the local 5 and 10 cent stores.

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This is a great thread. I get both sides of the argument too.


On one side, you've got a musician who is infuriated that some homogenized, manufactured,
product
... is making them obsolete. Anger, fear, what else... the injustice of it all.


On the other side you got a musician who's working his ass off to meager ends and looks at the Spazmanian Devils and thinks... "Hey $$$, that's $$$ kinda $$$ cool."

 

I wonder, since these guys ARE a brand, do they have to actually license and pay royalties for the songs they're covering? You know - like every cover band is supposed to?

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that's cool as hell. Where do I sign up? :poke:


I don't know about you, but I got "into the game" to have a good time. If playing Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, or Wayne F*ing Newton gets me there, that's cool with me.

I have no artistic statement to make. I have no agenda. I'm not out to prove my prowess on the guitar. I just want to gig a few times a month, have a few laughs, and (hopefully) entertain a bar full of drunk chicks.

 

+ 1000

 

I'm in a n 80's cover band - I play Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, Madonna, etc.

I have no choice.

Of course, we do get tons of gigs, have a good time, and pull "The Trooper" out of our asses every now and again, so really - it's all good. :thu:

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ahhhh! I just read this thread, bailed out to look at a casino page to see who was playing there (to possibly try and get a gig..) and OMG .. who is there, but the friggin Spazmatics! Small world, or what? This is what the description says:

 

What do the movies Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, and Revenge of the Nerds all have in common? Sound tracks featuring songs of the 80

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I wonder, since these guys ARE a brand, do they have to actually license and pay royalties for the songs they're covering? You know - like every cover band is supposed to?

 

Typically, the venue pays the licensing fees, in a sort of subscription/blanket form.

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Typically, the venue pays the licensing fees, in a sort of subscription/blanket form.

 

 

This is true in CT. A few clubs have gotten in trouble for not paying license fees and in turn changed over to all original clubs because they didn't want to pay the fees.

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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.

 

The guitarist in Steel Panther (who are no longer affiliated with Perfect World, btw) is Russ Parrish - he was in Fight, with Rob Halford. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_Parrish)

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)

 

 

That's the other part of it. As a cover band, you're job is to entertain and do what the audience wants. If you're not into that, then you should really reconsider being in a cover band or write originals. But even then, ignoring what your audience wants to hear isn't exactly a good way to do business.

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Yeah, right. I can tell by the way you write that you're probably not capable of recording a backing track.


Just 'being real', dude!

 

OK you're right, I'm wrong I give :) Now I have to go learn how to get that BIAB thing to play the Ocarina solo on Wild Thing :)

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That's the other part of it. As a cover band, you're job is to entertain and do what the audience wants. If you're not into that, then you should really reconsider being in a cover band or write originals. But even then, ignoring what your audience wants to hear isn't exactly a good way to do business.

That assumes that all cover band audiences are the same, and they're not.

I enjoy playing in my cover band because we play music we like for people we like. We have a big set list to accommodate a lot of different audiences (bars, corporate, weddings, concerts, etc.); but not ALL audiences. Theoretically, we might make more if we dress like fools and play crap; but we would suck at it, and the audience (for that stuff) would be able to tell we weren't into it.

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This is true in CT. A few clubs have gotten in trouble for not paying license fees and in turn changed over to all original clubs because they didn't want to pay the fees.

 

Not paying performing rights fees is just a lame excuse for cheaping out on the entertainment budget. A license for a whole year for a club that holds 250 runs about $500 -- the minimum amount the club should pay one band for one night. A club could make it up by adding a nickel to the cover charge if they had just 100 customers per week.

 

Let;'s face it -- these are the same impresarios who jam four bands a night onto the stage for chump change. And don't advertise. {censored} 'em.

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That assumes that all cover band audiences are the same, and they're not.

I enjoy playing in my cover band because we play music we like for people we like. We have a big set list to accommodate a lot of different audiences (bars, corporate, weddings, concerts, etc.); but not ALL audiences. Theoretically, we might make more if we dress like fools and play crap; but we would suck at it, and the audience (for that stuff) would be able to tell we weren't into it.

 

You're missing my point. If you ignore what people want to hear, you won't go far. It's that simple. If you play a type of music that NO ONE likes, how can you succeed?

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