Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cover band or an original band?

Eighth Day splits their efforts between supporting their own original music playing shows and recording, and they also focus on playing popular covers at parties and special events. While there are other bands that do this, many choose one or the other, and there are advantages to each. Eighth Day tries to get the best of both worlds.

Eighth Day playing at a Birthday Party
Being a "cover band" means that you play covers of popular songs. Eighth Day focuses on Classic Rock, Modern Rock, and Pop hits. Right now they have 42+ songs which is about 3 hours of music. Playing covers means getting more frequent gigs, playing in front of wider audiences, getting paid better (Money isn't everything, but it sure is nice to get paid for your hobbies!), and listeners instantly connecting with the music easier because they recognize the songs. Generally you play at weddings and parties, which is cool because you get treated like VIP at somebody else's party, and you get fed!

While there's a lot of perks to being in a cover band, there's also a few challenges in my opinion. It can take a lot of time to learn all the songs and build your set list at first, especially if you only practice once a week. It can feel a little repetitive playing the same songs over and over again. Sometimes you feel like you're riding other artist's coattails.

Being in an original band is really rewarding. I love songwriting. There's no better feeling than see all the different stages of development of a song, and to see the finished product. It's exhilarating to hear the band play it, to play it live in front of an audience, to see people sing along to the words of your song, and to record it in a studio. It's like breathing life into a living entity. Even though it may not reach many ears, and it's a small droplet of art in an ocean of digital media, there's pride knowing that your song is YOUR song. Promoting your originals can be fun in the sense that you're promoting YOUR work. It exciting to see your brand grow.


Eighth Day playing Acoustic set list at outdoor Farmer's Market

Being in an original band also has it's challenges. It's a whole different ball game to be promoting your music. I think of the AC/DC song "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)"

Gettin' ripped off
Under-paid
Gettin' sold
Second hand

Eighth Day for the most part has been lucky and has had great opportunities to play some awesome shows to promote their original music. Also all the members of the band have been fortunate to not be in it for the money, and have jobs. That said, it's nice to make a little bit of money to justify buying new gear.
Not all experiences have to be negative. I'll mention some negative things so that you can avoid them. If you work hard, you can "make it", and live the dream.
Many venues or outdoor festivals know that young bands are trying to "make it." They offer to let bands play for free, as if "exposure" was compensation, or they make bands "pay-to-play" where bands have to buy x amount of tickets and try to sell them to their shows. 
Playing at clubs and bars are way better, and are a great option if the members of your band is 21+. They don't pay as much as private parties, but they do pay. It's a long way to the top to get a following. 

Eighth Day enjoys the perks of playing in a cover band and an original band. Sometimes it can be challenging to decide what takes priority. Last month, the band was working really hard to working on their press kit, which will include some professional live videos. When they got booked for a July 4th party gig, and they switched focus on tightening up their set list and adding some more covers. The press kit will have to wait until after the gig. 

What do you prefer? Being in a cover band or an original band? Do you do both as well? How has your experience differed? Leave a comment below!

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