Guidelines For Playing Music in a Cover Band

Cover Band – Another Thing I Do For Income That Does Not Involve My Original Music

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Here at Rockin’ DIY, I mainly cover DIY recording studio information and price efficient solutions for music equipment, studio equipment, soundproofing, and so on. But the following information has nothing to do with any of that. It covers some basic guidelines for being in a cover band. Yep, it’s about the dreaded career of “playing other people’s songs for money.”

After more than twenty years of playing original music and audio recording, I finally gave in and joined a cover band. This is something I said I would not do until I was old and done chasing the rock star dream. Well, I was wrong. This is also something I had initially said about making money doing audio recordings. I have now done both. And although I still have not completely given up on my rock star aspirations, I have finally become a bit more realistic.

But even as I headed into my first ever cover band gig a few years back, it was still something that I had no interest in doing consistently. That was until I was handed $100 for playing three sets of music for a total of three hours. Suddenly my outlook had changed. Getting paid to play cover songs suddenly did not seem so bad. And it beat the crap out of working at a restaurant. So I gave it a shot. And after the new wore off, I was back to my original outlook. I still do the cover band gig every now and again for extra money, but the schedule is not near what it once was. In the future, though, if I ever decide to go down the cover band path again, there are a few guidelines that I will be sure to implement to make the process a little more bearable.

1. Everybody helps carry equipment before and after the show. And no one leaves until everything is loaded up. More incentive to get things done, I say. This seems like it would be common sense. But strangely enough, it is not. I have lost count of the times I had to tell other band members to help carry equipment. Even during times that I was obviously struggling to load equipment by myself, I have still had to tell band members to get up and do something!

2. If your guitar amplifier is not working correctly, do not purchase more useless effects before getting the amp repaired. I do not need to say any more about this.

3. Get guarantees in writing. It is an extreme buzzkill when a bar owner decides at the end of a show that pay is not going to be what they originally agreed to. And it sucks even more when it is the fault of your band because you did not get the agreed upon terms in writing. So make it official before the show.

4. Do not arrive to the show just in time to play. There is a lot of preparation and setup that goes into a three-set show. So the entire band needs to get to the show early to help set up not only their equipment, but also the band’s PA as well. And arriving to the show early also gives you adequate time to test the PA system thoroughly to ensure that there are not any issues that will affect the sound quality of the performance.

5. If multiple bar owners tell you that your band is too loud, then maybe it is true. And regardless of whether they are correct or not, they call the shots. So if your volume is an issue at a bar where you would like to book additional gigs, then turn it down!

I have made peace with the idea of making money by playing in a cover band… occasionally! I can’t, however, say the same thing about doing audio recordings for bands I do not play in. Maybe one day… nah.