Why do 'original' bands hold 'cover' bands in such low regard?

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by dacookster, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. toolsound

    toolsound SS.org Regular

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    All of the arguments against cover bands are ridiculous and easily countered. For example:

    "Cover bands only care about money, and that's lame."

    1. How do you know they only care about money? Maybe they also enjoy playing music and getting laid.
    2. Even if they do, who cares? Most humans want to enjoy their work and make some cash to support themselves. If cover bands can do that, I say good for them!
    3. If you care about the money side of things, you should also be angry at the audiences paying to attend these shows, the venues hosting them, etc.
    4. There are probably plenty of "original music" bands that also continue playing shows just to make money. I bet plenty of bands get tired of being on tour, but they want/need that almighty dollar.
    5. There is no 5. Time to stop holding this terrible and wrong opinion.
     
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    The guy who wrote "Africa" had not been to Africa prior to writing the song. He was relating things he heard about Africa from missionaries in Catholic school. Does that mean Toto is akin to a cover band? :shrug:
     
  3. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I'm pretty sure that most of the "arguments against cover bands" are just resentment at the fact that there's more "success"/money to be made in covers than in the original music that we (sometimes incorrectly) think of as being less effort. Blend that in with some snobbery and gatekeeping over whether or not you're a "real musician" if you don't write everything that you play yourself. It's pretty transparent, IMO. Making music is a venture in which most definitions of success are hard to come by, so naturally we're going to resent those who are doing well for themselves on some level, especially if we can find an easy way to "prove" that we're "better than them".

    Here's some food for thought - lots of bands only have one song-writer or have been playing the same songs for years. If you join an original band, learn all their material, then go play shows with them, is that really any better than covering an established song? The majority of people in the band are still just playing music that someone else came up with. I'm all for giving good song writers credit where it's due, but even in "original" bands, it's incredibly common that not everyone contributed to the writing, and/or that you just keep "playing the hits" forever. Two of the bands I'm in still play songs they wrote 10 years ago.
     
  4. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

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    I am envious of people that apparently live in an area where anyone will even BOOK a non-cover band!
     
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  5. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    The only thing I think is dumb is charging a door/ticket price for cover/tribute acts. To me that's like paying $5/$10/$15 to be in a place that has a jukebox.
     
  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Taking it one step further, Led Zeppelin was one of the most successful rock bands ever, and a huge portion of their songs, particularly early on, were either covers of other people's music or rip offs of other people's music. The first album, for example:

    "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by "traditional, arranged by Jimmy Page," sounds a hell of a lot like "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" written by Anne Bredon and performed by Joan Baez, just transposed down a whole step. The band was widely known to have been fans of Baez.
    "Dazed and Confused" by Jimmy Page sounds a hell of a lot like "Dazed and Confused" by Jake Holmes. This was the song where Page famously played his guitar with a violin bow. The "other" song was played by Holmes on a cello. Holmes had performed the song as opening act for the Yardbirds, a band for which Page played bass at the time.
    "Black Mountain Side" by Jimmy Page sounds very similar to "Down by Blackwaterside" by Burt Jansch. Al Steward was performing a cover of the Burt Jansch song, but in DADGAD tuning. Page was a session player in Steward's band around that time, too. Coincidentally, the Led Zeppelin version was in DADGAD tuning.
    "How Many More Times" by Led Zeppelin is almost exactly the same main riff as "How Many More Years" by Howlin Wolf. The band was accused of ripping off numerous songs from Howlin Wolf. Later parts in the song exactly quote "The Hunter" by Booker T. Jones and both "Beck's Bolero" and "The Shapes of Things" by Jeff Beck, the former of which Page was a session guitarist in the studio and the latter which Page played along side Beck in the Yardbirds, none of which were credited.

    Take away the credited cover songs, and that leaves three songs that were original, as far as we currently know.

    Now, before you condemn me as a Zeppelin hater or whatever, that's not really where I'm going with this...

    Even though the band ripped off all of those lyrics and riffs, which was dishonest as hell, they still played each song on the album in a way that no one had before them, so they still were "original" in the sense that they offered something new.

    Every band ever has taken ideas from somewhere outside of the band itself, so there is no black&white divide between "covers" and "originals," but rather, a spectrum in between two ends of a continuum. If you want to compare bands and chart them as "more original" and "less original," then that's fine, but I guarantee that the "most original" bands out there are not going to be you guys' favourite bands.
     
  7. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Depending on mood, I really enjoy live music. If the band isn't bad: decent song selection and solid playing, I don't have a problem dropping a little bit of cash at the door. Supporting your local music scene isn't a bad thing.
     
  8. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    When I'm "supporting the local scene" I think of it more like buying art, and I'm not paying for a remakes of classic paintings. I do go to 1-4 shows a week with original bands and smaller touring bands that come through, so its not like I'm not supporting the scene. If a bar/venue things that a Talking Heads tribute act is gonna bring enough people to keep the bar busy (and they do, they bring a lot of people) then THEY can pay for the entertainment for the night. I'd rather pay $15 and take a chance on something I've never heard before then spend that same money KNOWING that 2/3 of the playlist is gonna be lame as fuck with a classic/modern rock cover band.
     
  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    If I'm hearing it, and digging it, I'm cool paying for it. And if I don't at all enjoy it, I'm just out a few dollars that went to supporting local music.
     
  10. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    But you're not paying for the songs, you're paying for the performance at that point. Do you also not tip buskers because they didn't write their songs? Who wrote the song isn't the point.
     
  11. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Honestly, I only tip buskers if I stop to listen, and I'm probably not gonna stop to listen if its a cover song, unless its in a wildly different style or something, and at that point, its barely a cover. I'm not opposed to cover SONGS. I like it when a band can take something that's outside their wheelhouse and make it into something that sounds like them. I just don't get any enjoyment from bands that just do one band's catalog/set and dress up like the band, or classic/modern rock covers that are just playing straight-ahead covers of the same songs that have been all over the radio for the last 50 years. At least the tribute acts are actually putting on a show, and if you're really into the band and they don't tour anymore I can see someone paying for that experience (someone who isn't me, anyways). But a full-on cover band is literally background noise to a place to get a few beers, and I'm not paying extra for that environment. I'll go someplace where a cover band is playing to hang out or something, but I'm definitely not paying to get in. Maybe that makes me an asshole, I don't care, to me that's like a bar saying "Hey, we have house music playing over the stereo tonight, $10 cover!".
     
  12. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but bars that play music (be it bands, or just cds or whatever) are supposed to pay a licensing fee for those things, aren't they? And that cost gets rolled into the price of your beer. So even if you're not paying for a cover, you're still paying, albeit very indirectly, to be entertained.
     
  13. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    And that's how it should be. But I'm not paying an ADDITIONAL entrance fee.
     
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  14. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    For me it's about communication, really. Even a band that has only one songwriter, a revolving door of members and keeps playing 30 year old songs, still has a story to tell. They have an image and a vibe that they're communicating, basically a "brand". This obviously applies to solo artists too, for example Prince, Elton John, Ozzy, etc. That takes just as much effort to establish as the songs themselves, and elevates the music even higher. A cover band simply does not have that. To me, that's the big difference. When Tommy Thayer dresses up as Ace Frehley to do a KISS show he's still telling the story that is KISS, with everything that entails. A cover band playing Detroit Rock City at a bar, isn't doing 5% of that. So even if you are, say, Nicko McBrain (joined after the biggest record, has 1 measly songwriting credit after 36 years in Iron Maiden), I wouldn't compare that to being in a cover band at all.

    Sure you have cover acts like Rodrigo y Gabriela, or Dirty Loops. They are absolutely telling their own story and are infusing a heap of creativity and originality into what they do. But this is obviously not the kind of cover acts that people tend to have an issue with in my experience.
     
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  15. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    You're also not paying the full ticket price to see KISS either.

    Cover bands also have this, but not in the same sense. There's a lot of work that goes into representing yourself as a business and establishing relationships with the venues you'd be working with regularly and things like that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not by any means saying that watching a cover band is just as good as seeing the original artists play the same songs, I just am not behind getting all dismissive of cover bands for no good reason. It's not "easier" or "lazy", they're not lesser musicians, they don't get money just thrown at them for no reason, etc.
     
  16. Strobe

    Strobe SS.org Regular

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    At some point, people stop seeking out new music and just want to hear the music of their youth on repeat. They start saying things like "music today sucks, it just does not compare to the good old days". I always found this very common tendency to be kind of sad. Cover bands cater to this listener.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't think playing in a cover band is a bad thing. I have played/sang in several cover bands. I just kind of hope I do not ever become that guy who cannot appreciate new music. That guy is pretty common though, and playing for him/her pays better.
     
  17. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I'm the lazy one because I don't wanna learn 400 songs, lol. You definitely have to have ability to be in a cover band, I just don't understand how we got the place where a cover band gets paid $1500 for a gig and a three band tour package is only worth $450.
     
  18. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Pshft, your average cover band isn't making anything near $1500/gig. Sure, some are, but those are extreme cases. Do we want to compare extreme high end of the pay scales between cover bands and original bands? Because that's likely not going to help your point.

    Your garden variety cover band is probably making about $300/night, whereas your garden variety original band is probably not making anything. Either way, I don't get the hatred. I could get a job bartending somewhere halfway busy and probably make more in tips alone than I'd make splitting $300 with four buddies.
     
  19. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    My gut reaction is just that they are serving a larger and more reliable audience. They're also playing in venues that can afford it. It's one thing to say "I value a band as x, so we should pay them x", but that money has to come from somewhere. Restaurant patrons potentially bring enough money into a place to support that model - but I don't think I've ever played a show that brought in enough money to justify that kind of payout. A $10 door charge and maybe a beer doesn't give you a lot of money to throw at what inevitably has to be multiple bands to get enough draw in to the venue in the first place.
     
  20. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    The only cover bands around here working for $300/night only work on their buddies back porch for BBQs.
    What does a bartending job have to do with anything? I make a lot more at my day job then I ever will with music, too.
     

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