What do the following things have in common:
- Video rental stores
- Kodak film
- Pay Phones
They’re all outdated products. Few people use them. If you’re business is selling these products, sales are hard to come by. You’re likely on the brink of bankruptcy. What if your song list is outdated?
Chew on this: People are more than willing to pay HUGE sums of money for live music. (The average wedding band made $4200 per gig in 2018!) But they’re not paying for every kind of music. If you want your band to land better paying gigs, take a hard look at the musical product your selling. Make no mistake about it, you ARE selling a product. Your band and what you do is that product.
A multitude of bar bands don’t take this into consideration. It’s one of the big mistakes bands make and it could be costing you gigs and money.
It’s essential you consider two key areas of your set list:
- The genre of music you cover
- The popularity of the songs you cover
Genres: Some pay better than others
In my area, the most popular non bar bands are Cover Bands, Party Bands and Variety Bands. They get the most work and pull in the highest prices. Country bands are also popular as are Bluegrass and Mariachi Bands. There are lots of other musical styles that get booked, but these are the most popular ones in my area. YMMV.
What’s not popular in my area?
- Blues bands
- Oldies bands
- Heavy Metal bands of every persuasion.
Are You selling pay phones to people who want iPhone’s?
If a heavy metal band wants to start playing weddings, there aren’t a lot of paying customers. I didn’t say there are no paying customers. Just that there aren’t many. Same thing for blues bands. It’s pretty much the same thing for corporate gigs. If you’re having trouble booking these gigs AND you’re in a band like that in my area, this could be the reason. You’re selling cassette tapes in a world that wants digital downloads. Your selling pay phones to people who want iPhone 11’s.
There’s a reason Variety bands and Cover bands work more. They play music that more people want. Period.
Drop the kindling wood and set down your matches and rope! Don’t burn me at the stake! It may sound like witchcraft and heresy, but there’s truth here. A LOT of truth. There’s a reason Variety bands and Cover bands work more. They play music that more people want.
It’s not that a blues band or metal band can’t find weddings. It’s not that people won’t EVER hire them. It’s that there aren’t that many people looking to buy that product.
There’s another aspect to consider:…
How popular are the songs on your playlist?
When we were playing bars, we played what we wanted to play. We chose obscure songs from popular artists because we liked to play them. It was our show, damn it!
That worked for bars. It didn’t work for weddings and corporate clients. You have to play songs clients know and like. It’s imperative that you buy into this concept.
Before I sit down to watch a new series on Netflix, I read the show promo. If it sounds interesting, I’ll watch the first episode. Then I decide if I’ll keep watching it. Clients do the exact same thing and your song list is a big part of their decision making process.
How do potential clients react when they read through your play list? Are they confused or captivated?
They could think: “I don’t know that song and I don’t know this song either. I’ve never heard of these songs. I don’t think these guys will work.” That’s NOT what you want them to say.
Or they could say “I LOVE that song, I love THAT song, man these guys play a lot of great stuff. I wonder if they’re available and how much they charge?”
You want them reaching for the phone, not running for the exit!
Here’s a quick video where I walk you through what I’m talking about. I use the song list of an Austin TX based band that’s doing what I’m talking about and working all the time. There’s helpful stuff here so make sure you check it out.
Of course, there are exceptions to this general principal. But those are exceptions and not the rule!
HEAR ME on THIS: I'm not implying that you play the same songs as the band in the video! Nor am I suggesting they have "the" perfect song list. Play music you enjoy. Choose songs that work for your band and market. Use the two principals I've discussed here to strategically think about your songs.
To find out what kind of bands are the most popular in your area check out TheBash (Gigmasters). Follow the link and click on the Chat icon. Tell them you're considering joining but you'd like some information about which band categories are the most popular in your area. Ask for the top 5 with some stats. They'll gladly provide it. You can use that information as a bench mark for your own band.
If you haven't already, make sure you read the first article in this series.
If you want better paying gigs, you need to take a hard look at your song list. Are you playing the kind of music people are willing to pay for? If not, add some!