I am certain that what is written here will offend some! Please believe me when I say, that this is not my intent! Moreover, what I have written here has absolutely no connection to any musicians, groups or producers I am currently working with or have personally worked with in the past. I have always strived to affiliate myself with professionals.
That said, I just find it depressing when I see cover bands in establishments that support them over original music. An other depressing thing are the apathetic drones who are "entertained" by this sort of garbage. Some of these establishments may claim they have no recourse but to discourage original live music, and defer to what the crowd wants. To be fair, these places need to get crowds in the door to make money and stay in business, and there is a risk in allowing unknown talent to provide for an entire Saturday night's entertainment. However, don't these establishments also have a responsibility to the cultural health of the community, as well? The entire problem forms a vicious circle. The patrons don't care how they are entertained and want to remain in the sphere of what they already know and are safe with. This forces the establishments to provide this kind of cheap entertainment to make money and draw in customers. The bands are made to feel like they cannot become successful unless they cater to both of these factors. It's funny but honestly sad to see bands show up at these 'Gin Mills' like they are rock stars! They play old rock music that they didn't write and then sell out the bar because drunk people eat it up. Usually it's washed up guys in their 40's, 50's and even 60's who could never make even a side living in the music business when they were young. As a result they are all working in offices and have this crazy idea that they are still hot? What in the world do they think they're doing?
Let's be clear about this issue of which I speak! The way I see it, there are actually two types of bands... Bands that play original music, that may include their own interpretation of a few well-chosen covers, and bands that play nothing but cover songs. Some cover bands claim to have a few original songs in their catalogue, which are usually hurried through before the crowd shows up, or sandwiched between piss-poor crowd-pleasers..... Listen closely to these original songs, and you will hear the true lack of talent within. In most cases they rely on music that already has approval from the unwashed masses. The thing of it is, by choosing to exclusively perform the catalogues of other song writers, you become a human juke box! If that's the case, I'd much rather listen to the real thing! Besides, everyone has probably already heard a much better version of the song. In a vast majority of cases it is just sad. Usually only a few musicians in the group has even a modicum of talent. The only thing more pathetic than a 'near senior citizen hipster' struggling on weekends to get his band a gig... is that same 'near senior citizen hipster' playing covers of songs in his twenty something son/daughter's MP3 collection. I would much rather fail at an attempt at originality than have a mediocre success at peddling second hand crap. Even annoyingly untalented folk and acoustic singer/song writer catastrophes are better than your average cover band. Please people, you have heard what is out there and selling records and you know in your heart, most of it is not good. Try your hardest to transcend the raw sewage trap of performing other people's songs.
Lastly, I'd like to address the mindless entertainment seekers who are frequenting these types of venues. You are the largest contributor to this problem. Every time you pay cover to hear covers, or purchase and consume innumerable overpriced drinks until the band starts to sound good, you are contributing to the death of art. It is your apathy and unwillingness to seek out something original that keeps music culturally sterile and stagnant. Let's face it, there is nothing worse than a lame ass, three dollar cover band. To the musicians out there... If you find yourself with no alternative whatsoever, try to be absolutely amazing! ... Play your ass off! ... Only play top 40 songs if they are actually good! ... Hone your craft! ... Ask people who you are not friends with and have never met their opinion. Find the most belligerent drunk in the bar and see what he or she thinks. If you can impress that miserable wretch, as depressing and sad as it is, you have truly accomplished something.
In the past six months, I have personally sold the rights to a large portion of my compositional output. Question is, did I accomplish something through my music all these years? Accomplishment in this case might be viewed by some as ‘selling out!”. I still wonder... but never regret “Packing my bags and going home!”. In the larger scope of things, my music actually saved my financial ass! That in itself, as far as I’m concerned, is a major accomplishment! ... Go figure!!