Battle of the Bands Competitions | Are they worth it?

Live at the Battle of the Bands 2006
Image via Wikipedia

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart – Battle of the bands competitions and are they worth it? Just thinking of this topic brings up a bunch of feelings in me and makes this a bit of a ‘charged’ issue; so I think that means I’m supposed to share this with you guys!

However, this is also a pretty big topic and there are a lot of angles to cover – so I’m feeling a multi-post session coming on. I guess we’ll see.

Okay, so let’s start at the beginning and assume that you don’t already know what a battle of the bands competition is, so here it goes:

A battle the bands contest is basically an event to get numerous bands to play an abbreviated set (so more bands can play in a finite amount of time) to compete for a grand prize of some kind. The prizes vary from musical instruments and supplies from the local music instrument retail store to recording time at a local studio to winning a spot opening for a famous band.

Depending on how the contest is run, a band may have to pay a fee to enter the contest, sell a certain number of tickets in advance of the event to qualify, win the most or a certain number of votes or get the thumbs up from an audition.

Once the contest begins, bands are generally judged by their stage performance, quality of the music, crowd response along with other factors which may include the number of actual tickets sold (perhaps as a tie-breaker between two otherwise equally talented bands). Judges are often from the ‘music industry’ though that may be a very loose interpretation.

While the lure of winning the grand prize is ever-present, many bands (especially those that are just starting out) are happy just to have the chance to perform on stage at a larger club with full sound production and lights compared to their garage or basement;the prizes are just the cherry on top.

So is it worth playing a battle of the bands showcase? It’s hard to say really, because it depends on several factors including:

  • The size of the competition and prizes
  • The band’s reason for wanting to compete
  • How your band feels about pay to play
  • Whether your band is experienced or just starting out
  • The legitimacy of the event itself
  • How much you have to pay to enter the event

I can give you my biased opinion either way, but it’s up to each band and their particular circumstance to make that decision. I will give this word or warning however – winning a battle of the bands is rarely a shortcut to a sustainable music career.

There is no shortcut to paying your dues, writing great songs, giving killer performances and knowing your way around the business end of being in a band. There are plenty of bands that win the big prize in these types of event and crash and burn shortly thereafter.


Heck, you can even look at how many viable careers have come out of events on a far bigger scale like American Idol and Rockstar: Supernova/Rockstar: Inxs!

Anyway, I’m going to leave it at that for this post – can you sense that I was holding myself back a little? Yeah – I was because, there’s a lot more that I have to say about Battle of the bands competitions. Ultimately, the choice is yours…but perhaps you’ll want to read the rest of my case before you render your final verdict – stay tuned!



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