Battle of the bands competitions have been around for years, and while they've probably started to lose some momentum chances are they'll be around for years to come. The reason for this is that the entire concept of a band contents is based on the following things that lure bands in.
- Big prizes
- A chance at fame
- Opportunity to play a club they'd never get a gig at
Lets face it, there isn't a lot of attraction to having to pay your dues for bands - most would prefer to take a shortcut right to the fame and fortune that they've seen on TV and the movies. We live in an 'instant gratification' world these days and bands want to sidestep the work of building a sustainable career and would rather win the "rock star lottery" and become instantly famous overnight.
A recent Reverbnation.com survey indicated that as much as 75% percent of indie bands want a record deal and I'm sure that much of the same demographic signs up for a battle of the bands competition for similar reason.
Like it or not, a Battle of the Bands competition is considered 'an event'. The bands have invested their own money to participate (these are the same bands that rarely invest in promoting their own shows) and then have to go out and convince their friends and family to come to the show to see them - another thing that these bands often aren't willing to do.
The band competition is a business model that manages to suck in beginner bands in droves as well as bands that should know better but decide to do it anyway. So why do they do it?
Why bands sign up for Band of the Band Contests
- Some bands sign up because they are new and it's a chance to play at a 'real' club.
- Other bands sign up for the opportunity to get some free recording time, local radio play or a chance to put a club that they could never get themselves booked into on a regular night onto their 'band resume'.
- Some bands want to get feedback from the music industry judges to find out if they're on the right track with their music and performance.
- Some bands are also hoping that some agents, labels or other 'industry big shots' are in the room to 'discover' them.
Like I said in my first Battle of the Bands post - these reasons may be right or wrong for your band depending on where you're at. However, the reputation of the event is very important since there are increasingly many shady competitions out there that prey on the hopes and dreams of young musicians.
However, there is a negative element to playing these shows in my personal experience.
Firstly, you can pretty much forget about winning any new fans at typical Battle of the Bands gig. The reason being that each band is bringing out their personal cheering squad to ensure that they have the best opportunity to win the competition; even if they like your band they won't dare "betray" the band that they came to root for.
Next, networking with other musicians is often trickier at one of these gigs. People take the competition part of this too seriously when the reality is that winning the event isn't likely to make a whole lot of difference to the band's music career anyway.
Lastly, if you come into these types of events looking for some validation from judges, crowds or prizes that help to take you to 'the next level' chances are you'll be disappointed. An angel isn't going to drop from the sky, point at your band and proclaim that you are destined for greatness - you have to claim it for yourself and bust your ass to make it a reality.
I did my fair share of Battle of the Bands in my time and for the most part they were great learning experiences if nothing else. If you decide to enter it - just make sure you go in with your eyes wide open and your feet grounded in reality. Do your due diligence and make sure the bar or promoter running the show is reputable before you hand over your hard-earned cash.
There's more to say about Battle of the Bands yet - next post I'm going to dive into the business model and perhaps remove a lot of the appeal of these contests at the same time.
Have a Battle of the Bands story to tell? Share it below in the comments!