Cover Bands: Do You Sell CDs?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by FatTeleTom, Feb 16, 2009.


  1. FatTeleTom

    FatTeleTom Member

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    Any of you folks in cover bands sell CDs of your stuff at gigs? If so, how is that received?

    The (mostly) cover band I'm in lucked into some free, high-quality studio time and came away with 10 songs (9 covers, 1 original) that are probably of sufficient quality to appear on a CD. It's a pretty representative mix of what we play at bar gigs--a mix of soul/r&b/rock, plus a little country and jazz.

    We're wondering whether it's worth pressing some CDs and selling them (cheaply) at gigs. Costs would be minimal--couple hundred for licensing fees and the costs for duping the CDs themselves.

    Blues and jazz artists sell CDs of "covers" all the time, but somehow this seems different.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Bankston

    Bankston Member

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    My old band sells CDs of original music at mostly cover shows for $5 a pop. They sell just about every CD they brought with them at the show.

    Not sure how it would work out with a Covers CD but I'm willing to bet they will sell if you price it right.
     
  3. ezyrydr

    ezyrydr Member

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    I think it's a great tool to get your band into bars to play, using it in a press pack or whatever but I don't think selling them makes much sense. I've seen some cover bands do this and I always scratch my head...why would I want to hear this band play "Last Dance With Mary Jane" when I could just hear Tom Petty play it?

    There is an exception though. Lets say you are a Reggae band and you play Metallica songs... well then you have your own thing goin and it might be worth looking into getting the rights to sell that stuff.
     
  4. tone4days

    tone4days Member

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    to do it legit, you'd have to get permission and pay the folks who own the rights to those songs ... iirc, you usually pay a flat rate based on how many you press and there is a minimum (so even if you only press a few, you pay as if you are printing thousands)
     
  5. FatTeleTom

    FatTeleTom Member

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    "but I don't think selling them makes much sense. I've seen some cover bands do this and I always scratch my head...why would I want to hear this band play "Last Dance With Mary Jane" when I could just hear Tom Petty play it?"

    Yeah, that's the question. Some of versions differ significantly from the most famous recordings, but some are pretty straight-up covers. I've had some people say they'd love to buy a copy, but I think others would be in the "scratch my head" camp.

    Yes and no.

    At least in the US, the usual way to do it as far as I know is to license the songs through the Harry Fox agency (they don't have some or all rights to some songs, but they do handle the bulk of tunes).

    Harry Fox charges a fixed fee per song you want to license, as well as per song, per copy royalty fee. The minimum order going this route is 25 CDs. The per song, per copy royalty fees are minimal--about 9 cents per copy as I recall, while the fixed fees are about $15 or so.

    So, yes the fixed fee is fairly steep for a short run compared to the royalties, but the total cost does vary with the number of CD copies licensed.

    For our 100 CDs with our 9 songs, the licensing would be just under $200.
     
  6. Jazzydave

    Jazzydave Seeker Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm not in a cover band but I do sell my original material CDs at my shows - depends on where and when as to how much I sell them for.

    Just being honest here though, for the most part I wouldn't buy a CD from a cover band unless it had a majority of originals that I heard you play. I agree with ezyrdr in that there are exceptions to that rule but that's pretty far and few between. Blues, jazz, reggae, etc are well known for doing unique covers. Most cover bands I've seen are usually time frame based - 70s,80s,90s, etc. They're doing the same ol' party favorites - in those cases, I'd rather just listen to the original. Then there are guys that play covers that have their own unique take on it that's inspirational - I'm all over that.

    I usually have to show a place that I can do some covers depending on the venue where I usually send them over to my youtube site. Some people sound awesome on a CD and horrible in person. My myspace and youtube works as the perfect "Electronic Press Kit" in that respect.
     
  7. geoff_hartwell

    geoff_hartwell Member

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    Good points all around.

    My advice is not to look at it as a "profitable" venture, as much as promotional. You can get away with not paying the licensing, but all it takes is one Musician's Union or ASCAP representative to find you and the penalties are pretty stiff. They see themselves as the IRS auditors of music. Not fun.

    Go to www.harryfox.com and obtain the licensing quick and easy. Discmakers.com has a great "short-run" service where you can make just a few hundred discs at a time, by uploading artwork and mailing a master copy with many packaging options. Best results would be to put the package together (have someone do the cover and back cover in photoshop), sell them for a modest price (with a thin profit margin) at your gigs, and mostly use them for booking and promotion.

    It'll make a few bucks here and there, but mostly keep the word out.

    Good luck!
    :)
    GH
     

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