How Many Songs Does Your Band Play?

MichaelAndrew3435

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Between covers and originals, how many songs do you typically run through during a 2 hour rehearsal, and how many songs does you band know and keep in their back pocket? I ask because I'm starting to believe my band is just trying to do way too much by adding song after song to our weekly rehearsal list and I'm struggling to really understand the end goal here.

My band does a mixture of covers and originals and I've been playing with these guys for nearly a year. It took us several months to find a singer/song writer and we added someone just recently and so far, this person has been an excellent addition. We're actually starting to finish the instrumental OG's we've been working on the past year. And oh boy, there's about 20+ instrumental demos/rough cuts. Some are finished and some still need work with arrangements, leads, etc. Our singer joined the band three weeks ago and already has lyrics/melodies for 6-7 of them, which is terrific and I'm very happy with how this is progressing. In addition to these OG's, we probably know and occasionally play 20 something covers, so that's about 50 songs total if you factor in OG's and covers. Our singer is also in the process of learning some of the covers too, which is also great!

Here's my problem however, as I'm sure many of you know from experience, most musicians aren't the most organized folks on the planet. At this point, I think it'd be ideal to begin focusing on fewer songs and actually getting good demo recordings of originals with lyrics, but my band keeps wanting to do new covers just for the hell of it and I can't stop scratching my head. Most of the covers we play are deep cuts, and there's no intention on ever playing these at a gig. We basically do them for shits and giggles. We were doing them for awhile when we didn't have a singer, so it wasn't totally pointless I suppose (we'd take turns singing them). We're probably adding at least 2 new covers a week and to me, it's just a waste of time learning, and breezing through songs without taking more time to actually perfect them together. Every time we add, we gotta drop a few we never really got right because we probably only rehearsed it once or twice. See the problem here?

We've discussed trying to record some of the OG's and actually have something to send people, so I don't know, maybe we can play at a dive bar in a few months? Recording original material is what's most important to me. No, I don't think my band is ever going to win a grammy, but I'd like to create/record music we're all proud of. I have brought this to the attention of the mates, but I'm kinda getting the run around by being told something like "we'll get professional recordings eventually". But in my mind I'm thinking, how the hell are we EVER going to record anything if we don't finish the songs, get a rough recording with vocals, and rehearse the songs to a point where we're comfortable paying someone money to do a professional recording.

The intention of my band mates is not bad by any means, but at some point I think we need to stop adding/rehearsing new covers and focus our attention on something rather than try to do everything at the same time. What do we want to do or accomplish? If it's to get a good recording of a couple of our songs, then let's focus on this. There are only so many hours in a day, and we all have full time jobs lol. I'm sure there are professional bands and musicians out there that can handle constantly adding new songs to their repertoire and nailing them while simultaneously writing/recording their own music professionally, but we're not one of them LOL. Learning and memorizing 2-3 new covers for me is time consuming depending on what it is. This is time we could spend doing something much more productive in my opinion.

I'd much rather focus on recording at this point and I'm trying my best not to get frustrated. It's like my band has ADD and can't focus on anything. I know recording and playing a smaller group of songs, or working on finalizing arrangements is less fun than just BS'ing, but please stop adding covers to our repertoire we're never going to play live or record if you actually want to record an original. We can't do both. I recorded an OG with a previous band and we probably spent 3-4 rehearsals working on getting a good recording for it.
 
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sonar1

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We rehearsed once a week for a couple hours.
We’d keep 50-60 songs that could be brushed up to concert ready quickly (or were so simple we never forgot the head arrangement).
We’d start on adding one each rehearsal. Start with it, end with it, but mostly keep other stuff moving forward.
We played six-eight per set. 3-4 sets in a night.
”Low Rider,” and “Mustang Sally,” were a lot easier than the Steely Dan covers.
 
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Caretaker

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We had about 100 rock and NWOBHM ready to go(depending on the crowd).
Those that wanted Mustang Sally were SOL.
 

SteveC

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At our peak, we had a "play list" of around 200-250 songs - all covers.

We'd vary the set list for the gig type/venue. Gigs were usually three sets of 15-18 songs... about an hour of music, each set, with a bit of banter time. Sometimes we would have a 4th set, if the venue wanted us to play right up to closing. But, that was pretty rare.

So, we had to come to the gig with about 60+/- songs on the set list and have a few in our pocket for the typical requests (things we used to play and don't include in the set list any longer, or typical asks from the crowd).

We were always adding in new songs and dropping old ones. Yea - we had our "core songs", but you need to freshen the set list to keep things interesting. And, sometimes we (or the crowd) would just get tired of songs.

Rehearsals were always "the show". We didn't practice at rehearsal. We expected each other to learn the new songs on our own, practice them, and come ready to work out the arrangement together. Typically we added 2-4 new songs every other month. So, each rehearsal would include 10-20 mins on them, stand alone. then, we would just run the sets for any upcoming gig.

Generally, we'd rehearse for 2-2.5 hours, with a few breaks. A lot of times, when we were rearranging the sets & adding/deleting songs, it was just getting the song-song transitions worked out, so we'd only play the last 8 bars and the first 8, working the endings/starts.

Sounds like you guys need to decide what you want to be. We were comfortable in our skin as a cover band, so we just tried to do the best job we could at getting the crowd to dance & drink - that's the job.
 

Freddy G

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Since the chinese flu lockdown in March, my band has practiced once a week. Right now we have 43 songs down. But I had to object to a practice method where we would try to get through some songs in a 3 hour practice and then the next week we would keep going through the list of different songs. By the time we cycled through all 43 songs and started at #1 again everybody had forgotten it...or at least it was shit. So now we spend time on the details of songs that require attention. And the ones that are difficult get regular rotation.

It was so much easier when I was younger and had way more time to dedicate to personal practice.
 

SteveC

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If we knew a song, we would almost never refuse a request... there were a few songs (Freebird, Stairway, etc.) that we just politely declined. But, if it was a dance song and we knew it, we'd play it.

Sometimes, we would get them to order shots for the request.... like Margaritaville. If that was requested, we would say, "Sure... everyone go get a shot of tequila and come back to the dance floor."

We'd play something else while they were doing that. Then, when that song was over, we'd get them to hold up the shot glass, while we played that signature intro... stop... then, boom - everyone would down the shots!!! We'd pickup the song from there and everyone would start dancing."

Bar owners loved that!

Give the customer what they wanted.
 

socialhero

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My band does primarily originals but throws in 1-2 covers in each set, and at times we’ll mash part of a cover in between or at the end of an original.

Rehearsals depend on what we’re preparing for. We have around 40 originals and another ~10 In various states of completion. Then around 20 covers we can dust off.

If we had a gig coming up we’d plan the set list and run that end to end in rehearsals. If we’re prepping for the next recording session, focus is on whatever the agenda for that is. If neither of those, it’s whatever we feel like as we jam. :thumb:
 

MichaelAndrew3435

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At our peak, we had a "play list" of around 200-250 songs - all covers.

We'd vary the set list for the gig type/venue. Gigs were usually three sets of 15-18 songs... about an hour of music, each set, with a bit of banter time. Sometimes we would have a 4th set, if the venue wanted us to play right up to closing. But, that was pretty rare.

So, we had to come to the gig with about 60+/- songs on the set list and have a few in our pocket for the typical requests (things we used to play and don't include in the set list any longer, or typical asks from the crowd).

We were always adding in new songs and dropping old ones. Yea - we had our "core songs", but you need to freshen the set list to keep things interesting. And, sometimes we (or the crowd) would just get tired of songs.

Rehearsals were always "the show". We didn't practice at rehearsal. We expected each other to learn the new songs on our own, practice them, and come ready to work out the arrangement together. Typically we added 2-4 new songs every other month. So, each rehearsal would include 10-20 mins on them, stand alone. then, we would just run the sets for any upcoming gig.

Generally, we'd rehearse for 2-2.5 hours, with a few breaks. A lot of times, when we were rearranging the sets & adding/deleting songs, it was just getting the song-song transitions worked out, so we'd only play the last 8 bars and the first 8, working the endings/starts.

Sounds like you guys need to decide what you want to be. We were comfortable in our skin as a cover band, so we just tried to do the best job we could at getting the crowd to dance & drink - that's the job.
The songs you're covering make sense because you're a cover band, and when you're a cover band, you learn popular songs because that's what the general population wants to hear. We're covering deep cuts which no one would ever have any clue existed, and would mistake the song for one of our OG's LOL.

I like to cover deep cuts and stuff on my own time because that's how I learn new techniques and what not, but I do not teach myself 2-3 songs per week in this manner. I don't think this is a productive thing for a band to do unless they wanted to gig or record deep cuts. I don't know any band that does this lol.
 

Tim Fezziwig

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If we have a gig=40 minutes of originals- I have over 30 GREAT songs- we pick "the mood" we are going for. I arrange the set for dynamics- 6-8 songs. We were supposed to do a stream from Delaware-I had to cancel due to work- we had a Ringo +Friends set- 3 guitars-then "side guitarists" smoke- trio plays-then #1 side guitarist sings-then I sing-put down guitar...............it was going to be so fine.


Band practice is about FUN-if not I will quit. I'm "breaking in"-TWO new guitarists- so, it takes AT LEAST 15 minutes to teach them my parts-they do WHATEVER fits. We are trying to finish our 2020 album-then we have a 5 song EP to record-then- EXile on FEZZ Street Vol 1-5.

I have to remember all the lyrics+chords- no problem- I wrote them.

Cover songs? Too hard-I know 10-mostly Stones and Stooges.

Golden rule=40 REAL minutes=an album or a "show."
 

SteveC

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^^^ When I first started playing with these guys, I was thinking, "WTF with this shit? Why am I here?"

Dancing on Sunshine? Fuck that!
Billie Jean? Blow me!
Play That Funky Music? Ummm, no!
Brown Eyed Girl? Just shoot me in the dick!

Etc.

After a couple of gigs, I realized that it was so much more fun playing music for a packed dance floor, with people who were jumpin', jivin' & wailiin' - than it was is to play hard rock to a bar full of drunks and wanna-be musicians, who are judging every note.
 

MichaelAndrew3435

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Well after reading the responses here, it seems like lots of guys do a bunch of songs too. I wasn't sure how normal it was but it seems it's often the case after reading your experiences. Funny thing though, me and my group actually talked in length about getting some songs recorded and we're putting a plan in place, and I didn't even bring it up to them before we had the conversation. It's like they read my mini rant on MLP LOL. I suppose I'm just eager to get some songs recorded so I can share with friends and family. I genuinely like the band I play with. If I didn't play music with them, I'd have a beer with them anytime they wanted to.
 

Freddy G

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Well after reading the responses here, it seems like lots of guys do a bunch of songs too. I wasn't sure how normal it was but it seems it's often the case after reading your experiences. Funny thing though, me and my group actually talked in length about getting some songs recorded and we're putting a plan in place, and I didn't even bring it up to them before we had the conversation. It's like they read my mini rant on MLP LOL. I suppose I'm just eager to get some songs recorded so I can share with friends and family. I genuinely like the band I play with. If I didn't play music with them, I'd have a beer with them anytime they wanted to.
If you can, record all the time. I record every single practice, every full song. The next day I quickly mix it (we have a permanent multitrack set-up) and send out the MP3s to the band members. There is no hiding. It makes us all put a lot more into the performance that way I believe. And the benefit of course is refining details. Tape doesn't lie.
But also, if you get into and comfortable with recording all the time you won't get the "red light fever" that a lot of people experience when the big day arrives and they find themselves paralyzed in the recording studio.
 

SteveC

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If you can, record all the time. I record every single practice, every full song. The next day I quickly mix it (we have a permanent multitrack set-up) and send out the MP3s to the band members. There is no hiding. It makes us all put a lot more into the performance that way I believe. And the benefit of course is refining details. Tape doesn't lie.
But also, if you get into and comfortable with recording all the time you won't get the "red light fever" that a lot of people experience when the big day arrives and they find themselves paralyzed in the recording studio.
It was when we started doing this, that I realized I needed to work harder. "Tape doesn't lie" is true!!!
 

sonar1

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If you can, record all the time...

....you won't get the "red light fever" that a lot of people experience when the big day arrives and they find themselves paralyzed in the recording studio.
That red light is nerve-wracking.
I’ve done a lot of recording and it STILL is annoying.
 

socialhero

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There is no hiding. It makes us all put a lot more into the performance that way I believe. And the benefit of course is refining details.
100%. My band does this too, and it not only makes it clear whether we're on it or not (as Freddy said, tape doesn't lie), it also sets a standard that if you don't do your homework, or you're more interested in partying than rehearsing, you're gonna get singled out.

If you take your band seriously, you don't want to be the guy that makes the rehearsal recording sound like shit.

And if you don't, those recordings make it real easy to let people go - takes that whole "personality" thing out of the equation. :thumb:
 

OHIOSTEVE

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My band is new so 35 or so songs. All covers.... it sounds as if we play way more per set then most.. ...my solo stuff I know more songs than I can remember unless someone requests it. (Yeah this is bragging) played at a open mic one night...no one but me showed up. Bar owner paid me to keep playing. I played 6 hours straight, no break to even piss.... repeated 2 songs by request.
 


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