One thing I’ve found from all my years of playing in a live band is that things are constantly changing. The type and quality of equipment is always changing. The current popular songs are always changing. Your live band has to constantly change as well just to keep up with everything else. Believe me, the best way to let your band die is to refuse to change.
One of the biggest problems I see in live bands is they become unwilling to change to fit the their ever changing environment. The biggest reason for this is because of plain old laziness. It takes work to keep your band up to date and relevant. The biggest mistake that bands make is an unwillingness to change their set list. You really need to get rid of songs that you’ve been playing forever and start learning some new songs. Your song list should be constantly added to and changed up at gigs.
I’m not saying you should quit playing the songs that are guaranteed to fill the floor with people everytime you play them. But you should be willing to learn new songs and maybe swap out a classic song that you’ve been playing for a while with a classic that is new for the band. Your fans will appreciate hearing you do some new music instead of seeing the same show they saw from you last year. A key thing you have to be aware of is if you’re bored playing a song, your audience is bored of hearing you play it. Learn some new music!!
As for guiding your live band’s evolution let me tell you a little bit about my bands. When I started my band “In Stereo” we wanted to play lots of electronic, sequenced dance music. We got two girl lead singers and proceeded to get out and play that type of music. Things went well and we got a lot of gigs but over time the gigs became fewer and there began to be tensions in the band.
This led to a change in the band. I knew that I wanted to move away from the electronic dance stuff and play more dance rock and rock-n-roll. So when the girls decided to leave we rebuilt the band with guys that wanted to play more rock. We continued to play and the gigs picked up again and we became more popular than ever. I was able to help guide the evolution of In Stereo by having a clear, defined goal of what I wanted to do with that band and it payed off very well.
Now let me tell you about my original band “Shufflin’ Noah“. Shufflin’ Noah started out as an all original band which incorporated multiple songwriters and singers. All the songwriters would bring completed songs to rehearsal and the band would learn them. We played a lot of gigs, recorded an album and had a great time doing it.
After a while, the enthusiasm wore off and we retired to the studio. Songwriting became a lot more fun as we learned to create music together as a group. We have evolved into an amazing jam band and have taken improvisation to a level we never dreamed possible. It’s been a very organic evolution and has not been planned. The downside is, we don’t play out very much and that’s a drag because we have a ton of music that deserves to be heard. Hopefully, soon, you’ll see Shufflin’ Noah on the stage again.
My point in all this is that it’s very important to let your band evolve. To succeed, you must allow your live band to change and grow. If it’s not then you need to force a change, such as learning new songs. It’s always better if you have an idea of what you would like to evolve into and have a plan to market that evolution so you can keep playing your live gigs. Rock on people!! -Matt-
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