HomeBlogsDekeSharon's blogBe A Band

DekeSharon's picture

Let's say you've just started a new professional group, or have had one for a little while, and are looking for a direction. You've sung some songs you like, emulated your favorite groups, but want to take your sound and career to the next level.

I have 3 words of advice for you: Be A Band.

Vocal groups are the obvious model for an a cappella group, right? Well, I'm suggesting that mold be broken, and here's why:

Vocal groups primarily sing songs written by other people.

Bands write their own music, and when they perform a cover by someone else, they make it their own (ala the Red Hot Chili Peppers version of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground")

Vocal groups usually have one lead singer, and the other members sing backup. Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Bands have a collective of members, each an expert at his/her own instrument and role. The Beatles.

Vocal groups wear matching outfits, and tend to be identified closely with a specific era, as few show longevity. They follow trends.

Bands are more timeless, having their own look, and changing their sound from album to album. They make trends.

Vocal groups focus their stageshow on synchronized choreography.

Bands don't dance.

Vocal groups show up on posters in teenage bedrooms.

Bands show up in tattoos.

People like and listen to vocal groups, who sometimes have hit songs, but they respect bands, who make hit records.

I think you get the idea.

By the way, "Boy Bands" are not bands, nor was the Starland Vocal Band. If you have to ask, it probably isn't a band.

I'm suggesting you be a band, because it means you will make your own path, forge your own sound, and eventually carve out your own niche in a genre that needs more shepherds and fewer sheep.

It is more difficult, more risky. You can perform a festival set doing other people's music, but then they'll walk away and never remember your name. Far more difficult to win over a crowd with your own music, sound, style... but then they'll walk away with your CD and their name on your mailing list.

It might take you years to really blossom as your own band, but that time is well spent. It's not like your group will collapse in the interim, as you simply need to start substituting in your own songs for your less successful cover tunes. Then write your own songs that fill the role of specific cover tunes in your set (bass solo, energetic opener, heartfelt ballad...), and one day you'll have young groups asking to sing your arrangements of your songs, whispering to each other in the back row of your concert as they make notes about how to learn from you.

If you need one mantra to hold while making the transformation to band, it should be this:

You will not imitate others. They will eventually imitate you.

Comments

Bold words

In a community where we tend to love those who imitate well (instruments, lead singers, drums, whatever), these are bold words.

But if we're ever going to grow as an art form, we need more of this mentality.  Thanks for sharing, Deke.

--Dave Brown

now: Mouth Off host | ICCA & CARA Judge

then: CASA president, CASAcademy director, CASA Bd of Directors | BYU Vocal Point | Noteworthy co-foun

Heresy.

 Stone him!

+5 Ditto!!

It's strange, I've really been waiting to read these words or hear that from someone else. The House Jacks have been one of my favorite bands ever, because when y'all do music, you do your own stuff, and it's got such style and flair that it's very hard for me to convince others that it's voices only, and that it's not covers of some unheard of song.

The thing about doing covers, in my opinion, is that we love to sing songs we know. I grew up listening to my dad & older brothers sing barbershop and a Capella covers of various doo-wop songs, and I loved singing with them. As an aspiring vocal musician (translation, I have ZERO talent with playing instruments, despite years of practicing guitar, ukulele, drums, piano), 8-years-running vocal drummer, I've found myself wanting to make my own music more instead of just singing someone else's song. It sounds rather selfish, but I want MY voice, MY music, MY writing to be heard eventually in song, rhythm, etc.

Darn it, I had a point here, but I seem to have lost it (had to run outside to warm up my car), so I'll just say thanks for sharing this with us. I wholeheartedly agree.

Music...joy, comfort, pain, sorry, happiness, pleasure, excitement. It's all there.

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