The myth that playing covers for money is somehow ‘selling out’ because you should be working on your original stuff is absolute BS.
Let me tell you what happens when you get regular paying ‘cover’ work:
Your musicianship gets better and better
Play Six nights a week for six months, you get really competent and ‘free’ with your playing. Your technique improves, you find that you can play things that you never thought you would be able to… I’m always exploring the music, always trying to express it better… Playing every night, you really begin to think into the music, you find that you can play exactly what you are thinking ‘in the moment’.
Your creativity is enhanced
By being exposed to diverse music, and by developing the the tools to express yourself, your writing inevitably benefits. Because of constantly playing and thinking about music, when you do sit down to work on your own stuff, you will be more prolific – and (I find) more inspired.
I’ve always written songs and music. And I’ve always been into improvisation and ‘weird’ stuff ( from early Floyd and John cage to Kait Dunton) as a result of the years spent playing covers 6 and 7 nights a week I feel totally free now to really express myself (click here and here for two of my recent improvisation projects).
Also, I’ve done two (covers) gigs this last weekend (June 2017), a wedding and a 50th party …and I’ve earned enough money to pay all my bills for the next month.
Working with great music.
Spending time learning and discovering the structures and harmonies of Songs and pieces put together by great writers and composers
Whatever the genre or style, it’s of great benefit to your musicality to discover how the music hangs together and works. Even if it’s not your thing personally, it’s an education – and often an inspiration for your own creativity
You’re getting paid for making music! Look around, what are the majority of people doing to earn money! I know plenty of musicians with crap day jobs, doing stuff they don’t enjoy to finance the music. Wrong way round I would say.
Fancy the gig on a cruise ship? Click here for my complete guide
You are doing what you love doing, what you were put on this earth for. If it’s in your heart, if you are a musician – you should be playing music. And a gig in a covers band leaves you with your days free to concentrate on your own creativity.
Your confidence will increase Both as a musician and in your personal life. Large numbers of people enjoy your playing and music, you are appreciated. The better you get at it, the more your originality and creativity will shine through – in the way that you perform and interpret the music you are playing.
Not only with your own music but in the music you play on stage. Ok, when you are learning something you may have to ‘copy’ the original, but once you know it, you can often take it somewhere else again – really give it your own spin.
[warning! Playing in a tribute band you’ll have to just copy the original. Good for your technique maybe but not for your inspiration. Do it if needs be – but be aware – the limitation and repetition will drive you nuts.]
So, to conclude. Anyone who’s done a 6 or 9 month contract playing 7 nights a week on a ship will tell you – your playing and musicianship really flies. You just get better and better at it.
Don’t be safe – live. Do what you love doing. Imagine financing your life from playing music. If you don’t feel quite ready for it yet, get practicing, get in a band – play, play and play some more. You can do exactly what you want to do if you put your mind to it.
That playing other people’s music is somehow ‘selling out’ is an absolute myth. You will be earning money, developing your skill and advancing your career. Win win win.