“Just what we need. Another tribute band.” This is a sentiment you often hear in the “Live” music scene in LA and other major metro-hubs. And it’s true. Everywhere you turn there seems to be another homage to Led Zeppelin, a group of mop-tops in pin stripes trying to recreate the Beatles or some really talented but aging guys getting together to bring back the progressive rock glory days of Yes and Pink Floyd.
Truly, there seems to be a dearth of tribute bands out there. But when you scratch the surface, and look under the hood, good tribute bands are playing more gigs, better venues with larger audiences and a fatter paycheck then their cover band, and original music counterparts. Why is this? It just makes economic sense. Most club owners, event promoters and entertainment buyers for large corporate and private event gigs, all say the same thing. “Our clients want a sure thing. They want to know that the entertainment they are booking is going to have a positive impact on the goal expectations they have for the investment they are putting into their event.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if the goal of a entertainment buyer is to put on a wow factor show, help create a specific ambience or just to sell drinks and get buts on the dance floor; tribute bands take a lot of the guesswork out of the success equation.
Tribute Acts automatically come with a built in ‘cha-ching’ factor,” stated one club owner, “We can book acts that play the music our regulars like. We know the atmosphere the band will create. We know that promoting them has a lot more pulling power in the area for those that may not know my club but may love the original band. Finally, if the band is any good we know that the will have a buzz already going in the area and will draw their fans and friends that might not otherwise know about us. It’s a win-win.”
Notice the word “GOOD” has been used a couple of times in this article. Promoters and buyers all agree that being a good tribute band is the key. “We see a ton of really bad tribute bands everyday trying to get on our roster, and frankly most of them end up in the circular file.” grieved one talent agency rep. “For every good act we consider, there at least five to ten bad acts.”
So what makes a good act? Everyone seems to agree on this point; believability and a pro-attitude. A booking agent at a well-known West Coast agency put it this way, “A good tribute act is able to make a connection to a viewer that rings true on almost every sense level. When I close my eyes the band SOUNDS like the original. When I plug my ears, the band LOOKS like the original and when I put it all together the band FEELS like the original, not just during the music, but between the songs as well, a point many of the bands seems to forget about these days. As a result, the band triggers my memories and my sense recollections of the group, even if it’s a band I didn’t grow up with, and I feel like I am at one of their shows.”
As to the attitude portion, the agents went on to say, “Having a professional attitude is just something that goes across the board with every act we deal with. If we can’t deal with them on a professional level, I don’t care how good they are, we know there will be problems down the road.” So what is a pro attitude? Here is a list of the top five things promotors, agents and club owners agree on:
- The band has their business act together.
- The band knows the importance of communication.
- The band is aggressively doing their own marketing
- The band is self-contained and prepared.
- The band knows how to read and respect the audience.
Volumes can be written on those five topics alone judging from the horror stories we heard, but we will save those for another time.
So what does this have to do with Raise Your Glass (RYG)? At the beginning, we opened with a quote, “Why another tribute band?” and frankly it’s a question we get asked a lot so we thought we’d share why. Outside of everything that was stated in the first few paragraphs, when RYG co-founders Scott Ramsay and Katrina Danford sat down to think about putting “another” tribute band together, a lot of options were open. What do most tribute bands do? It’s a simple formula:
- Find a band that had a fairly good string of hits or marked a significant era in music or pop-culture.
- Calculate the number of living fans that are still out there wanting to hear that music again.
- Determine the feasibility factor of finding enough musicians who can not only play the parts but LOOK the part.
- Solve for the ratio of time it takes to really create a top-shelf production show versus the time you and your buddies have to squeeze in between day jobs and a real life.
- Once you can take it out of the lab, verify the results through real world repetition of the experiment. In other words, it may sound great in the garage, but how does it play in Dayton?
So the very first thing that Scott and Katrina did was to take the formula and throw it out the window. “We knew we were going to do a tribute project.” said Scott, “We knew we wanted it to be great and fun for us and for the audience. We also knew that we wanted to do something to set us apart from the rest of the scene.” After running the usual list of subjects from The Pretenders, to Pat Benetar to the Motels and even some off the wall ideas like a female fronted Dio or a rocked up Patsy Cline tribute, both Scott and Katrina hit on P!nk, or Pink for those who hate seeing artists spell their names using symbols. “It just made perfect sense.” Katrina explained, “First and foremost we both love Alicia Moore’s (P!nks real name) music. Second, it’s a stretch but I do bear a slight resemblance to P!nk. But beyond all that we felt we had a concept that was perfectly tailored for the growing demand of artists and talent buyers for a highly-bookable production show.
“We weren’t doing an artist whose primetime had come and gone, we were doing an artist who is still at the height of her popularity and still going strong. Then we have an artist whose music crosses many generations of fans. From pre-teens to Baby Boomers and cross all socio-economic borders, P!nk’s music resonates with fans. Then we add in the whole party vibe that a P!nk concert is all about. The show, the spectacle, the audience getting off their feet and having a good time, it’ just is perfect for any venue from the local night spot to a Vegas Showroom to a major corporate event. Finally we add in the cost of going to see top-tier artists like P!nk nowadays. Tickets can range from $100 to $500 or more to see some of the big acts these days. RYG offers a truly viable alternative. For the price of a nose-bleed seat concert ticket, you can come see us front and center, have a couple of drinks, even take a date out to dinner and still have change left over for lunch the next day.”
Makes sense to us. So will it work in the real world? Time will tell. One thing is for sure, if Raise Your Glass hit its mark, it will be one P!nk Elephant” everyone will be talking about.