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What do you do when your favorite legendary rock band breaks up or the members start dying off? Easy - you start a tribute band! A tribute band is a musical group dedicated to performing the music of one particular group, usually a very famous one. Sometimes, the band so honored is no longer performing, but some are still on the road.
One band that has spawned dozens of tribute bands is The Beatles. With the Broadway musical Beatlemania and other shows like 1964, imitating The Beatles is big business. It is also inspired by a love affair with the music.
Some Beatles tribute bands just sing the songs. Other bands use wigs and make-up to create the illusion of the original Fab Four and hire members based on how much they sound like John, Paul, George or Ringo. Being able to keep up with The Beatles as a musician is also very important in some Beatles tribute bands.
Another popular tribute band pays homage to the 1970s rock band KISS. These guys dress up as the original members, theatrical make-up and all, and rock out to "Dr. Love" and "I Was Made for Lovin' You," while spitting fire from the stage in best Gene Simmons fashion. Other bands that have a tribute band traveling somewhere include Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, the Monkees and even the Osmond Brothers!
Most of what brings musicians together to form a tribute band is a collective love of one band's music. Many bands start with this simple beginning and go on to be successful. Whether it truly constitutes a band is a topic for another article, but Elvis Presley impersonators are certainly a unique genre of tribute band.
It is also a good idea for a tribute band to get a good attorney on board, for the sole reason of securing performance rights to the songs they love. An attorney can help the band wade through the legal quagmire of music copyrights, so that their performances are legal and will not cause problems for any venues where they play. Available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, class reunions and occasionally, gigs in real stadiums, the tribute band is a modern variation on the venerable garage rock band.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is a tribute band?
A tribute band is a music group that specifically aims to honor and replicate the music and style of a well-known artist or band. These bands often strive for authenticity, meticulously recreating the sound, look, and stage presence of the original act. Tribute bands can range from local groups covering hits at small venues to touring ensembles that play large concerts, sometimes even collaborating with or receiving endorsements from members of the original bands they honor.
How do tribute bands differ from cover bands?
While both tribute and cover bands play music originally performed by other artists, the key difference lies in their focus. Tribute bands dedicate themselves to one particular band or artist, often replicating their performance style and appearance closely. Cover bands, on the other hand, typically perform a wide variety of songs by different artists and do not necessarily try to mimic the original acts' performances or looks.
Are tribute bands legally allowed to perform another artist's music?
Yes, tribute bands are legally allowed to perform another artist's music live, as long as the venue has the appropriate music licenses. These licenses, typically obtained from performing rights organizations like ASCAP or BMI, cover the public performance of copyrighted music. However, tribute bands must be careful not to infringe on trademarks or engage in activities that could be considered misleading or confusing to fans regarding their affiliation with the original artist.
Can tribute bands record and sell the music of the artists they are paying tribute to?
Tribute bands can record and sell the music of the artists they pay tribute to, but they must obtain mechanical licenses to legally distribute the recordings. This ensures that the original songwriters and rights holders receive royalties for the use of their work. The Harry Fox Agency is one such organization that facilitates the acquisition of mechanical licenses for cover versions of songs in the United States.
What impact do tribute bands have on the music industry?
Tribute bands contribute to the music industry by keeping the music and legacy of original artists alive, often introducing it to new generations. They can also stimulate interest in the original artist's work, potentially increasing sales of albums and merchandise. According to a report by Nielsen Music, live music events, including tribute band performances, play a significant role in driving music discovery and consumption, which can have a positive ripple effect on the industry as a whole.