Playing tight - getting a feel for good timing
Anyone who has ever been a guest at a band contest knows the drill: 10-15 euros for admission, six to eight bands in one evening, relatively short performance times and an audience comprising mostly friends and relatives of the participants. These events can incur mixed feelings. It’s a great chance for new music to flourish, and for bands to show their stuff, even if these evenings break convention with a packed schedule. So for whom is a band contest worthwhile in the end? Are band contests still important for the newcomer scene or should they disappear from the event cosmos? Let’s take a closer look at this whole situation:
Forming a functioning band (more on that here) is a real challenge. After that, the jump from rehearsal room to stage is the next and most difficult step. A band contest with professional equipment and a well-rehearsed team, including light and sound technicians, offers all the prerequisites to make such concerts possible. Given the level of awareness of the participating bands, it is also advantageous that the audience is made up of distinct parties. It means that bands have a chance to reach the audience members who came for other participants and win them over. All in all that’s definitely a point for band contests. Especially for newcomers with little stage experience and relatively few contacts in the music scene.
In the case of a band contest the organizer has the responsibility of organizing the entire concert. This means booking the location, scheduling all bands involved, and marketing the event through various media channels. That’s a huge effort that you as a band don't have to deal with at this point. Sounds great at first, but it does pose multiple risks for the organizers: One band could cancel last-minute, another might only bring in ten guests—the list goes on. And that is often the reason why up to eight bands are on stage in one evening. It might be exhausting for visitors, but it’s the only way for the organizers to manage the evening financially: Most of the time band contests are financed exclusively by the entrance fee.
Good question. Here, incentives and motivation play a decisive role. A band contest creates a competitive climate with attractive prizes and opportunities to play in front of an even larger audience than typical concert evenings. In addition, there are tempting final rounds in which, in addition to a top-class jury, an A&R or music producer could be happy to stop by and look for new talent. Also important to note: many band contests attract big sponsors and brands which supply the prize and in turn use the band contest to increase their reach. It’s a win-win situation for everyone—at least for all finalists and award winners.
A competition will always mean there are winners and losers. This creates mixed feelings. Of course, bands that are eliminated as “losers” in the first round go home a bit hurt. Nevertheless, it is usually precisely these evenings that become beautiful memories in retrospect. A performance on a real stage with professional lighting and sound technology in front of spectators who may have never heard your music before. This fact should surpass everything else and be the main draw when deciding to participate in a band contest.
Conclusion: For us, a band contest is a clear asset and should continue to exist. Even if the atmosphere is not like a “normal” concert, it is still special and often unforgettable.
Not all band contests are going to be a win-win situation. Before participating, you should read the conditions of participation in detail and carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages. For example, consider the participation fee, the quality of the event locations (including technology), and the ability and reach of the team behind them. Purely commercial thoughts should not be in the foreground here.
A band contest that, in our opinion, meets all the requirements is the SPH Music Masters. We were just recently live on site ourselves and as part of the jury were able to visit the SPH team in the Germany finals in Montabaur. We got to look behind the scenes and also talked to the organizers about economic issues. What this young team does (mostly on a voluntary basis) is impressive. The competition is committed to the values of fairness, transparency, and cooperation among all acts, and we endorse all of this with a clear conscience.
We have created a platform for musicians that brings musicians together and the SPH band contest offers the opportunity to play live concerts—sounds good, right? So what are you waiting for?
Originally published on December 15, 2021, updated on December 15, 2021
Main topic: Belting - a singing technique with two medal sides