David J.




Read David's bio and previous columns


January 12, 2009

The Cover Band Career Question


Cover bands play weddings. Cover bands play the party circuit. And cover bands play at local bars. Some of the best cover bands include some phenomenal musicians. These bands play other people’s music incredibly well. And if they are part of a great cover band, the members can make a nice, part-time living, usually complementing their “day-job” wages.


The career question to ask ourselves is whether we will play other people’s songs for the rest of our lives, or will we develop our own songs. Will we be a cover band, or an original artist? This is the “Cover Band Career Question.”


We all begin our careers learning and performing other people’s material. Going to school is a cover band journey: We learn what and how others think. We mimic their work in class, after school clubs, teams and troupes. We are products of a cover band system. This is part of being human. We train each other to do what we already know.


But there comes a time in life when we have to decide whether we will produce original work.


If we stay on the cover band career path, we will likely work for someone else, probably in a management role. And the essence of a manager’s role is to ensure that the company’s songs are played.


Now, I have trained thousands of managers. I have been a manager. I know the valuable role managers play in a company. So, if we are inclined to spend our careers in corporate management positions, and are not keen on setting out on our own, we can still take our act to another level. Here’s how.


The best cover bands “interpret” songs in their own unique way. They put their own spin on the songs they play. They inject their own creativity while still keeping the songs true to the original versions. We can do the same as managers. We can bring our own energy, positive attitude, creative mind, and collaborative approach to everything we do. And then we can achieve, or surpass, the company’s goals with our own signature and flair.


But the challenge remains, cover bands are not unique. And because their geographical reach is small – there are cover bands in every city and town – their pay is inherently limited. The market does not reward what is common.


Original artists, on the other hand, ultimately have the greatest earning potential. They create their own art. Their work is unique, and the market rewards that which is scarce.


Original artists also have the freedom – and also the risk – to keep creating their own songs. The risk of course is that their work will not be accepted, or worse yet, panned. But the reward is that people will be drawn to their music, bring others along with them and create a demand for even more of the artists’ work.


So, what are your career plans? Will you be a cover band, or an original artist? If creating your own music is your calling, look for ways right now to grow beyond your current cover band work, responsibilities and relationships. Begin by dedicating more time to writing and performing your own music. Spend more time with original artists. And begin freeing yourself of cover band beliefs: “Only other people’s work is really good”; “I am not ready to go out on my own”; “What if people don’t like my work?” Then, replace cover band thinking with original artist beliefs: “I have a voice I must express”; “There is an audience for my work”; and “I’m on a mission, and I will not be denied.”


Your answer to the Cover Band Career Question will determine the direction of your life, whatever your profession.


What songs do you want to play?


David J. Pollay is the creator of The Law of the Garbage Truck™. Mr. Pollay writes the Monday Morning Momentum Blog each week. He is a syndicated columnist with North Star Writers Group, creator and host of The Happiness Answer™ television program, and an internationally sought after speaker. Mr. Pollay’s book, Beware of Garbage Trucks!™, is due out in early 2009. Mr. Pollay is the founder and president of the personal coaching and seminar organization, The Momentum Project.


© 2009 David J. Pollay. Distributed by North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.


This is Column # DJP094. Request permission to publish here.

Op-Ed Writers
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Bob Franken
Lawrence J. Haas
Paul Ibrahim
Rob Kall
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Gregory D. Lee
David B. Livingstone
Bob Maistros
Rachel Marsden
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Jamie Weinstein
Brett Noel
Feature Writers
Mike Ball
Bob Batz
Cindy Droog
The Laughing Chef
David J. Pollay
Business Writers
D.F. Krause