The Rise of the Tribute Band

How much money is there being in a tribute band?  A lot–if you do it right.  From Pricenomics:

When Henry Charles, George Hankers, Jamie Searls, Aaron Foster, and Matt Brinkler step on stage, their audience goes wild. The five handsome singers belong to a hot British boy band, and they are currently on tour. They have headlined festivals, flown to Dubai to perform, and sold around 250,000 tickets. After each performance, hundreds to thousands of mainly teenage girls rush them for autographs.

Unlike other boy bands, however, the group does not have a top-of-the-charts single, and the five singers are not celebrities. They perform the songs of the boy band One Direction, but they are not One Direction. Rather they are Only One Direction: “the world’s best One Direction tribute band.”

Similar to how “cover bands” play hit songs written or popularized by famous bands instead of their own material, “tribute bands” do not perform original songs. Instead, they exclusively perform songs by the band they pay tribute to, usually mimicking the band’s appearance, style, and name. With Only One Direction, fans get to see a performance very similar to One Direction at a fraction of the price.

The success of Only One Direction is not an anomaly.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “The Rise of the Tribute Band

  • May 20, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I remember an interview with Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) talking about making a living in Canada. He said he has hit songs, gold records, music awards… but the reality is he will probably still have to be an opening act for a Tragically Hip tribute band at some summer festival.

  • May 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    If you read Peter Ames Carlin’s book on Springsteen (2012) this was a major issues with the E-street band back in the late 70s / early 80s. Apparently Gary Talent met the bass player in a Springsteen cover band and found out the guy made more money playing in the cover band than he did playing in the real thing. Part of the motivation in Bruce making “Born in The USA” was he wanted the boys in the band to benefit financially.


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