As part of a new feature on Already Heard, singer-songwriter and Engineer Records employee Mikee J Reds will be writing a monthly column on a particular area of the music industry. 

With experience from being involved in several bands, touring throughout the UK and involved in an independent label, Reds has worthwhile valuable knowledge which we feel makes him ideal for this feature.

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions in this feature are solely of Mikee J Reds and not of Already Heard. 

Hey I am Mike I have quite a few years under my belt when it comes to music, whether it be playing it, organising it or helping running independent UK record label Engineer Records.

The kind people of Already Heard have been nice enough give me this wonderful piece of internet space to speak out about what I think of certain situations within the music “scene”. Be it right or wrong, it will always be something I am passionate about and I hope it is an enjoyable and sometimes a helpful read.

Battle Of The Bands

I shall try to keep this fair, ie looking at both sides of the coin but having dealt with Battle Of The Bands contests on many occasions or known those who have, I find one side is a lot darker than the others.

For those who don’t know what a Battle Of The Bands is I shall explain. It is pretty much what it says in its title, Bands battling it out for some prize may it be cash, time in a studio to record or a support slot for a larger more high profile show, the prizes will always vary some may even get the winner a record deal.

So with the positioning of the dangling carrot i.e. “The Prize,” it makes the whole situation a competition. Now this is where it gets to me, music is not a competition, its an art not to be judged by well judges but to be heard, felt and lived. How do you judge art, someones blood sweat and tears I hear you ask?

Well one would hope that professional songwriters/singers and musicians would be brought in to be able to judge song structures, gage the crowds reaction, vocal performances etc but sadly 99% of the time this is never the case.

It seems to be standard practice that the judges are in fact the audience, so yes what it actually comes to do is who brought the most to the show. This being the base, it seems to be saying that band with a crowd is better than one with a smaller crowd? This to me seems a little off.

Popularity over most likely talent? Now don’t get me wrong this won’t be at every BOTB. To be honest I am sure there are times that bands have worked VERY hard to get their fan base from creating awe inspiring songs and mind blowing performances, but truth be told the vast amount of time is that the band who have the biggest crowd is the band who seem to be the youngest.

This is down to their positioning in life, at their time say mid-teens the bands are school bands, all still in school with not only the odd fan following them or friends but in fact a whole class or if they are even luckier a whole year. These numbers then blow anyone else out of the water. It is the not the younger bands fault that they in a sense win by default but the organisers of battle of the bands.

I shall move on as I don’t want this all to be about me targeting the younger bands, as the real problem is those who seem to think it is a good idea to hold a BOTB. I do to a point get why someone see’s it as a good thing to have in their town. It gives bands the chance to get out there, play some shows to crowds they may have never reached before however sadly a lot of that crowd is not there to see them and will in fact just walk off until their “mates” play, they are however captive till the end of the show if they do want to make their vote count, nicely done!

From experience, bands do not get paid at this sort of show and if you go to BOTBs it will shock you, BOTB are very popular reason being the prize therefore the bands who are playing it will really promote, beg and promise all manor of favours to friends,family and loved ones to come down to this one big show. Excitement is created and a lot of pushing is put in to it.

This means a lot of people come through the door and the price is rarely cheaper than a standard gig, now bearing in mind they are not paying for any of this as it is a BOTB could they not make the gig cheaper? Some may say the money that is being raised from the savings is put towards the prizes, however again sadly from experience this is usually not the case.

So all in all the BOTB is one big money maker for a organiser who has to do very little to get the crowds in, it really is a little bit of genius but quite sickening to the stomach. These sort of events are causing bands to be taken advantage of and preventing what I feel are REAL shows, where crowds turn up for the new music, to interact with likely minded people not to be there as a number to help someone win some awful prize. There is however the ODD battle of the bands who seem to get it right, and bands do go on to some great things thanks to the surge and publicity gained from winning the competition, but most of all are a waste of time and devaluing music. Personally I would say it would not be a sad day to see the end of these tragic fixed events.

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