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#3117038 11/15/21 09:41 PM
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Tina Turner is suing an impersonator/tribute act. The case originally came about in Germany, and she won because the lawyers argued successfully that posters promoting the tribute could confuse people into thinking it really was Tina Turner. But on appeal, another court overruled the decision, saying the possibility of confusion didn't overcome the need for artistic expression.

A new case has apparently gone higher up in the court system, and has not yet been adjudicated. Turner's lawyer argues that Tina Turner should have control over how her image and likeness are being exploited commercially.

I can't help but wonder if BMG is behind this, since Tina Turner sold her name, likeness, and catalog to BMG. There are more details on the story here.

This recalls a suggestion I made in a tribute bands thread - that the bands themselves license any tribute bands as having the official approval of the band that owns the rights. That would even allow for several licensed tribute bands. Hopefully, this would mean the tribute bands would be vetted by a band's remaining members, and judged to do a credible job of sounding like the band.

I wonder how this will all play out...

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When I grew up, cover bands were expected to sound exactly like everybody on the pop charts. So when we did a Beatles song they were a Beatles Tribute Band, when we did a Stones song, we were Stones Clones and so forth.

I see Tribute Bands now playing in theaters for high ticket prices and wonder how this happened. After all, they only have to cover one band, we had to cover dozens wink

A couple of years ago we did a gig and during the middle of the night, a guy came in doing a Neil Diamond impersonation to karaoke tracks. He called himself Neil Zirconium (clever). In respect for the guest, we didn't play any Neil Diamond songs that night.

If Tina (or BMG) wins the suit, I suspect we'll see something similar to the licensing of audio clips.

A friend of mine went to a theater to hear the Kingston Trio, since all 3 members are deceased, isn't that band which claims to be the real Kingston Trio actually a tribute band?

I don't get the tribute band thing, but I guess it works. There is more than one way to make a living playing music.

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Last edited by Notes_Norton; 11/16/21 02:15 PM. Reason: typo

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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
A friend of mine went to a theater to hear the Kingston Trio, since all 3 members are deceased, isn't that band which claims to be the real Kingston Trio actually a tribute band?

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My friend's wife went to see Foreigner last year. Mick Jones (the last original member) didn't play that night. Was it really Foreigner or was it a tribute band?

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I don't get the tribute band thing, but I guess it works. There is more than one way to make a living playing music.
I like tribute bands, I've seen a few and would play in the right one. I once auditioned for a Tom Petty tribute band but didn't get the gig.

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Originally Posted by PrairieGuy
Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
A friend of mine went to a theater to hear the Kingston Trio, since all 3 members are deceased, isn't that band which claims to be the real Kingston Trio actually a tribute band?

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My friend's wife went to see Foreigner last year. Mick Jones (the last original member) didn't play that night. Was it really Foreigner or was it a tribute band?

Foreigner is a good example of a band that's "licensed" by the original members. A lot of the people in the current lineup have been playing in it for a long time.

That said, I've seen them. But I also saw Lou Gramm and Mick Jones perform at the Songwriter's Hall of Fame induction ceremony several years ago. No diss on the current band, they're solid entertainers who give the people what they want, but Gramm and Jones were at another level.

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Not long ago, I saw an announcement about an upcoming YES tour, where none of the original members are in this version of the band?

The Tina Turner/BMG issue reminds me of the old Doo-wop bands, where some manager or agent owned the rights to the name, long after the original members were retired or dead. There was also a period where Fleetwood Mac's manager claimed to have rights to that name, and was briefly promoting a completely different band under the Fleetwood Mac name.

I don't see how this sort of thing serves the artists, nor the audience, it's just a money grab. I'd be inclined to sue if I'd paid for "Tina Turner" tickets, only to have some cover band show up instead.


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Originally Posted by Winston Psmith
Not long ago, I saw an announcement about an upcoming YES tour, where none of the original members are in this version of the band?

I think that highlights the difference with something fairly innocent, like where Notes talked about covering songs at gigs, versus having a "tour" and charging significant money to re-create the sound of a specific band for an evening.

If people want to hear Yes, there are recordings done by the original members smile

Perhaps part of it is people not being able to let go of their memories. In other words, maybe tribute bands aren't about them fooling the public, but the public trying to fool itself.

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When I was quite young, the old timer musicians used to talk about 'ghost bands'. It would be the Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw or some other band with replacement members for the deceased (including the band leader), playing off the same charts as the original. Being an all-instrumental orchestra, I can see that. And they would say something like "The Glenn Miller Band conducted by John Smith."

But in our generation, things are different. With our small groups, we know each player personally. You can replace a non-essential member, but can you be the Stones without Mick or Keith? Can you be Led Zeppelin without Page or Plant? (BTW there is an all-girl Zep tribute band called Lez Zeppelin, and they are pretty good at it).

Remember the flood of Elvis Impersonators after he died? So is a rock band without any members just an impersonator band?

I'm not passing judgement in any way, just exploring the subject.

But I know I'm not going to the theater and pay premium ticket prices to here a cover band that is interested in only covering one band's music. Other people obviously do, and that's OK. I can hear a good bar band cover dozens of artists and only pay for my drinks.

But why can't a good, normal cover band get in that theater, charge premium ticket prices and say, "This song is a tribute to The Rolling Stones" followed by "This next number is a tribute to The Beatles" -- Tina Turner - Janis Joplin - Tom Jones - Hollies - Yes - Rose Royce - Jimmy Buffet - Vanilla Fudge - Miracles, Zombies - Who - Guess Who, and so on. And cover them just like the record, like we used to do when I was a kid in a touring cover band?

I have a friend who is currently in a Rolling Stones band. I asked him if he missed playing other people's music, and he said, "Yes, but this pays well, and we're gigging."

I can't argue with that.

Me? I'd rather play a variety, but if I needed work and a spot in a tribute band was open, I'd take the gig if I thought I could cover it.

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Our covers band always liked variety. Let's play Led Zep, Cake By the Ocean, I Wish, Woodstock, Just a Girl, Fortunate Son and Pick Up the Pieces. What could be more fun than that?
Don't know if this is the best way to sell ourselves or not, but we're mostly concerned with playing good music and enjoying doing so.

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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
....Remember the flood of Elvis Impersonators after he died? So is a rock band without any members just an impersonator band? .....

Part of the problem here is that Elvis seemed to have been impersonating himself for the last few years of his life on this planet.
This made it much too easy for others to follow suit after his passing.

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Originally Posted by harmonizer
Our covers band always liked variety. Let's play Led Zep...

Mitch Gallagher plays sometimes in a really good Zep cover band. He said the hardest part was playing guitar sloppily enough to approximate Jimmy Page smile

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I think Tina is a bit of a special case, because there is actually an authorised stage production/musical biography/concert show active in Hamburg (it premiered in London I believe) under the name "Tina - the Tina Turner Musical".

One of my regular gigs is programming/systems operator/actor/live keyboardist (in that order) in the oldest active Rammstein tribute band, and every one of our gigs is licensed by the venue.

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Originally Posted by analogika
I think Tina is a bit of a special case, because there is actually an authorised stage production/musical biography/concert show active in Hamburg (it premiered in London I believe) under the name "Tina - the Tina Turner Musical".

One of my regular gigs is programming/systems operator/actor/live keyboardist (in that order) in the oldest active Rammstein tribute band, and every one of our gigs is licensed by the venue.

I wonder if licensed has the same meaning as paying to a performing rights organization as opposed to the artist. The other issue with Tina Turner is she no longer owns her catalog.

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When we were being courted by Motown, they wanted us to change our name to something that they would own. I think that was standard in the old days. After all, how many members were in the Clovers, Coasters, Drifters, Miracles, Chicago, and so on. The "Label" could hire, fire, and/or run 4 different bands on tour with the same name at a time (I know they did this with The Patters as I knew one of the lead singers until he died). As time went on and communications improved, we got to know the people in hit bands, so it got more difficult to do that. You don't see four different Rolling Stones on tour.

Our talks broke down with Motown over money, so we didn't have to change our name. Eventually they picked their second choice, who changed their name. I don't know if their deal was any better or worse than the bad contract we were offered.

So what is the difference between a tribute band that isn't associated with the owner of the name, or a band by someone who owns the name but doesn't have any of the members in it? Just a legal thing.

Are the Kingston Trio without any original members a tribute band? Single artist cover band. Or the real thing? Which one of the 4 touring Platters all owned by the same entity were the 'real' Platters? Were the others Tribute bands? Cover bands? Franchise bands?

So I suspect that if BMG/Tina win their lawsuit, there will be big changes in the tribute band industry.

It won't make much difference to me. I have no desire to see a Tribute Band.

Most of the concerts I go to are by cover bands from long dead artists whose music is now in public domain: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Dvorak, Shostakovitch, and so on. I love a nice symphony, and they usually come to town on week days when I'm not gigging already.

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There's a saying "it's the singer, not the song," but I think the success of tribute bands requires editing that phrase to "it's the singer, not the song...but if the singer isn't available, then I want to hear the song."

What about a cover song? I think it depends on whether you're trying to copy it, or interpret it. Of course, anyone going to see a tribute band is probably going to want a copy, not an interpretation.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by analogika
I think Tina is a bit of a special case, because there is actually an authorised stage production/musical biography/concert show active in Hamburg (it premiered in London I believe) under the name "Tina - the Tina Turner Musical".

One of my regular gigs is programming/systems operator/actor/live keyboardist (in that order) in the oldest active Rammstein tribute band, and every one of our gigs is licensed by the venue.

I wonder if licensed has the same meaning as paying to a performing rights organization as opposed to the artist. The other issue with Tina Turner is she no longer owns her catalog.
In the case of Rammstein, the licensing is direct *in lieu* of performance rights organisations‘ fees.

Rammstein are big enough to have left all such orgs and license directly.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
<...snip...> Of course, anyone going to see a tribute band is probably going to want a copy, not an interpretation.

I would suspect they would not only like the music to sound like the recording, including the arrangement and solos, but they would probably want the people in the band to look and dress similar to the band they are covering.

Which of course isn't quite what the real band would do.

I've been an opening act for big stars, and I've also been to enough concerts to know that the famous bands don't always do their live performance songs exactly like the record.

So is the Tribute band that covers them like the record really just a cover band?

Of course, I'm asking questions which have no definitive answer, but are fun to ponder anyway.

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Originally Posted by analogika
In the case of Rammstein, the licensing is direct *in lieu* of performance rights organisations‘ fees.

Rammstein are big enough to have left all such orgs and license directly.

That's great information. So the idea of bands "licensing" their tribute bands has already been done, and works. Cool.

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I've never been in a Tribute Band.

Closest I got was a Motown cover band but at the first practice the keyboardist told me "We can't sound just like the record, cover the signature licks, take the sax solos and do what you can".

He was spot on, we had 2 male vocalist/frontmen, one keyboard, one guitar, one bass and a drummer. You need female vocalists, a string orchestra, a horn section, a choir, tamborine, congas, bongos, hand claps, etc.
We always had gigs and filled the dance floor with happy people singing along.

The same was true for the Top 40 Country band I was in long ago. They had one male and one female lead singer/frontperson and the same backline as the Motown band. No fiddles, no dobro, no pedal steel, etc.
You end up making your own version of the song. If people like the beat for dancing and can sing along on the chorus, it works.

The 2 bands I was in the longest (15 years total between the 2) just played songs, often I was playing songs I'd never listened to at all. We sounded just like us, playing other people's music in our own way. We booked lots of shows. Here and there we'd toss in an original song and see what happened. If it kept the dance floor going or we got requests for it, it stayed.

I'm way too lazy to be arsed to learn all the parts of somebody else's music. I don't even play my own songs "note-for-note", I'm always looking for a way to make it better.
Somebody wants to play in a Tribute band, my hat is off to them.


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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
I've never been in a Tribute Band. Closest I got was a Motown cover band but at the first practice the keyboardist told me "We can't sound just like the record, cover the signature licks, take the sax solos and do what you can".

The happy audience you describe is anecdotal evidence that it's the song that matters more than the personnel or the execution.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
The happy audience you describe is anecdotal evidence that it's the song that matters more than the personnel or the execution.

The 'tones' entire history proves that. We have a continually great audience and we've sucked for 36 years. idk


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Someone mentioned Motown. A bass player acquaintance posted on FB the other day that he went to a Motown tribute concert just last weekend in Sanford , 20 miles north of Orlando where I am. He commented that the bass player nailed the Jamie Jamerson parts, but needed to use 2 fingers to execute them.

I think of these tribute bands as doing museum period pieces. Musicians need to play to earn money. I wish the players well, but I'd hate to be in a position that required I attempt to imitate some specific musician. In one of the interviews (over the years) with Keith Jarrett, he was asked something about pianists wanting to play like he did. Jarrett replied that they should "seek what the artist seeks " - not to simply imitate. Lofty advice but I like the sentiment.

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When I was young, and DJs weren't mainstream and considered 'less-than' a real band, we were expected to cover the hits as closely as possible to the hit record. If the solo was iconic, we'd have to cover it as well, if not, we could do our own as long as it had the same general vibe. We were being multi-artist tribute bands.

And along cam DJs so that those people who want to hear the song exactly as recorded but at an ear-damaging volume, no longer had to rely on bands trying to cover the song close to exactly but at an ear-damaging volume wink

In my duo now, we cover some songs as closely as possible for a duo (I make my own backing tracks), some songs close, with all the important parts but our take on the song, and some songs quite different from the hit recording. It depends on the song, and how I predict the audience would react to it.

I've made some mistakes and had to start from scratch again. For example, when we learned "Grapevine" I chose to do a backing track more like the original Gladys Knight record, it didn't flop, but didn't spark like it should, so I went back, created a new backing track more like the Marvin Gaye recording and now the audience reacts like it should, with enthusiasm.

I think the fact that when I turned 40 and up to the present, I targeted the 50+ year old audience, here in Florida. I saw it as a big, underserved market, and it's still big, no longer underserved, but we got our foot in the door at an early level, and have managed to keep up with the changing tastes of that market as the years roll on by.

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