De wereld van rechten in de muziekindustrie is een lastige. Veel begrippen zijn vaag gedefinieerd en de regels die bestaan laten een flinke ruimte tot interpretatie. De term ‘covers’ is niet terug te vinden in de auteurswet, dus hoe bepalen we wat hier is toegestaan? Laten we beginnen door eens de feiten op een rijtje te zetten.
Auteursrecht heb je automatisch op het moment dat je werk maakt. Hoef je niets voor te doen.
Sinds 1912 is vastgelegd in de auteurswet dat de auteur zelf mag zeggen wat er met zijn werk gebeuren mag.
Zo kun je vastleggen dat jouw werk niet bewerkt of aangepast mag worden uitgevoerd. Dit doe je dan meestal bij een rechtenorganisatie zoals Buma/Stemra, zodat andere muzikanten die geïnteresseerd zijn om jouw werk uit te voeren maar op 1 plek hoeven na te vragen wat er wel en niet mag.
Één van de dingen die je niet kunt vastleggen, is dat anderen jouw werk niet onbewerkt mogen uitvoeren!
Een andere artiest is dus vrij om jouw nummer te ‘coveren’, op een aantal voorwaarden
De originele auteur wordt vermeld in de exploitatie
De tekst is niet aangepast
Het nummer is niet bewerkt
Vooral die laatste voorwaarde laat ruimte voor interpretatie. Een cover is nooit exact hetzelfde als het origineel, dus is het dan ‘bewerkt’? In de meeste gevallen blijkt dat je best ver mag gaan met het uitvoeren van een nummer in eigen stijl, maar zodra je delen echt gaat aanpassen of remixes gaat maken dan ga je die grens over. Daarnaast, als er veel geld mee gemoeid is dan zullen de rechtenorganisaties sneller achter je aan gaan zitten en komt de grens dichterbij te liggen.
Cover er naar hartenlust op los, en als het een oud of onbekend nummer is waar niemand meer financiële interesse in heeft zou ik niet al te bang zijn om er je eigen draai aan te geven. Vermeld wel altijd in alle gevallen de originele auteur. En ja, je mag het dan gewoon live uitvoeren. Je bent officieel wel verplicht om je setlist te sturen naar Buma/Stemra zodat zij netjes de originele auteurs kunnen betalen (vanuit de optreedlicentie van de locatie waar je speelt, niet uit eigen zak dus).
Rehearsals. You either love them or hate them. I’ve always had a mixed relationship with rehearsing. In one way it’s exciting to create new songs, play together, try things out. But it could also be very tiresome to practice the same songs over and over again, working on the details while you just want to play and have fun with music.
I’m convinced rehearsals should be fun, always. It should be a good mix of the joy of making music and working hard on improving/creating new songs. If the hard work is challenging, then that is fun as well.
How to make hard work challenging and FUN
The hard work usually contains a lot of decision-making. What to do with the bridge; shall we leave the solo in or out; what kind of sound would fit here; the guitarist should be silent here but he does not agree; etc. This leads to decision fatigue, which in turn leads to bad decisions. To make this process easier, work as follows:
3 step Decision-making Process
Propose an idea for change
Without discussion, try out the idea
Vote if it was an improvement. If not, discard.
The reason why this works so well is that you remove discussion – a source for disagreement and tension within the group. The creator of the idea will make sure he expresses it very clear and convincing, as he knows there is no further discussion possible and once voted down, it’s discarded.
On the other hand, it requires that everyone gets the opportunity to propose their ideas without fear of rejection or disapproval. Pay attention to the more shy people in your group and actively ask them if they have ideas.
You will find that an open environment where everybody’s input is appreciated to be nice to work in. The ‘hard work’ of practicing the same song over and over is no longer boring, and becomes an active process that invites you to come up with ideas. If everybody can play the song and is out of ideas, it makes no sense to practice that song anyways. Which brings me to the next very important element in having fun with rehearsals: doing it efficiently and effectively. Nobody wants to waste their time, right?
How to make rehearsals effective and FUN
It all starts with a proper setup. In my studio, I have seen many bands that come in unprepared:
They don’t know what gear / cables / stands are available in the room
There is no plan
They spend a large amount of their time unpacking and hooking up their instruments
The first point should be tackled by a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach. Once you’ve done many gigs you’ve learned this principle the hard way: basic stuff isn’t available or the stuff you have breaks the moment you need it. Prepare a kit with extra cables, spare strings, extra adapter, etc. Take that same kit to your rehearsals, because – you won’t believe it – stuff breaks there too.
So you come in and you start unpacking, right? Not so fast buddy. Pay attention to your line up. It’s a good idea to always stand in the same formation – it will teach you to instinctively look to your left when you need to contact the drummer, for example. Find your spot and unpack. Hardware first, cables last.
Once everything is prepared it’s time for the soundcheck. Also in rehearsal rooms, it is important to do a serious soundcheck:
You will gain experience with how to adjust volume and effects
You learn to pay attention to how everything sounds together
You are able to hear yourself and the other band members well
Usually there is no monitoring available in a rehearsal room. If your band has in-ear monitoring that is great, but if not it will be hard for everybody to hear themselves and the other players well. Let’s dissect the problems that arise for a regular band (drummer, bass player, guitarist, vocalist) when they enter a room without (enough) monitors available.
For the vocalist it is crucial to be able to hear their own voice. Without monitoring, this has to come from the PA which means the vocals need to be mixed with a higher volume than the rest of the music. The guitarists can use their own amplifiers as monitors for themselves. If the amp is pointed straight towards the guitarist, but away from the rest of the band, the guitarist can hear himself well while the others are not blown away by the guitar sound. Finally the drummer needs to make sure he can actually hear the rest of the band from behind his loud instrument. This can be achieved if we place the speakers of the PA behind the drummer, and the amps of the guitarists towards the drummer as well.
Now its time to try a short section of one of your most powerful songs to make sure everyone can hear each other well. Check? Lets do the warm-up
Most of us musicians just love to play. The more the better, right? So it makes sense to release some tension after the setup phase. Unpacking and sound checking can be boring and frustrating at times. I prefer to warm up with a jam, if that’s what your band is in for. It boosts creativity and openness, which is the right way to start an effective and joyful session.
So, each band member knows their parts and the songs that will be practiced today. No?
Work on a plan
This part should already have been prepared before you entered the practice room and each band member should have been familiar with it. It’s surprising how many bands come together to practice while they have no idea what they are going to play – how the hell can you prepare for that? A well structured plan is crucial for so many reasons. But let’s start with the practical side of things: How should you create a plan?
Every once in a while (every 3 – 6 months), organize a band meeting. Let every member communicate:
Their ideas for the band
Their feelings about how things are progressing
Achievements and goals
With these ideas and goals, draft together a global plan to reach the goal.
Break the plan in smaller chunks: a rehearsal plan.
Let’s take an example. A band wants to add 10 cover songs to their repertoire before November (week 44). They’re also working on their first album, which they plan to release by the end of this year. Oh and then there’s a gig coming up November 8th. Their global plan looks like this:
Now they need to think about the amount of rehearsals they need to achieve their goals. Most bands prefer to pick a fixed day and time every week – the amount of rehearsals is fixed and they distribute their goals along the available time. I’m not opposed to doing it this way, but there are two pitfalls:
You spread too small amounts of work on too many rehearsals, thereby wasting time
Rehearsing becomes a dull routine when you do it weekly at set times
A fixed day and time has the advantage of easier scheduling, and that may outweigh the disadvantages for your group. Just make sure to keep these pitfalls in mind. With a fixed schedule I suggest you adjust the amount of work to the available practice time: study 12 cover songs instead of 10 or advance the album release. Don’t spread just because you have the time.
As this band is an advanced group of musicians, they understand practising cover songs is mostly self-practice. Therefore they schedule rehearsals only once every two weeks. At time of rehearsal, they make sure they can play their parts flawlessly – all that’s left to do in the practice room is to make their parts fit together.
Realizing they need to practice for the gig as well, they make a more detailed plan for the first 10 weeks:
Notice how the workload is kept as constant as possible. By recognizing time is needed to practice the gig setlist and to review previous studied cover songs, they plan to learn more new covers in the first rehearsals. If they have issues with a particular song, or lack behind, they have the ability to plan an additional rehearsal in the odd-numbered weeks in-between.
If you don’t take the time to sit down with pencil and paper to draft such a plan, you are not going to spend your time as efficient as possible. Moreover, your work load is spread unbalanced over the available time and you risk not getting things done. Take 10 minutes each band meeting (2-4 times a year) and make a plan. Thank me later.
Once you’ve all agreed on the global plan, you should create more concrete plans for each rehearsal. The way I prefer to do this is to have the band leader decide on the actual songs to be prepared for next session, at the end of each rehearsal. So for example, at the end of the rehearsal in week 38, the band leader repeats the plan for week 40: ‘2 new cover songs and rehearsal of the previous 6 cover songs’, and the band decides which cover songs they want to play (you may decide all of this upfront during the band meetings, but in my experience it keeps it more exciting to leave things undecided and to not blindly follow a fully defined plan. Fix the global plan, fill in details later on.)
It’s a good idea to have a band leader. Someone who cuts ties in hard decisions. I prefer the vocalist to fulfill this role, as he/she:
Has to carry out the main message to the public, and therefore needs to fully agree with it
Doesn’t have to spend a lot of time during packing/unpacking: the perfect moment to chitchat about the plan and focus while the other members are getting their instruments ready
So, back to the rehearsal room. The band members decided last time they want to practice Stairway to Heaven and Summer of ‘69 today, and work out a new idea of the guitarist. Everyone practiced their parts at home and today they work on the songs together.
We are at the core of the rehearsal session. As we have planned to study 3 songs today, it’s tempting to divide the 3-hour session into three 1-hour parts. Don’t do that. Just start with one of the three songs (Stairway to Heaven, Summer of ‘69, new song) and see where it will take you. Sometimes it’s easy and you’re done within 20 minutes. Move on to the next song, because that one might take you 2 hours. If you run out of time, continue the next rehearsal session. At some point you will get caught up, or you will find your planning was too tight. In that case, you might be able to plan an extra rehearsal. In any case, don’t rush just to keep aligned with the planning.
Efficient practice requires intense focus. Making music can give you a tremendous lot of energy, but it still makes sense to spend time on recovery as well. Don’t fear to take a break in your session. It might bother you that time in the rehearsal room is expensive, but it pays back to start the second part of your rehearsal with a fresh mind.
You notice I advice to spend a considerable amount of time on ‘overhead’: build up gear, sound check, taking breaks. The time this takes is constant per session, so it makes sense to book longer sessions. Three hours is sort of the usual de-facto rehearsal time, but it would be better to book one 6-hour session instead of two 3-hour sessions. Here are the reasons why:
It saves you one build-up break-down cycle, and a sound check. That’s 30 minutes (almost 10%!)
A 6-hour time period is a considerable amount of someone’s day – it makes the band members more devoted to the session, as opposed to a 3-hour session in the evening which is just one of many daily tasks someone has.
You feel less pressure to spend your time well all the time. Suddenly taking a break feels normal.
Often you can get a discount for longer sessions
Band practice is much like individual practice. The same principles of effective practice apply, for example:
Don’t mindlessly play songs over and over
Spend most of your time on
parts that contain errors
The added component is the group interactions. If you apply my 3-step decision-making process, you will tackle any issues on that part.
At the end of rehearsals – you can do this while packing your gear – talk to each other. Is everybody happy with the progress (both individual and of the band)? It is a good idea to record your full sessions and share them afterwards. Nobody is going to relisten 3 hours of rehearsal footage, but you will capture new ideas that otherwise might be forgotten.
Can rehearsing be FUN?
What do you think? Share this article with other members in your band and talk about it. It takes everyone’s understanding to create an effective and productive practice session. Practice makes progress!
The image of the rehearsal room was made by combining the following objects: