A cover band (or covers band), is a band that plays mostly or exclusively cover songs. New or unknown bands often find the format marketable for smaller venues, such as pubs, clubs or parks. The bands also perform at private events, for example, weddings and birthday parties and may be known as a wedding band, party band or function band. A band whose covers consist mainly of songs that were chart hits is often called a top 40 band. Some bands, however, start as cover bands and then grow to perform original material. For example, The Rolling Stones released three albums consisting primarily of covers before recording one with their own original material.
Cover bands play several types of venues. When a band is starting out, they might play private parties and fund raisers, often for little or no money, or in return for food and bar privileges, although many professional musicians refuse to do this. With enough experience a band will begin to "play out" professionally at bars and night clubs. Some cover bands are made up of full-time professional musicians. These bands are usually represented by an 'entertainment agency'.
Unlike some famous bands, when the cover bands consist of professional musicians they often do not have a 'fixed line up' of musicians, rather they are often made up of a flexible line up with session musicians, utilizing "dep" (deputy, that is, stand-in) musicians where necessary. The music industry is considered by many musicians as a relatively difficult industry to make an income in, and cover bands can be a good source of income for professional musicians alongside other work.
Cover bands play songs written and recorded by other artists, usually well-known songs (as compared to "original" bands which play music they themselves have written). There are a wide variety of cover bands - some cover bands play material from particular decades, for example a 1980s cover band. Others focus exclusively on the music of a particular group, usually iconic groups, and are called tribute bands. It is not uncommon to find tribute bands performing the songs of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Pink Floyd, Oasis, Duran Duran, Aerosmith, or U2. Some cover bands will play a variety of song styles, from different artists, genres and decades. Another type of cover band is one that plays songs in a different genre or style than that of the original composition (e.g., jazz versions of what were originally hard rock songs).
Some cover bands perform covers that are of a different musical genre from the originals. For instance:
Turetsky's Choir, a former synagogue choir from Moscow, is famous for its remakes of music pieces from different styles, ranging from opera classic to pop hits. The band's repertoire usually includes covers only. Some of them are arranged into medleys.
Dark Star Orchestra - Grateful Dead cover band that recreates the feel of individual Grateful Dead performances.
Three Dog Night - '60s and '70s rock band that almost exclusively recorded covers of songs from many different artists and genres.
Sha Na Na - Another '60s and '70s rock band that plays rock and roll music from the 1950s and early-1960s. They burst onto the scene in 1969 when they performed at the Woodstock music festival and went on to have their own variety show similar to The Monkees.
Rock Star starring Mark Wahlberg who had a small group that performs cover songs from a fictional band called Steel Dragon. He eventually became the lead singer of the said band when a recorded performance was seen by the band members.