Although some may think Battle of the Bands events are all about competition, the events actually embody the spirit of camaraderie, professionalism and support for others in the music industry.
Some Battle of the Bands events are set up as fundraisers.
Chinami Goodie, a homemaker from Athens, set up a Battle of the Bands event in January 2018 to support a magazine run by Cedar Shoals high school. The event was held at the 40 Watt Club because it gave the participating high school bands a chance to play at a famous, local venue.
“[We chose] 40 Watt because the kids would come to perform there,” Goodie said. “[The kids] felt like they were a real band.”
Attendees were given a ticket upon entering and could drop it into a bucket to vote for a band. If someone wanted more votes they could purchase more tickets for a dollar.
The Nu chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi at the University of Georgia organizes the voting for its event in the same way.
Tau Epsilon Phi’s Battle of the Bands is its annual philanthropy event. This year the event was held on Nov. 12. The money raised from the event went toward Camp Kesem, an organization that sends children whose parents are affected by cancer to summer camp.
The prize for first place was a recording session with The Glow Recording Studio, a local recording studio run by Jesse Mangum.
Corey Emden, a senior communications major from Bethesda, Maryland, was very excited about the possibility of winning the prize because it would bring his band, Bar 81, to a new level.
“It’s great to have a pre-recording because whenever you want to book gigs, people [ask], ‘Can I hear a recording?’” Emden said. “So having a professional recording to show people this is what we sound like is huge.”
In 2017, rock band Jester won Tau Epsilon Phi’s Battle of the Bands and had the opportunity to record with Mangum.
“Recording is a huge process,” said Clay Milling, a senior political science major from Atlanta. “[It helped us] get a bigger following and stuff like that. The interesting thing about the first time we recorded [is that] we did pretty much everything live.”
One major part of Battle of the Bands is audience participation and stage presence.
“If you make some connection, it’s a much greater chance [the audience will] have a great experience,” Emden said. “You see videos on YouTube of bands pulling people onstage. Of course that’s an extreme example, but it’s the same idea.”
Although the audience interaction may not be as extreme as what you see on YouTube, it still plays a major role in how the audience votes.
“I don’t think [different genres] makes it more difficult [to vote],” Milling said. “I may not like the music, but I may go [to a Battle of the Bands and] see a band and they go nuts. There’s that stage presence … that I really enjoy.”
Although these events are competitions, many bands are focused on playing well and having a good time rather than winning at all costs.
“It’s not about beating other people,” said Emily Olson, a junior marketing major from Alpharetta and lead singer of Ruhaa!. “It’s about being our most authentic selves and presenting ourselves in a way that is positive.”
Terrapin Beer Company held a Battle of the Bands in May 2017, where the prize was a performance at the Candler Park Fall Festival in Atlanta. Although the prize is a big deal, the purpose of the event is exposure and camaraderie.
“I don’t want bands to feel as if it’s a huge competition, because we’re all trying to get everybody noticed and making sure there’s something great for everyone,” said Joshua Smith, the events director and music programmer at Terrapin.
The ticket and beer sales from the event also help Terrapin fund new acts.
“There are still opportunities found no matter what,” Smith said. “One band may have won that Battle of the Bands, but I may have found five or six other bands [to perform at Terrapin].”
Although the prize is a big incentive for these events, the possibility of exposure is why most bands participated.
“We didn’t really think much about the other bands,” Milling said. “We just focused on what we were going to play. We were excited for people to get the opportunity to see us.”