I'm a massive Pink Floyd fan.
They've always been 'my' band. I think the first time I really heard them I must have been about 13 or 14. I'd always liked music before then, but when I experienced Floyd they were playing music that I felt, not just heard. I know that sounds a bit hippy, but I think it's a very important distinction.
There was just something about them - the tempo, the lyrics, the subject of the songs, the amazing production values - that struck a chord with me and have ever since. Even now, I listen to a very eclectic range of music but whenever I put a bit of Floyd on I always end up thinking "now this is real music."
(I do get some funny looks in the office when I'm listening to stuff like Kasabian; Bugsy Malone OST; David Axelrod; Therapy?; Vangelis; Huey Lewis & The News - and then put Pink Floyd 'Animals' on. From child-criminals shooting custard pies at each other, to listening to a diatribe against greed and capitalism. I love it!)
I've seen the real Pink Floyd live twice: once in 1994 at Earl's Court and once at Live 8 in 2005.
I've seen fake Pink Floyd's more times than I care to remember: from Sunderland Empire to Brighton Dome to Barcelona.
And you know what - I prefer the tribute bands.
(That's a bold statement, but one that's fortunate these days as it looks like the real Pink Floyd will never play again.)
You see, a good tribute band is there to please the real fans when it's possible that the real thing is there to try and please as many people as possible.
When you see Pink Floyd live:
- You know they'll play their better known songs;
- You know they'll steer clear of their lesser known songs;
- You know they'll put on an amazing light show;
- You know they'll play roughly the same setlist at every gig;
- You know they'll be note perfect;
- You know even non-Floyd fans would go and love the experience.
When you see a Pink Floyd tribute band:
- You know they'll play their 'real fan' songs, regardless of whether they're popular;
- You know they'll pick out a couple of the 'real fan' obscure songs that real fans love;
- You know they'll put on a good show, but focus on the songs;
- You know they'll vary the setlist depending on what they fancy;
- You know they'll be happier to experiment and make mistakes;
- You know they'll please the real fans, but be little less accessible to newbies.
And I think that last point is an important one.
They're not trying to please everyone, they're trying to please their target audience. They're prepared to be less appealing to some people in order to really please the people that matter to them. But, in time, the people that prefer the real (mass-popular) thing will get a taste and go to where the other people are - the people that really know what their audience wants.
Do something really well that aims for fewer people instead of doing something pretty well and aiming for all people. If you do that, you'll eventually be noticed by the others. You'll be noticed because you're the ones listening to the people that matters - the people that love you, that are passionate about you - not the fairweather fans.