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Why I Hate Battle of The Bands Competitions

8 September 2016

If there is one thing I hate in this world it’s sprouts at xmas! Disgusting green bogies tasting like a ping pong ball full of sick! Bleaurgh! However if there is another thing I deeply dislike it’s Battle of The Bands competitions. I have been involved in many BOTB’s as both a musician when I was a kid but also many times as a judge and I hate them!

Firstly the usual criteria for the judging panel is a scoring system with an average being taken from all judges at the end of the night. Sounds great, however as music is subjective it means that one band who is innovative and different can be loved by one judge and hated by another. Several times I have seen great bands lose out due to 2 judges dividing opinion, allowing an act that every judge thought was average to scope the prize! Go average band!!

Most BOTB’s are based in your local town or city and judges are usually made up of local music dignitaries from music tutors to ex pro’s. The chances of there not being a link from a judge to a band mate in a town or city is pretty slim and no matter how unbiased people want to be, you can’t help willing on one of your own. While I was at BIMM and doing the radio show it became a weekly invite to be a judge in some local X Factor band competition, and of course I was always routing for my students… I’m emotionally attached to them!

Then there is the lack of categories or genre’s. No fucks are given to whether you are a metal band or a solo pop act, you are judged by the same people on the same scoring system. That’s like pairing up a gymnast with a swimmer in the Olympics. Usain Bolt might be the fastest man alive but I bet he’s pretty shit at horse riding!

The feedback given to the act is usually 100% positive and it feels like they’re being palmed off with niceties to stop them coming back at the end of the night to egg your car! This is the time bands need advice and support instead of a days recording in a studio that can’t fill its diary! Imagine a BOTB’s competition where the prize is, everyone who takes part gets specialist industry advice from judges who know the industry in 2016! And the winner is… everyone!

On reading this back it’s quite a negative blog but I think it’s important for bands to have local venues to play and cut their teeth and be able to make mistakes and these competitions are being run in the wrong way. They aren’t supporting the local band scene or young local talent, they’re exploiting them because young musicians are desperate for a way in. Losing to a band who has no bearing on your genre is demoralising and confusing to young unsigned bands and does nothing for confidence building.

So my advice… Think twice before entering a battle of the bands competition. Do you need that gig that badly? Maybe if you have nothing to lose and you have thick skin go for it but if and when your creative & inspirational band loses out to a 12 year old girl with one eye singing Abba songs try not to let it ruin your day!


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