How to Win Battle of the Bands

A winning band needs visual style as well as an accomplished sound.
rock star image by Mat Hayward from

A regular fixture in the programs of many schools, radio stations and communities across the United States, a "battle of the bands" gives new bands the chance to compete for exposure, popularity and prizes. To win the top spot, your band will need to display musical skill, stage presence and the ability to engage with and win over the audience and judges.

Read and follow the rules of the competition. If you neglect an important rule, you've lost before you've begun.

Advertise the event and encourage your friends, family and fans to come along and support you. Their enthusiasm can go a long way toward creating a positive response when you're onstage.

Plan an original performance. Even if you cover someone else's song, you can make the arrangement your own and add touches such as solos and your own harmonies to make the performance fresh and exciting.

Perform songs that showcase your technical ability. In addition to showing the judges that you can make music that sounds good, you need to demonstrate that you have sophisticated technical skills. Examples include improvisations and playing chords that require complex fingering.

Add choreography, props and other visual elements to enhance the performance. What you wear and how you move make just as much an impression on the audience as how you sound. Even simple movements, such as jumping around during a particularly explosive part of a song, excite the crowd. A quirky addition to your costume, such as gloves or striking makeup, can make your band stand out from the rest. Make your visual appearance fit the genre of music you play.

Practice thoroughly, tune your instruments beforehand and be on time for the performance. This preparedness shows a professional attitude. Show good sportsmanship toward the other competitors, even if you lose, and introduce yourself to the judges and organizers of the event to make a good impression.

Have a back-up plan in case anything goes wrong. Agree beforehand on what you'll do if equipment fails. For example, have a spare guitar waiting in the wings in case a string snaps.

Interact with the audience to generate atmosphere. Ways to interact include introducing the band members, giving shout-outs to fans and encouraging dancing, clapping and cheering.

Relax before the performance and enjoy the experience. If you let your nerves get the better of you or you struggle through the performance, the audience can tell and will judge accordingly. A relaxation exercise, such as shutting your eyes and taking several deep breaths, can put you in a calm frame of mind right before you step onto the stage.


  • Take CDs and other merchandise, such as T-shirts and stickers, to sell, if the rules allow it.