*This system also applies to some P2P showcases

This is a diagram to illustrate the process of playing many national Battle of the Bands competitions.

LEVEL 1 ENTER HERE... Bands are contacted through social network sites to compete against other area bands for prizes. These shows typically host between 8 - 12 bands who get small amounts of stage time to show off their skills. Bands are expected to sell as many tickets as possible so that family and friends will be there to cheer them on (help win the contest). The winner is primarily determined by audience applause. No prizes are won at this level. Winning only allows you to go to the next round. At this level bands must continually enter the contest. As the losers exit, the winners move to the next level.
LEVEL 2 FINALS: Often referred to as the "finals", another round of shows comprised of combined winners from several of the first rounds. Bands understand that to win this round they must sell even more tickets in order to have the largest number of cheering supporters. In many BOTBs, the ticket price for the finals increase. As the winning bands travel up the pyramid, losing bands exit. *Some battles have more than two rounds.
LEVEL 3 FINALS WINNERS and ON-LINE VOTING: One or two bands/acts in every final round finally wins the preliminary prize (small cash award, studio time, meeting with an industry/label rep, custom posters, T-shirts, etc). Keep in mind that to get to this level every band has turned over considerably more in ticket money than the value of the prizes. In some contests bands who have won the finals are eligible for the on-line contest which will allow them the chance to win the Grand Prize. Bands sign up to the company website and must constantly remind their friends and family to also sign up, log-on and vote often. This process takes anywhere from several weeks to several months. All the losing bands exit as one last band remains.
GRAND PRIZE: You've gone through at least two shows worth of ticket selling, you've probably done at least a month's worth of reminding your family and friends to vote for you on-line. Now the company will finally award the GRAND PRIZE (which in some cases is finally determined by company experts). The odds of winning are normally from 1 in 6000 to 1 in 7000, depending on the rate of shows and extra rounds.

So what do you win?
THE RECORD CONTRACT: The Grand Prize is often a recording contract with a label. The label is typically started by the company running the BOTB or a close associate. There is usually an attached value to this prize. Make sure that you research the label before you start trying to win a record contract. Check the success rate, who else is on the label, reviews, etc. NEVER FORGET: You will be signing a legal contract with this company. Make sure you have a good attorney to represent you before you sign anything!
THE TOUR: The winning band will go on a tour, but normally the tour is set up by the company. This tour will feature you as the headliner and all the bands opening for you will be selling tickets in order to play. Your show will be subsidized by local bands in every city. They are typically given some other name and as with your BOTBs, all the promotion is done by the opening acts. With a real tour, your band has to see if they can make it on their own name. With a P2P tour, it doesn't matter.
MEETING THE INDUSTRY REP: This concept is very appealing to many new musicians but the reality is that real label reps do not typically attend battles of the bands featuring beginners with no buzz. They want to see bands that already draw well, not musicians just starting out. Many companies will name drop someone who did have some success years ago as their label rep. While these people may have had some success in years past, if they are showing up to watch a pay-to-play battle of the bands, their heyday is over and likely they can't really help you. Dropping a business card off and saying "You sound good. Keep in touch" seems to be as close as you'll get to being signed.