The Battle of the Bands is a well-honored tradition of high schools and colleges across the country. Basically, the Battle is a band contest between bands that students have formed. The idea of holding a large performance featuring many genres of music usually draws a large crowd of fellow students and parents. The best band wins, ideally, based on the vote of a panel of judges, or in other cases, popular vote of the attendees.
At smaller schools, every band that can possibly enter will enter. Groups of students who play instruments gather together to form ill-planned ensembles.
At larger schools, some require a demo tape to audition for the competition. Sometimes, bands can gain mainstream exposure due to the size of these festivals. Guster, for example, was formed at Tufts University, and competed in their contest.
Usually, a Battle of the Bands is held as a fundraiser, charging admission, and sometimes even entry fees for bands. Prizes for winning bands usually have a musical theme, but can range from guitar straps to recording deals.