Mediating for song writers (vent & questions)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Wesley R, Oct 29, 2013.


  1. Wesley R

    Wesley R

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stillwater Minnesota
    I agreed to be a mediator for some song writers. I have known both for over 30 years. When they collaborate they write some fairly decent stuff. They are both intelligent, one loves to disagree for the fun of it, and takes massive pleasure in being an obstinate @5^^&&*%$#. The typical disagreements revolve around how polished does the performance of a song have to be to have a finished song. Few disagreements crop up about what key, structure, general sound, end goal, etc.

    Background; guitarist A is semi-retired, massive amounts of time available, extensive musical education, and has had many gigs. Guitarist B is single, hasn’t had or needed a job for over 25 years, massive amounts of time available, and doubles on Bass. His general theory on bass lines is every song can use more notes, more treble, and more slap. They have been friends for forty years.

    The concept is that I could help them grow musically, and mature as musical partners.

    Besides bailing on this deal, what advice does the experienced TB’rs have? Are there any tried and true methodologies that may help me, or them?
  2. Joe Louvar

    Joe Louvar

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA USA
    Hmm. Yeah wow, other than not getting involved, I don’t have any great tips for you other than maybe take some family counseling type classes before you even think about getting involved in this sure to be a nightmare project for you if you do get involved.
  3. bkbirge

    bkbirge Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2000
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    What exactly are you mediating? Are you a lawyer? If they've known each other for 40 years and you are a new guy expected to be put between them as some sort of referee I would turn that down. Sounds like a no win situation. What's the appeal for you to do this?
  4. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out.... Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    hmmm....when listening to their writing, does it seem like it sounds like 2 people trying to talk over each other? From what you wrote, that is the impression I get. That they need to have a third party tell help them when the "me" part of writing gets in the way of the "we" part.

    I do al ot of writing of drum parts for marching bands, and one thing we always have to be carefull of is not "saying too much" during the shows. You have to pick and choose your battles and fill space appropriately.

    Sounds like you would have to be the guy going

    1."That slap part is really cool....by itself.
    2. It doesn't work in this verse part. What if you tired to do a slappy thing during the bridge when there are no lyrics?" or "do the slapping thing when the guitar part is using sustained chords. Fill the space that way"
    3. "lets maybe use that slap idea as an intro for another song?"

    is this what you are looking for?
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  6. Wesley R

    Wesley R

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stillwater Minnesota
    Yes, maybe that is what I am looking for.

    These two characters can write some pretty decent stuff, yet almost always get into a disagreement about what is a finished product, what to do next etc.

    The stated goal was for me to try and broaden their horizons, keep them on speaking terms, keep them writing and producing stuff, and trying not to say “Grow the F up” which really may well be best for all involved.

    One of the characters said he viewed me as a BL, and my job was to “inspire” him. I explained it is not a band and if I was BL, I would fire one or both, and hire people who could get along.

    This may become an extremely short lived project. I have been trying to live my life Drama Adverse, and this little program does not fit the criteria.
  7. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

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    Apr 15, 2013
    Please explain how this works so I too may live the dream.
  8. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

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    Dec 25, 2000
    I have a labor relations/conflict resolution background. I wouldn't be brought into a project to act as a mediator/ombudsman/arbiter unless I was being paid well for it. Why would I - or anyone else - want that responsibility without fair compensation? If they're saying you're a bandleader, then you should be paid like a bandleader.
  9. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Sounds like they need a producer more than a mediator.

    This is what a good producer does, takes a band/project and makes it better by adding/subtracting and providing an overview for a group that can't make decisions by themselves.
  10. Lownote38

    Lownote38

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    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Disability checks, or a trust fund would be my guess.
  11. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp Supporting Member

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    Omaha, NE
    :eyebrow::rollno:
  12. Wesley R

    Wesley R

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stillwater Minnesota
    I am basically just doing it to help out some friends. My position in bands has often lent itself to being a peace maker. The songs will never get beyond a “Fools on Stools” thing. They did right one song that some sailboat (or some such) company wanted to use in a commercial. One of them was convinced the song was not finished or polished enough. They are oil and water yet cannot keep apart for some reason.

    Maybe it is a producer they need. If that is the case, I am out. Tonight I dig into their goals, I will carefully observe both, and if the goal is to hold endless debates I am out. I am way to old, cranky, tired and drama adverse to accept BS and such as a form of fun.
  13. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out.... Gold Supporting Member

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    Location:
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    Sounds to me like you should suggest that they write songs individually, and then teach each other the songs.

    Like, person A writes at least the guitar and bass parts (and others if applicable) that he hears in his head for his songs, and then teaches them to all of the players

    That way, player A comes up with songs that don't have intrusive bass parts; player B comes up with songs that feature intrusive bass parts etc.

    It's a different way to collaborate.

    In my first band - a prog-metal band a-la Fates Warning etc - this is how we did it. Each of us would come up with song ideas that usually included all the parts laid out. Then, as we learned and jammed the parts, they would "evolve" into becoming "our own" parts. Like, I would come up with the rhythm guitar parts and teach them, and then they would apply their "guitar knowledge" to them and they would become "cool". Since I am a "hack" guitarist at best, I would give them the nucleus and let them go...

    maybe this will work for them. In this system though, there can't be any "Ego". This is how it worked with my band. If I taught a part, and it got changes, but it was for the better, it was no problem. If I didn't like the change, we would play the 2 versions for others, and see which version got the better reaction
  14. Wesley R

    Wesley R

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stillwater Minnesota


    Good thinking, and it keeps me out of it.
  15. nojj

    nojj Guest

    Joined:
    May 20, 2013
    Are there any tried and true methodologies that may help me, or them?

    Have them don boxing gloves, first count-out takes it.
    If that doesn't work,
    then step it up to baseball bats and garbage can lids.
    The next step is dueling chainsaws, but hopefully you bail before that........
  16. nashvillebill

    nashvillebill

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    Oct 13, 2002
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    "Hi, my name is Yoko and I'm here to mediate...So your names are John and Paul?"
  17. Wesley R

    Wesley R

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stillwater Minnesota
    Reminds me of a younger day on the Railroad. two guys didn't get along, and bingo, they were in a hole to small for one person let alone two, and making the hole bigger took some cooperation.

    "nashvillebill"

    "Hi, my name is Yoko and I'm here to mediate...So your names are John and Paul?"

    That is funny as heck, and cracks me up!
  18. BruceWane

    BruceWane

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Exactly.

    Most professional recording bands use producers when it's time to create new material. Bandmembers bring the ideas they have, in various level of completion, and the producer helps to sort the gems from the pile, and to nudge and mold things into a finished form.

    Most bands/songwriters could continue to refine and "improve" their songs forever; a producer helps to define and commit to a "final" version, and put it on a record.

    Many, MANY bands, big name acts, would be nowhere without the producers that have worked with them.

    If one of these guys is asking, he's likely just looking for a "tiebreaker" that'll support him.

    IF both of these guys are asking for this help, you should consider it as a potential opportunity to be part of a creative process that could yield something rewarding and wonderful.

    If both are asking, then they both recognize their shortrcomings and are open to trying something different to hopefully create something better.

    If you do decide to do this, I'd make it understood by all parties that you are an equal partner.
  19. Wesley R

    Wesley R

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stillwater Minnesota
    My patience went thin when one of them said “Your job is to inspire me”. I was thinking what job? Jobs have compensation. I was also thinking impolite thoughts of suggesting he has sex with himself.

    My comeback was simply “Grow up, shut up, write, play, and develop your talents.”

    P.S. It was just one asking.
  20. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out.... Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    It also sounds to me like these guys are just fishing for attention/compliments to make themselves feel better...

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