Replacing Band Members

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bluewine, Feb 20, 2013.


  1. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    Replacing Band Members


    This is another topic that has been approached a few times. However I’ll put a few parameters on it this time in effort to get a clearer consensus.

    There seems to be debate over the ease or difficulty of replacing band members.

    The purpose of this thread is get a consensus of whether it’s easy or hard and under what circumstances. Open discussion, there should be a ton of variables.

    Let’s use this model;

    A working 4 piece established paid weekend warrior “bar band level” cover or original band gigging at least 1 a week. You lose a key member. The band does not have a stable musicians from the farm team to draw from.

    Below are a few of the variables that might come up in this discussion.

    •Location, does the band work in an area with a lot of available skilled musician that can play at the “bar band” level.

    •Does your band have the ability, the resources to make this type of decision

    •Obviously this type of band would not be simply replacing a singer, drummer, guitarist. You need a fit for your band.

    What other things besides the ability to play at this level will you need, someone with a van like the last member, someone with a pa, someone with a full time job, team player, experience and knows how to be in a band ect ect..

    How easy or hard do you think this would be for this type of band?

    Blue
  2. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    We have a good drummer, the guy travels a good distance to make rehearsals and gigs, years of experience, owns several kits so he can adapt to different stage and venue space, has a van and helps haul subs and monitors, knows how to be in a band and does some bookings.

    In our area it would take a long time to find someone like this.

    blue
  3. BayStateBass

    BayStateBass

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    Location:
    Central Massachusetts
    Well, there's probably a difference between simply replacing someone, and replacing someone with a person who will work out in the long run. You can replace someone very easily but you might not be replacing them with somebody worthwhile.

    As you know, our band has struggled with this in the time I have been with them, with myself and the BL being the only remaining "original" members, and even I'm not original as I replaced their first bassist about 9 months ago or so. In that time, every other musician has been replaced either due to firing or them leaving. We have a six-piece cover band.

    It is much harder than many may think to replace a member at the "gigging bar band" level. Especially for those of us who typically play, on average, two shows a month like we do.

    The challenges are;

    1. Because you are a part-time band you are limited to finding part-time musicians. It doesn't pay enough to be a primary source of income, so you are basically picking from a group of people who, like you, are doing it on a part-time, "recreational" basis. This often puts you into picking from a pool of people with a whole slew of drawbacks, from talent, to availability, to work ethic, to desire to perform, etc.

    2. The attitude has to be right. Again, the money is not enough to simply just get someone with enough talent. It doesn't pay enough to justify putting up with someone who is just a jerk and acts like Mr./Ms. Destructo every time the group gets together.

    3. Finding someone who likes the music you play. Yes, this can be an issue. At the "Weekend Warrior" level, again, we're back to the money thing.....because it will be, at best, supplemental income, you have to find someone who likes what you are playing and the kind of music you are doing. On some level they have to get enjoyment out of what they are doing because their enjoyment level will account for at least 50% of their desire to play with a group like this.

    4. Availability is huge. Finding someone who can attend practices, is available to gig, and has the time to dedicate to a band that only plays weekends or a few times a month can be a challenge. Most people have families, jobs, and other responsibilities, so finding someone who can attend regular practices and keep commitments for gigs can be tough, especially when.......and I hate to say it again, it's just "supplemental income". One of our guitarists struggles with this. A teenage daughter and a wife who hits him with "you're practicing again?". You have to have a person with the right kind of family dynamics, someone who isn't constantly being made to feel guilty about taking the time away from the family to spend time with the band. This becomes exponentially tougher when children are involved.

    These are just a few of the challenges we faced, and continue to face. When we got our new singer we basically found a rare breed. 39 years old, engaged to a woman he's lived with for 7 years, no kids, self-employed with a flexible schedule, only wants to gig a couple times a month, can make every practice, and was experienced, his last band he fronted for 6 years. He is also a non-drinker (no booze, ever), and has a fantastic personality with a good work ethic. Very good voice. Not great, but very good. Everything else just fit for us and him, so it was a go.

    But finding people who not only can do the job, are reasonable to work with, have the desire to put the work in that is necessary, and can meet the demands is not so easy when it's only a part-time thing.

    Sometimes you are stuck taking what you can get, and it's not always good. Sometimes I think that's why there's so much turnaround at this level; groups often take people that are available to them, and they might not be the right ones. Honestly, in some cases you could wait forever for the "right" person to show up.

    I would think it would be far easier to replace a full time professional musician.
  4. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    I look at it the same way as leaving a job.

    No matter how bad it gets, you damn well better have a replacement locked-down before you launch the guy you've got.
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  6. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    All very astute comments, I agree with everyone of them especially that replacing at the professional level is probably easier.

    Blue
  7. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    +1

    Blue
  8. xgator4u

    xgator4u

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    Jan 10, 2009
    Location:
    South Florida, in the U.S.A.
    On this PLANET, it would take a long time to find someone like THAT.
  9. Biggbass

    Biggbass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    With consideration of the variables I find the best way to incorporate new members into a band of any skill and commitment level is to hold auditions. Every band I've worked with and every replacement member brought in has been the result of auditioning. In that environment you can get all the info you need from the auditioning player, not only playing ability but personal details that apply to the variables at hand.n
    The one time I strayed from the audition scenario was once when one of the band members, in a band that no longer exists, brought his brother into the band as our drummer. It was a disaster. Had he auditioned we wouldn't have chosen him.
  10. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    We've only had to replace one member in my current band and that was our drummer. It was a pretty seamless transition because #1, the original drummer split amicably (moved to Nashville) and #2, the replacement was a friend of our original drummer's and actually came to us recommended by him.

    We gave him a setlist and a board recording of one of our shows (he had already been out to see a couple of our shows and even sat in on some songs on one of them), gave him a couple weeks to woodshed, ran one full-band rehearsal with him where he pretty much nailed everything and we were back on track without missing a beat (so to speak). No auditions which was a HUGE relief for me cause there's not much I hate more than auditioning band members and especially drummers.
  11. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Pomona, SoCal
    Hmm, Id much rather remove a problematic player and have a vacant spot in need of filling than continue playing with someone who has issues.
  12. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    I see your point but when you've got gigs on the books you have to fulfill them. If you dump a problem member and it takes you longer than expected to replace him/her and you wind up cancelling gigs because of it... well then you might as well pull the plug on the whole band and start over cause your reputation is ruined.
  13. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Joined:
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    I can see that approach as workable when gigs are on the books.
    Id still prefer removing the problematic player and using a sub, though.
  14. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    +1 on the sub. Any established, steadily working band really needs to have at least one sub in the bullpen for every member (other than front person / BL, of course). It's like a lot of other things... having one ready is the best way to ensure it's not (or only rarely) needed.

    Not to mention that sometimes the sub becomes the permanent replacement and then you're that much farther ahead.
  15. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    Then you would cancel your bookings?

    Blue
  16. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    Established and working fine, however at the bar band level finding a sub is not always going to be easy.You might get lucky but you could also be opening yourself up to a few bad gigs.

    My band used a sub drummer once and it didn't work out to good.

    I think subs work better in the notches above bar band level.

    Blue
  17. Musicman1901

    Musicman1901 Supporting Member

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    Jun 1, 2012
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    ^This
  18. bass81800

    bass81800

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Location:
    Southern CA
    Availability is the biggest issue with my bands, and it is important to find someone who will have availability, especially if there is not a sub in the ranks. BTW, this might also be a good time to hold auditions and try to find a sub or two. I also agree that auditions are important as it gives a good idea of how well prepared a potential member will be to step into the job. If someone shows up for an audition with all the music learned, and followed the requests of the band, that is really a good sign.

    Is this going to be a main band for the few member? Or is he/she just taking this on to bide some time until something better comes along? I am guilty of being in one band for that reason, but its not all bad. I give it my best, and I have learned a lot. I am just not planning to stay for the long term.

    Does the member have a 'hired gun' mentality or is he/she looking for a band to commit to and make a priority.

    I make music a priority in my life, but I have to say the the level of this really varies among the members of the bands I am in.
  19. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    I think in a lot of cases, it kind of balances itself out.

    If the band is not playing many gigs (i.e., once every 4-6 weeks), then the likelihood of having / finding a capable sub is lower but so also is the risk of winding up with gigs that can't be fulfilled. You simply wait till your next prolonged "down" period and use that time to make the switch. OTOH, a band that's gigging 3 weekends out of 4 is really up a creek if they fire a member with no replacement on line but those bands are usually appealing enough you can find someone to step in at least on a sub basis even if they're not going to be a long term solution.
  20. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Pomona, SoCal
    No need, as I stated above, Id have a sub fill in.
  21. Flyingfrets

    Flyingfrets

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    One of our guitar players gave his notice last September. Travel time was getting to be a problem and pissed that we had to call a "time out" for medical issues (drummer and me).

    We just stumbled across some dumb luck in November...

    The booking agency that reps us hooked us up with a guy who'd been with another band they handled, but had broken up a few months earlier.

    "The Kid" is 28 (average age of the band is 51. When he yells "Hey Pops!," the other 4 of us turn & say "Whaddya want?!!?"), but he fits in perfectly. Chops are exceptional and temperament is in line with the rest of us. Only question is how he'll be in a live situation. Obviously, he has some experience and he did come to us highly recommended and with excellent references, but being that we're considerably older with 30+ years experience on him, we're just curious.

    Guess we'll find out when our gigging season starts in April...

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