three bands and the concept of finding one's niche

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by hernameisrio, Jan 26, 2013.


  1. hernameisrio

    hernameisrio

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    So I've been working with three different bands right now and they each have their challenges, scheduling aside.

    1. a singer-songwriter and a guitarist who are basically lacking half the band because their previous bassist quit and they've apparently had terrible luck auditioning drummers. I am physically capable of playing without a drummer, but I find it emotionally unfulfilling and awkward. Not all of the songs lend themselves to such a stripped-down approach, especially because many of them are still in the very beginning stages arrangement-wise. I have a feeling if I end up dropping a project, these guys will be the first to go if only because they don't have it together at this point to play shows. Stylistically, some of it is up my alley but some of it isn't.

    2. a singer-guitarist and drummer who have been working without a bassist for a while and playing shows as a duo in the meantime. They seem to have a bit of a following, the songs are catchy and simple but still leave room for creativity, and the only difficulty has been in scheduling and basically reminding them that I'm still interested. However, things are finally happening this week, as they want to meet up with me again. I'm not super-keen on being involved with two bands that are each still in the writing/development phase..but since these guys have already been gigging quite a bit, it kinda doesn't count...? They're also really into working in the studio and pretty much constantly writing, which I kinda like about them; from a creative standpoint, it's quite refreshing. Stylistically, I'm kinda starting to move away from this genre and outgrow it a little (post-punk/indie), but as I've become interested in playing and listening to other types of music, I also have kind of a new perspective on it...so it's still a valuable experience, IMO.

    3. a singer-rhythm guitarist, lead guitarist, and drummer who are really relieved to finally have a bassist again, have gigged a lot, and definitely seem to have it the most together at this point. Stylistically, it's a little different than what I'm used to (metal-ish/prog/hard rock) and not necessarily what I'd prefer to play when I'm just playing for the sheer joy of it. But it gives me the opportunity to take risks as a player and feel like I'm playing with people who are on my level and who are making things happen.

    At this point in my life, I'm trying to be really easy-going and flexible about trying new things and throwing myself at any situation that will get me out of my comfort zone...in other words, fully embracing the idea of playing stuff I might not usually play. I eventually want to end up doing freelance and session work, maybe a cover band to fill in the gaps a bit...(read: I want to make money).

    Since part of my objective is simply to build as much playing experience as possible in a short time, I'm not necessarily inclined to focus all my energy on just one band right now unless they're something really special and obviously going somewhere (making money at shows, playing a lot, record label interest, decent fan base). I prefer to split myself between a few different projects because I feel that it also keeps me flexible and fresh...constantly pushing in many different directions instead of just one. I'm used to a freelancer's mentality when it comes to work...to a degree, I take what I can get and always try to make the most of it.

    So In a way right now, I'm kinda testing the waters as far as seeing how much I can handle as I develop my skills...and more importantly, getting a sense of what it might be like to be freelance and to have several commitments to juggle. It doesn't seem unheard of. I feel like when I think of a lot of musicians I like, they're known for working with a few different "main" bands, but they've also popped up as session players here and there.

    Which brings me to the second part of this thread. As someone who aspires to "go pro," does this approach make sense or am I just asking for frustration? My other point in discussing the details of each project, was to illustrate that none of them are necessarily the "perfect" band for my tastes, but that because of this, they challenge me to become a more versatile player. Eventually I'm sure I'll settle into more of a niche, but like I said, I think that it's also important to be able to play many different styles.

    I mean, honestly, I just love playing...and I don't know what else I "should" be doing right now...because even on the days when I spend four hours in my room practicing, it still doesn't compare to the energy of playing with others. I figure, why should I hold out for my ideal band or situation if I can at least be refining my chops in the meantime? The New York City music scene is weird and confusing to me right now anyway, to the point where I've decided that I'll probably go out to Cali in a couple of years...I've outgrown the hipster/indie kids and I don't quite fit in with the jazz/blues scene either, so I guess I'm just trying to find my footing.

    Who else has gone through this on their path to pro-ness? What does it actually take to make money as a bass player? I don't care about "making it" in a band. I care about showing up and playing and getting paid and being like, yay, and then going home. If I sound blunt or greedy or whatever, I'm not trying to be, I'm just trying to illustrate the fact that I WANT to be a hired gun, as distasteful as all the Craigslist ad-posters seem to find that.

    How do I make the most of what I'm doing now? What could I do differently?

    #money #hiredgun #NYC #growingpains #Ihatehipsters
  2. chrism2sych

    chrism2sych

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Location:
    Appleton Wisconsin
    Hell yeah if I were younger and had the time, I'd definitely play w 3 bands if schedules allowed. Get out and play, that's what its all about.
  3. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    As musicians we're never going to get everything we want out of bands.

    Its no secret I'm no fan of being in multiple bands unless you consider yourself a hired gun, sub guy or freelancer.

    To make the most of what your doing, go "old school" find one good band with good people that gives you at least 75% of what your looking for.

    It will make life easier and more fun in my opinion.

    Blue
  4. pklima

    pklima

    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Kraków, Polska
    I'm always in 2-3 bands on top of a full-time job. Compared to just being in one band it doesn't matter as much if one falls apart, fires me, or just doesn't gig as often as I'd like. I'm a bit more picky about what I play than I was a few years ago, but I'll still play music I don't like, as long as there are gigs and more girls than guys at those gigs.
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  6. bassfran

    bassfran

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Location:
    Chicago
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    I guess I disagree with Blue on this one.

    Play as much as you can. I've always found that work begats work, meaning if you're out there doing it you are then part of the scene and you'll develop your reputation. Just trust yourself to know when a situation isn't likely ever getting out of the rehearsal space and onto the stage.

    When you keep your ears open and your chops up the opportunities will find you.
  7. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA
    This. Develop your chops and your ear in a wide range of styles, and network with as many talented players who are actively working as you can.
  8. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    Just depends what you want and it's different for young guys trying to make their mark.

    Just from what I've read from tbers, being a true member ( not a sub) of multiple working bands is problematic at best. Depends on available time your tolerance and energy level.

    Me, I'm certainly not trying to develop a reputation.
  9. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    Right now I'm in 4 bands...

    1) 80/20 (covers/originals) behind a singer/songrwriter/BL in the "new country" vein. These are my most frequent and best paying gigs but they also require the most in terms of setup/teardown and travel. Rehearsals only as needed to learn new material or requests for wedding jobs.

    2) 100% cover band (typical bar band fare i.e., classic country, 80s and classic rock, blues). This is the band I left to join Band #1 but I'm still on good terms with them and they have me play with them whenever I'm not gigging with Band 1. Not quite as good of money as #1 but still pretty decent and they only play local. No rehearsals.

    3) 4-piece jazz combo. Fake Book stuff, REALLY easy gigs with hardly any setup or teardown. 100% local, mostly "wallpaper" stuff i.e. restaurants and private house parties for folks with a lot of money. Not as high paying as either 1 or 2 but cool older guys (no drama) and super easy as far as logistics. Oftentimes I'm home by 11 PM with these guys. No rehearsals.

    4) Church worship band. Typical repertoire (charts), plug-and-play, church has a NICE P.A. and house rig. One 2-hour rehearsal. No pay but I'm a member of the church so figure it's the least I can do.

    For me I'm able to juggle all these but it would be a lot harder if they all demanded rehearsals. In terms of scheduling I give Band #1 priority and I let the other 3 bands know it's first come first serve after that. Between these 4 outlets I'm averaging 6-7 dates on stage a month and that's about right for me with a day job and all.
  10. bassfran

    bassfran

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Location:
    Chicago
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    Right-on, Blue.
    What I got from the OP, (and some of her previous posts/threads as well), is that she wants to break into subbing and jobbing a bit more and is looking for advice on how to do so.
  11. jaywa

    jaywa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    In my situation 4 bands is do-able because only one of them does any originals and that's only a small part of their show.

    Back in the day (WAY back) I co-founded an originals band and believe me that was my ONLY commitment. We practiced 4-5 nights a week and also practiced weekends when we weren't gigging and when we weren't practicing or gigging we were writing. I probably could have picked up some sub jobs but I didn't have the time in that situation.
  12. hernameisrio

    hernameisrio

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    That is correct. :D
  13. bluewine

    bluewine

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    WI
    CooL,

    Thats an area I have no experience in. However,in Milwaukee female bass players are in demand for just about any type of gig, be it sub, freflance or full band member.

    Blue
  14. hernameisrio

    hernameisrio

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    That's good to know, except that I'm in NYC and not Milwaukee! ;) That said, in the long run, I also want to get the eff outta the Big Apple Bubble and most likely end up in California (probably LA) within the next few years.

    Which is another thread for another time. While I'm still here in New York, I'd like to keep moving forward and doing what I can.

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