3 piece predjudice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Aug 30, 2003.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    interesting thing going on here in the big city...

    the nerve started doing cover gigs about a year ago, and we're learning that that there is a definite, unfounded predjudice to 3 piece bands doing covers. almost ALL the bar owners ask how many people we have, then give us a hard time when they hear it's 3. they urge us to get another member.

    i post this now because last night i realized the true absurdity of it. we played a pretty happening spot in the city, and went over really well. people were dancing, buying out stuff, nobody left because of us :) , and we pretty much held the crowd. when we went to rebook more gigs the owner gave us this whole lecture about getting another person in the band. his reaoning - because then we won't be as loud. "ya see, when there's more people in the band the sounds blend together and it gets quieter."

    there's a booking agent who books a lot of bands around here who used to book another cover band i was in (that was horrible), that refuses to book us based on the fact that we're 3 peices. best part of all this is that they're totally willing to work with bands that have a guitarist, bassist, drummer and singer - but NOT if the one of those guys IS the singer. they don't even realize it's the same exact thing. it really is like a blind hatred kind of thing, like somewhere, for some reason, some bar owner stared these rumors about 3 peice bands that just keep getting perpetuated.

    have to note here, with all due humility - it has nothing to do with our performance. i've played in enough bands for long enough to know that we more than adequately do our job. i'm very confident of that, and others here that have heard us will vouch for that.

    the only reason i can see for them wanting more than 3 people is becuase they believe 4 or more will bring more of a crowd - but they don't ever say that, and that's as ridiculous as any of their other reasoning.

    anyone else experience this????
  2. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Honestly, Joe, I played in a trio for many years that worked non-stop with few beefs from owners or agents. We worked as the drums, bass, guitar and two vocals lineup for a long time, and established our rep with that.

    The kicker is that we added sequenced horn parts, keys, and what have you later, and a lot more work came in. This was more along the lines of Top 40 rooms and private parties.

    I think what you're experiencing with this club owner is the work of a guy who thinks he's the next CEO of Omnipop because he books a few bands. From my outside view, an isolated incident.

    I'm sure you know these club owners listen with their cash registers over anything else. I'm also sure you know that word gets around with these guys. If your trio plays well, brings paying customers in and makes that till sing, they'll hire you with no concern for your lineup.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    can't (won't) argue with that. it gets a little frustrating though because we land gigs in happening crowded places, but it's usually on the cancellation of some other band, and then it's really hard to get back in and develop a loyal crowd. it's seems the same deals are applying to cover bands as original bands these days. years ago cover bands were a sure fire paying thing. now the bars are as concerned about your draw as they are with an original thing.

    fortunately we keep getting gigs anyhow. they're just scattered all over the 5 boroughs. we shall persist. i'm almost annoyed at myself for even starting this thread and perpetuating the rumors. i may delete this thread.....

    maybe i'll start a fight with myself first though so i can feel all mighty about deleting it.
  4. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I dig. I'll also admit I don't know the contemporary NYC live music culture well. I had understood it to be extremely competitive, with a lot of group "X" saying they'll come in for less money than group "Y" just to get the gig. That element probably exists everywhere, but it's not as bad in the markets I've worked in.

    You strike me as the kind of guy who wouldn't play those reindeer games, and you're working to boot. That's A1 in my book.
  5. I've done some sub gigs with this lame/crappy band (in UtaW) and the band leader made the comment that "this bar wants us to play but they want a 4-piece band." Now, when does a club designate how many people should be in your band?

    I say, book the gig as a "4-piece" and then magically the missing player "got sick" and couldn't make the gig.
  6. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Do you tell this club owner how he should mix drinks? How he should handle checking ID's at the door, HOW MANY WAITRESSES HE SHOULD HIRE?

    I take it not. You don't tell him how he should run his business so he shouldn't tell you how to run yours. 4 piece bands are quieter than 3 piece bands? You should ask him where he obtained his BA in Audiology from. :rolleyes: My father played in a 3 piece band for a long time, and their volume levels were just slightly louder than an average person listening to their stereo.

    I agree with 20db, I've read enough of your post to realize that your a professional guy and I don't think you should worry about this one idiot club owner. If he's not hiring you because you're a 3 piece, he must not be much of a business man. You hire bands that bring in the most people to maximize your profits on drink sales, not because you have some uneducated superstition about 3 pieces. If you want to use some rhetoric you could say, "Hey, a 4 piece band is going to require another person taking a cut from the pay. Since we're a 3 piece, we can all take equal cuts while charging you a lower price than the average 4 piece, who is going to charge more so each individual member can make more money".

    Anyways, don't let this goofus get you down. :)
  7. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    I've seen it alot in some of the bigger,happening clubs that book cover bands,usually the rock ones,sometimes the dance/r&b/funk ones.Usually they want minimum a 4 or 5 piece for the weekend slots.Smaller clubs,lounges,diners you can get a trio into.
    Usually(not always though)it's an ignorant perception on the club owners part:more musicians=better band.
    I've dealt with so many clubowners,it's a losing battle trying to clue them in.
    It's his club,he's paying,until you're in a position of strength to bargain from,you give them what they want or you don't work the better clubs(I'm talking the ones where you make upwards of $175 pr/guy a night)
  8. I'm in a three piece band.....I gotta look out for that in the future.:meh:
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    funny thing... he qualified what he was saying by stating first, "believe me, i have years and years in this business and i've seen countless bands".

    like ConU said I immediately realized it was going to be utterly useless to try and convince this guy of anything contrary to what he was saying. i felt my best shot was to befriend him by saying "i can see why you might think that". if the guy likes me i've got more of chance of him booking us again than if i start arguing with him.
  10. lneal


    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    Yea, Joe that prejudice definitely exists. Most booking agents now won't even talk to a 3 piece cover band. Their reasoning is that the crowd needs someone to focus on, to provide the visual candy that people "need" nowadays. (Anybody remember when you went to "hear" a band not "see" one?) If its a blues trio you can get away with it pretty well, but there ain't no money in a blues cover band, IMO.

    I have been in several very good trios and have seen that prejudice numerous times.
  11. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    Joe, you have just seen the reason I'm trying to get an open hunting season for bar owners established. They just don't have a clue.
  12. Why is it so hard for musicians to understand that club owners don't open bar's to give bands a place to play? It's ALL about money. If a owner wants a two piece band a ten piece band or a monkey playing a bongo thats up to him. I know that a three piece band can sound just as good as six piece band or more, I've done it myself but it doesn't matter. When we play in bars we are in the liquor business first and the music business second.
  13. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    My point exactly. Artistic idealism and all of that has its place, but for those several hours you're playing the club, the club owner is your boss.

    To me, it's no different than fixing a car or painting a house for a fee. If you do a lousy job, act unprofessionally, and don't deliver what's expected, you don't get repeat customers. Since you do 80% of your biz with 20% of your clients, that's important.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    i totally agree. that has absolutely nothing to do however with someone thinking a 4 piece band will be quieter than a 3 piece band; nor any predjudice a bar owner (or booking agent) has towards a band simply because they're 3 pieces. there is no logic nor truth to the fact that a 4/5/10 piece band will make a bar any more money than a 3 piece band. in fact, i've seen the opposite to be true many times. i just quit a 4 piece cover band that booked shows with no problem, drew nobody, and even chased people away at times. they'll still get cover gigs quicker than the nerve based on the fact that they're 4 pieces. and we (the nerve!) ALWAYS hold the crowd, leave them wanting more, and bring people.
  15. Joe--Book a 4-piece band with the 4th guy being the pyrotechnician. Then, let that damn club go up in flames halfway through the first set as you are playing "Rock Me" by Great White...
  16. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    How bizarre!!

    I mean i could understand because, in my experience a three piece 'rock' band is difficult to manage in that there is often uncomfortable space when a guitar drops out.
    I.e. if you play in 3 piece you have to be tyhat much more considerate about what when.. but on the basis that a four piece would be quieter?
    Utter bollocks!

    I hate it when people try and tell you sh!t and they blatantly are talking crap, drives me nuts. promoters/agents/club owners seem best at this in my limited experience also.
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The city of Salem, MA put a noise ordinance on the books back in the 1980s that required bars to limit the size of bands to 3 pieces. The assumption was this would mean lower volumes and less noise complaints :rolleyes:

    The musician's union fought this in the courts for over a year and most clubs ignored it (but risked being fined). Eventually it was repealed.

    There used to be a rock cover band here in MA that packed clubs every weekend..a drummer and keyboardist (both sang great). They were called The Amazing Two Man Band and had a HUGE following.
  18. cheeseman


    Feb 3, 2002
    Austin, TX
    This was the same argument I had when a local club manager was telling my band that he wasn't going to book us because he had only heard us with the singer we just kicked out. He said we could play if that singer was the one singing, but otherwise we couldn't. Total BS.:mad:
  19. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    And that's when you whip out your 12-string bass! ..just for explaining to bar owner that it's actually like a bass and TWO guitars in one, so technically you are a 5-piece band, that is ;)
  20. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    I somewhat understand the bar owners argument.
    I know we should be all about the music, but, unfortunatly you need the visuals as well.
    I have a few auditions coming up, and one is with a band that sounds like exactly what I am looking for. They are looking to do all originals in Tool meets Dreamtheater kind of way. The others musicians are all around my age, and have been playing their instruments for about 20 years. My one hesitation is that it is going to be a three piece band with the drummer also doing the singing. I know not having a "front man" will turn off some bar owners and some in the crowd as well, no matter how good the music is.
    Unfortunatly it is just a way life in the music business.