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A question on "Subbing ethics"

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Steve, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    I look for sub work. Typically, there's a short term issue with the bass player making him unavailable, maybe he quits short notice, maybe he implodes and gets fired. I'm OK with all that. I'll take the work.

    Lately, I've gotten some inquiries from bands that still have a functioning bass player that for one reason or another, they want gone. They want me to take the slot specifically so they can fire the guy giving them time to find "The right guy" while I keep the ball (and the work) rolling.

    There is a fairly large part of my gut that tells me doing that would make me an enabler of band duchebaggery.

    I consider going after a permanent slot from a sub gig a total breach of ethics and a back-stab.

    This isn't that but, it is kinda like handing the knife to the guy doing the stabbing.

    Your thoughts?
  2. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    If the bass player was a 'right fit' and doing his job they wouldn't be looking for a sub... would they?
  3. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    IMO there's nothing wrong with helping a group keep their momentum while they look for the right player.

    But I'd make it clear, I don't want to be the firing facilitator. Current guy needs to go? They should do what they feel needs to be done but their decision MUST NOT hinge on me.

    It could be as simple as having a couple of other potential subs in the pool.
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, that's kind of your call, innit? But frankly, I don't see the difference between "he implodes and gets fired" and "gets fired" and they want someone to "give them time to find the right guy."
    The current bassist is fired for some reason. They are not hiring you to replace him, just to fill in while they look for someone to replace him. You did not facilitate his firing.
  5. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    If they are planning on getting a new bassist anyway, why not axe their existing player, and then get you to sub while they are looking? That way, the dirty work is done before you even arrive. Just don't drag the sub gig into several straight months or years!
  6. I agree with the above. It's ok to sub in this situation, as long as the band follows the following steps:

    1) Fire the existing bass player
    2) No seriously, fire the existing bass player
    3) Call you in to sub

    It's ok to sub, but I would not get involved in ANY band politics. Protect yourself from any drama.
  7. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    That's the rub. I get the distinct impression that if I pass, the guy, (or in this case two guys) keep their gigs. At least in the short term. Maybe they work it out, maybe not.

    One thing I do know, if I say yes, guys will get kicked to the curb.
    I don't want to be a marrige counselor and ask what the exact problem is or what they've done to resolve the issue. That's what TalkBass is for.
  8. Keep in mind that subbing is all about $$$. You're not a member, have no say as to direction or negotiating power with gigs. Agree on a number...up front...for your presence, be it a rehearsal or a gig. That way you know they're serious when they say they want to replace the current guy. And, as stated previously, don't get involved in the politics...their band, their issue with the current bassplayer, work it out, or don't, but call me when there's something concrete, & be prepared to shell out $$$.
  9. peterpalmieri

    peterpalmieri Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Babylon, NY
    I believe if the bass player introduced you to the group to sub for him this would be a big NO NO, you obviously don't want to bite the hand of the guy that is hooking you up.

    If you are simply a freelancer with no relation to the bands bass player I'd take the gig and be clear with the group about who you are and what you will and will not do. They might have expectations about rehearsing or you doing all their gigs which may or may not be what you are interested in...
  10. Steve-
    I usually don't ask a lot of questions when I sub, other than Who, What, When... as it relates to the gig. Either hire me for your sub (or one of your subs) or don't.
    They don't pay me enough to take any ownership of the band drama. However, if the leader of the band comes off like a dipwad, I won't take the gig. They don't pay me enought to work for a dipwad, either.
    If someone is going to get the axe, they'll eventually get it. Better to get it over and allow everyone to move on.
  12. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    I'm sorry guys. Either I'm not expressing myself clearly or I'm not understanding the responses.

    I do a bunch of sub work. I don't recall a time when there was another guy in the way.

    The bands have guys. They wish they had different guys. Not so much so that they want to fire them, cancel gigs and be dead in the water until they find a better permanent fit which, could turn out to be even worse once the honeymoon was over.

    They don't want to tell the guy's, "You're fired but would you mind sticking around until we find your replacement?" That's a recipe for disaster.

    They don't want to cloak and dagger auditions behind anyones back because, that's a recipe for disaster.

    That's where the sub comes in. He doesn't care. Advertise the job, hold the auditions, tell the world. The sub could care less. He's hired from the wrists down.

    They're kinda looking for a sub to say, "Yes, it's OK to fire your guy. I got your back."

    If the guy was gone already, it's a non-issue.

    It's the difference between, "We lost our guy. Can you help us out?" (sure, no problem)


    "We want to lose our guy. Can you help us out?" (Ehh..hold on a sec. Let me ask my boys what they think about that?")

    And no. I don't know any of these guys, bands from Adam.
  13. I understand. But you sound as if you think that you, and you alone, can facilitate the situation in which the old bassist gets fired. You aren't the only game in town. If you don't take the work, somebody else will, and the guy will get fired anyway. Not your fault.
  14. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Not I alone but, just because someone else will, doesn't give me a get out of Karma free card. Does it?

    I think I'm gonna take a pass. Tell them to resolve their issues without me one way or the other and call me if there is an opening. I like to fill holes, not help create them.

    Thanks. Talking it out helps.
  15. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    not true at all.
  16. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tell them that you`re willing to help them keep momentum, but that you don`t want to be the catalyst for them axing the guy. That needs to be a previously determined decision by the band, and you`re just filling in the gigs until the next guy comes along. After that, just be a sub and enjoy the extra income.

    I would also suggest setting out a time table that says you`ll be there for the band for only x amount of time. I`ve had a few subbing friends get "stuck" in bands that simply stopped looking for a permanent replacement because it was too easy having a bassist who would always show up prepared, would take a smaller cut, and wasn`t allowed to voice his opinion.
  17. I hear ya, but for you to mention Karma suggests you think it would be 'wrong' somehow. I just don't think so, but that's just me.
    If I lived closer I'd gladly take those gigs for you!
  18. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001

    Give me a sec. then check your PM's:D
  19. if they called you,it would seem that the decision has been made......subbing until they find a replacement is not what could be called a permanent slot.....if there is any subterfuge it lies with the band guys,and not you....
  20. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Sub's pay should be more than what a member's share would be. Among other reasons, to make sure there's incentive to keep this exact thing from happening!


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