1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Another one of those, "What would you do?" threads.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Devils Advocate, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. After writing all this and rereading it, I realize it's more of a vent than anytihing. Fair warning.

    Was asked to join a tribute band a little over a year ago. I already knew most of the material, and made clear with the guy that I'd be down if it were a minimal rehearsal, get out and make money situation. He assured me that they hated rehearsing, and that the gigs always pay upwards of $100 per man.

    First gig we played was 1 set with a backline, and I made $80. It was packed, fun, and worth it. 2nd gig, paid $500 per person. Sweet. Played about a dozen gigs since then, and if I made a total (all gigs combined) of $200, that would be a lot. Considering travel and rehearsal costs, I'm actually down a couple of hundred. We've been playing little to no pay shows and it's all due to a very articulate BL who simply loves to play, and comes up with arguments that are very convincing to the other band members. a few of the deets:

    Of course we immediately jumped into rehearsing once a week. Something in retrospect I should have never agreed to, but they wanted to cover a lot of material, and everyone agreed, so I figured I'd be a team player. I was enjoying hanging with the guys too. They have a rental rehearsal space that they store their stuff in, and do other projects. Band leader a couple of months into it asked if we'd be down for kicking a little in for the studio. No problem. I said I'd throw $15 per rehearsal. Then it was decided that this bi-monthy gig we play that was only paying $150 + tips would pay for the our share for the studio. OK, still.... but now we're only rehearsing 2X a month, and we're pulling in a few hundred in tips. And band leader is happy, his studio bill is being paid for, and I had agreed to it. Yes, I told him things had changed and wanted to go back to the $15 deal. He agreed, but unwillingly, and at the price of a new found tension between us.

    I'll try to keep this short. The shows we're playing are pretty prestigous venues, and if not they're venues that draw a lot of people. The gigs are fun, I have a big time and money investment in this now, and the BL is convinced that this is the way to go. That we're building a following, which we are, and then the big paying gigs will come.

    I disagree.

    I believe we've become part of a self fullfilling prophecy, and I'm not very faithful about it changing. We accept gigs for $0 to $200, and therefore believe that that's what we're worth. As long as that's acceptable, then a $300 gig becomes BIG bucks. This is freaking ridiculous. I'm almost embarrassed to write about it.

    I've played in bands that sucked, and made way more money. This band kicks ass. We play great venues, but we need to bust out of this rut.

    So... we just got another gig. At a venue that the world knows the name of. And we're playing for free. I didn't know about the "free" part until this morning. Was asked last week if I were available for a date at this prestigious place and immediately said, "absolutely". Feel like I was duped.

    I've expressed myself fully to the band. Everyone seems to agree except the BL who has an incredibly strong personality. Tension is growing between us, as we're beginning to butt heads on many issues.

    I love this band. I've invested a lot and don't want to throw that investment out the window. Yet I want to move forward and am now at a loss as to how to confront this situation anymore. I've expressed myself thoroughly and everyone agreed, we were taking no more no paying gigs, and then bam... it happens again the very next week. Along with 2 more of those "tip" gigs, because everyone really does have fun at them, and BL argues that they're really fun paid rehearsals. Which they are.

    I am doing all I can to get this band booked from someone other than the BL, including myself. I suck at doing bookings though.

    Vent over. I'm braced for the responses I know I'm going to hear. :) A tribute band gigging for no $$$? Dude you're nuts.

    Maybe I should have titled this thread "How does an excellent band, get excellent paying gigs?"

    Your turn.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Man, one more sucky band leader! These guys are killing me! Are they all idiots? I have read dozens of stories about great bands that were held back by one idiot. If you have been playing for more than 5 years, and the band is really good, then "get your foot in the door" gigs should be a thing of the past. They NEVER EVER turn into $1200 gigs. Why? Because (like you said) if you agree to a couple hundred once, that's what you're worth. You're dealing with a guy who plays to stroke his ego. He just wants to be the coolest guy in the room at any cost. He (and his band) aren't going to change and are a waste of time. Sorry.
    (que flushing sound)
  3. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Man, that reads like the encyclopedia of Band Management Wrong. The wrongness just keeps coming in waves. All you need is a drunken drummer, a too-loud guitarist, and one member to have a psycho wife/girlfriend and you have the totality of B.M. in one compact post...... :rolleyes:
  4. "He just wants to be the coolest guy in the room at any cost."-QUOTE

    Huh. At NO cost, apparently.
  5. Get an agent if you're all that great. 80% of 2000 bucks is 1600 more than zero.
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    By becoming one of fewer bands.
  7. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Look into an arrangement with a booking agency.

    Also, don't say "yes" to a gig until you at least know where, how long, and how much. (But you knew that already...)
  8. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    No rehearsals until we get a gig that pays what you want. Get the band to agree to that.

    I did that with this headstrong band I'm in and it worked. I had a different issue -- no gigs at all at the time. That motivated the singer and she booked is 6 gigs, one a month, and then the keyboard player booked us three gigs.

    If this guy is headstrong, be prepared for a firing -- but make sure you are doing all you can, as you say you are, to get those high paying gigs. There's nothing worse than someone who whines about the pay but doesn't life t a finger to get the gigs. I know that's not you, but I emphasize it because as a former BL that is a problem.
  9. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    So let me get this straight. You don't like to rehearse. You're in a band that doesn't like to rehearse and you are complaining about not making enough money. Sounds to me like you are playing for all the wrong reasons and trying to take short cuts. Changing the band leader is not going to change this. The only way to get better paying gigs is to rehearse and gig as much as possible in order to generate a following.
  10. Signs

    Signs Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Muskegon, MI
    Are you sure the band is playing for free, or just it's members? Maybe the BL is pocketing the gig fees, or is he really that stupid/poor business person?
  11. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I can't help wondering if you're getting the straight dope on how much the band is getting paid.
  12. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
  13. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Great Thread, very valuable information.

    It just didn't work out the way it was suposed to, I don't think you were intentionally lied to.

    It will be interesting to see the replys. There are some young TBers new to the business and have no problem playing free of charge.

    I would stay with them , however let them know your looking for other band opportunities. Stay with them until they get a replacement.

    By the way " the big gigs will come ", I'd have to say no, they don't, you have to chase them.

    I was luckier than you. I joined an established ( 6 years ) blues/rock cover band a year ago on the terms that everyone in the band wanted to gig as much as possible and that all shows would be a minimum of $100.00 a man. These folks are all good people and had a mechanism in place for sales and marketing that allowed them to stay true to the terms we discussed initially.

    Now, we are a 4 peice and we have ocasionally taken some $350.00 shows, but that discount was only given when they agree to booking us for 3 dates up front.

    Thing is, now I'm spoiled. No band lasts forever and I'm jaded. Finding an established working bar band like this is not easy. When and if I ever have to look again for a band and I'm sure I will, I'm probably to expensive for most bar bands.


    Historical note:

    Elvis was getting 225.00 per night in 1955. Today it would be like getting 2 grand.

    True, however, even I question this one , because Elvis had not had a hit record yet.
  14. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Good point, we all know what kind of business this is and the kind of people that are in it.

    I've seen this happen, so you really have to keep your eyes' and ears open. You want names, ok;

    Buddy Miles

  15. Well, first let me suggest that you read a little more carefully before getting snarky.

    Second, when doing covers, if the players are experienced and know what they're doing, you don't need to practice weekly to be good. You often don't need to practice at all. You can argue if you like (your experience may be a lot different than mine), but I know this from my experience to be absolutely true. And I've many times earned over $100 just by showing up at a gig with a new band, sometimes having never met some of players (it's usually by referral and I know at least 1). With no rehearsals. Sorry, but rehearsals are NOT a prerequisite for making money with a band.

    For others suggesting quitting or doing things that may get me fired, aside from the money making aspect the band is pretty cool. I really do like playing with them, more than I enjoy playing with most bands. I just want to figure how to push this band out of the no pay mentality. Made a few moves today, we'll see what they yeild. Thanks for all the input everybody. It's appreciated.
  16. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I would say a cover thats gigging every week with good musicians does not have to rehearse that much. I rehearse at home , but my band only reheaeses when were adding new material.
  17. +1

    Or, rehearse as little as possible to save on fuel, room fees and gear maintenance, then play quality gigs, please the venue, please the agent, please the punters and more dollars should roll in.




    In 2010, I had a gig with a mediocre 3 piece playing covers 2-3 times a week, mainly the country circuit (big circuit in this big state).

    The BL knew me from a previous band we played in together, so my first jam with this lineup was 3 nights in Kalgoorlie.

    We never rehearsed outside gigs. BL was the vocalist, but couldn't sing covers well at all. We made a few too many mistakes, had a few too many drinks sometimes, we cleared some rooms, rocked others on good nights.

    When it was all over, I sat down, went over my books and averaged $250 a gig playing with that mediocre cover band. Who knows what we could have done if we polished it up tight. But that experience sure blew my belief in what was acceptable, and in frequent rehearsing to polish something you may never show anyone, depending on how the band works out.
  18. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011

    It's to THEIR benefit as well as yours to get you into venues that are paying real $$.

    We've done 44 shows since January. Only one was arranged without the booking agency.
  19. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    It must be a regional thing. Are you a cover band, because in Milwaukee the agencies will not touch an originals band.

  20. Part of my work today was to reach out to a booking agency. It has been done, now I sit and wait.

    As for the BL stealing money from us, that's not the deal. I'm one of the least trusting people on the planet, but I know this guy is the real deal deal regarding that. He's offered on 1 or 2 of the gigs to pay the singer and I $50 out of his pocket because he initially thought we'd have made some money. I'm not desperate for the money, and I think he actually needs it more than me, so I turned it down.

    Not being desperate for the money does not however translate into my not wanting to get paid for the gigs. Just means I don't want to take from a bandmate who needs it more than than I do.