Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Another question for working bassists (sub gigs)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Fuzzbass, Nov 14, 2005.


  1. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Three months ago, the drummer with a band I sub for called me on a Wednesday and said "hey man, another band I work with has an emergency - are you available this Friday?" I said I was open. We discussed the setlist, and I only knew half the songs. But the drummer said "no problem, just do your best, you'll be fine".

    I did the gig and it went reasonably well considering I was faking some songs I hadn't even heard before. The bandleader apparently agreed: he scheduled me for three more dates, including one this Saturday (11/19). He said something about getting me a CD of the songs I didn't know, but never followed through. I figured I was faking 'em well enough. He did give me his original CD, so I learned the three originals that they play live. No problem, I nailed 'em.

    Last Friday (11/11), I got voicemail from the bandleader: "Hey Ken, our regular bassist has been reinstated to the club, so we won't need you. Thanks for all your help, and if we need a bassist again we'll call".

    What was especially disappointing was that some coworkers of mine were coming to see me play... one of 'em even asked if we could play Happy Birthday for her friend. So, I had to cancel those plans. My coworkers understood, but I still feel like I have egg on my face. That's not directly relevant, but does make me feel worse about the cancellation than I normally would.

    My question: how would you all take this? The drummer for that band basically said "sorry it happened man, it's just one of those unlucky breaks". OTOH, my brother is a working pro and agrees that they done me wrong. Personally, I am a bit pissed off. Yeah, I know they got their regular guy back, but they gave me this gig unconditionally. I've had it on my calendar for 3 months, only to have it cancelled on short notice. No compensation was offered. I wouldn't have cancelled this sub gig, not even if one of my regular bands had been offered a job on that date... especially not on short notice.
     
  2. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    To me, it depends on whether or not he committed to those dates with you. Did he say something like "You're on for those dates, write 'em down" or more like "We've got some dates coming up...are you available? I'll get a CD to you". That sort of thing.

    If it was the latter, well then unfortunately, you should have at some point gotten a commitment out of him. Like a few weeks before the gig, calling him to confirm the dates.

    If OTOH, he did commit to them. Call him on it. Be polite, but call him on it. If he did, that was completely unprofessional. I would never work with the guy again, and I would tell everyone I knew about it.

    You'll probably never get compensated, so that's probably all you can do.

    I wonder how he would feel if you bailed at the last moment after you had committed (assuming he did in the first place) to the gig...?
     
  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Thanks for the reply, Marcus.

    One week before the cancellation (two before the show), I gigged with the drummer in the other band we work in together. I confirmed with him that the gig in question was still on.

    After the cancellation (and after leaving voicemail with the bandleader), I called the drummer to express disappointment, and he tried to smooth it over, saying stuff like "Sorry man, I had no idea they'd let Sammy back in so soon: lucky for us, but tough break for you", and "At least you got a week's notice". Note: I made it clear to the drummer that I certainly didn't hold anything against him, and didn't express anything more than disappointment about the bandleader because I wasn't yet ready to burn that bridge.

    So: I never confirmed with the bandleader, but did get confirmation from the drummer. Fact is, I could have played more dates with them, but was already booked for some. They all knew that I worked with a number of different projects. Finally, when taking the dates I assured the bandleader that I was locking them on my calendar. That was his opportunity to inform me that the job was conditional, but he didn't say boo.

    My brother is a working pro, and said "if they offer you more work, you could always take it and then cancel out if you got a better offer". That would be fair enough but I don't know if I'd be comfortable working that way. More importantly, I suspect the bandleader knows he done me wrong, and won't ever call me even if he needs a sub on bass.

    You're right, I'm sure I won't get compensated. But if the guy does happen to call again, I won't work with him unless I get compensation for the previous gig, and a guarantee of compensation if I'm cancelled again.

    But again, this is MY opinion, I don't want to sway anyone else's. I'm happy to hear from others, even those who think I'm overreacting. I've only been subbing for a few years, so I'm still not sure how much is assumed. Do you really have to get verbal commitment on every detail ahead of time? I would think that some of this stuff would be assumed.
     
  4. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    If it was me, I'd take this opportunity to consider the whole thing a "lesson learned" and move on. It doesn't do anyone any good to ruffle a lot of feathers for a situation where you're pretty sure you'll never get paid anyhow.

    So, in the future, confirm, confirm, confirm ... it avoids a lot of hassle. Speaking with the drummer probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but he's not the leader. I always call the leader at least 2 weeks before the scheduled date to make a final confirmation and get a firm committment that I'm going to get paid, no matter what happens from that point forward.

    I also call the leader of the scheduled date whenever I get another possibility for a different gig. I tell the leader that I have the possibility of another gig and give him/her the option of confirming with me at that point (including the guarantee of payment) or releasing me from my verbal committment.

    By letting it go, sure, you'll suffer the loss of income and some embarrassment with your friends, but you won't be burning any bridges. Even though the leader was a jerk for cancelling you, he can create a lot of problems by you demanding to get paid. Conversely, right now he has no reason not to recommend you to another band that might be in need. Make him your enemy and he can give you a bad rep (even though you don't deserve it).

    Bottom line, you should have confirmed with the cat paying you in advance, not some other band member. If you had clearly set up an agreement with the leader it would have been much easier to deal with this whole situation. The one and only time I deviated from this arrangement over the past 5 years I got bit in the butt, big time (but it's nobody's fault but my own ... :( )
     
  5. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001

    Jun 17, 2004
    Ireland
    Personally I think that your getting your upset over nothing. You are after all a sub and when the person you are subbing for becomes available again your no longer needed. I didn't see anywhere that you missed out on any other dates that night because of the short notice.Even if you did I would just put it down to bad luck. The band is always going to choose the regular member over the sub even if the sub is a better bass player. It might be just me but I think that your more upset about your friends not being able to see you than and this being a kick in the ego than you are of being let go on such a short notice. I really think that this is something that is to be expected. Subbing is hardly the most rock solid guarantee of work. Dont mean to sound calous or anything but thats just my opinion
     
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Thanks pointbass, I appreciate the comments and advce. I will chalk it up as a lesson learned. It's not my style to fight a war or burn bridges (I agree it's a bad idea regardless), and have never planned to ask for compensation.

    For the record: on the slim-to-none chance that he asks me back, I would be happy to let bygones be bygones... but if and only if he rights the previous wrong in some way, and guarantees compensation for future cancellations. Without that, I won't bother. Again, I'm sure he knows he punked me, and has scratched me off his list. But for all future sub gigs, I'll confirm every detail in advance, and again prior to the gig. Thanks again.
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not if I have been solidly booked for those dates. If I get a call and say YES, then that date is mine. If you hired me as a sub cause your regular bassist had a dentist's appointment that day, and then the appointment got cancelled, you have still booked ME for that date. And if you cancel, well I have every right to consider you a lying bastard. If the dentist appointment DIDN'T cancel, would you expect me show up? Yes, of course yuo would. Because you had BOOKED ME FOR THE GIG. So the converse should hold true.

    My understanding is that they sounded this cat about his availability, but did NOT formally book him. If they DID (we're playing on the 17th, the 20th and the 21st; can you make it? ME: yes. OK, you're on the gig.) then it doesn't matter if the situation changes with the regular bass player. I'm booked, you expect me to show up. Sure, I'm not REPLACING the regular bassist, so when he's back anything you haven't booked me for goe sback to normal. And MAYBE if the day after you booked me for these gigs, you call me up and say that your regular bassist is actually gonna be available for those dates it's gonna be cool (after all, I haven't turned down work and I have plenty of time to get something else going). But to wait until the Friday before ain't kosher.
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I agree with Ed. Once you're on, then it's your gig. As for booking gigs and cancelling them if you have something better, two wrongs don't make a right.
     
  9. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    My point exactly, 100%.


    I would say that is a bad idea. This business is too small to burn any bridges unless it is absolutely necessary.

    If it is someone I have never worked with before, yes absolutely. Guys I know and we have established a working relationship? Maybe yes, maybe no, depending on things. In then end, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by confirming 100% shortly before the gig that it is on. You can always paint it like "Hey I've gotten some calls about those dates...the dates are confirmed, right? I'm definitely on, 'cause if I'm not, I gotta know so I can take these other dates."

    It's a bit of BS, but it works and nobody gets hurt.
     
  10. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Yup, AND verbal contracts are binding in many states; just make sure there is a witness in that case if you wanna make an issue of it.
     
  11. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001

    Jun 17, 2004
    Ireland
    Well I disagree unless it was seriously last minute. The only time I've been pissed off about a cancelation was when I found out after traveling the two hours to get there. If I was notified before I left it would of been disappointing yes but something to shrug off. Infurating no. If it happened regularly then yes thats when I would get angry. I'd consider a weeks warning early enough. Still time enough to find some sort of gig as a sub or with other projects you have or whatever.
     
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I completely agree. I would never have cancelled my sub gig even if one of my regular bands had gotten late notice work. If my regular band wanted to keep that date, they would've had to find a sub for me!


    I'm overly wordy and unclear at times. Here's the deal: after my first sub gig with them, they said they liked my playing and might need me again, and I told 'em I'd be happy to work with 'em. A couple weeks later the bandleader asked my availability because their bass player was banned from the club indefinitely. We agreed on three more specific dates. More dates were available, but I had to turn them down due to my own conflicts. I thanked them for asking me back and assured them that I had locked those dates into my calendar: in other words, no need for them to worry about me cancelling due to another project.

    I suppose the other guy could claim that he never made the same promise to me as I made to him, but that would be totally lame. It seemed clear to me that he had booked me as a sub on three more specific dates. I played two of them, and got the heave-ho a week before the third.

    I agree that I could've been more proactive and more explicit to cover my own butt. I agree that the best thing to do now is move on, and be more proactive in the future. However, I fully believe that the last gig belonged to me and not the regular bass player.
     
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I appreciate your comments, but we'll have to agree to disagree!
     
  14. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001

    Jun 17, 2004
    Ireland
    absolutley! :D

    Live and learn man thats what its all about I suppose...we can agree on that one right?
     
  15. kjones

    kjones Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Maryland
    Ken, I totally agree with you. This is totally analogous to the situation where a band is booked in a club, and then the club cancels you a week beforehand because they decide to make other plans. That's just as wrong as what happened to you. Once they offered you a gig, and you accepted, it's a done deal (and Maryland does allow enforcement of oral contracts under many circumstances, but doing something about it is big-time burning your bridges).

    So, you were screwed. Now, I guess your choices are to 1) never take a job from these guys again, or 2) get paid up front by them.

    Your brother's in the business? He wouldn't be Robert, by any chance? If he is, literally dozens of pros I know in the Baltimore area consider him the best guitar player in the state. And I know some pretty good guitar players.
     
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    No it's not. It's really easy to shrug it off if you don't do it for a living, but if you're counting on the money to feed your family and you get cancelled a week out for it, you just lost a significant amount of money, and now maybe your family has to suffer for it. And almost all my gigs are booked at least two months in advance. Now and then I get last minute stuff, but it's fairly rare. If I get cancelled a week out, I usually don't get a chance to fill it.

    It happens, though, and there's no reason to be a crying baby about it. If there's a good reason like an honest mixup or a catastrophe, then I'm all heart. But if it happens because I'm subbing for a guy who's out and all of a sudden decides he's back in, then either I'm going to get paid for the gig anyway or that bandleader can lose my number. I would certainly think twice about ever booking another gig with that bandleader, that's for sure.
     
  17. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I'm sure the guy knows full well he screwed me, but if he does call back I will take option 2. And that would only be because I dig playing with the drummer.




    Robert is indeed my brother! Maybe I'm biased but I agree with you. :) He's the musician of the family, I'm just a weekend hack. I'm really bummed to say that due to some unpleasant politics from jerk bandmates, we're no longer in a band together as of early this year. :spit: Anyway, thanks on his behalf for the kind words... I'll take the opportunity to pimp his self-funded album: "Funkin' A" (linky dink). Some great music on there... and guitar-pickin'... and kick-a$$ bass playing (it ain't me!)
     
  18. kjones

    kjones Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Maryland
    Not to mention the fact that Brown Truck Blues off that album should be the officai theme song of TalkBass.
     
  19. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001

    Jun 17, 2004
    Ireland
    Maybe so but fuzz by the sounds of things isnt a pro (not that he doesnt sound profesional or is a bad player but he says himself he's "a weekend hack") So I imagine like most people who play weekends. The money is nice but not essential. So I think he was in a different situation to what you described.

    Im a student and I get a few euros from my parents since I dont have time to work with college. Its not much at all and I end up spending it whilst travelling away to gigs on food what not. Music is my main source of income granted my situation isnt very comparable to playing for food but I do know what its like to be absolutley broke from not having any gigs (like right now). I still stand by what I said.
     
  20. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    NJ
    Bottom line, you should have confirmed with the cat paying you in advance, not some other band member. If you had clearly set up an agreement with the leader it would have been much easier to deal with this whole situation. The one and only time I deviated from this arrangement over the past 5 years I got bit in the butt, big time (but it's nobody's fault but my own ... :( )[/QUOTE]


    Sorry again dude :rollno: :( :scowl: