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Bandleading gameplan?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by charliefreak, Nov 16, 2012.

  1. I haven't been able to find a thread like this yet, so maybe somebody with experience in managing/leading a band can offer some insight.

    I do occasional studio work and even more frequent stand-in gig work. I know a ton of musicians through my day job and gigs. I have been trying to be in "new original projects" for the past year or so and nothing seems to click for me. Every project seems to play a show or two and fades into just jamming with whoever can make it to show and then a singer-songwriter project with no band at all.

    I'm Giving up! I think it's time for me to invest in my own project and try to lead a semi successful band. A big part of my motivation is that I have been offered 1 gig next year in July through a mutual friend for a corporate gig. As you all are well aware, this means $$$$

    -That sets my goal to get 3 sets of poppular (non-top40) songs. That way we have 3 different bar sets, and 1 long gig group of sets.

    My ultimate goal to write and record with the band as well, possiblyunder a different name as not to cunfuse us as a band that only does corporate gigs.

    But then I'd like to learn a few jazz standards to (you'll hate me for this) totally rip apart and jam on at festivals etc...

    My Questions:
    How can I find a group of guys who understands this structure of a self-funded original band? How can I pull people away from the high-income corporate stuff to do something at a real level?

    What are some suggestions for hiring help with booking management?

    All in all, is this kind of band possible? if so, How the heck can I do it and make it a good-time? My idea is not only starting a band and making a name for it, but having the musicians solid enough to find other means of making money until we can afford to do our own thing full time.

    That was long!!!

    Thanks for reading!
  2. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I have been the leader of two bands and the co-founder of one band. The two bands I founded have all lasted several years, only folding because I moved. The two bands I founded work well together because I was clear up front what the values/expectations were of the group. The group I co-founded has been a nightmare because they would not agree on expectations up front.

    Getting the right people is a matter of a) wording your ad (I use Craigslist) properly and b) being patient and c) having a backup list of musicians so you can replace people if they no longer work out.

    You have to be very specific about what you want in musicians and what the band's goals are. Regarding getting bookings, in our town, there are more bands than work, so the booking agents are already fully staffed. They ignore you.

    Therefore, the band has to do the sales and marketing themself. I learned you have to hire musicians who are also salespeople and who have contacts. You will be balancing musicianship with their sales ability and their personality. I am willing to take musicians who are a musical work in progress (within reason) provided they have the sales ability and personality. Check their work experience to see if they have sales or entrepreneurship or a job that requires them to get other people to do things. If they work alone with a computer, the chances are good they won't have any interest in promotion. I've seen it.

    You also have to make sure they have roughly similar values, in my opinion. The groups I thrive in have good, respectful people.

    Also, don't take on too much. Trying to get a cover and original band off the ground seems like it lacks focus. I would start with the cover band and get the right mix of musicians and paid gigs. This will keep them interested. You can start throwing in the odd original to see how the audience reacts, scrap the lacklustre stuff and keep the good stuff. Eventually you will have a CD.

    Below, I have pasted one of my ads. The response rate drops to 1/3 of what I normally get if I just indicate I want musicians without specifying criteria. But I get the right people. Some people mock the ad but I don't care -- it works. If you find you don't get enough musicians, tweak the wording until you do.

    My objective is people who will do sales and marketing and will not waste my time with inefficient rehearsals.

    Here is my ad:

  3. Thanks for posting that CL ad. I have a lot of friends who can jam. But i think that's the route I'll have to take to find people to actually work with. Most of the people I play with are musicians who practice a lot and they can't seem to put a foot forward as far as the initiative it takes to consistently play with a band.

    Since you have lead bands, I'm assuming as a bass player.. How do you write the material? I write bass lines all day long and I write folk songs on guitar.. But I'm not wanting to start a folk band- and bass lines are tricky for people get any kind of structure from. How did you go about that? Just befriend a songwriter?
  4. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I am a jazz musician so I write out a chart with the chord changes on it. When I have time I write out the melody for the lead instrument to play.

    I tell the band the feel of the song and they create their own parts. I may have a hook I want, in which case I play it on the bass for the rest of the band to go off.

    If I don't have time, I sing the melody while the band plays the chords. The sax player will then lift the melody. Sometimes I sing it into a recording.

    I usually compose the chord changes on my guitar though, because I play guitar. Then I add a melody.

    I also use Printmusic which can play back chords and a melody as you generate a chart at the same time.

    So, there are lots of ways.

    At this point though, I would recommend getting your band together as a cover band so you can get people making money and getting gigs. That is most important. You will get to know the strengths of the band members. This could help you develop a sound.

    One thing -- except some (lots) of your songs to fall into the grave when you ask the band to play the song. I find the song has to get vetted by myself (if I wrote it), then the band, and then the audience. Songs have died at each of these stage gates.
  5. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    "do something at a real level?"

    You lost me right there. You just implied that anyone not doing originals and "jazz jams" is not working at a "real level". That attitude will do you no favors trying to talk people out of "selling out".
  6. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I'm not sure if I understand.

    Won't it be hard to get any prospects excited and motivated over 1 gig in July 2013?

  7. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    If that doesn't get them all wound up, then turning down a bunch of good paying gigs to practice jazz jams (so they can do something on a "real level") should get them motivated.
  8. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I guess things must be different in the jazz verticle .

  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC

    Both jazz and popular music have their pro's and con's, so you have to choose your poison, as they say.

    Edit: I assume that two fingers was being sarcastic. Jazz players wouldn't turn down good paying gigs.
  10. Exactly right.
  11. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Your assumption is correct.
  12. You make a good point. This does sound really funny when it's taken out of context. At this point in the post I was talking about finding the balance in musicians between decently paying gigs and working on original music and tightening up a set.

    By "real level" I guess I was talking about working with musicians, rather than on a mind-bending scholar's level of applying theory like math to make sense of a good sound, but as an artist using our knowledge and talent to change the way we can color the songs, and maybe if we try hard enough do something entirely different and original. We all know theory, there's no point in flaunting it like the stage is some kind of classroom.

    I'm not really looking for people who are interested only in money, but understand that if we work hard enough we can have money and freedom to cut loose in the right venues and express ourselves.
  13. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    The idealism is admirable, but the reality is none of that is very likely.

    Spent a lot of years in original bands and as a thousand other threads on TB will attest, making any real money to speak of is rare.

    The "freedom to cut loose in the right venues and express ourselves"? Well, if you can do that on a bill with 6 - 10 other bands and in your alotted 30 minute set, more power to you.

    Don't mean to pee in your picnic basket, but a set of unrealistic expectations is just setting yourself up for failure.
  14. Sorry, wrong thread.
  15. I'm glad you appreciate my fight here.

    However, This isn't the way I operate on a local level. I haven't "filled" a bill in several years and I'm not about to drag an entire band into that kind of gigging level. I think I would be able to sustain pretty well as far as playing worthwhile shows- and trying to keep the money on the cover music side of things. I've been in local bands for over a decade and know exactly what to expect out of it, and how to get it.

    I know I'm really enjoying this piss-soaked chicken salad, but why doesn't anybody else see this as the obvious choice for anyone who wants to make a living and play music? It's combining fine-art and finances, just keeping it in the same house so you're always working with the same musicians. Come on Ba$$ players, where's the harm in that?
  16. I'm in "both types" of bands currently. A corporate (money) band - and a couple original, experimental bands (no $$).

    What I've learned is if you want more hard-hitting players in your experimental band, you cannot expect them to commit - especially if that means it might interfere with their money gigs. But you can get a few who really dig the occasional diversion to join you - sometimes even regularly. But it's a rare bunch who have the skills to make dough who don't use their skills to make dough. It's even a rarer bunch who have those kind of skills who will commit to a project that doesn't have a proven structure to make a few dollars.

    "People" who pay to see bands have some pretty standard expectations. They want to see and hear something familiar and usually are not all that aware of, or concerned about the musical 'amazingness' that may or may not be happening.

    "Niche audiences" are a little more discriminating and you can usually count on them to "get it" but you also cannot count on them to fill a venue - let alone multiple venues - in a way that makes being experimental lucrative.

    Good luck!
  17. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    I definitely empathize with your frustration. But as somebody who plays bass in a successful cover band, and speaking solely from our perspective, what we put into the band to make & keep it a financially lucrative proposition, and what we have to put into our day jobs & families doesn't leave time for anything more.

    The time we have to devote to musical pursuits is expressed through this band, and frankly, none of us can afford to spin our wheels with a project that doesn't have a high probability of success, or isn't likely to pay dividends in relatively short order.

    That's just reality for us.

    If you're young, don't have a family to support and can find bandmates willing to do both, absolutely, do it. Even though it didn't amount to anything, I don't regret my years of going for it. Had a helluva lot of fun.

    Just be aware, the caliber of musicians you're talking about are going to be in high demand, with any number of options open to them. They might be on-board for the money making cover band, but pursuing originals for little to no pay is probably going to be a harder sell.

    Had you considered putting a ****-hot cover band together & maybe dropping an original or two into each set? Not likely to piss off a club owner, you won't lose your audience and you can gauge their reations to your material on the spot. Seems like the safest option as a start-up with the ambitions you expressed.

    Who knows, if your material is well received, then it might be time to think about that side project that focuses on originals.

    Just my .02 cents worth of free advice. Good luck whatever you decide to do...
  18. "real level" jazz players dont get them in the first place ;)
  19. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I applaud any musician who has a plan that goes beyond "Play great music".