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Bass Player Not Required - We're Using Keys For The Bass To Record

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Low Commotion, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. Low Commotion

    Low Commotion Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    Last week our group went into the studio to record a few songs. We want a professional recording of our originals to use when applying to play at some of the summer festivals. We’re sort of an electro swing band (we started out electro swing, but we incorporate several styles). But we do incorporate a lot of sampling and synth that is common with electro swing. We’re a seven piece with brass, keys, guitar, bass, drums and a lead female singer. We’re all in other bands and this is a cool little project for everyone. We play out maybe once every other month, so it’s not like we’re a working band. And we typically open for another band, so we’re never the headliner. But we are pretty good IMHO.

    Well, the BL who is also the guitar player, announced a few days before we went into the studio to record, that I won’t be involved with the recording because bands like ours use real synths when recording, and the bass player is not required on a recording. We would use real bass in a live performance, but not on the recordings. Nobody said anything when he announced this. Maybe he talked to everyone beforehand? maybe everyone agreed? But I piped up and said that I’ve always been playing the bass part and I use a synth pedal when required. I know it’s not the same thing, but to throw that out just before we go in to record was a blow. I argued that the engineer could do anything to my bass when he mixes it down. And I don’t always use effects on tunes, and when I do, I use them sparingly.

    Nobody commented either way when he announced this, so I was involved with the recording. BTW, I recorded dry - my bass set to flat (rolled back the neck pickup on my Jazz bass) into the studio compressor and then the DI. No bass amp and no effects.

    We did discuss our strategy in the weeks leading up before our recording session, but this was never brought up. This was handled civilized when it came up, so no one was hurt in the process :)

    He posted this video and comments on FB later on in the week:

    “What you see live is not what they did in the studio. Most instruments are replaced by the perfectly leveled keyboard and beat programs. No humming, no dirt notes, nothing but perfect takes. Small intricacies of dropping out a kick for 2 bars just to add that POW when it comes back aligned with the perfect snap snare.

    Lessons to live by when going into a studio, prepare your mind and ego for the better of the song not for the appearance of holding an instrument.”

    Did my ego get in the way?
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    You went to the studio to make a recording to promote your live performance to festival bookers and then go out of your way to point out that the recording is not the live experience.

    So I'm confused already.

    Sounds to me like your BL just wanted a studio recording done his way, and the festival promotion was just an excuse. If the band is the BL's project, like Steely Dan was Fagin & Becker's, and you other guys are just employee contributing artists, I guess there's nothing wrong with that. Other than the deceit of trying to pass off a studio recording as the live experience.

    Did all you guys contribute to the recording's funding? If so, I'd be pissed too. If the BL wrote the check for the whole thing, well - it's his dime. And now you know where you stand in the project.
  3. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    That's a pretty insulting post.
    Sounds like he doesn't have the balls to face you in person which is fine. Some people have difficulty with these issues but to put this out publicly is a low blow. Especially when he's insinuating that you can't play well enough for a recording despite playing well enough to do live shows.
    With 6 or so shows a year and the fact you enjoy the band I'd dismiss it as a typical BL moment of hubris and put it behind you.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    If I understand the situation correctly (the bandleader tried to tell you not to play on the demo, but you overruled his decision and played anyway), your band had a change in leadership, and you are the new leader. The other members of the band kept their mouths shut and watched this situation unfold, like a young wolf challenging the alpha of the pack. :)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  5. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    If he hires you for gigs and pays you for rehearsal, he's the band leader, and you work for the dough. Enjoy the time off.

    If you're a member of a band, even if you're not playing on a particular tune, you should be in the studio to participate in group decisions.

    If it's not clearly one of the above, it's time to clarify with him what the situation is. If he wants to treat you like a hired musician, but not pay you like one, time to look elsewhere for a reasonable situation.
  6. I think it's not unreasonable to expect that you'll play on your band's demo recordings. I don't get the trend of going into a studio to record something that's meant to promote your band's live shows. If you suck that bad live, you should woodshed until you can produce something at a show that's worth sharing.

    But the person above has it right: This was done to me once and I refused to go along with it. Some bandleaders will just try to get a free CD of material out of people with the excuse that it will be used to book shows. When it happened to me I pointed out that he already had four CDs and no club owner anywhere was going to care about the personnel changes.
  7. bwildt


    Mar 21, 2017
    Wichita, Kansas
    I believe a lot of bands and booking people disagree with this, but if I were booking, I would rather hear a decent live recording of a band than hear a tricked-up smoothed-over studio recording. I want to hear what a band sounds like out in the wild. I agree the the post asking if this is a band or is it the BL's private project with the band members as contracted players required for playing a show. If it is the latter, I would just resign myself to the situation and take the money. If the money is not good, it might require more to keep me around.
  8. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Low Commotion, pcake, Slax and 19 others like this.
  9. You would think they'd smarten up after being burned by this stuff a few times, but nah. What they care about is whether the band brings in their friends and family, not whether the band is any good live. Unless they have a built-in crowd and are worried about people being chased away. That's rare these days.

    But I still want to use live recordings to promote my band, because I think it's more representative of what they'll get when they bring us in.
  10. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Especially if you've got great FOH sound and recording equipment, because having a recording of live audience reaction (cheering, clapping...) shows your band can bring a crowd-pleasing performance to a lot of people. This goes (at least) double for video...

    And this isn't MTV - don't use a studio soundtrack with your live performance video - that's not fooling anyone...
    Atshen and LBS-bass like this.
  11. Goatrope

    Goatrope Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    Video should be called “Everything that’s wrong with Pop recording today”.
    bassdude51, rmayer, Andre678 and 22 others like this.
  12. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I think this is pretty common. Even the top acts have much more produced recordings than they can usually present live. I just recorded a few demos for our band, and we took a few liberties that we can't possibly pul off live. I'm frankly not a fan of this; I wantd to use our live videos for our demos: "A true presentaion of 'this is what you get". Sure our recordings sound great, but they also sound produced. I would have much rather use one of our gig sampler vidoes (short clips of live recordings strung toghether at a gig) for our press kit, but BL insisted on using produced music over a series of stills and few 5 second blasts of live footage. I oput it together for him and he's thrilled, but I did a lot fo deveil's advocate in the process. I don;t pretend to know anything about promotuion except what I like, so I just did what I could to give hm the product he wanted.

    To OP's comments: Yeah I'd be a little butt hurt if they wanted to record without me, but it does make a little bit of sense in this context. I can't see you needing to be excluded form all recordings, but yeah where the real synth stuff is used, it makes some sense - if your BL is indeed
    It's covers - there's really no need to get all protective of your place on this type of recording. BUt I certainly would not participate in funding if I don't even get to have the "fun" of recording -which most of the time is anything but fun anyway.
  13. Fretless1!


    Feb 19, 2007
    Ha! I noticed that, too.

    If it's the bandleader's dime, then "whatever" but I'm not investing my money in a recording I'm not even on. I hope he pays you well because now you know where you stand with him.
    Artman and lfmn16 like this.
  14. 10cc


    Oct 28, 2013
    Ah man this is perfect. You don’t have to pay and you get to just go and drink beer. Drinking beers and watching a studio is awesome! Plus there are other things you can do while you’re there too. Big win for you!
    Hachimitsu Pie likes this.
  15. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Welcome to the music business.
  16. 10cc


    Oct 28, 2013
    Catch a ride with one of the band mates too. No reason to drive
    Artman likes this.
  17. JohnnyBottom

    JohnnyBottom Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    New Jersey
    almost shared my thoughts with your buddy...easy to search for that most....but why bother.

    yeup Fake Music at its best. No concept of playing for the moment or any organic content that can only happen in a real , gestault linkage, players among players, non pre-canned environment. but hey a lot of folks will buy into that. Plastic Fantastic...... but who am I to judge.
  18. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    There may have been other reasons wanting to use a programmed bass track (and other instruments): much simpler and time saving editing is usually one, being able to compose/edit at one person's convenience is another, making quick and different mixes (including VSTi swap) for different clients can be another, etc, etc not to mention ease of synching to video editing if all instruments are perfectly quantized to a bar line......from the business side, I totally get this providing it's not just bass being programmed
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
    kodiakblair and Mushroo like this.
  19. ZedLepp


    May 12, 2013
    So do you have a drummer or is he going to get replaced with samples also?
    equill, Rayjay, BassManKK and 3 others like this.
  20. Charlzm


    Mar 25, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Let's say I disagree with this philosophy and leave it at that.
    Fretless1!, jellew and Atshen like this.

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