Being the Nice Guy

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by oniman7, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. So a while ago me and a drummer held auditions for a guitarist for a band we were forming. Two came, one got the spot, and the other was incredibly enthusiastic and worked hard but was absolutely bad at what he did and doesn't have any taste. It seems everybody's sort of coddled him into thinking that mindless practice will produce good results without any sort of "Hmm, this is bad, let's go over this."

    So, I thought to myself "Where would I be today if somebody had taken the time to help me? I just jumped right into the frying pan of being in a band and learned the hard way."

    So I cut him a deal. We'd meet up and I'd help him work on the things he needed to work on (playing cleaner rather than fast, locking in with a band, etc.) and when the time came, he'd be able to re-audition.

    I haven't heard from the guitarist/singer since September. No texts responded to or anything. He just dropped off one day. He had some family issues that seemed had stabilized after he got his GED and started a full time job, but I have no way of knowing what happened. The band is no longer functioning and is really not even there as a concept anymore. Me and the drummer still jam from time to time, but I don't really have the time or enough talented members to make that into a full band.

    The problem is, the other guitarist who I offered to help out is still contacting me and getting together for help. I keep trying to tell him that it's solely to help him, but I keep getting texts like "You know, I was thinking we should all meet up this weekend so we can work on songs as a band" after telling him I'd help him with his songwriting. Honestly, he's not ready for a band, wants to go in a different direction than us, and he isn't seeming to get the hint. I also have trouble going through with the 2 or 3 hour help sessions because he can be kind of annoying to be around. He's not even a mean kind of annoying where he could fix something or I could hold him accountable. We're just on totally different levels mentally as far as maturity, tastes, sense of humor, etc. and he's too nice for me to make a problem of it.

    My conscience is telling me to lay down the line about the band and keep helping him as an individual, but I just dread the hours it takes sometimes.

    I guess I need some talking into or out of something.

    If it helps, everybody involved is 17-18.
  2. Sooner or later you'll get another singer guitar or whatever and you won't have time for tuition.

    Option 1, set the boundaries and stick to them. When you have less time there will be new boundaries.

    Option 2, start charging for lessons.

    Option 3, nicely kick him to the kerb. It's not as if you owe him anything. If there's other things you would rather be doing than tutoring for free, that's fine.

    Good on you for giving the guy some help. I got a big hand up from a fellow a bit older than me when I was starting out in the band thing, maybe I wouldn't have got to the next step without it.
  3. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    First off, I want to say that you are a truly generous human being, and my hat's off to you for that. There are not many people who would give a failed auditionee hours and hours of free music lessons. (And that's not supposed to be a passive-agressive way of calling you a sucker, either.)

    Unfortunately, there is a fine line between being generous, and allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. I'm not saying I know what side of that line you're on. From your description, the guy seems good-natured enough, but just doesn't get it socially.

    One thing that's clear from your post is that you're getting a little annoyed with the situation. The thing about getting a little annoyed is, if you just bury those feelings and continue to make nice, the feelings don't go away, they build. And next thing you know, you're blowing up at this guy. So it's important that you address the situation while you can still do so calmly and kindly.

    You need to make clear that a band together is not in the future. Don't lie to him, but focus more on the "different directions" argument than the "not ready" argument.

    You also need to decide if you want to continue tutoring him, and if so, whether you want to start charging him, and/or setting time limits on sessions. It sounds to me like what you really want to do is to cut him off completely, but you feel that would be cruel. It's easy enough for me to tell you to cut him off, but in all honesty, I bet I would struggle with it too. But from the standpoint of a dispassionate, third-party observer, you're clearly within your rights to do so. You've been more than kind to this guy, and you need to start setting some limits, for your own sake.
  4. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Not a dig at you, but in general, there's no one I like less than the "nice guy." Every "nice guy" I've known was passive aggressive, and went out of his way not to be controversial, or cause problems, but also never did me no good.

    I like the jerk who has no problem being the jerk.

    He just seems more real.

    Sorry for the diversion.
  5. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    The problem with overly nice people, IMHO, is that you never know where you stand with them. No matter how much you may annoy them in some way, they just keep smiling.

    That said, I think there is still something to be said for people who try to go through life with kindness, generosity, and respect.
  6. People know when I have a personal problem with them. I don't have a personal problem with him. He's just socially sort of inept and it's tiring putting so much time and energy into it. I do have problems being a jerk to people who don't deserve it. Too much undue stress on both parties.
  7. Thick McRunfast

    Thick McRunfast Not just good, good enough

    Sep 30, 2012
    Portland, Oregon USA
    As much as I enjoy mentoring you, prior commitments and other things (family, girlfriend, boyfriend, work, school, band, other pursuits) are starting to take up more of my time than I had anticipated when we first started working together. As a result I'm not going to be able to spend nearly as much time working with you as I had initially hoped I would. You're making solid progress and I encourage you to keep applying yourself. You're a talented young guy.

    Stay in touch and I wish you good luck
  8. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    First off, kudos to you. if there were more musicians willing to mentor less experienced guys, there'd probably be a lot more good music going on.

    As for the situation at hand: would you maintain a friendship with this guy if teaching him music wasn't involved? If so, politely let him know that you are not interested in a band, but you're cool to hang out and jam if you have the time to do so. After that, you decide whether you have the time, sometimes you will, sometimes you need the time yourself. If you wouldn't be friends sans lessons, then politely inform him that you are not interested in starting a band (using the musical preferences, not the talent level, never cool to insult a guys talent while he's trying to learn), and as you have other projects and such that demand your time, he will have to pay you to receive further instruction.

    That said, there's no perfect way to handle this. We've all been through some variation of it, and we all muddle it up horribly. Good luck.
  9. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I'm not sure I understand?

    There's no band and your helping someone learn how to play guitar?

  10. James Mobius

    James Mobius

    Feb 28, 2011
    I am almost 3 decades older than you probably, I've always been way too nice and generous with my time. I also have no money. this can be your future too! charge for lessons, even if it's only $10 an hour. limit them to an hour. set some goals. be clear you're not interested in being in a band with this person currently and don't see it as likely to change. setting good personal boundaries can be difficult for the naturally generous, but it's important not to end up a doormat.

    finding the right balance is the trick. in my opinion, we are on this planet, specifically TO help others. if everyone held that view there'd be no more wars for a start, but if you give it all away, you got nothing left for yourself, and nothing left to give anyone else.
  11. Firstly, good on you for paying it forward. Giving someone your time so they can develop is never time wasted, and karma will reward you for your good nature.

    As far as the out of sync portion of your good nature, you need to start thinking about setting boundaries.

    This guy is not going to be crushed if you tell him the truth. If you're not giving him straight answers now, he's drawing his own conclusions which have him in your band and his mentioning it regularly is him hinting that he wants it to happen.

    If you're not on the same page, say so. If your musical tastes don't mesh, say so. If he respects that, then it helps him understand boundaries (which from your description I'm guessing he's not well versed on). If not, he will stop coming for lessons and the ending is done for you.

    If you no longer want to instruct him, may I suggest saying to him that you have taken him as far as you can and that professional instruction is the next level for him. Remember there is a line between benevolence and servitude..
  12. A few people helped me a lot when I was starting out, so I do the same when I can. I give free lessons sometimes when the person has no money, but I wouldn't do it if it caused me grief. The guy might be harmless, but it's pretty obvious you've had a gutful of him.

    As others have said, tell him you'll have to charge him for lessons in the future. I'm betting he won't go for it as he sees himself as an equal (musically speaking). I disagree with others though - keep on helping people out when you can, within reason. Being generous doesn't make you a sucker.
  13. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    It's as big an error to mistake kindness for weakness as it is to confuse "being a jerk" with remaining a gentleman while being assertive.

    One needn't be rude to be assertive, nor be weak to demonstrate kindness.
  14. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Keep helping him if you want. But be honest and really blatant about telling him there's no band to audition for again. If I'm reading what you said about him correctly, he's one of those people who can talk himself into believing just about anything. Those kinds of people have to be told in really simple, straight forward language that what they believe simply isn't going to happen. My brother is that guy sometimes. I have to just lay it out for him. He gets annoyed with me in the short term, but thanks me later for keeping him from wasting time on something that's not never.... EVER going to happen.

    You're a great guy. Stay gold pony boy.