Getting A Band Together: Do's and Don't's?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by MarcTheRogue, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. MarcTheRogue


    Mar 27, 2013
    Greetings, fellow bassists! I am 16 years old, been playing bass for about 3 years now, and I am fairly new to this website.

    Yeah, get used to that little exposition above when I start a thread for the next few weeks until everyone gets the point. :D

    Anyway, I come to you, the bass gods, in order to ask "what are some of the definitive do's and don't's in order to getting a functioning band together?" I have been in the music scene for about a year, and I honestly am becoming seriously annoyed how ridiculously inept that most of these "virtuosos" and "prodigies" end up being. I have figured out that pretty much my main reason for such horrible band flops are, well, teenagers.

    I have a list of some Do's and Don't's for getting a band together. I know that I probably haven't scratched the surface of band etiquette, but a start's a start. Feel free to add some of your own, give some tips to your loving OP (;)), and possibly add some hilarious backstory into what your reasoning is.

    -Get together with people you're familiar with.
    -Familiarize yourself with all different types of music.
    -Find musicians with common interests.
    -Plan a regular schedule.
    -Show enthusiasm.
    -End conflicts, bickering, and egotism at the source.
    -Practice often (should go without saying, but you wouldn't believe how many sessions I have went to with the guitarist not knowing what to do).
    -Make sure all members are aware of what's going on.
    -Give ample time for decision making and song learning.
    -Compromise, compromise, compromise.
    -Get easy-to-work-with people.
    -Have the right gear and equipment.

    -Push bandmates too far.
    -Be "that guy."
    -Dysfunctional, disorganized, or hard to work with.
    -Be a dictator and kick people out left and right (ya Axl Rose wannabe).
    -Be obsessed with covering one band all the time. (Blink 182 gets old after a while.)
    -Be short term with every decision you make, leaving everyone else scrambling.
    -Expect to get by as a band with just dinky practice equipment.
    -Get grouped up with wannabes. (One Amy Lee wannabe was enough for me.)
    -Generally work with teenagers. (Only exception is a guy I know named Lee. Only 13 and sounds like a mix of Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhodes, and Eddie Van Halen.)

    Welp, that's all I've got.

  2. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    You have it pretty much on point kid. Good advice (even for us old fogey's who forget sometimes). Though a few things you will learn as you go along.

    Teenagers - it is not neccessarily their fault. A musician is an interesting creature. Most people claiming to be musicians are lazy, disorganized and just useless. Age has nothing to do with it. I was in a band where we were auditioning drummers. one drummer (40 years old, experienced) told us and I quote "40 going on 19" we had him over anyway (we were fairly easy going at the time) the guy showed up drank his beer and badmouthed us (we were all 21-27). I later found out why he was looking for a band, the last band he was in (a money making original band) kicked him out because of his attitude.

    Had another drummer we auditioned tell us he had a studio set up at his place. He was mid-20's and we went to his place and hauled our gear up a flight of stairs at a duplex to find his studio was "a room in his apartment) with an underpowered pa system. To top it all off he hadn't learned any of the songs we had asked him to learn 2 weeks prior....another bust.

    Being familiar with people helps with the screening process but you get the whole " don't mix business with family" thing. Knowing the person is great, but then you run into the problem of them thinking they can get away with stuff because your friends or family. Bringing in new people you don't know, if they seem ok, can open your eyes to new ideas, visions and connections.

    I met a guitarist (started the last band) who was an amazing guitarist and writer, also had gone to school for recording and taught guitar on the side. If I'd stuck to my circle I would have never met the guy and learned so much about music theory and recording techniques.

    The band I just left I'd met the guitarist through the previous band and started jamming with him and some guys a few months ago. He showed me a new and better jam studio I would have never known about had I not met him.

    Things in the band may not work out (and most the time won't) but you always take something away from it, things to look out for later, new ideas, new skills. Try to be more positive.
  3. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    I don't know if it's a definite "don't," more of a "be wary of," but:

    - Think very carefully before asking partners or family members to join. It may seem like a quick fix if you don't know any other drummers/guitarists/singers/pianists but it may not end well!
  4. SoLongJake

    SoLongJake Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2007
    Des Moines, Iowa
    The only prerequisite I have when getting involved with a project is that all the members have the ability to listen. If I get the feeling that a potential member doesn't listen to the band while playing or speaking I'll pass on them. If they seem like they're just waiting for their turn to solo/ speak I don't have time to waste trying to get them to do so.
  5. No photo, no Amy Lee wannabe.
  6. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    I don't actually remember myself at age 16.

    I think putting a band together at 16 is a great age to get into this.

    It won't be easy, but keep at it, don't give up.

  7. metlman72


    Jun 29, 2011
    Long Island NY
    I think you have a great list going already. I say play as much as you can and build a solid musical foundation. Most high school bands are done by the end of or soon after graduation. The lessons we learn and the fundamentals will stay with you for ever. Try to find a good drummer who has good timing and learn with\from each other. You will benefit greatly from it. Good luck and most of all have fun.

    There is nothing better than being in the pocket with your drummer. You hear it and feel it. Still blows me away today... the high you get is better than any drug.
  8. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Don't waste time on guys who are not committed. When I was your age I found half the guys couldn't even show up for regular practice.
  9. As a new band starting out, this is the advice I offer.

    First the band needs a reason to exist.

    For example: Is the band a just for fun (pay to play) type band or working (play for $$$) business type band?

    If business you need to know your market - where do you want to play?

    This is really important - decide where you want to work and target your show/material to get those gigs.

    If the band is just for fun, you still should have some places in mind where you can gig, so everyone has something to look forward to - otherwise people lose interest.

    Also work with a written contract and get a good manger/agent if and when the time comes.

    Good luck with all the other do/don’t horsespit along the way and have fun.

    EDIT: BTW, there are other musical avenues you could pursue too. For example, jingles, and film. While you still have school connections head over to the film dept. and make friends with the film makers and offer to create the music score for their short films and etc. - after they graduate and enter into the film industry they may also become your connections into the industry.

  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
  11. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    I still find people with this problem, more often than not. Not worth your time for sure
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Do: make sure everybody in the band has the same goals. (Some bands are out to play every night, some are happy playing in the basement.)

    Don't: recruit anyone crazier than you.
  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Do - Join an established band.

    Don't - Start a freaking band from scratch. Just not worth the hassle.
  14. I'm not nor have I ever been in a band as of yet, but based on some of my experiences with my sister, I have some do's and don't's of my own.

    -Do keep an open mind when playing/writing/recording something. If you're covering a song, have the creativity to make it your own, even if you only do so to a small degree. Don't just make a carbon copy of the song unless you're specifically a tribute band.
    -Do accommodate the vocalist when the need arises. If they say a song is too high/low and that they're straining, then the song is probably too high/low and they're straining. Don't force a vocalist to sing that song if it is too high/low for their voice. It is bad to strain and it will wreck their voice. You can replace an instrument if it's broken, but if a voice is wrecked, it's wrecked and little can be done about it.
    -Don't have a "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude (not constantly, anyway). If there is a problem, be prepared to make some sufficient type of change to fix that problem.
    -Don't use what other bands do to try to justify your diva/"my-way-or-the-highway" attitude.
  15. NailDriver


    Dec 27, 2008
    Do: try to book some gigs and play out. It takes your game to a higher level. I have seen some great players who can't seem to get out of their basements, and that's a shame. Basement jams are fun for a while, but gigging out gives you a goal to shoot for.
  16. Octaves


    Jun 22, 2012
    You're a teenager, so I'd say the rules are different. For you I'd look for reliability, can they string a sentence together, and can they actually play their instrument?

    In general, I'd be looking for no drama queens, no substance abuse issues, ability o pay for rehearsal rooms etc, flexibility, and somebody who is not pussy whipped by a wife or partner. Also, don't take people at face value. They're level of commitment comes out at least a month after rehearsals start. Also, keep your options open. Stay in contact with other instrumentalists, you never know when you might need them.
  17. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Unless it truly is "just for fun", stay away from groups that have husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend teams as members. Eventually, you won't get an equal say and they won't keep their personal drama out of the band.

    If doing covers, stay away from "ya gotta play it just like the record" type of people, they don't know what they're doing. You are not the original artist and you do not have 40 members to play all the overdubs. If you go see them live, they won't sound just like the record either, even though they themselves recorded it.

    Pick songs that work well with your instrumentation and vocal abilities. Play them how your group sounds good playing them. It shouldn't take but a couple run-throughs to know if something is workable or not. Don't beat a dead horse, move on to something else that works.

    If doing originals...don't get buried in the woodshed for months on end trying to make everything just perfect. Get your act out in front of audiences as soon as is practical, they'll let you know what's good and what's not.

    Take the time, fill out the paperwork, spend the money and get copyrights and publishing rights filed on everything you've had a hand in writing. Don't think you're all one big happy rock-n-roll family and the smell of success won't bring out the ego in anyone. There's nothing stopping other bands from outright taking your stuff as their own if there's no paperwork on it either.

    Above all...have fun. It's supposed to be fun.

    All in all, OP, you sound more "together" than I did at 16. For some context, I'm 41 and have been playing since I was 12, both coverbands and original groups.
  18. PipeRain

    PipeRain Operator Of Pointy Basses

    Dec 4, 2012
    Do not take yourself too seriously.
    Do not take anything personally unless it is specifically told to you, face to face, that it is in fact personal. Even then, be cautious.
    Do not carry your ego around with you.
    Do not confuse your identity with your music, and vice versa.
    Do not ever get caught putting out less effort than everyone else.
    Do not forget that it is supposed to be fun, even if it is a ton of work.
  19. Spiffmeister

    Spiffmeister Meister of the Spiffs

    Apr 26, 2012
    Lots of good stuff!

    I'll add:
    Do communicate.
    Do criticize, but constructively
    Do make sure you've got the same goals. Communication will clear that up.
    Do be (sounds like Sinatra) ambitious, but keep having fun.

    Don't stick around with douches.

    And all of the above :)
  20. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Joe : I never saw that wiki page. NICE!!! Gonna do some homework tonight!

    First let me throw my hat behind the early statement : What is the bands goals?
    I mean that shorter term. Play a gig? A Party? Etc.

    You can want to make it BUT you have to have a plan to get their (whether it works
    or not, you can change course later). For a band starting out this is about the immediate future and changing your situation to fit your goals (a good habit in general!).

    My main addition is this :
    Have a PROCESS to deal with conflict. Example :
    Someone proposes a song you don't like. What do you do?

    If you outright refuse etc. you create a conflict. A good example cover bands give is any new song should be used to replace a song, if you are uncertain, learn it, and put it to the crowd reaction.

    Another piece of advice I picked up doing sound in the theatrical world and I improved upon it for my own band.

    "How to criticize someone." Simply put, after practice we have "practice notes", BUT before we criticize each other, you get to vent what you messed up. If you vent that you missed a change, got lost etc. no one else brings it up cause you already know what to work on (NO TEASING/SARCASM). If the person has the same problem over repeated practices you can bring up the fact that they aren't fixing it, but not the problem itself. This gives the distance and if the problem is repeated you know that maybe you should let the person vent about their personal life a bit etc. Also allows the person to feel more professional.