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Guys in bigger bands, how do you make it work?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by powellmacaque, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. So, my band has all the makings of a pretty cool group. Right now we're in the jamming/writing part of the process, and we have a cover/jam gig lined up for us as soon as we work the songs up (should only take a few weeks, if that).

    We want to be a groove-driven band that displays the influences of all our members. We're mostly interested in funky, folky, reggae, ska, and punk stuff. We also go into metal-ish jams and even throw in southern and hip-hop influences. Yes, we're all over the place, but it sounds unique and (more importantly) cohesive to us.

    Here's the problem, we've got:

    Guitarist One: Great guitarist with jazz and classical training, loves to play heavier-riffier stuff, really great for the jam gig. Also a great composer/baritone vocalist/lyricist. Plays banjo and other "folk" instruments also.

    Guitarist Two: Great rhythm guitarist. Amazing songwriter, has a country, punk, and southern rock background. Has a Johnny Cash style voice.

    Vocalist One: She's one of the best singers I've heard. She also plays guitar, likes and can sing everything from the blues to reggae to country. She's also great looking (which shouldn't matter, but let's face it, it does).

    Vocalist Two: Probably the best songwriter in the group. He's also a great bassist, creates samples and scratches, a good keyboard player, and good guitarist. He can also rap (which is what a lot of our jams have called for). He's also got access to a pro-quality studio and knows how to run a soundboard. He also kind of founded the band with the drummer and I, so we essentially created "the sounds" that we're making.

    Bassist: The drummer and I are probably the only ones who stay. I play bass, but I also play mandolin and help write the lyrics. I can't sing leads, but I love doing harmonies.

    Drummer: Great drummer. Funky back beats, explosive hard rock stuff, and he's got Latin grooves nailed. Him and I make a great rhythm section. He's also been experimenting with Latin percussion.

    Trumpet Player: We're trying out a horn section. The trumpet player is great, he also understands a lot more theory than the rest of us. He also plays synth and writes compositions for us.

    Trombone Player: My brother, he's got perfect pitch, one of the best trombonists I've ever heard, and knows how to create dynamics in a song.

    Sax Player: Killer sounding. Great dude. Also has a lot of cash to contribute to the band. He's also still in high school (the rest of us are 18-21) which allows us to tap into the great demographic of 16 year olds with money to buy tee shirts with :).

    String player: He might start playing with us. He plays mandolin a heck of a lot better than I do and he also plays a mean banjo.

    Yes. That's 9 players. It might even be 10 if we can get an alto/soprano sax (the one kid plays bari/tenor).

    I know that was more or less a band bio, but I was just wondering if this big of a band is problematic? Is there too much going on? We're really trying to create a band that's heavy but VERY roots driven (think 311 meets the E Street band). No over processed music, all organic sounds from musicians. We're also trying to not pigeonhole ourselves to one genre.

    How do you make any money in a bigger band? Do you do sectionals? How big is too big? Do you "need" a front person (a Bruce Springsteen to our E street band, so to speak) or could we function as unit? Any other advice?
  2. ForSix


    Jul 22, 2008
    You forgot to count the sound man. That makes 10.

    With a band that big, you're going to need to make around $3,000 per gig.

    Figure out where the $3,000 gigs are and have at it!
  3. Not just that, Your size will also limit the venues that you can fit in. Get a Demo together as fast as you can, and start looking at the Summer Festival circuit. Unless omebody has some great connections with a larger Club, the festival route is the best way to get some publicity.
  4. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I have a 7-piece soul band as my main gig, and the problem I run into the most is scheduling. It's hard to coordinate everyone for rehearsals and gigs.

    Right now we seem to have a particular problem with guitarists with conflicts. Sometimes I swear we don't have a permanent guitarist, it's pretty frustrating actually.
  5. Well we've got a gig for the rhythm section (just doing covers to save money). The band that plays there now makes $300 (not much, but it's right down the road from our house) and they make anywhere from $100 - $200 which we said will go into a "general account" (for buying tee shirts, gas for farther gigs, etc).

    Good thing is our second vocalist can record us for free and he's actually going to be purchasing a sound system and running sound for us for the most part.

    Obviously one of the perks is costs are going to be split a lot more ways. How do you guys transport 7+ people?
  6. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    My main band is a 10 piece outfit and occasionally gets expanded to 21 (yes, I said 21 :D).

    We can make decent money with the smaller band, but the bigger version is definitely just for fun. Most gigs with the expanded outfit I get maybe £20-25. With the 10 piece band the right sort of corporate gigs have paid up to £300 a head.

    +1 to CapnSev's comment on the scheduling hassles, by the way. And you'll need to be quite disciplined with your arranging and performance, things can quickly become an ugly mess when people in a bigger band all decide to jam their own thing through every number.
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    In short you make a business model and see that all involved understand it stick to it. Its about waste and expense, cut it out and use the money saved in better ways.

    Travel as one band in one vehicle is a good one, or in as limited vehicles as you can. Travel expenses are a deduction in tax ( UK tax that is ) if not form a small company or partnership to deal with these things. Its about a long term thing, if you earn gig money the tax man may want to get involved.. why?
    Well you need people to come to shows, that means advertising, that means the web, that means you have a verified list of where and when you have played. Those gigs and money need to be accounted for, if not then one day that letter will drop on your mat asking for details.....details from way back to the present day.

    Expenses for travel, equipment, fuel, instruments, etc any thing connected with the playing side can then be addressed, taken care of and recorded. Then besides the companies records there will be a record of what you were paid as a taxable income and what is a deductible expense.

    say you do gigs twice a week at weekends and get say £100 for the two. If that £100 is given to you then you have a taxable £100. If you get £20 for fuel expense then only £80 is taxable. Multiply that by 52 weekends and the money saved starts to amount to something.

    Lets say then the band rehearses that week, you pay your £5 towards the cost, in effect that come from you £100 taxable earning, but you now paid out £25 with the fuel added on. The £5 is an deductible expense, so now you have a £75 taxable income. If you all agree to say bank 25% of all money earned then the company can pay these expenses from that money, so in effect the money comes back to you but as an expense paid by the company, so you have a record of it as such and not a taxable earning.

    If for example, you did earn £100 a weekend the that's £5200 taxable income. if expenses are say, fuel £20 a week that's £1040 accounted for as expense. Then say rehearsals once a week,that's £260 accounted for as expense. so just on that alone that is £1300 you did not pay out of your own pocket.
    Its about not costing you anything to play.
    Add in strings, services, gear, pedals, insurance, etc and this "out of your pocket" figure will drop.
    The more members the more expense so take care of that side and you will save money rather than spend it.

    This is just a brief idea as different countries have different tax laws, so check out how you can use them to your advantage to keep you money in your pocket and have model or plan in place to take the strain, after all if you want to do this for a living then it's a business just like any other so treat it so.:)

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