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Is the Bass Player Expected to Find Gigs?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BarStarzBass, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. BarStarzBass


    Apr 25, 2010
    Apologies if this has been covered already - a semi-diligent search didn't turn up anything.

    I've only been in two bands so far. The first had a strong BL - not in the sense he was overbearing or anything - he just had tons of local gigging experience, a great network, and a good sense of how to put a setlist together. So it was pretty natural for him to get us all the gigs and handle pretty much all the details - all I had to do was show up and play at practice and gigs. Sadly, I had to leave that band when we moved.

    In my new band, there's no strong BL - everything is a "group decision" which on the one hand is kind-of-nice, but it takes FOREVER for anything to get done . . .if it gets done at all. And the band believes everybody should be out hustling gigs. I don't have that kind of personality and with a full time job and family - not to mention I recently moved to this city so I have zero network - we'll it's a struggle.

    I'm not talking pro or even semi-pro here. I'm talking about bands where everyone has a full-time job and it's just for fun and as a stress-relieving hobby . . . I'm willing to put some non-fun work into it but only to a point - I don't need or want a second job.

    So, of these two situations, which one is more the rule and which on the exception? I honestly don't know what the "norm" is . . . or even if there is a "norm". Am I being a whiny bitch, or do most of you in similar amateur situations have deals that are more like my first band?
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I have been in both types of bands and have always found that it works best if everyone has input. In my current band whenever anyone comes up with an idea for a song or arrangement, we try it and see what works. Majority rules and we have never had even a minor disagreement. We all understand that sometimes we get our way sometimes we don't. As long as we all have input we are fine. I know other people who prefer to be in a band with a strong BL and who only want to show up and I play.
  3. BluesWalker

    BluesWalker Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Yes, we all should be finding gigs if we want to play them.
  4. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    In our band we have a guy we call the BL, but in practice we all work at finding gigs. Our band leader, in fact, is the band leader because he does it best.

    Nothing is all that spelled out however.

    I think that if you're in the band you should do at least some work at coming up with gigs. Like the OP's band, we're weekend warrior types. When I'm driving around I stop in a place and ask now and then. It takes 5 minutes. So far I've come up with one street dance......not very good, but that's how I handle it.
  5. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    I my experience it is me thats motivated to do the real footwork. Guitarist is usually too busy practicing his stage moves and solos and the drummer always seems like the band slacker (why should I find gigs I work hardest on stage) *Sigh*. The vocalist can get this done if he or she is motivated, but many times their ego (or lack there of) gets in the way of actually doing anything. I find bassists are usually the one with the level head and business sense to get things done.
  6. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    I don't think there is a "norm". It's really just what works for the band as a whole. I've really only been in three bands:

    Band #1 - An existing project that I came into. The singer/guitarist was the band leader, and so he booked most of the gigs. But if someone else came across a gig opportunity we went with it if it was a good fit for us. The band was a democracy but the BL had larger sway.

    Band #2 - Sort of an existing project, sort of a startup that was basically two songwriters who found a bassist and drummer. 100% democratic and while our bassist was usually the only one to get us gigs, I got some on occasion. Again that was a situation where we all pulled our weight with moving the band along but some of us had more connections than others.

    Band #3 - An existing trio. Our bassist got most of the gigs since he had most of the connections, but again if myself or the guitarist got one, we'd go with it. This was a project where I felt like I had the lowest say in things.

    Band #4 - Definitely a democracy, though the two principle songwriters have more connections than I do..better connections than I'll ever have at least at the moment. So they get the majority of the gigs, but again if I came up with something, we'd talk about it.

    So I guess I'd say that most bands at least in my experience, are a democracy, they have to be in order to function unless you're a hired hand. As for pulling weight, I can understand if you don't have the personality to get gigs..I don't really either but I at least try to help by suggesting venues and trying to make connections with people I've met at other gigs. I think as long as you're trying to pull your weight a little, it's appreciated.
  7. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    I'd say there is no right or wrong....just a broad spectrum. You have to find what works for you/the band, and communication is KEY. If this is stressing you, say so. Is there something else you can do to help, more up you alley, like build/run website, prepare the set lists, take charge of putting together a demo, etc.?? For what it's worth, it doesn't take a lot to walk into a club, order a beer, ask who does the booking and tell them you have a band that would be a great fit for their venue. BTW what kind of gigs are you after....clubs, weddings, hoe downs, S&M parties, Octoberfests??? That might help with the replys!
  8. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    +1. Try to get gigs whenever you can. All you have to do is hand your demo Cd to the man in charge and tell him about all the fans that will come and see you.:D When you are the one who got the gig, It sort of puts you in the BL position. The lead singer is going to have the final say on on song choices. After all He/She needs to be able to sing the song.
  9. Bassmanmike1

    Bassmanmike1 Sittin' In Limbo Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    Cool, CA
    Personally I hate having to do it and I usually don't. I'm a lousy salesman and know it, and have run afoul of some club owners in the past. It just aggravates me when I see how little value most club owners actually put on the hard work that we do so it's best to keep me out of the business end of things. I'll help with arrangments, set lists, recordings or anything else I can handle. I know my strengths and play to them. I put this out front when ever I join a band and I have never run into anyone that insisted I do it, or be kicked out.
  10. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Band Leader has always booked the gigs, but if anyone hears of an opening, we sure let him know so he can follow up. I prefer the one person makes the arrangements scenario, it avoids date and price conflicts. If anyone is going to be unavailable, we give plenty of notice to avoid embarrassing promises. It worked for us for 25 years.
  11. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    One thing that worked well in a band years back..... whoever books the gig gets a "commission" (like 10%). Generally those who hate chasing the gigs don't mind giving up a few bucks for the lack of hassle, and those who do the booking get rewarded, and don't feel slighted that they are "doing all the work". It can actually motivate them, and the band ends up with MORE gigs!
  12. williamk


    Apr 2, 2008
    hahahahhaah!!! NO! never the bass player!
  13. BarStarzBass


    Apr 25, 2010
    Wow - thanks guys for all the good input. I certainly pitch in in other ways that are a better fit for my personality - e.g. printing up business cards etc. But yeah I can force myself to drop off a few CDs and work some clubs.

    Joedog - we are a vintage and modern rock cover band, and so far we've just done bar gigs and have talked about doing some weddings . . . though your S&M party idea is intriguing . . .
  14. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    You do what you can. I mean why should a bassist be excepted from helping to promote and book the band anymore than the drummer, vocalist, guitarist or anyone else. If that band is a partnership then all should share in all of the work that needs to be done.

    Find what you do well and do that. Maybe it's to work more on the production of and distribution of promo materials. In one band I was in a couple of the guys took that on while I did all the follow up calls, made the booking arrangements, sent out contracts and collected the money.

    We all had work and families to deal with so every one had to do their part.
  15. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Depends on the band.

    Most pro bands and semi pro bands have agencies or other entities helping or have full responsible for bookings.

    However, most of us weekend players playing small bars and clubs have to "get it done" ourselves.

    So if the guys in your band like having that extra $200.00-$300.00 in their pockets and like gigging on weekends, yeah we all have to help out.

  16. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    My main band is kind of a hybrid situation. Its very much a BL and 4 side guys situation, however we all get equal cuts so the more and better paying gigs we get, the more everyone profits.

    Basically the BL is the only one who's *expected* to keep the calendar full but we all FW him leads as we get them. Generally I turn the potential client over to him early in the process cause his pricing structure is pretty fluid depending on any number of variables so I just leave the money talk and contract business up to him.
  17. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I'm strictly a hired gun. If I manage to make a good contact for a gig, I typically give them the names of a couple of my favorite bandleaders. Customarily, I will then get first call for those gigs. But I let the bandleaders handle all of the details because they know how to do it.
  18. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    This is exactly what we do. One guy does it to avoid problems, but we all have input
  19. SactoBass

    SactoBass There are some who call me.......Sactobass Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA

    Huh?? Find gigs?? The bassist???? No, no, no. Those menial laborious tasks are for the other players in the band to handle. That's why you have them! The bass player's responsibility is to occupy a lounge chair next to the pool while various servants bring you chilled grapes, jumbo prawns with a minimum of three dipping sauces, strips of bar-be-que'd kobe beef, and various beverages. Such is the life of a bassist.

    My goodness! Whatever you do, please do not let any of the other players in your band see this thread! The last thing we want is for them to know the real reason why they are in the band.
  20. bumperbass


    Jun 19, 2012
    In my band, it's one of the BL's businesses. He takes an extra-man cut. It's HIS band, his van, his (very nice) PA and light show. He and his wife set-up and tear down the PA and lights, and they have it down like it's a science. They want to book the gigs. I stay out of it. I help with a few things, like correcting song mistakes at practice, doing my part on stage, singing a lot of the tunes, and with helping out with the lights/PA by carrying mostly small stuff to the van. I also repair anything that breaks, for free. i don't mind if they take an extra cut AT ALL! All I need to do is learn the songs. I have the best ear in the band, so I'd say I'm worth what I'm paid. I can't complain and neither can they. Oh yeah, the BL and his wifey live a clean life and they're great to be around.