Is there a minimum age to lead a cover band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by oniman7, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. I'm 17, graduated high school last year, and I'll hopefully start my AS in Entertainment Technology next summer or fall. I delayed getting my learner's permit to drive, but I can get a license in February.

    As I start making my own money doing things like teaching guitar lessons, I'm slowly coming to the realities of supporting oneself financially. I really want to do music and am branching out to also learn sound and recording, as well as live shows and composing for video games (hopefully including other media soon enough).

    I was thinking, though, that it wouldn't hurt to put some work in and have an extra $100 or so a weekend. I want to start a coverband doing Three Days Grace, Tool, Motley Crue, 3 Doors Down, all the good radio rock people love. Because I graduated high school, I can play in bars in Florida as long as they 're non-nude (darn).

    I'm just wondering, would any of you slightly older guys have a problem taking direction from a 17 year old? I managed my last original band which didn't have half the prospects and we made about 2 grand in 6 months. I'm no stranger to networking, booking gigs, making studio time, etc. But would this be an enterprise you'd suggest to someone my age? Post your thoughts
  2. BassIsFun17

    BassIsFun17 Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    the way i see it, is age really is just a number. but many people dont look at it that way. i think if you are capable of putting a band together and properly leading the band to thrive in your music scene and you're having fun, then why would it matter anyways?
  3. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Not really, no. I've played in a band with two singers who were my age if you added their ages together, and had no problem with them making the selists and organizing everything. Most older musicians will play with whoever and don't much care about age, especially if you're doing covers. They'll be happy to let you do most of the dirty work of booking etc, especially if they're in five other bands already.

    But if you want to support yourself financially and branch out, learn to DJ also. I play in a couple of bands with a drummer who also DJs (and runs live sound etc.) and we also know a guy who makes a large chunk of his income DJing. I don't want to get off-topic totally, but this is very valuable in a cover band.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I would, if he was mature and knew what he was doing. Double your age. That's how many years ago I started playing in bands. You can't possibly have the depth of experience that seasoned players have, so you'd be wise to consider any advice and observations of the older members in running the band.

    It reminds me of the time in the Marines when the Master Sergeant I worked for was all atwitter because some Second Lieutenant representing the Inspector General was going to come and check out our school. The lieutenant was about 21 years old - less than the years the MSgt had been in the Marines. I just couldn't get sucked in. The lieutenant showed up and, after the customary salutes, we just kinda hung out. A wise young lieutenant is going to pay attention to the old salts. Their experience is invaluable.

    (The MSgt wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, though. I used to tell him I came in late, so could I leave early to make up for it? His response: "OK, git outta here.")

    <edit> I just had another thought. While you might say, "Well, I wouldn't be bringing people your age into the band (which is perfectly valid)," young studs tend to have higher testosterone levels and may be less willing to follow a young teen. They tend to have bigger heads, too. Old fart bands tend to have less drama than young stud bands. Good luck trying to keep 20- to 35-year-olds reined in.
  5. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    The better question:

    "Would you take direction from a kid who's never been in a cover band before?"

    Answer: Nope. Wouldn't even give it a second consideration.
  6. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    For a 20-something thinking about joining your band, your legal status for signing contracts could also be a concern. But Munji and Guy highlight the two big issues. (The musicians might not balk at your age and strategies if gigs are on the books, money is coming in, and everything is going well. But if things get at all rocky, testosterone and questions about your experience/vision *will* be problems.)

    If what you really want is more experience in this kind of business management, you might as well jump in. (Even then, it would be a better education to catch on with an established and well-run cover band and learn as much as you can from the BL. At 17, though, that's not likely.)

    OTOH, if what you want is to make some quick money, there are better ways to go—especially once you start figuring out your wage against the total hours and with gear investments, travel, and other business costs deducted.
  7. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Age isn't an issue (*); skill is. You need to be able to craft a vision of how you want things to work, articulate that vision to others, and motivate them to do it your way. In other words, to be a leader you have to be a leader. It's not an honorary title, it's something you have to earn. Most people have to earn their stripes through work over time. Some do so at a young age, while some others never do their entire lives.

    (*) Some people do have trouble taking a younger person seriously. It makes those essential leadership skills that much more important. Even so, some people just can't be reached & are unwilling to cooperate. You've got to be willing to cut those people loose when you find them.
  8. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Most cover band gigs are in bars.
    Can't get too many gigs if you are not old enough to get in.
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    The OP specified that under his state's laws, he is old enough to perform in bars.

    I'd agree age is not necessarily an issue, but experience is. I would expect the bandleader to be the most experienced guy in the band unless there was a very good reason for someone else to take the role. If I was a 30-year-old and had just started learning my instrument a year earlier, and there was a 17-year-old who knew his music AND the local scene inside and out (however he came by that knowledge), sure, I'd let him lead. I haven't been in such a situation, but there have been times I've had a quite talented kid show me a part I couldn't figure out on my own.
  10. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000



    We have a thread here in band management that's about 8 replies long that's about AGE and BW has yet to post in it! :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

    In all seriousness though, some posters, such as Munji, really touched upon the key issue. The thing is not so much about age as a chronological number, but rather, the experience that is attached to age. The gigging world is an interesting world to navigate and there are things that you just don't learn about until you've paid some dues and have seen how things are done. It's kind of like how junior executives in some organizations go through coaching experiences under senior executives. I'm currently 30 and have hundreds of gigs under my belt. I would feel very confident being a BL at this juncture in my career. However, I know there's no way that I could have been a successful BL when I was 18 or 19. I had the vision. I was a good bass player. But I was still green in a lot of ways with regard to the real world. I've had the wealth of experience that comes from being around the block a few times. I can use those experiences to inform my experience of being a BL. Additionally, there are things that are not directly related to music that I could bring to an experience of being a BL. When I was in my late teens, I wasn't an assertive person. Now that I'm 30, I can be quite assertive. Whereas I may have let myself get walked on when I was in my late teens, I'm damn sure not going to let that happen now (as the Crue said in Primal Scream, "I was just a young boy, had to take a little grief. Now that I'm much older, don't put your **** on me"). That's very important when it comes to dealing with douchey musicians and club owners/promoters who may want to take advantage of someone.

    I can say that when I was just starting out, because of my age, I constantly had to prove myself. I always played with musicians much older and experienced than myself. At your age, you have to establish your credibility with other musicians and industry people from moment one. That's just how it is.

    Of course, I'm speaking from my own personal experiences here. You may be a very mature, overachiever type at a young age and could adapt to a BL position relatively quickly. However, without the experience of having been around the block as just a gigging musician for a few years, your experience as a BL will probably be more of a school of hard knocks than someone who decides to become a BL mid-career. While I commend your experience in the original project, things are done a little bit differently in that scene. I remember there was a local original project here a few years ago. They did some metal-core(ish) type of stuff and weren't a bad band. They had a "manager" who kept them busy and was proud of the fact that he kept the band busy. However, they were in sort of the all-age, DIY original scene. The reality is that it wasn't a big deal that he kept that band busy, because there isn't a lot of money in that scene. The promoters are just happy to have bands to fill slots. When a lot of other people's money is at stake, the game gets much harder.
  11. Is the person who puts the band together necessarily the leader? Is it wrong for a non leader to handle gigs and such?
  12. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    So if you graduated HS in Florida you can play in the bars?

    Weird. Never heard anything like that before.

    Also you say it will net you an extra $100 a weekend and honestly, virtually any decent musician I know won't leave the house for that. Good players in established wedding / corporate party bands can pull down $100 a SET. So while your age may not be a big stumbling block to putting a good cover band together, the economics may be.
  13. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Not necessarily and not wrong, but those are the kind of things you should make clear early so everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing.

    As the leader of one band, I have no problem asking the singer or drummer to try booking gigs at clubs where they have better contacts. They're kinda lousy at arguing with venues about money, though... And the singer has a lot of say in setlists - she's 19 so I figure if she likes something, other college kids will like it too. I trust her tastes more than I trust my own - mine are more like those of a 13-year-old girl, LOL.
  14. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    Age is just a number. Too many people are overly concerned with it. The most important things are ability and attitude. As far as "taking direction" is concerned, who says that you have give direction? You can be a BL and accept input from everybody. Don't try to run a band like a dictator. The other members will end up resenting you. This will lead to fights and eventually the band will break up. In all the bands I have been in the only thing the BL did was help to book gigs and make sure we were paid. Everything else was by a majority vote. However, I was in one band that was gigging 5 nights per week for 4 years. The drummer and I did all the bookings. One day he decided that everything had to be his way. The band broke up. I was in another band that was named after the guitarist. When he was recruiting me he told me that even though the band was named after him it was still a band and everyone had equal say and shared in everything. As the band became more successful we started touring and getting higher paying gigs. The guitarist started telling all of us that we were just "hired guns" and from then on we would be on salary. I took the drummer and keyboard player and found a new guitarist. We ended up playing gigs that he had booked because he couldn't find anyone to play with him. His reputation for being difficult had become well known.

    I'm not saying that you will do this but be careful about how much control you try to exert on other band members.
  15. At 17 you can after graduating.

    I think I was told the going rate here for a bar coverband is $150 per man for 3-4 sets
  16. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Pretty high. Do any of the bars in your network actually pay that.
  17. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    FWIW the BL of my current band is 30 which makes him 16 yrs my junior and half the age of both our guitarists. But he's also been in heavily gigging bands for the last 10 yrs and from that experience has developed a great sense of how (and how not) to do it.
  18. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Well, I think it's probably true that you probably can't put together a corporate party band at 17. Bar band, though, that's an easier goal. And you might be able to "grow" the bar band into one that can handle weddings and corporate parties in a few years.
  19. I'm just down the road from you, and play mostly Daytona area gigs.

    Unless things changed, most bars will be looking to pay you $250-$350 total for the night as an unestablished new cover band.

    Have you also considered P.A. ?

    Most places do not have house sound, and expect you to bring your own P.A. and lights (for that same money).
  20. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Is that the same whether it's a 3-man or 6-man band?

    Not trying to be a smart-azz but clubs in these parts pay by the band (not per man). $750-800 (average rate in this market for a veteran bar band) break out pretty nicely across 3 or 4 players... Not so much if you've got 5 or 6.

    You'll also need to decide if you're gonna cut yourself in for an extra % of the pay in exchange for taking on booking and other typical BL functions