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Juggling and prioritizing multiple projects

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Jun 16, 2004.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    For all you guys and gals who juggle playing with more than one project, how do you manage and prioritize things?

    Seems like the best players often seem to have many fingers in many musical pies at once. I believe that they're in demand because they're good, and they're good partly because they pursue new directions and opportunities with zeal. If I can't be sought after by every band in town, at least I can take the pursuit of new directions part into my own hands -- even if my schedule is pretty darned full as it is.

    I'll list a few issues/experiences I've encountered. Comment on these or share your own.

    • Assuming you have a "A" project that gets priority, what guidelines do you use to establish booking priority? Do you tell the A project that any date not booked x number of days out is subject to being taken by another project? Or do you tell the "B" project that you may be forced to cancel at the last minute if something comes up with A?
    • Animosity from members of a B project who take your other priorities as almost a personal insult.
    • How do you approach potential side projects? "Hey, I've got a busy gig schedule, but I would love to work with you as best I can..."
    • First time you have to pass on a gig with a "B" project, you get the "yeah, you're the player we want but we gotta go with someone who can be there" speech and it's over. Or the phone just never rings again from those folks.

  2. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    I was actually gonna post a similar question.

    I am in two bands right now, but so far have been EXTREMELY lucky as far as booking goes.

    The one band is playing out, usually at least once a week. The other band has only played a few gigs so far, and there has been no conflict. I am not really sure how I am gonna be able to deal with the conflict when it comes up.

    I tell myself it'll be first come first serve. I have a rule against cancelling any gig that is booked, for anything other than a genuine emergency. But what if one is a big opportunity for one band??
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I keep people informed in advance of when I'm available and respond quickly if they query a date ahead of what I've laid out. I make a distinction between commitments that are firm and those that are just pencilled in - if I've said I will do something then, generally, that's the case.

    The exception is when other members of a project are obviously treating a booking much more lightly. For example, with Lovesjones, I used to keep every Tuesday evening free for our rehearsals. However, there have been plenty of times when rehearsals have been hampered by others not turning up or not having done their homework so while I don't plan to make a block booking for something else on a Tuesday night I will take other opportunities as long as I can give at least a couple of weeks notice.

    Likewise, I should have a gig with the band on Monday evening but, months after it was first mentioned, I'm still waiting to hear from the keyboard player (who's meant to be organising it and is also playing an earlier set there with his jazz combo) about exactly when and where. It's in the countryside so it's not going to be a simple train or bus journey and I'm one of the few band members with a car. I've let everyone know that if I haven't got details by the end of Friday evening, I may well end up making other plans.

    In some ways it pains me to entertain even a hint of reliablity but I'm not going to go over board on commitment when it's not reciprocated and the rewards are so small! However, I make a point of keeping this all in the open rather than just dropping out with no warning.

  4. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Usually, it's first come first served. But when it comes to band "A", it has priority. But between bands "B", "C" and "D", there's no priority (band "A" is an original project, others are cover bands). I consider band "B" to be my cover band, though, so it may enjoy a little favoritism over the others, for which I consider myself hired gun only.

    Never had to deal with that, yet.

    That's what I say most the time. I have plenty of songs to learn/practice/put bass to already.

    Again, never had to deal with that.

    I'd like to add that I don't really have a problem dealing with being in multiple bands. I think the tough part is having to learn lots of songs, and having rehearsals with all those bands. I found it tougher to schedule rehearsals for all those bands than booking gigs.
  5. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    First come, first served makes it a lot easier and someone I know who juggles up to 7 or more projects takes that route. Just doesn't work well any other way.

    I also prioritize my time by not getting involved in situations with bands who endlessly rehearse and have members show up who have not prepared. That becomes an utter waste of time and I'd rather spend my time doing some shedding. :bassist:
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    All the real busy players here in Boston have multiple things going on. Since everyone is doing it, people tend to be forgiving when you're unavailable as long as they have access to good subs. I've even done gigs where the LEADER subbed himself out so he could do another gig!

    Anyway, if you stick to projects like that you should cause no hard feelings and your phone should keep ringing.

    If projects are going to conflict I prioritize based on the usual criteria: how much does it pay, how often are the gigs, how much travel, quality of the music, quality of the hang, long-term career potential.

    Rule #1 is keep one and ONLY one calendar so you can keep track of everything and avoid double booking.
  7. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    I'm currently playing in 4 bands and it definitely is a juggle. It takes a LOT of communication and planning ahead. I think its important to set priorities (for me, the Reggae which I am leading and the rock band which I promised a strong long-term commitment to come first) and to be open and honest with everyone

    I am doing this for a living and have a couple of kids to help feed so I make sure people understand that up front. Here in Madison a majority of the musicians are hobbiests who get their undies in a bundle if you can't rehearse with them 4 times a week for a band that gigs once every 5 to 6 weeks (!), or they just want you to only be in their band and with no-one else....

    so I've managed to find the more serious minded musicians and have two very solid projects going with 2 other potentially solid things happeneing as well. Plus I scramble for time to teach some lessons and hustle for some studio work as well

    lately its been a blast: the rock band I am in is really great and the bandleader owns one of the best studios in town, so we've been able to rehearse in the studio and do a alot of pre-production for our upcoming album, and the Reggae band is a fun because thats my favorite kind of music....

    there are times when I am rehearsing with 2 different bands in a night, and in the last few weeks I've done 9 or 10 rehearsals total a week. crazy but its really getting my chops up beyond where they've ever been before