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Looking to scale back

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by troy mcclure, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. Currently in a cover band playing 80 shows a year for an average of $125 of man. It is a lot of work, we promote the gigs and there is always stress if we do not draw we might not be re-booked. I own the PA and lights and there is $5000 investment there and some time each gig in set up.
    I am honestly thinking about starting a new band next year to only play low pressure low pay gigs. Thinking a 3 piece with a small pa and front lights only for Legion Halls and Moose lodge type gigs. $100 a guy play 40 gigs a year. My rational is I honestly want my life back and do not want to be committed every weekend of the year.
    It took me 5 years to work out of the lowest level of gigs and it is a tough decision.
    Has anyone else every decided to step back and lower the bar a bit music wise to get your life back?
    murphy, Jimmy4string and btmpancake like this.
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I never started. I have a busy life and even if I were very dedicated I couldn't play more than once a month. Other things are much more important to me.
    wmmj, nonohmic and troy mcclure like this.
  3. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    That's all I do these days, it seems. Some high profile stuff (and fun!) with one project, but only a handful of good paying gigs each year. The rest of the time I'm playing trio/quartet/quintet classic country stuff ... $100 a man, and maybe 50 gigs a year. All semi-pros with lots of stage experience, no rehearsals, we just share songs between us and learn our parts. I do some solo stuff (acoustic guitar and vocals) at wineries, restaurants and such usually for $100-150 for a two hour set. I have time for family and other interests. Suits me fine.
    bound'n'blocked and troy mcclure like this.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    Some alternatives:

    How about hiring a roadie/sound person to cut down your setup time?

    Seems to me that you should be getting an extra cut anyways.

    I also think that the band should schedule vacation weekend once a quarter.

    Or possibly the band take off a whole month or two every year.

    If you do start another band, I suggest being proactive about taking weekends off and your other requirements.

    Good luck!
  5. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    You only get one life. Do it right.

    After two decades as a member of multiple bands, I now work solely as a hired gun. As a result, I play fewer gigs each year, but they're all better-paying ones, and I now have complete control over my calendar once again.
  6. You know, sometimes early in a career, we want nothing else but to WORK! Gigs, Gigs, Gigs!
    And after if happens, it can be both a burn-out and overload.

    I remember clearly- in Ogden, UT 2 months into a 3+ month road tour-good gigs/good money- I suddenly had an "epiphany" of sorts along the lines of "What the **** am I doing here?" Might be hard to explain, but after constant load-in/out (even with a roadie) and playing sets (of great music with great fellow musicians) I had it. Even watching locals excited about a Live Band, drinking, s-e-x-y ladies and such- It was enough, I wanted to STOP and go home.

    I did, and "Home" is now Las Vegas, where we (my female Vocalist/SO) and I came 3 years ago to play, and after a while of scuffling-Play we did. Every week-end, good lounges and showrooms, good money.

    Guess what? Same result; overload, burn-out, too much cigarette smoke, the Casinos WILL NOT let up on allowing that, and it sucks, especially for Danielle and her voice!

    So we've scaled down immensely- (90% Corporate gigs, they pay better, better meal provided usually, and a lot of times- No smoking, thank gawd- That really messes you up, spending 6 hours in a smoke-filled environment!

    Also, Dani has been successful in doing studio and session work, obviously in a "clean" and more sedate environment.
    So less is more, financially and otherwise.

    Sounds like you've got the "gotta GIG!" out of your system, playing 80X/year, so Yeah- By all means- Scale down, you will enjoy life and music more, I'm sure.
  7. We are a 3 piece 60s band and have talked about it and even taken the first tentative steps.

    We are planning on doing a quieter (amplified) acoustic set, one trip load in/out with an emphasis on afternoon and early finish evening gigs. A small PA with 3 mics, electro/acoustic guitar, and EUB into it. The drummer will play a snare and hi-hat with brushes.

    Well that was the plan, the guitarist bought a really nice guitar and I upgraded to a much better EUB but the drummer can't let go of his full kit (and it was his suggestion that he played a minimal kit.)

    Whenever we try and rehearse he always has his full kit set up (we rehearse at his house). He might start out playing hi-hat and snare but before long his kick drum sneaks in and inevitably the rest follows. Drummers eh - can't live with em, can't live without em!

    We have picked a more acoustic based set of songs but he just doesn't get that he needs to adjust his playing style. I find this surprising because he has the most experience (by a country mile) and has played a far wider range of genres then the guitarist and I. Maybe a case of old dog - new tricks!

    At last nights gig the guitarist and I were discussing a way forward. One option is bringing a drummer out of retirement that we have both worked with in the past. He is very amenable to the idea of a minimal kit. We shall see.

    Apologies for the long post and rant.
    Stumbo and troy mcclure like this.
  8. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Nice thing about Legions and Moose halls is you're done by 11pm. Around here anyways.

    I'm in largely the same boat as you - got a good thing going right now and we're as busy as we want to be. I also own the PA. So, to answer your question: not yet, but I can see scaling back in a year or two... maybe sooner.
    murphy likes this.
  9. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    Retired from bands from 1989 to 2006 due to family + career but an email from a former band mate & wifey/high-school-aged children saying "Do it Dad!" got me back out. The band had 11 years of following built up, 1 CD + 10 more "originals" + covers.

    The big key is everyone is on the same page in life. With us everyone has family, careers, and The Band can say NO to any job request if it is a big headache OR if a band member has an family event that conflicts. We do not do the normal rodeo gigs any more b/c of load-ins, false promises, volume wars with bands in the next tent, etc. Going to BOSE stuff for no venue PA gigs(no more PA/crew) and IEM's(for me at FOH gigs) helped a LOT with gear setup/teardown/etc. as we're all in our 60's. Normal house gig(venue has great PA and sound crews) is during the week(2 or 3 basses, Line 6 HD500X, IEM 3-space rack) done by 10:30 or 11, and weekends are usually kept to 1 show(NOT 9 to 1). At LEAST every 3rd weekend is OFF because WE do not want to burn out(they learned that when they did 2-3 shows per week prior to my being called in).
    This weekend is my 4th weekend off, enjoying doing honey-do's and JC-wanna-do's, working on gear, practicing, and not being in a "Time Box" schedule-wise, being able to sit on the porch and "slow down" and look at the south pasture off the porch while thinking about this journey called life.

    "Home, home again. I like to be here when I can"......
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I once left a band when it got too busy. But rather than try to re-invent the wheel (never mind getting a new PA), pay a sound-person/roadie? Then stop booking so many gigs.

    1. It's worth making less if you have less work.
    2. Fewer gigs means easier to get an audience at gigs.
    3. Nothing wrong with the same band taking lesser gigs.
    Pilgrim, troy mcclure and btmpancake like this.
  11. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Two bands I know locally book a year in adavance
    but play every other weekend so it does not become a grind.
  12. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Bar gigs can be a lot of fun, especially when your band leader is a local celebrity. Thats where he is at. I like the festivals, weddings, Christmas parties and such. Sure, you are working just like the servers and such (think employee), but being a bass player is kind of like that anyway. So yeah, after awhile its nice to get home before midnight.
    murphy and troy mcclure like this.
  13. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    I only want to play 2-3 gigs a month unless its something really big and special. I have a life outside of my band
    troy mcclure likes this.
  14. The first "real band" I was in picked up a house band gig by accident. We auditioned at the local VFW at the invitation of the band that was there at the time. We got hired to play the next month and didnt leave for the rest of the year, about 6 months. That started for me a string of a couple of years where I might have had at most a month here and there off, but playing at least two nights a week 10 months a year for a few years. When I finally stopped, I remember the first Saturday I was home and could watch "Cops" was like being a prisoner that had been paroled. Now, more than two shows a month is a lot of work for me. Part of that is due to health reasons. I have kidney failure and diabetes and it really draws me down physically and makes going late into the night pretty tough. Another part of it is that back then, it was just me and the wife and she always went, we would party a bit, and then come home and it was cool when we were younger. Now we have a teenage son and all that includes. This year will be the busiest by far for my band, and we still will probably only have played 20-25 dates by years end. THAT IS PLENTY FOR ME!.

    I say cut back, you can always find gigs if you decide you want to later.

    troy mcclure likes this.
  15. blubass


    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    There's so many thoughts and feelings that come to mind regarding what you're talking about.

    I was in your same position, just in a different context. It starts out fun, then essentially becomes another job and a chore almost. Then sets in the feelings that you have, that you may want to cut back and relax more because you feel like you may be missing out on life.

    If you truly love your band, and what you do then it will be a real weighty decision. I can say that at the time, I felt as though I left with confidence that I made the right decision. At first I felt relief and tried to plan out how i'd spend my newly acquired days off. I played video games, spent time planning my wedding, and getting in shape for basic training. Then, when the band picked up another bassist and continued on without a misstep I felt both proud and jealous almost equally. I started to miss what I had and any time I felt that I wanted to start another band, the amount of work was a complete turn-off. I wasn't diagnosed, but looking back I was most likely in a deep depression. I don't regret my decision, and i'm in a much better place mentally these days, but it's so hard to look back on the times the band had without me. There's not a single day that goes by, that I don't think about the fun times I had in that band, and all of the fortunate opportunities it afforded me like meeting my musical inspirations, celebrities, seeing the country, and meeting and making new fans.

    I say all that to say this: Be confident in your decision and don't do it for the wrong reasons. It may be smarter in the long run, to speak with the band and train a temporary replacement so you can take your much needed time off. Enjoy yourself, then when you get ready to rejoin you won't have the task of setting up a new band and forging the path you already plowed years ago.

    Best of luck!!!!
    bound'n'blocked and troy mcclure like this.
  16. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    If you are gigging 80 times a year, it seems like your band should be good enough to significantly jump up in pay scale. Hire a booking agent/manager and try raising your rates to $1500 a gig. Cut back on the number of gigs you take. Sounds like you have a good thing going. Why not just try to make it work for you better?
    Downunderwonder and Jimmy4string like this.
  17. ^ I like this guy's idea -supply and demand.
    I could easily see getting burned out on playing too much. Right now would be nice to have some more gigs .But 80+ dang that is a lot!
  18. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I agree with the above two guys.
    If you are too busy, raise your rates.
    You get to decide how much you time is worth.
  19. It doesn't work that way in the bar gig business here in central Florida, we get $500 or $600 a gig. If we wanted much more they would just get another band that would take $500-600...plenty will take $400.
    The issue honestly will be I just don't want to play as much as my band mates. No matter how much money we make no one will leave any on the table.
    murphy likes this.
  20. I think we came up with a solution... I gave the guys 2 choices, replace me in 2018 or we book the band no more than 24 weekends and they agreed to play no more than 24 weekends . The drummer and I will have more time for ourselves and the guitarist and singer said they would take on side projects/tribute acts etc to fill the other weekends.

    Let's see how this goes...
    Stumbo and RustyAxe like this.

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