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"Not your songs, not your decisions"

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by quale213, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. quale213


    Sep 17, 2008
    Hey all, so the new band I am in is very talented (Acarya), composed of two pro musicians as well as myself. Right now we have lead guitar, bass, and then a hand drummer. All of us are dedicated to the band and have very high aspirations. In November we are flying to New York to meet with a big time record label who has been very interested of late.
    The problem with the group is that they are both extremely difficult to work with. I was the 16th(!!!) bassist to try out for them, and have since made the band, or so I thought.
    Last night at practice the hand drummer and I are talking about the upcoming meeting with this record label and speculating on what kind of deal they may offer. She then goes on to say that "Since they are not your songs, you really do not have a say in whether or not we take the deal".

    I was kind of shocked when she said this, but today I am actually angry. Tomorow at practice I am thinking about approaching the guitarist (band leader) and asking him if this is true.

    I am more confused and frustrated than anything about what she said as I have written for the band, have had a great deal of influence over the songs, and have been in the studio writing way more than the hand drummer has.

    I do not want to come over as melodramatic, but I think I have some serious issues and warranted quandaries.

    I just wanted some advice on this as I do not want to throw away valuable experience and a shot at the big times, but I also do not want to hate practicing and have a serious dislike of music either.

    Thanks in advance, sorry for the long story.

  2. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Get a lawyer now. Sit down with the lawyer and the rest of the group and get all these issues clarified, written down, and signed. If they don't want to do this, I'd assume you'd get screwed at some point down the road. If they're professionals, they'll be happy to do it.
  3. quale213


    Sep 17, 2008
    Mods, could you please move this to Band Management, gracias!!!
  4. quale213


    Sep 17, 2008
    Thanks Salcott, I have thought about that. We all contacted lawyers in preparation for the New York meeting in November. I just do not know if it is even worth it to hang on for that long.
  5. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    It might not be. If they don't consider you a member of the group, then you're out of luck. Get as much of the music you wrote as you can and get out of there, if that's the case! It's not worth it.
  6. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Sounds like they are using you to promote their career but aren't willing to share in any potential rewards. That can suck but conversely, you should not be exposed to any risk if they sign for an advance from a label then your sales don't deliver. They'll be liable for paying back the record company and you'll be debt free.

    Either get paid up front for all gigs or walk. That simple. You are a hired gun from the situation you are decribing. Make sure they are paying you.
  7. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    "Writing" may be a matter of opinion. If you're just filling out an existing chord chart with cool changes, well that's what a good sideman would do for a fixed fee or an hourly rate. If you're writing new melodies and lyrics, I'd say you have a right to a piece of the action. Otherwise you're just a hired sideman.
  8. Ozonbass

    Ozonbass Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    I'd walk...seems odd they don't even mention a bass player in the band on their myspace site...that alone would suck the life out of my ego :).
  9. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    And if that's the case, you should be getting paid.
  10. quale213


    Sep 17, 2008
    Thanks guys. I have come to realize over the past few weeks that I could just be a sideman rather than an actual "member" of the band. It is weird to think about it in terms of those words, but I guess that this is part of the process of maturing as a musician, especially in the professional world.

    Thanks everyone
  11. quale213


    Sep 17, 2008
    Ozone, I know isn't it!!!???
  12. 6jase5

    6jase5 Mammogram is down but I'm working manually

    Dec 17, 2007
    San Diego/LA
    Bands with longevity consider everybody equally important. While one member might have been writing, another printed flyers and promoted, etc. There is a reason why some band members of well known bands live in the hollywood hills while others are driving taxis today, and that's all about royalty split with the publishing. It sounds as though they are writing you out, which means that you are a hired gun. Sad, but it's usually an ego thing. You need to work things out legally on paper, but meeting with a big named label doesn't mean that you are going to the bank in the afternoon. Record deals don't mean upfront $$, publishing deals do, but it's a longer conversation and you need to do your homework.

    It's usually a slow process and majors (nowadays) typically only sign heavily touring bands on indie's or bands having a massive following on their own - meaning, no band development.

    I wish you the best. I was in your shoes 15 years ago with Captain ego and the ilovemyselfs.
  13. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Doesn't matter who writes the songs... even if you don't have a say in whether the band takes the deal, you have a have say in whether you take it. Well, unless they're just planning to fire you anyway but hope they can encourage you to quit first. Then you really don't have a say.
  14. Front up to 'em and ask outright if you're "in" the band or just a hired gun. If you're a member, you have totally equal say on business decisions, IMO. The publishing side of things is a different matter...

    At least get it out in the open and written down in the form of a legal agreement what your precise situation is.
  15. Jehos

    Jehos Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    DFW, TX

    Don't take it hard, the hired guns sometimes make more money than the "artists", especially in an indie label or small-fry on a major situation. If they just see you as a hired backline and not part of the band, just make sure you're getting paid like one. That means money every gig, money every studio session, and possibly money every rehearsal.
  16. Calebmundy


    Apr 5, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: DNA Amplifiers
    I would definitely suggest waiting things out. I would hate to hear that you had a small-time-band arugment that cost you being a part of a big-time process.

    If you are genuine writer on some of the matieral, I would definitely get that stuff formally protected, but other than that you have every chance to meet a lot of useful people, see a lot of real music business go down, and maybe even go somewhere with this band. As long as you're careful about what you sign, what does it cost you, other than ego to wait until something bad actually happens instead of quitting now over "principles"?

    I realize that I may have put some of the other commenters thoughts on you in this reply, but I wanted to be a voice of reason/devil's advocate. There's more to be had from negotiating a record deal than just getting a deal. Knowing those people could be great for you down the road too.
  17. You should sort out your role in the band and with regard to the writing. Ideally, you should have a signed agreement between the band members and the co-authors of the songs and that should make things clear. In practice, however, almost nobody does this, then they have trouble and moan about what a hard business this is.

    On another note - I agree with Calebmundy - you should stay with the program to get as much out of this as you can. This may be a springboard to bigger and better things.

    So, I suggest to clarify your position and stick with the band to see where this takes you.
  18. Yerf Dog

    Yerf Dog

    Jun 29, 2009
    Carol Stream, IL
    What's a hand drummer? [​IMG]
  19. Well, I found the myspace of the band ... and you aren't listed in the members.
  20. sirpug


    May 8, 2008
    Everett Wa
    Sounds like you need clarification on exactly what your role is. Sit everybody down and get it straight from everybody. You may even find out that the other two members might be on different pages considering your position, who knows. Either way, if your position is as a hired gun I think you need to get your own lawyer and draft a hired gun contract defining your role and pay. The lawyer should also be able to work out the situation with the material you've written when they were leading you to believe that you were a full member whether you get it back and only play what they write for you or they pay you for the material you write for them.

    Side question, how long have you been a part of the band?

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