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Playing in multiple bands

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by keiththebassist, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Hey all,

    I play in a group that's very tight knit, been around for four years, lots of local success, just released a pro full length etc.

    I have an audition for a second band tonight who's music i am also enjoying. I have no plans to quit band number one, but we've all agreed that 2013 is kind of our make or break year.

    How'd you go about telling your original band that you're joining another? kinda feels like telling your wife you've got a mistress, though it's my time and I'll spend it how I like.

    Who plays in two or more bands? Any major issues you've found? Love to hear from some folks experienced with this...
  2. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    The multiple-band solution is the only way I can stay busy enough to make decent money these days. It's not my top choice due to the politics, but here is my $.02 for what it's worth. It is definitely not nearly as gut-wrenching as having a wife and a mistress.

    If you are going to play in multiple bands, be open about it. Make sure everyone understands what you are doing and have a sub you have helped to get up to speed to avoid wasting other people's time.

    Do your best to be proactive about not getting double booked.

    You may also end up being the sub for your sub who steals your B gig. That is OK. You're still working right?

    If you try to be sneaky, you are being unprofessional.
  3. Lakland55

    Lakland55 Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I play in two separate tribute bands...as for talking about it with band number one. I just explained that I was wanting to play more gigs than band number one could book; and very rarely the bands get on the same bill and I pull double duty.

    It is like telling your wife you've got a mistress but a lot of musicians run in the same circles so here in Tucson I'm sure word got around quickly as to what I was up to.

    The biggest struggle now is time management. I spend time practicing both bands sets at home during off nights. Then each band has a rehearsal night (once per week), don't forget the gigs usually booked on weekends...and I'm married (no kids yet) and working a full forty hour work week at a desk job...its balance to say the least.
  4. 2 - 3 bands all the time. never found a need to mention my extracurricular activities to each band. LA is a big place. Not that I'm burning bridges but there is an endless supply of bridges in this town
  5. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I'm lucky, the one band I'm in keeps me more than busy every weekend. There is no way at my age I could play in 2 gigging bands.

    Your situation is probably different, if you like the being in multiple bands model, go for it.

  6. Fiset

    Fiset I do a good impression of myself Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2007
    New York
    I play in multiple projects. Just be up front with all your bandmates. In my case, one project gets priority over the others if there is a conflict and I'm honest about that up front.
  7. Of course I would let them all know even before officially joining the second band. My first band is all originals and it's kind of dark and somewhat progressive, not that it's super technical but it's not really the thing I could just get a sub for, nor would the band want a sub I'm sure. Told the 2nd bandleader up front that I'm still full force with my other band and created a solution for the booking problem. Thanks guys, keep em coming...
  8. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    My situation is different from yours, but I found pitfalls on the relationship side of things playing in 2 bands. I don't know if anything applies, but...

    I rediscovered playing after a long time off and joined a weekend warrior cover band. While I wouldn't use the description "tight knit," there was a definite "band of brothers," mentality and camaraderie...at least for the weekends. Until the trouble started, I envisioned being in this band for years. Over 3 years of doing this, I was also reconnecting with playing music in a general sense, and I ended up reconnecting with people from my high school days who wanted to get back into playing. A band formed, kind of organically, with the idea of old heads getting together and making some noise, maybe playing a party here or there or the odd "real gig" that presented itself. This was a "for fun" band...people way too busy to get very serious.

    I mentioned to the guys in my "main band" what I was doing, and that mention was treated with complete disinterest. After that, I didn't talk about it much. Over a year or so, pictures and videos were posted on facebook, as the for-fun band played some parties and did a couple of two band gigs at a local bar. When we played at one of the area "A" rooms (that was hired out for a happy hour office party) and offered an opportunity to play serious downtown music venue (that has exploitation multi-band showcases some weeknights), the guys in the main band flipped.

    I was confronted and asked what my plans were. They somehow came to believe that I could have gotten *OUR* band into that "A" room, that I could have gotten *OUR* band into the exploitation showcase. Neither of those things were true. We settled it that night. I think I used almost your precise words "It's my time and I'll spend it how I like," but I was treated to some passive-aggressive BS over the next few months, and I ended up quitting.

    What might transfer to other situations...while I told them about it early on, I didn't discuss it with them, telling them what my intentions were, what position the band held in my priorities, how my schedule was (or wasn't) affected relative to them, how they would (or wouldn't) be impacted. I knew that my intent was simply to enjoy some time playing with old friends, they didn't know that. I knew that the main band came first in terms of my schedule and that any potential conflicts would be decided in their favor. But they weren't mind readers, and when they were disinterested initially, I probably should have gone ahead into detail instead of dropping it.

    That said, I'm better off for having left that band, the conflicting attitudes were there all along, they would have come out at some other point, but that's neither here nor there for you.

    Are the guys in your band isolationist or do they value networking? Do they view playing music as competition and a zero sum game?

    Good luck with it.
  9. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Bands break up all the time. Play in as many as you can handle. I don't tell anyone anything. Just be responsible about it and learn the material.
  10. JumboJack


    Dec 31, 2007
    I like to play more than once a week so I'm in more than one band.
  11. pabloseismic


    Jan 25, 2013
    Portland, OR
    I play different instruments in different bands. Right now the tally is a 6. I play rhythm guitar in a 90's/00's cover band, bass in a Weezer tribute group and an original hip-hop group, drums in 2 original groups and guitar and vocals in my own original band. Plus, I'm adding in another Top 40 band on bass shortly. Everyone knows about everyone else and I'm very straight up about it. They all have access to my Google calender to see what dates I have available for shows and book accordingly. I've only had a couple of scheduling SNAFUs. It definitely keeps me playing out 4 to 5 nights a week.
    Seriously though, you HAVE to be up front with your commitments. That's the only way to remain trustworthy and reliable and that's the only way to keep the gigs coming.
  12. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    How do you find time to sleep?
  13. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Real musicians sleep during the day. :p
  14. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I'm currently splitting time between three gigging bands plus about 1 weekend a month on the worship team at my church.

    My experience has been that no matter how many bands you're involved with, you need to make 1 band the "priority" gig and let any other project(s) know your availability for them is subject to that band. Whether you make that decision based on which band gigs the most, has the best players, band pays the most, whatever... doesn't matter, but one project does need to be the alpha dog.

    It also helps tremendously if your "A" band books and/or blocks out dates well in advance so you can commit to other projects's gigs with a decent amount of lead time, and in confidence that your "A" band won't come up with something 2 weeks out after you've committed to one of your side projects.

    I'm fortunate enough that two of my three gigging bands and my church are all very good about asking my availability well in advance. In fact I've got a spreadsheet on my computer right now that contains probably 80% of the gigs I'm gonna be playing this whole year, as well as the dates I've blocked off from everyone for personal commitments (and have already communicated to all of them). The third gigging band is more "catch as catch can" but they're happy enough to get me that they're willing to take me on short notice if we get a few weeks out and I know I won't be working with anyone else.

    One final thing... it's usually best if your bands are spread out across different genres or at least, don't play the same venues. You really don't want to be in two bands that are competing with each other for gigs. My three gigging bands are a country singer/songwriter, a classic rock /80s bar band and a jazz combo, so I haven't run into any issues on that front.
  15. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    Some great points thumbs_up_smiley%5B1%5D.
  16. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I guess multiple gigging works for some.

    I've only seen the down side of it.

    A few years ago I was in a band where the guitarist was in another band.

    We had a cool gig lined up, guitarist said his other band had a gig the same night.

    We had to decline the gig and pay. At this bar band level and the timing a sub was not an option.

    I don't ever want to be the guy taking money away from someone else because I in another band that takes priority over another.

  17. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I'm not sure that I'd find it necessary ... I ain't MARRIED to the band.

    Not bands, per se, but I play in a classic country band that works regularly (4-8 times/month) and have other projects (duo and trio). All the other band members (except the band leader) have multiple projects as well. And the BL has a long list of qualified subs.

    First off, there have to be some rules and priorities. The band that makes $ is my gig priority, and that's known by all. The BL needs to let me know in advance of gigs (we have most of the year booked by January and a schedule is distributed). Those dates are set in stone in my calendar. Then, other dates are added during the year (private parties, special events and such) and those dates are also definite in my calendar, IF there is no conflict. If it conflicts with a previous PAYING commitment the band gets a sub (I won't renege once I've accepted a booking). If the conflict is with something that doesn't pay (rehearsals and such) then I take the band gig and duck out of the non-paying thing. One exception is when the non-paying gig is recording studio time ... I treat those as inviolate, too.

    I've run into less than half a dozen conflicts of any sort over the past three years, and it's never been a problem to work it out so everyone is happy.
  18. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Three bands here. It's just beginning to be conflicting on the schedules. Not too bad, but a conflict here and there. They all know what I do. I tell everyone about everyone els'e dates. Sometimes you just can avoid a conflict, though. Until it's too much of a problem I'll keep at it.
  19. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Even 1 conflict would be to many for me.

  20. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I play in two "full-time" bands. My original band has priority, because (a) I was in it first, and (b) it's *way* more enjoyable and the music is much higher quality. I deconflict as much as possible by letting bandleaders know as soon as I get a gig. I also freelance, and the same thing applies. As much lead time as possible, and communicate, communicate, communicate.

    I manage to keep 6-8 things going at once, which fills up my gig schedule nicely.