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Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by plasson, May 2, 2010.

  1. plasson


    Mar 21, 2005
    hi Justin,

    I've always been curious about one thing:
    how do rehearsals work in a production like those of Beck or NIN?
    I mean, how long do you rehearse before leaving for a tour?
    how are rehearsals organized?
    like how many a week...
    and (if it's not too personal) how does your contract work in function of this?
    I mean: do you guys sign for a given number of rehearsals or what?
    also for auditioning new musicians: is that included in your contract?

    I don't mean to know how much you earn or anything like that, I'm just curious on how these dynamics and work relationships work out.
  2. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    Great question!

    I'd be interested in hearing about your experience... BTW, loved your work with NIN.
  3. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    - We rehearse as long as we can afford/as long as it takes. It depends on the repertoire and production requirements for a particular leg. As short as a few days, as long as a couple of months. Just depends.
    - Not sure how you mean about how rehearsals are organized. But how many per week? I'd say 6 or 7. On average 7-8 hours a day, or up to 12 if we're really backed up with things to do (NIN: Lights In The Sky last couple of weeks before we left, Beck: The Information tour a week before we left, Air: Moon Safari a few days before we left).
    - We don't sign a contract for a given number of days. You just roll. One works as much as needed.
    - What do you mean about auditioning new musicians included in my contract? Elaborate.

  4. plasson


    Mar 21, 2005
    first of all, thank you SO MUCH for sharing.

    "What do you mean about auditioning new musicians included in my contract? Elaborate."

    well, I once read an interview to Alessandro Cortini stating that when he was auditioned there was TR and another 1 or 2 guys auditioning him (Danny Lohner maybe? I don't remember, I read that a long time ago).
    I was wondering: since these musicians are hired musicians, not part of an actual band, all this extra time (being it auditioning, shooting videos, fans meetings or whatever) is included in the contract or what?

    again thank you SO MUCH.
    so helpful having a pro point of view.
  5. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    You're welcome, Plasson. The short answer is yes: everything is included. When you are involved in a situation of the caliber of NIN, you are generally making good money, and/or have a favorable (and mutually beneficial) deal. Along with that comes an understanding that you are on lockdown for anything and everything that may come up during the period of rehearsals, touring, whatever. You show up on day one, and you're paid and/or contracted from day one until the end. This goes for any touring scenario I've ever been involved with. And during the time period from the beginning of your employment or association until the end, you make yourself available for whenever, wherever. There's no distinction between regular time and "extra time". Or regular duties and special duties.

    It's all for one, one for all. And a strong esprit de corps develops. And if I need to talk to management about t-shirt designs because the primary artist needs to delegate to me, I do it. If I need to be at rehearsal for an 18 hour day sorting out video, great. Wiring my racks with my tech all night? Anything goes.

    You get the idea.


  6. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I know a few people who are in situations like JMJ's, on a smaller scale than NIN and Beck of course. They refer to it as being on retainer. In the best situations, it involves being salaried. This means that when the artist says jump, they ask how high.

    A few other folks have contracts that stipulate amounts of money and time commitments. In some instances this is fixed- We will play X number of shows over Y number of months and you will receive $Z. Rehearsals are expected.

    A friend has a contract similar to the one above with an up and coming R&B act, except it is all relative- There is an annual base retainer, with stipulated expectations. Then there is a clause for compensating additional commitments above the initial agreement, which he is obligated to play.

    I do not know of anyone that has a contract of exclusivity, but when the cash cow comes a mooing, they drop everything to accommodate. All of the musicians that they play with know that this is how it works.

    On a side note, I know a well known club-sized fusion band that has an agreement where they receive money based on tasks. There is a base amount of money each night for playing the sound check and show. Then there might be $100 to go around for unloading the van. If only two members unload, then they get $50 each. Press engagements are another amount... load out... etc. I thought this was a pretty good model for smaller working bands, especially when everyone has equal say in the project.
  7. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    Yes I've been in situations like this. Basically when I joined. they sent me a 2 or 3 page terms and conditions. I didn't sign anything. but it basically said what was required of me and what I would get out of it. Makes it a lot easier going into a and when everything is laid out in black and white.
  8. plasson


    Mar 21, 2005
    nice... that's exactly what I was curious to hear about.
    and in a sort of naive way I sort of hoped it worked like that.
    thanks JMJ and you all guys!
  9. plasson


    Mar 21, 2005
    uhm... if I may ask:
    how does it work for recording instead?
    I mean, a project like NIN doesn't look like the one who pays you for X studio hours.
    is that included in the whole "tour-and-everything" contract or what?
    is it more of a collaboration?

    again, I don't mean to be nosy, just very curious, especially after yesterday I read this nice interview you gave to mLive...

    and by the way... Ilan Rubin is 21?!?!?!?!
    oh man... he's my age... and he f-ing rocks!!!
    can't f-ing believe it...
  10. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005


    You may ask, but I may not answer. ;) It's all a case by case basis, but suffice to say, it can go any way. Normally, as a side musician, touring and recording are usually quite divided in terms of their deals. Unless you are profit sharing and "in the band" to some extent.

    Yes, Ilan is that young. I think 22 by now, but yes. Insane.

  11. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    Each recording session is different and there is no formula. But if you want to hear JMJ talk about his experiences I suggest checking out his clinic found here


    it's about an hour long, but the advice is priceless.
  12. plasson


    Mar 21, 2005
    22... oh man...
    well thanks jmj!

    and thanks broadbent, i'm checking the interview right now.

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