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Seeking Band Management advice from TB

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SmokinJoe992, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. I am looking for advice and thoughts from the TB collective concerning my current band situation. About a year and a half ago I started a cover band that plays rock, blues and some country. We started out as a three piece. The guitarist/vocalist has always been in other bands besides this one, but until recently he has prioritized playing in our band. He has always been easy to get along with and until recently has been easy to schedule and good about learning new material. We have played about 40 paid gigs in the last 12 months.
    About two months ago we brought on a keyboard player. The keyboard player is a very good musician, but he plays in 3-4 other bands. One of the bands he plays in includes our guitar player. The guitar player also plays regularly in 3-4 other bands at this time. Initially when the keyboard player joined they were both very available for gigs and rehearsals. Over the last month, however, they have both been almost impossible to schedule for rehearsals, and very reluctant to learn new material. They also have an almost entirely full calendar. To illustrate my point we played a show this last Friday at a new venue. The show went well and the venue owner was interested in re-booking us on a Saturday. When I consulted our calendar the first available Saturday we had was August 31st. In fairness 4 of those Saturdays are booked for my band. However, all of the other Saturdays are unavailable because of these guys playing for other bands.
    The current situation has made it almost impossible for me to book gigs. The band is also not progressing or adding new material. I originally never thought it was a big deal having members that were in other bands, but it has become a big deal.
    The drummer and I both agree that something has to be done, and I have some ideas on how to proceed moving forward. Before I act I would like to see how you guys would handle my situation. I am hoping for some new ideas, or maybe affirmation that what I am thinking about doing is the right thing to do.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    1) Of you guys are all playing in multiple bands, you're all likely good musicians. To that end, you DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A REHEARSAL EVERY TIME YOU ADD SONGS!!!! (Cough.... sorry. I got excited.) You guys know how to play. Pick a song. Email or group text the band the title, artist/version, key and vocal parts. Run part of it in soundcheck and let it eat!!!! If they are all playing in multiple bands, the LAST thing they need is another freaking rehearsal.

    2) If you can't get the best night for shows at the new venue (Saturday), get the SECOND best and be happy with it. Just book up your Fridays and keep on rolling.

    If you go trying to uproot the band and find musicians with less conflicts, you'll likely also find musicians with less TALENT. ;)
    City, TheBear, Mr_Moo and 20 others like this.
  3. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    When members are in multiple bands, you need subs. You might also play as a trio when only the keys player is not available.
  4. I always booked out at least three months in advance. I think the fact that they are busier with other bands is just part of the music business at this point. You should be running your business to anticipate that and getting things onto the books before the other bands do. It's first come, first serve on my own calendar and whoever is getting me work is going to be the band I play with most.

    Rehearsals are always a problem but if you're not rehearsing on normal gig nights (Fri, Sat) then you really should have a dedicated weeknight/day and make it non-negotiable. None of this "I can't make it this week, can we change it" stuff. You make the commitment, it is just like going to work.

    In my bands I am tied up on Tuesdays and Thursdays, every week, with rehearsals. If others can't make those nights, it's too bad. It waits until next week. Those are the nights I set aside to practice with the two bands who do weekly rehearsals and it's not up for discussion with either one of them.
  5. I agree with much of this and this covers some of the reasons I am hesitant to do anything. At one point I would have trusted these guys to show up ready to play a new song without a rehearsal, but the last time we did this it didn't work out great. I think that because they are playing in so many different bands they have begun to shortcut learning new material. We recently added Gold on The Ceiling by The Black Keys which is in my opinion a fairly easy song to learn and play. Both of these guys showed up ready to play the song, but even though they were playing the right notes it sounded nothing like how the song should sound. I believe that they just kind of charted the song out and showed up to play it without really listening to the song and getting their sound right. It is this lack of effort that is causing concern.
    We have also recently tried to get book at some of the better venues in our area. The main one typically books bands for entire weekends. If they called me right now, I wouldn't be able to give them a date until September. To me that is a problem.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  6. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    My band leader is smart, she knows I'm in 3 different bands, so she books early and gets my calendar filled first!
    City, theduke1, Bunk McNulty and 3 others like this.
  7. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Yep -- pick songs you can learn through personal shedding.

    I would also start subbing players for the gigs when the other guys aren't available. You have EXACTLY the right situation to build a strong database of players. Why? GIGS ON THE TABLE AND MONEY IN THE BANK. Good players will come out of the woodwork.

    Soon you will not be dependent on any one musician for any gig, and you can book gigs without even looking at anyone's calendar but your own -- you will have enough subs to do the gigs with whoever you have groomed.

    So, my advice is to find other musicians, and have them learn a simple repertoire that is also effective for your crowds. Put the time into some standard pages that make the songs easy to learn, and get a YouTube playlist together. Hold your nose through the uncomfortable phase of rehearsing a lot of players, but get a long list of subs available. Soon you'll be acting like a booking agent to all these musicians, and you'll have a full schedule. Except unlike a booking agent, you're a member of the band. Make sure to take a leader fee and a musician fee equal to others' pay if the gigs pay enough to keep good players interested.

    Good luck -- you are actually in a great position to take your musical pursuits to a new level!!!
  8. This is actually pretty close to what I was planning to do. I am a little concerned that this will not go over well with the two players in question.
  9. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I think that's a risk that you'll just have to accept. To @Stevorebob's point, it eventually becomes necessary to employ subs or create player permutations. If the two players in question take that strategy as a personal affront, then they're probably not right for the future of this band.
    Mr_Moo and SmokinJoe992 like this.
  10. This was something else I have considered. I like what the keys adds to our sound, but we played a lot of shows without keys.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

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    exactly why PauFerro 's advice is good! good luck! :thumbsup:
    filmtex, PauFerro and SmokinJoe992 like this.
  12. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    As suggested.........find subs. If those two guys have an issue......that IS NOT COOL! It is not cool for band members to think the band should sit on it's thumbs while they are gigging somewhere else. Not cool at all.
  13. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I think that if you’re in multiple bands, it’s reasonable to expect bands to have multiple players. The multi-band musician is trying to play (and earn) as much as s/he can, so a band trying to play (and earn) as much as it can should be similarly set with multiples. It be a two-way street this multiple thing. Nothing wrong with that.
    larryatravis, Kro, kentiki and 2 others like this.
  14. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    This is where the band takes on a new identity, and recognizes relationships are fluid if people are going to belong to more than one project.

    The way I break the news to them is to let them know that I have gigs, but can't play them because they too play in different bands. I don't want to prevent them from playing in other groups. But it's not fair for them to have loyalties to other groups, yet demand complete loyalty from me to the point I forgo revenue and playing opportunities. Tell them you will make them first call players -- that when there is a gig, you will call them first. But if they aren't available, you will dip into your list of other players.

    This to me sounds reasonable. If they balk -- wanting "their cake and to eat it too", then they are not being reasonable. To me that's further justification to groom new players if these types of schedule conflicts are a significant pattern. I could sit out a couple gigs a year due to members in multiple bands, but I can't sit at home and on my hands, held hostage by their commitments to other groups. That's simply not fair, and I would argue the point.

    Keeping them into first chair position and letting know other players they are subs is transparent and fair.
  15. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    If they are going to play in multiple bands, especially since they seem to have no issue leaving you high and dry often, they shouldn't have an issue with subs.
    Mr_Moo, Frankie Fender, 31HZ and 3 others like this.
  16. ‘Held hostage’ is exactly how our drummer puts it.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  17. bearfoot

    bearfoot Inactive

    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    Muscians don't respond well to direct, clear communication. You need to be as passive-aggressive as possible. Snide, offhand remarks - just a few, you don't want to tip them off - should escalate to double-booking without telling them until days prior. Lie, and insist you told them months ago. Then, if they offer any resistance, start slandering their other bands on social media in a full-scale smear campaign until the situation is under control.

  18. ^ this.
    SmokinJoe992 and two fingers like this.
  19. pht2356


    Apr 28, 2018
    Los Angeles
    Being in a band is similar to a marriage;for it to be successful the individuals need to have similar goals and be in agreement relative to the commitment and actions needed to achieve those goals. Perhaps share the thread you posted with all band members and their reactions might surprise you. Best of luck and i am sure that if you posted a song or two quite a few would take a listen
    SmokinJoe992 likes this.
  20. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    just wondering...if the guitarist and keys are in so many other bands, perhaps they have some people they know that are willing to sub for them? many busy musicians do...when i can't make a gig, first question from the bl to me is: can you get a hold of a sub?
    Mr_Moo and SmokinJoe992 like this.
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