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The Experiment -- Evolution of a Band Leader

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by PauFerro, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Anyone ever work in a band where the leader does all the business end of the band, but retains most of the creative and other decisions that affect the musicians? But also, makes sure every member gets fairly regular pay as the band leader's "right" for making the decisions? Just curious.
  2. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Good idea, but IMO you're still including too much "band memberness" in your musician description.

    If I did this there would be a hard-nosed contact spelling out that the musicians are sub-contracted workers and will be paid X including 1099s. I would keep any and all revenues left after expenses. There would be a stable of signed, qualified musicians, and "bands" would be assembled at my discretion based on the demands of the gig and availability of musicians.

    I would retain 100% control.

    But alas, I would rather be one of these musicians than a band owner.

    The great thing about a band like this is you could potentially turn this into a very lucrative business that you can keep running steady and smooth, where similar but democratically-operated entertainment bands typically suffer from many problems this model would avoid.

    Someone posted a link here some time back to a band owner like this. His website included the very detailed, lengthy contract he uses for his musicians which specified all demands of the gig including costumes.... it was sometimes silly but very interesting.
  3. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Chris -- I shortened the OP after I posted it, and I guess you posted at the same time. But I think you could still answer this question - what do you mean by band memberness?
  4. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I can't make out what the second sentence of this means. Do you mean the BL makes sure everyone in the band gets paid? Or (what seems to fit the rest of your meaning better) makes sure that HE gets paid an extra share or something in exchange for all the extra work he does? So far, I haven't been in a band where one person had that much of a dominant role, so no, but I think it's perfectly reasonable. If the band members' responsibilities are to show up and play music, while the BL plans, does musical direction, markets, books gigs, does the accounting, plus shows up and plays music, I'd think it's perfectly fair for them to get more pay than the rest.
  5. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    Having recently left a long term engagement with a band where the founding members (husband and wife drummer and singer) seemed to have decided at point (without communicating this) that they "owned" the band, I can tell you communication and expectations have to be clear or else ongoing conflict and confusion is inevitable. Personally, I'd be very cautious about any situation where I'll be investing time and losing other opportunities where anyone else has control over the band and my continued membership.
  6. Saxn


    Oct 23, 2010
    Nashville, GA
    I'll be curious to see where this discussion goes. I have been pulled into a ten piece band and have found myself in this very position, minus the creative control. I have been handling all aspects of the "business end" - contact, booking, press kits, graphics design, the works.

    In my opinion, as one of my old teachers used to say, "Nothing's for nothing." If you are doing the work I think you should expect to be compensated in some way. I am lucky to be in a group that seems to recognize this, and we're actually having a business meeting tomorrow to solid up a verbal agreement that will be the basis for a written contract. I hear things don't always go as easy as that, though.

    So to sum up... If you are looking at making the band something as official as you describe in the op, then definitely solidify your position as a key member in terms of job description (what is expected of you) and the compensation you are entitled to if you do that job. And get it in writing. Anything else is asking for confusion at best, and the Big Shaft at worst. My .02.
  7. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Your original OP had language describing your bandmates as quasi-members with some measure of input over operations.

    In the example I referred to, the guy's contract EXPLICITLY stated that "he" OWNED the band, the name, everything. He was operating a business and everyone else was sub-contractor employees. Your description of what you wanted to do sounded CLOSE to that, but still left some "membership" qualities with your bandmates. I was just saying if I were to do what you were describing, I would go all the way and make it 100% mine.
  8. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    In my experience with society bands:

    Band leader works with booking agent(s) to secure gigs. Band leader is responsible for all promotion (whether done personally or thru others). Band leader is responsible for staffing each gig. Band leader is responsible for putting together all the charts, setting the set lists, MCing, all interface with audience/customers/etc.
    Each musician is paid a set fee per gig.
    Band leader typically takes double or triple fee for his/her trouble. Sidemen don't actually know band leader's share, because they are getting a flat fee.
    Sidemen show up with instruments. They are expected to read the charts error-free and with correct stylistic nuances for the particular style. For chairs that involve improvisation, the solos are expected to be appropriately hot and match stylistically.
    Sidemen show up early with correct dress (however odd it may be), hit on time, stay sober the whole night, assist setup and teardown, return the books in good order, behave pleasantly to all members of the public, all the other employees of the venue, and other participants (such as photographers, event planners), etc.

    If the total payments get to be enough, the band leader has all the sidemen fill out W-4 forms so you will get a 1099-MISC at the end of the year.

    If the band leader doesn't pay enough, or secure enough gigs, he/she won't be able to secure the services of good sidemen.

    If the musicians hired can't cut the musical or professional requirements, they will not be hired again.

    In markets where this model can work, it can work very well. It does require the leader to have a lot of initiative and excellent marketing and selling skills.
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Yes, I have been in lots of bands where the leader makes all the decisions. In my experience that model is far more common than so-called "democratic" bands.

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