1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Tips for balancing commitments to two (or more) bands

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Govner22, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. Govner22


    Jan 19, 2013
    Like many of us scarce bass players, I’m in two bands: a serious danceable classic rock/funk band and a semi-serious band with a very wide variety of songs. Though I’ve kept things in balance for the most part over the past couple of years it’s still a challenge.

    I’m interested in tips from experienced folks to help me balance the two bands, both the interpersonal side and the time commitment. I have a few thoughts I can offer to start:

    Avoid talking much about the “other” band at rehearsal. It reminds people your loyalties are split and it will annoy anyone who wishes wish he/she was in two bands too.

    Suggest songs that you already play in the other band to save woodshed time but limit those suggestions to keep the set lists distinct.

    Don’t co-opt “signature” songs/segues you already play in the other band.

    Avoid having a lot of rehearsals where not all members will attend. They clog up the calendar and often aren’t nearly as productive.

    Any other thoughts on keeping two bands happy and staying sane??
    Oddly likes this.
  2. redwingxix

    redwingxix Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    I've been in two bands before and while I never talked about the other band our LS is currently in two bands and none of mind hearing about the other band. In fact, I like hearing about their issues and solutions to problems they encounter. Then again, they are a metal band and we are not so they isn't any sort of competition for gigs or other resources.

    I think that matters a lot whether both person's band are the same genre or not. It's one for bandmates to understand that you want a creative outlet for material that they want no part of but it's another matter entirely when they think that you're doing things that they could do.

    Scheduling is the trickiest part and making band time count. If you are going to keep multiple bands going you need to surround yourself with reliable, responsible and mature people and keep it honest. That's a formula for success.
    Methaneman, LBS-bass and Govner22 like this.
  3. oldrocker


    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    I'm in 2 bands Both bands know about the other band. Members from both bands have come see me play with the other band. Have developed a cross friedship. In fact drummer / sound guy from band 2 has run sound for band 1 when band 1's sound guy wasn't available. Honesty and communication and keeping commitments is key.

    Also singer from band 2 is in a totally different band as well. We have gone to see his band.
    Govner22, TwentyHz and el_Bajo_Verde like this.
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've been playing long enough that most bands I end up in have at least one or two people from other bands I'm either currently in or have been in. The more members who are in multiple bands, the easier it is although that may seem counterintuitive.
    Govner22 and TwentyHz like this.
  5. Govner22


    Jan 19, 2013
    I hear you guys, in one of my bands everyone has at least one other project so it’s not a big deal. The other band is less experienced and they go to my other gigs, I’m just saying frequent references to the other project isn’t a great idea.

    Any other ideas for making two bands work? A very tolerant spouse comes to mind and I somehow lucked out on that...
  6. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I agree with this concept, but there's no shame in being an in-demand player. As is often repeated here: It's a band, not a marriage.
    Govner22 likes this.
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i've been in 2+ bands for years:
    - have a line on great subs
    - have a 'protocol' about handling bookings on the same date:
    make everyone (BL's) aware so that there is never confusion
    - never think you can't be replaced
    - show respect for all concerned
    - doing your job, faithfully, with one band eliminates discussion/curiosity about the other...
    - ...but be honest about your commitments to either/both bands
    - if you commit to a date or a plan = you're committed!
    - always play/gig like "this is my (only) band"

    good luck! :thumbsup:
  8. I was in a and for over three years. I was given a chance to join another band that was doing great music with a really good horn section and took it. The first band leader said he didn't want to have to book around another band and gave me my walking papers. Can't really blame him. The new band is pretty busy and the old band was having a hard time getting gigs so he really made the right choice. I have played with two bands in the past and it wasn't too hard to make things work but neither of them were really busy bands. At one point for about six months , I was in three bands and that was a bit difficult. Fortunately , one of those bands fell apart and definitely made life easier on me. I guess it kind of depends on how busy the bands are that you are in. My current band keeps me as busy as I really want to be. I have taken a couple of sub gigs when nothing else was going on but that doesn't affect my regular band. I went to a jam session last week and turned down two offers to join other bands. It's nice to be wanted.:thumbsup:
    larryatravis and Govner22 like this.
  9. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I’ve had times where I’ve played in two or more bands at a time, sometimes with some overlap in players between bands.

    For me, with a full time job and family, staying on top of two or more gigging bands is a good recipe for burnout.

    Right now I’m doing music VERY part time and I’m STILL in two bands and have a sub gig in a third! Just not gigging every weekend.
    Govner22 likes this.
  10. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    No reason to not talk about the other work you're doing, as long as you're not coming off like you're bragging about it. The more people know about that work, the more people you might have coming out to see you.

    As far as everything else, there are only two things that I think matter: 1) Keep a good calendar. Do not hold dates for anyone, and communicate clearly about what you mean when you say you are available. With my bands, I tell people I am available or I am not. That doesn't mean I am available so book that date in two weeks and forget to tell me. That means I am available right now on that date so get back to the venue today and let me know today that you confirmed it. At that point it goes in my calendar.

    If someone says to me "I'm negotiating for one of three possible dates so could you please keep them free" I tell them I don't hold dates, they need to get back to me when they have a firm commitment from the venue that, yes, we will be booking one of those dates, and at that time I'll tell you if any of them are still free. It's a first come, first serve kind of world.

    2) Schedule rehearsals for the same day each week and make sure everyone understands that it's a serious commitment. Things will play through but it's a complete hassle to try to move other scheduled bands around when the band that has a gig this coming weekend can't get together on the assigned day. I've learned I have to put my foot down and let people know that our rehearsal day isn't fluid and that if everyone can't make it this week on that day they're going to wait a week because I have other commitments on other nights.

    Those are really the only two things that matter, IMO. The other stuff, no one really cares.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  11. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    2 bands, each knows of the other and has a firm weekly practice slot that doesn't budge much. Each also only gigs once per month so it's only tight when both have a gig on the same weekend and each is trying to squeeze in an extra prax that week. Fortunately most all in multiple bands that's only mostly supportive for each other. Having a GF who doesn't make a big deal about scheduling a practice for valentine's day helps too :thumbsup:
  12. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Never been an issue. A classic rock band and a classic country band, two different worlds. Although when I told the classic rock outfit about opening for Junior Brown at a sold-out show and taking home $14, they ragged me about it for months. :D
    BassCliff, redwingxix and Govner22 like this.
  13. Holdsg

    Holdsg I should be practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    this is gold.
    I would only add: be organized. keep your calendar (whatever method you use) meticulously up to date. So when BL calls/txts you about a gig, you can know within a few seconds whether you can do it or not.
    Govner22 and JRA like this.
  14. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Always have a calendar. Once a date is booked, it's booked - I don't care if the other opportunity pays 10x as much. As long as you are up front about it, you can be in as many bands as you are prepared to do. Don't ever use as an excuse for being unprepared that you were working on stuff for another band.
  15. madbass6

    madbass6 Banned SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    I do not give consent to use any of my photos ! please respect that. thank you.
    Sounds like you don't need anymore tips! Personally thou,
    to me it would not be worth the headache! I would Not commit to either band I'll just tell both BL to make sure to let me know ASAP on upcoming gigs ! and take it as an first come first served basis type of thing !
    Govner22 likes this.
  16. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    This brings something to mind: Prioritization. If you aren't gigging frequently with any of these bands, you'll need to be able to prioritize your practice time according to what's coming up. If you're preparing intensely for a particular show you might end up cutting back time you'd normally spend on other projects.

    As long as everyone understands that you do this for a reason and that they will also have their turn when gigs are upcoming, this shouldn't present a problem. So I basically disagree with this advice above, in the sense that juggling priorities is always going to be needed and it's a lot better to have a valid reason for spending less time on something which shows that your work ethic is solid. In my experience, when I tell people I've not worked on something due to a show I'm prepping for, they're fine, as long as the work I've set aside isn't also time-critical. They trust me to turn my attention to their work once that commitment is done.
  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    7 current bands. Communication and honesty are the key.
    hrodbert696 and fhm555 like this.
  18. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I’m in 3 now.
    Rule 1- if it’s not on my calendar, I’m free, first come first served for booking.
    Rule 2- only rehearse together, practice at home. If members can’t learn at home they waste time.
  19. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    A tolerant spouse is, indeed, a big help and not to be taken for granted!

    I’ve played in multiple projects for years. I’ve never shied away from talking openly about other projects as long as it’s not counter-productive. Most of the people I play with are also involved with other things so it’s never been much of an issue.

    The hard part is always scheduling. I try to be as flexible as I can, I make it very clear that I’m booked on a first-come-first-served basis and I try never to promise something that I can’t deliver.

    Staying on top of material can also be a bear and, at times, sleep ends up being what I have to sacrifice to keep on it.
    Govner22 and lokikallas like this.
  20. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I always keep a few names on tap of people who can cover for me.
    I keep a calender and it’s first come first served. As long as the date is open i’m available. If it’s not i get on the phone and see about getting someone to cover for me.
    Open and honest. If i take a day the respective BL’s are the first to know.
    I don’t look for work like i used to. These days it’s a few projects where playing out is not a priority and working with my brother on a long time band and his solo projects.
    Govner22 and LBS-bass like this.

Share This Page