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Trouble with a hired musician

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BryanM, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    The back story: My band is in the studio recording throughout February and into March. All of us are roommates and our 5th roommate is a keyboardist/trumpet player that a few of us have played in bands with in the past. We asked him in December if he'd be willing to lay down some keys and one trumpet track in the studio and agreed upon fair pay for the session.

    We completed one session in which he wasn't needed, mostly getting drums and rhythm section down, and are going in for our second session on Wednesday. He's on board for the session but he doesn't drive, so will be getting a ride to the studio with us at 9AM, then getting a ride to work from a friend who lives a block or two from the studio around 1PM, at which time we'll stick around until 5PM to do some finishing and some post-production work.

    He has recently (Since terms were agreed upon) met a girl and has been spending the majority of his time with her. He's missed the initial and re-scheduled pre-recording rehearsal days that we scheduled, though I'm certain he has been practicing as he works as a music teacher. He has recordings of the tracks and has played with us before, so I'm sure he will be able to pull off the session, but because of missing out on rehearsal he's been somewhat misunderstanding of what we require of him.

    He was told that he will need to have his keyboard and trumpet available and that there will be a rhodes and a hammond there for certain songs. One of the songs will require a piano tone on it as it's got a country/honky-tonk vibe that e-piano just won't do. His keyboard is at his main band's guitarist's house 30 miles away, and the guitarist is refusing to take calls from anyone in my band. Our options are to get our hands on his keyboard at a later time and hope that he can make time to come in for another session, rent a keyboard for the day and lose some of our studio time to go pick it up, or can him and push back the release date so we can find time to vet both a keyboard and trumpet player.

    He's a good guy and I can understand wanting to spend time with a new flame but it's a bit frustrating. It's already decided that whatever the result is it will affect his reimbursement pursuant to our terms of agreement, since we were hiring him and his equipment, not just his abilities.
  2. throughthefire


    Oct 1, 2010
    He knows what is required; it's up to him to supply the equipment/arrange delivery. Nothing to do with you. If he can't turn up on the day with the right equipment and the songs nailed (if he's missing rehearsals), then he's out, and he should pay any extra costs incurred in finding a replacement.

    Basically, you've recruited a session musician; it's up to him to act like one.

  3. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Throughthefire: My thinking and reasoning is pretty similar. It's nothing too crazy but because he doubles we'd be paying session rates to two people rather than one, and he's doing it for friend rates, rather than session rates so we're getting a decent deal. Session rates for the 4 songs we're looking at would probably come in at $300-$500 over what we've budgeted for him and we still have to pay the studio costs and the sax and cello player's session fees. I'm on the fence because I know he'll nail the tracks, I've heard his studio takes before as well as his improvisational chops, and he's played on all but one of these songs before.

    It will cost us $20 to rent a Yamaha S95 for the day and it will probably actually sound better than his Roland RD300SX. I think the post is mostly just venting but also to get other viewpoints. Thank you for the opinion.
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Do what's necessary to get the session work done, and then the friend goes onto the "unreliable" pile, which is the same as the "can't play" pile.
  5. throughthefire


    Oct 1, 2010
    For $20, I'd agree with fdeck; pay the money, use the guy, then drop him. Arrange with the hiring company to either deliver to the studio, or discuss $10 extra for half-a-day either side of the session to cover getting the equipment there.
  6. If he is your room-mate, then deal with him directly, not with us on talkbass. You live with the guy right? You can talk to him about the music material over supper, at home, every night, right?

    It is up to him to get a hold of his keyboard, not you.

    However, an electronic keyboard can also be recorded anywhere. Bring home a stereo mix of the bed tracks, and use a MIDI controller into a software DAW, (will sound better than a Yamaha P95 or Roland equivalent.) Record the tracks at home, and then send the tracks back to the studio. (Assuming a DAW environment, and not analogue tape)

    Also, did you write that you're saving $300-$500 using him as a friend, instead of using two pros who are strangers and are charging full price? That is a big difference in price... You get what you pay for, even with friends...
  7. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Yeah it's nice to be able to come on here and just get it off your chest.

    Sounds like you know your best option is to just work it out with him, even though sometimes "best" is not "ideal." Hopefully he will come through in the end. Do you have any sense of how reliable he is in a situation like this? Some people can shine no matter what, others fail when everything's in their favor....
  8. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    So an update to all who provided advice, he came through for the most part in the end. We got great organ takes and a couple of good Rhodes takes on 4 songs, didn't get the piano down for the two that we want because the only piano the studio had available was an out of tune console piano with a few dead keys that was just shoved away in storage. We also got a couple of phenomenal takes on trumpet.

    For the piano tracks we have a setup at home that we can take raw midi data and provide it to our engineer once we have the tempo data and scratches available for a pianist to play along with.

    The session guy/roommate in question explained the situation and insisted rather vehemently that he would do the work pro bono though he will be given full credit and we have a contract in place to provide him with returns if the recordings do become financially viable, since he did write his parts completely.

    Thanks for all the advice and for letting me vent.

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