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What do you think of this situation?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jmattbassplaya, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    **Argh, there be rantings and ramblings ahead. Best grab ye wench and ye best mead!**

    My band had a meeting last night that took an interesting turn after money was brought up. We're currently planning on hosting a house party this weekend that is going to cost each band member roughly $45 out of pocket. None of us have a real big issue with this as we'll likely make the money back, but none of us are too thrilled at the fronted cost either.

    Anyways, my guitarist at the last minute decided to try and add a few more expenses that would bring the total closer to $60 for each member. He looked at me in meeting and asked if I'd be fine with this, and when I hesitated he sort of flipped out for a second and started saying, "Dude, come on. It's not that much more. It won't kill you."

    Now I personally don't have a job, so any money I make through the band is basically any and all spending money I have. I told him this in response, and one thing led to another and we eventually got on the topic of taking paying gigs.

    Basically, my band (an original act, mind you) was offered a gig at a local venue that would pay us $300. I was for taking this gig because we could use that money to invest in lights, a better PA, and an assortment of other things. My guitarist and keys player, however, have been against taking the gig because the venue is known to not have a great mix due to the room being a concrete rectangle. Keep in mind that this isn't the only paying venue that they refuse to play at - just the most recent one we've been offered. And also keep in mind that we have heard bands sound good there. It's not often, but it can happen.

    I told my guitarist that I don't mind upfronting some costs for the band, but there is a certain line that I'm unwilling to cross if it seems like my return of investment won't at least let me cut even. I then went on to say that by turning down those paying gigs (which I reminded him is very rare in most original music scenes) is retarding our bands progress to invest in ourselves. But to him and my keys player, the risks of us sounding bad on one gig is worth passing up the money because it'll supposedly ruin us.

    I'm trying to take a step back on this because I don't know what to think, and I'm not sure if this is quite a red flag either.

    We also ended up talking about how I (in my guitarist's eyes - not much the rest of the band) view the band as a business too much and that he doesn't like it my approach to things because it makes him uncomfortable. He seems to think that the music needs to come first and that success will follow so long as the music is good, whereas I'm of the mindset that the music is already good and that if we start making smart business decisions we can create our own success.

    So yeah. Any thoughts of ideas on this? I know this is a bit of a rant/ramble, but I kinda needed to spill this out as this has been eating at me for a bit.
  2. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    What is your band's ultimate goal? To (1) play for the rest of your lives for a bunch of drunk 20-somethings at a college town house party, (2) to make some decent coin on the side while pursuing academics and a post-school day job career, or (3) to try to get nationally recognized and all that comes with it (videos, radio airtime, tours)? If it is
    (1) the guitarist is right. If it is (2) or (3) you are right.
  3. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    These guys have never been on the road I guess. Imagine you've just driven from Huston to Tulsa and you find out the venue is about the size of a shack, the stage is the size of a refrigerator on it's side and there is no PA. Gosh, I guess you just have to cry.
    Then imagine you overcome these limitations, the show is packed like a subway at rush hour, the crowd demands 3 (the e word that means you keep playing) and sweating, exhausted, you've had a show you'll remember for the rest of your life.
  4. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Your guitarist isn't going anywhere. Guys that turn down gigs because they're artsy tend be wash ups in the waiting in my experience. If you think any respectable band got a good rep turning down paying clubs, none the less for original music, they didn't. I played with a couple guys who had that mentality. We won a big local battle of the bands, got a ton of offers, some guys didn't like the venue on some bills or the other bands on other bills. Needless to say the calls slowly stopped coming from new venues, words get around that you say no. I left long before they finally crashed and burned.

    I'm sick of getting in bands that want exposure but don't want to "treat it like a business" Newsflash, it is a business and needs to be treated as such. This is 2012 not 1985, some label isn't going to come along and shlep out a ton of cash for you, they want a finished product who already makes their own web vids and albums, you need to be a business already today.

    My advice, if you want to keep the art go for it, but get yourself a cover band on the side so you can pay rent.

    Good luck hopefully it doesn't end with a fist fight.....
  5. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    You both have reasonable goals, just a little different. He sounds like he may be a bit too pushy, but then we only have your side of things.

    You play originals for money -- you're already way ahead of the game. If the music and hang is good, I'd probably be pretty laid back. Fifteen bucks is not much for anyone who has the basics covered.
  6. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    We've all decided that we're going to give music a shot since we're young and readily able to pursue it since we have no real responsibilities or obligations. Right now we're at the number (2) level, but we'd of course like to get to (3).

    We've done a few small out of town gigs for frats when we were still a cover band, but we haven't done anything major - yet. We're actually booked at quite a few places out of town this semester, so we'll definitely be stretching our wings as they say.

    And you bring up a good point. My guitarist even said (roughly), "All venues have a PA, so investing in one is silly." I told him he was wrong to assume that, and that not investing in a decent PA will end up biting us in the butt if we don't do it sooner rather than later. And again, neglecting these paying gigs will only make it harder for us to invest in ourselves.
  7. Turning down a paying gig because of the sound of the room is riDONKulous, IMO. A gig is a gig and for beginning original acts they can be pretty hard to come by. You gotta start somewhere. That's definitely a red flag, IMO. Playing specific rooms will not ruin the band. I seriously doubt that playing that room has ruined any other band. To me that sounds like an excuse for lack of confidence.

    Fronting the money would depend on the return. If it's a house party where you're charging admission or for beer I could understand. Then hopefully you'd get your investment back. If it's just for something stupid and your simply out of pocket, you're paying to play... for a house party that would NOT be cool for me. What's the money for? Do you need to rent a PA for a house party? What you use to practice with should be plenty.

    Bottom line is, from what you've said here, I agree with you.
  8. 3l3phantstomp

    3l3phantstomp Doesn't Welcome Our New Overlords

    Jun 6, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    You have many cars in the train wrecking about the mind. Its good because it means you give a $hit. But take it one dimension at a time:

    -what is the increased cost for? Worth $15? Not having a "real" job doesn't change the fact you were ok with $45. In for the penny, in for the pound...if the $15 increase adds to your experience (outside of this stress) then there ya go. If not articulate why.

    -money can ruin anybody. But if you are on the same level with everyone (no more thinking of them in camps!), and unified, then you are a proper street gang (us VS world) and at the end of the day you still have each other's backs when the rest of the nights world is against you (horrible PA, horrible sound, bad/no crowd, people rushing to the jukeboxx, last minute pay decreases due to shadiness, etc). As an original band this is CRUCIAL.

    -A return on investment in a band should not be measured soley in monitary measurements. There are also life experiences, musicianship, and social connections to be gained. Living solely off of proceedes from an origianl band only playing house parties is NO SMALL FEAT, mind you, and I congratulate you. But you've gained more than paid electric bills and food.

    -The topic of "playing out" vs "playing in" should definately be discussed as a band with no other issues on the table. You have no problem hearing everyone out (it seems) with their thoughts and desires, have a beer and express some of yours. Find out why...do the other members have experience playing out? Most of the audience will not know the room sounds horrid (venue is still in buisness and can afford to pay $300 for live music). They feed off your vibe and their feelings that night, multiplied by drinks and encounters with attractive people, divided by time and money. Thus if your music is together you can do nothing but ADD to the poeple, the night, the "scene," yourselves...
    Ranting aside, you gotta chop this up and engage with your "street gang" each issue one at a time so you can check it off the list of your mind and stop wrecking trains so you can start wrecking brains!
  9. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Interesting thread:

    There was a bass player in a busy blues/rock band for over 3 years.

    He played a fretless, he always seemed out of tune. But it was probably due to not really understanding fretless.

    He was challenged by tricky bass lines.

    Wouldn't acept the bands dress code.

    Did not have a cell phone or internet access.

    After several years in the band he would correct any of these problem.

    He was asked to leave the band. I am his replacement.
  10. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Those are essentially my thoughts as well. To me, turning down gigs is the first step to the prima dona sort of mentality that kills bands. We can't be thinking 'we're too good to play there' or other things like that when we're nobodies. We should be grateful for the opportunity and take advantage of it while we can.

    To be honest, I don't think my guitarist really understands what it takes to make it big. That, or he's scared of actually being successful in music and doesn't want to. The original reason for that meeting was for us to discuss ways to improve our internet presence, and let me tell you he despised the idea of us using Twitter because we're (too him) above that. If all the major names in music aren't above it then we shouldn't be either.

    Haha, I actually get the feeling that I can be the pushy one at times :) I do have a leader sort of personality, and I guess I can be overbearing at times too. I shouldn't try to make my guitarist out to be a bad guy because he isn't. But I sometimes feel like he might not be as in tuned to what it takes to be successful.
  11. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I'm in an originals band and we would not turn down a $300.00 gig for fear of bad sound..never. To do it for a house party where you never know what could happen or go on...nope.
  12. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    The money is being fronted for kegs and the like. He wanted us to invest more money for other little nick-knacks to make the party and show bigger and more exciting (like balloons, props, fog juice for a machine he recently bought, other alcohol, etc...).

    For what it's worth, we had another similar party about a month or so ago. We ended up losing around $80-$90 total because of mismanagement. I was out $10 (not bad, I can live with that), and funnily enough the guitarist was out $40. You'd think he'd rather not spend more money than he had to. But yeah, I'm definitely skeptical about fronting more money after that last experience.

    Great post, man. That actually calmed my nerves down a bit :)
  13. If you hit the concrete rectangle early, you can do your soundcheck and balance everything out for the best sound. On top of that, the sound of people tends to cover up a lot of the issues. Key thing is not to have a massive wall of sound that bounces back and forth.

    As to your guitarist, I think his view of this is to max out at "just under the radar" rather than "reach for the stars". You guys need to agree to where you each want to go, which could be a tough discussion, but worth it. That's where you will decide next steps and where you sit. If you prefer to stay together you'll have to work with the least common denominator and you will have to accept that and put it behind you, until the next sit down meeting. Treating it like a business is what will get you your goals. To be honest, you should treat it like a business, with balance sheet, objectives, p&l, etc.
  14. Your guitarist (and keys player) has Fear Of Failure Syndrome. Bands who turn down paying gigs with flimsy excuses and then do pay-to-play so they can control the environment lack confidence. Lack of confidence is crippling for an entertainer. You're in a band with people who are more comfortable being crippled than going out and taking a paid gig and rising to the challenge of the room. We all know that any room can be rung out, and not every band who plays that room falls flat on their faces, withers, and dies. It's a ruse.

    A willingness to play a $300.00 gig does not make you too focused on money. That's ridiculous. And even though $60.00 is no skin off my nose, I would still be concerned about the trend being established of turning down pay and preferring pay-to-play.

    You're probably not going to convince them of any of these realities. You'll have to decide if the music and friendships are worth being shackled to a group of insecure cripples.
  15. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    If your wishes are constantly being rejected while their wishes are constantly being forced upon you, it's just a matter of time before resentment will destroy your desire to be in this band.
  16. after repeatedly grabbing my best wench, we have both come to the conclusion that 1. we are out of mead, 2. if you want to make it out of the day job you all have to want it bad enough to sacrifice whatever it takes to get there and at least try your damnedest, and 3. THE SHOW MUST GO ON. it's the entire point of any performance art. the people want and need to be entertained, so as the old adage says, "give the people what they want"

    *stage dives off my soapbox*

  17. As an original band you don't get a lot of 'do overs', you have to impress people on the first try to get them to come back. If the venue in question was so bad as to potentially ruin a show, I don't mind the veto that much - especially if it was in a market you aren't established in yet. I understand you want the money now (I'm a broke musician playing originals too), but in going for it now and playing a crappy place you might not be in a position to get money in the future. If the guitarist is just being a little paranoid and whiney, then it's a problem.

    For what it's worth, I played 95 shows last year with an original band, and not once did we need to bring a PA.
  18. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    I never thought of it like that, but that does make a lot of sense.

    When we were having the band discussion I did mention the importance of us needing to establish exactly who and what we are so that we had a defined product to sell. I even asked them what *our band name* was, what it stood for, and what our goals were, and the only response I got from my keys player was, "That's too vague of a question. What does that even mean?"

    I thought it made perfect sense. It's no different than the vision and mission statement of any business. What's your vision, what are your goals, who is your audience, and why are you doing what you're doing.

    Anyways, I agree with the idea of tackling things one at a time. I know I have a tendency of airing all my issues at once, and that probably leads to more issues than not. It's just hard to get these guys to focus when we need to, so even discussing one small thing like should we get two or three kegs for this party takes almost an hour to discuss.

    That's exactly it! My guitarist even mentioned that he has heard two bands sound good there before, and when I said we just as easily can get a good mix he quickly waved it off because band 1. had a killer PA that made them sound good, and band 2. had a less complex band than ours so it was easier for them to sound good, even though the only difference is that we have a keys player and they don't. Everything else is the exact same.

    And that's the other issue. My guitarist thinks I take the business aspect of things too seriously and that I focus too much on money, even though I told him point blank that I'm willing to be poor for a few years because I see potential in this band. But at the end of the day we need to be working on ways to make money because a band cannot survive if it can't even support themselves. I guess he sees himself being the struggling musician who works a crappy day job and nightlights as a musician who one day gets his big break and makes it big because his music is so pure and awesome. It's just unrealistic. You have to be business savvy and street smart if you even want a fighting chance.
  19. It never ceases to amaze me how people who have the security of a full-time job are so willing to take it up the poop shoot as part-time musicians.

    It doesn't matter if you're a weekend warrior in a cover band, if you're any good at all, your time and talent have VALUE. You deserve compensation for that time and talent whenever you can get it. I understand that freebies and pay-to-play are sometimes part of the deal, but to completely abandon all business accumen and walk away from money just so you can fit some pre-conceived stereotypical romantic notion of the "starving artist" is just insanity. People who want to do that should get an old acoustic guitar, hang a harmonica around their neck, and go it solo on the street corner instead of pulling their bandmates down to that level.

    You guys could probably kill in that room, but not until everyone agrees to make it so.

    If my band developed a trend of de-valuing itself for no good reason, I would be very concerned, even in a weekend warrior scenario.
  20. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    You guys are young and want to give the originals band a shot...well, this is your shot.
    Giving up a paying gig playing those originals is just stupid.

    You gotta go out and do it, not wait on Divine Intervention to come along and scoop you up and make you the next big thing.
    It's not gonna happen, you have to do the work.

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