What to do when your bandmates book gigs and exclude you?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by ccooney78, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. ccooney78


    Apr 21, 2011
    Belleville, ON
    Greetings TB members! I have a situation that I am looking for your opinion on. I'm sure this is something that many of you have faced before so I would like to hear your thoughts, opinions, experiences, etc. My apologies upfront for the long read....I just want to make sure I give you all the details.

    So I'm in a band with 2 guys, who are fantastic. We've been playing together for around 10 years. We get along great and there have never really been any big issues that we needed to sort out. Last year, we had a few months where we played 4-5 times (which is a great problem to have) but I was starting to get worn down and stressed out. Started getting pressure from my wife to spend more time at home with her and my daughter. So I asked the guys to limit things to 2-3 gigs per month. They said they would....but that never happened. So I sucked it up and said "Whatever". Then I get an email saying that the vocalist/guitarist and drummer/vocalist have booked a duo gig without me. So I asked them if they were mad at me and they said no. They said "We thought you only wanted to do 2-3 a month...we want to do more." I reminded them of our schedule and that the 2-3 a month thing never went anywhere. They also told me that the venue where they booked them was paying less than what we normally get but it would be enough for the 2 of them. I came to terms with it and asked them to book it under a different name other than our band's name as I feel that the band name belongs to the 3 of us, not any other subgroup. What happens? The gigs are booked under the band name. When the 2 of them show up, the manager of the venue asks them "Where's your bass player? Is he not showing up tonight?" This sends me over the deep end.

    After their 1st gig, I ask them again to please ensure that the next one is booked under a different name. I don't think I'm asking a lot here. What happens? It is booked under the band name...again. So at this point I am pretty mad. Like on the verge of quitting mad. Fast forward to last week and I get a phone call from the person organizing a Canada Day thing and asks to speak with the vocalist/guitarist. So I'm thinking to myself "Why is this guy calling me asking for him?" Did I mention that months before, I told the guys that Canada Day was a blackout date for me? Our daughter's birthday is Canada Day and we usually go out of town then. They tell me that we booked the gig as a duo but if your plans change, you can join us. And guess what? This one is booked under the band name as well. So again, I remind them that they both knew this was a blackout date for me and that I would really appreciate it if they booked their duo gigs under a different name.

    The guys have told me they mean no disrespect to me but the way I see it, I've made a pretty simple request that has been continually ignored. I'm not one to give people ultimatums but I kind of feel like doing that at this point. So, fellow TBers, let me have it. Am I being a diva? Too sensitive? I'm eager to hear what you all have to say.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    I feel like you're being a diva and too sensitive. I don't see how them continuing to use the group name causes you any difficulties, they could just as well replace you and move on.
  3. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Personally I'd probably just let this one go. It's two-thirds of the group, and unless you're the lead singer you probably aren't the "face of the band". Play the gigs that work for your schedule and then let them do their thing. As long as the folks hiring the duo/trio are clear on what they're getting when the gig is booked it should only be good publicity for the whole group. I don't think this one is worth fighting over.
  4. Kriegs


    Feb 14, 2018
    Accept the fact that you aren't really part of this band, move on and find a new one?
  5. You asked them to limit the number of gigs they play due to your family commitments. Clearly they have the time and desire to work more than you do, so they're booking lower-paying gigs as a duo. Your lack of availability has opened a window for them to do these lower-paid gigs, so they're taking advantage of this. Nothing wrong with that.

    Bands do stripped down versions of themselves sometimes and if they're playing the same material with the same front people, they usually don't do a name change. This is especially true if the band has a following. You won't bring in very many people who know your band if you change the name.

    The only thing I see here that I'd consider a problem is the manager asking them where you were. If they're booking a duo under the band name, everyone needs to know that's what they're getting. They should also be letting you know about these other shows so that you're aware of them moving forward. There are some communication problems here. I see no other problems with any of this.
  6. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    You got "you're just the bass player"d.
  7. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Let them do the Duos. Be especially glad that they are even offering for you to join in if your busy schedule allows it.
    Play your very best next time you play as a full band.
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I personally would not have a problem. They want to gig more. You do not. Not fair to limit them. I do, however, think they should use 'Light or Acoustic' to the booking name to indicate it is a stripped down version of the band so as not to confuse folks. Makes sense to me. My band leader of my 9pc horn band books stripped down gigs as Brasswind Acoustic and he plans to book Real Book jazz gigs using a different bassist as I'm not a jazzer nor do I sight read well enough to play the gig. I don't have an issue with it.
    Miker27607, JRA, 707GK and 6 others like this.
  9. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Seems to me that it's time to admit to yourself that you're not really in the band...:(
  10. OP's availability is limited. His band mates want to gig more. One is neither right nor wrong. It has just become a bad fit.

    OP, you will have to give them their space to perform just as they have given you your space to attend to other things. You can't expect to hold your band, or your band name, hostage because of your relatively limited availability. It would help to face this as a practical matter and keep emotion out of it.

    I started a band four years ago, and we quickly built up a healthy network of talent buyers thanks to a lot of hard work and good choices on my part. A couple of band members started to balk at the gig schedule because they only wanted to perform a couple times a month and the rest of us wanted more like 4-5 shows a month minimum. I started to bring in subs. The limited band members got mad. We had an adult sit down discussion at which I explained to them I'm not going to question or criticize their lack of availability, and they will not question or criticize my (our) desire to perform more often and use subs in their absence. When the performance goals change, neither party has the right to limit or shame the other for either wanting time off or wanting more gigs. Expecting a successful marketable band to curtail activity because of your limited availability is like holding them hostage. Why would anyone want to limit the success and rewards of a band that has no doubt worked very hard for that success? If the ship was built to sail, don't keep her anchored in the harbor.

    And the band name, the identity, the brand, that is what you've been working to build up to assist you in marketing and booking shows. And now that you've achieved that marketing success, you expect them to not only accept your unavailability, but abandon the recognized brand name they worked so hard to build up? Double unfair expectations. Borderline arrogant.

    For now, see it as a good sign they don't pick up a fill-in for you. When that starts happening, you know your 10-year working relationship is seriously in jeopardy. I informed my band members with availability issues that if they missed too many gigs it was a sign they are not a good fit for the goals of the project and they may be permanently replaced by musicians with more compatible availability.

    Friendships that limit your progress and achievements are not really the best friendships IMHO, especially considering how challenging this business can be even in the ideal.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  11. I'm going to buck the tide on the name issue.

    I think they should perform under a different name or at least add Acoustic or Lite as was mentioned previously. I feel that performing a stripped down version of the full band without it being obvious that it's a stripped down version waters down what you have built. How long before your next full band gig can only get duo prices because that has become the norm. How long before someone turns down the chance to see your band because "I've seen them before, it's only a duo"?

    Different band, different name!
    growlypants, Pops OB, Duder and 5 others like this.
  12. Adding a descriptor to show it's not the full band is reasonable. Changing the name is not. Electracoyote's post above is spot on.
    smogg, Keyser Soze, diegom and 2 others like this.
  13. If I'm feeling really, really generous and diplomatic, I would agree with this.

    However, I personally hate to see words like "Lite/Light," "V2.0," "Acoustic," et. al. and similar cliches after a band's name. To me (and many in the mainstream audience) it just screams "dumbed down" or "watered down," which, in terms of entertainment value, is not always accurate. It can be a deterrent to attendance and patronage.

    Especially when we're talking trios, two members equal 2/3 of the band, or the majority. My band has gone out short-handed a few times with me taking up the slack for the missing member. We always kept the band name and billing exactly the same as always in all matters.

    It would be out of friendship and extreme courtesy that I might consider it. Otherwise, in a real-world marketing sense, it's a compromise at best.
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  14. It is a compromise from a marketing standpoint, but it's also honest, which matters more in this context to me. I would not want to book a band and expect the full band and only get half of it, nor would I want to take the time to go and see a band and expect the full band and only get half of it. That, to me, seems like a great way to make enemies and annoy people you don't want to alienate.
  15. I think entertainment value is the determining factor. My band normally features 7, we occasionally go out with less. The entertainment value is always to the same high standard, so I don't think I'm baiting and switching at all. The name would stay the same even if we did an acoustic gig with only a few of us, especially if the format was negotiated and accepted in advance.

    I can see a few folks feeling a bit cheated if they were expecting the whole band. But the majority of club hoppers couldn't care less, especially if they're entertained and have a good time.
    LBS-bass and CEBill like this.
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Speaking on the 'Light or Acoustic' added moniker..........Venues have requested a stripped down version of our band due to budget. We've built our reputation on our band name. If we book a gig using the regular band name and our fans come out and get a stripped down version......they have been deceived and I'm NOT for that. The VENUE asked for this. Not us. They get a sax player instead on a 5 pc horn section and either a guitarist or keyboardist but not both. Is what it is.
    HolmeBass and Plectrum72 like this.
  17. ccooney78


    Apr 21, 2011
    Belleville, ON
    Thank you all so much for the feedback. Lots to think about. I am probably making a mountain out of a molehill here. I'm just trying to protect the reputation of the band and myself here. I don't want to be known as the guy who doesn't show up to gigs. We are fortunate to be playing as much as we do and I want to continue doing so.
  18. QweziRider

    QweziRider Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    I wouldn't go so far as to say you're being those things. But it seriously would not bother me if I was in your shoes. If anything (to me), it gives the "band" more flexibility in marketing and building the name. "We can be a duo, we can be a full band, whatever your venue needs." I do work in a slightly similar situation where our band leader books himself solo (with tracks) and as a full band, all under his name. It works.
    baileyboy likes this.
  19. If you have such a devoted fan base they know you guys like John, Paul, George, and Ringo, that makes sense. If you sound significantly different and the entertainment value is significantly altered when you have missing members, that makes sense too.

    When my band goes out with one guitar/keys person instead of two, we take measures to keep the product as good as our full-band. We play to mostly regular patrons of the venues who hold entertainment value, not line-ups, as their main assessment criteria.

    And of course, our private event clients have no idea about such matters. I promise a full party band with a live horn, that's what they get. We get five stars on Gigmasters.

    I would never dream of billing my band as "The Mile High Party Band Lite/V2.0/Kinda Sorta Maybe" instead of our normal ""The Mile High Party Band" just because we're using a sub or going out short-handed. The very thought makes me shudder, and it wouldn't make any difference to our talent buyers and their audiences/patrons/guests. We're not superstars, our members aren't household names, we're just a good weekend party band that routinely delivers what we promise.

    I know a few band leaders in town who almost never have the same line-up or number of players. They maintain one band name for everything, and they have more gig offers than they can handle.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
    pcake likes this.
  20. Burn their axes
    twinjet and QweziRider like this.