Who owns the gear? How to approach splitting costs?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Big Hoss, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    I know my situation is unusual, but I am wondering just HOW unusual it is.

    You see I personally own the majority of my bands gear. A quick Rundown of the gear.

    #1. Bass. I own, and play the bass for my band.
    #2. Bass amp, cab, pedals and related cabling. I own it.
    #3. Rhythm guitar. I own the Fender Acoustic, and SX Hawk that we use, along with the Behringer GTX60 1x12 combo amp he plays through.
    #4. Drum kit. Technically this is owned by my nephew, but certain family sitatuions and a lack of interest on his part had the drum kit end up at my place, While I still consider it his, he makes it very plain he doesn't want it. I have invested in skins etc... for it. Probably put more into these drums than they are worth. Aside from the shells and Cymbals, everything else I sprung for.
    #5. PA system. Not much of one, but I own it. Harbinger 600w 15" mains, and 600w 12" monitors. No subwoofers, yet. Mixers. We have 2, both Behringer, a XENYX 1202FX and XENYX X2442USB, depending on the sitatuion. 100' stage snake, and related cabling, all bought and paid for by me.
    #6. Mics, mic cables, stands. Yep, mine.
    #7. DMX controller, and lights.
    #8. Hand trucks, moving dollies etc. Yep you guessed it.

    So other than some playing ability, what do my bandmates bring to the band?

    #1. Lead guitarist / singer brings his Yamaha Acoustic Electric, his unkown brand ES335 clone semi hollow body, and his SX Tele copy, plus a Fender Champion 100 combo amp. He also provides his own mic. He insisted on an SM58, I insisted he spring for it.
    #2. Drummer. He sprung for the drum travel cases to protect the drums in transit. And he provides on thing that allows us to haul all this sh**. The cargo trailer, and most of the time the truck to pull it.
    #3. The Rhythm guitarist. Extension cords, splitters, and oddly enough, a pair of parallelable 4KW inverter generators. These come in REALLY handy for most of our barn gigs. He also provides the EZ-Up canopies and a pair of those big shop fans that move a LOT of air at not hurricane speed. Keeps the stage reasonable without causing wind noise.

    Other misc stuff that we contribute to the band.
    Fog machine. Me from my halloween stash. Plus red, white, green, purple, and blue "rippling water" effect lights. From my Christmas stash.
    Xenon strobe. Rhythm guitarist from his halloween stash. Giant plastic flower pots that look like stone cauldrons, his, I need a second fog machine to make the effect work right.
    Backdrop for the EZ Up. Mine. The black screen from a green screen set I bought on Amazon as a lightning deal. So no real cost because, well I won't be using a black screen.
    Folding table for tip jar / merch. Mine. From my camping gear.
    Black table cloth for above folding table. Mine. I took one of the table cloths my wife and I bought for our wedding (cheaper than renting honestly), and dyed it with RIT fabric dye. Took forever to get that color out of my tub. If I had to do it over again, I would use one of my old trashed 60qt Igloo coolers!

    Anyway, I list this out not to brag, most of the stuff is cheap, Behringer, Nady, Harbinger category stuff, and that is just fine for us. But is it common for one member of a just for fun weekender band to foot the bill for the overwhelming majority of the band specific gear. I.E. while I appreciate the use of the cargo trailer it's real purpose in life is to haul stuff for his business, so not really a dedicated band expense.

    The reason I ask is we don't have subs in the mix for the PA yet,a nd honestly, I am sick of paying for most all of it, and would rather not store them... Should I get someone else to spring for it, or at least take a bigger chunk of gig revenue to pay for the commonly used stuff?

    When we started the band, I was the only one on a decent footing finances wise, that has since changed with my bandmates getting better jobs, or coming into some inheritance from family. And it's bugging me that I feel like they have yet to put any appreciable finances into it.
    mikewalker likes this.
  2. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    I am a strong believer that there should never be shared equipment. It always leads to problems when people leave/get kicked out of a band. Each person should own their personal gear. I don't understand why your drummer doesn't own his drum set. It's best when one person owns the PA and/or lights.
    fourstr00, sonojono, bdplaid and 27 others like this.
  3. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    The shared equipment is only good when you have a clear understanding of what happens when: you leave the band; or another stake holder leaves the band. I've seen too many vicious arguments during an otherwise stressful time (someone leaving a band). I don't participate and don't recommend it.
  4. Phaenomenal


    Jun 12, 2020
    New York
    I think it depends on the band. One band I'm in pulls a percentage of our take for a "band account", which foots the bill for things that aren't for one person alone. In that regard, this band treats the endeavor like a business.
    Another band, the frontman pays for the majority of shared item expense, but we supply our own instruments, cables, amps, cabs, effects, etc. That's his choice, but it is his band first and foremost. No matter how long we last with him, we are along for his ride.

    Have you tried talking to your band mates about this?
  5. If you are going to own it in shares - make sure to write down who put how much, into each piece of gear. Then have each member sign a receipt that says this. Do this for each piece of gear. Do this any time you buy more or upgrade. And make sure every member gets a copy. There won’t be any questions as to who owns what’s the future. Always keep receipts for any gear you buy.
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Yikes, this sounds like it could get sticky, and sounds like it's already resulted in a buildup of resentment. :D

    We each own and bring any gear we expect to use when performing or practicing, that includes mics, monitors (IEM), cables, stands, and certainly amps, kit and instruments. Each of us has our own amplification, and the singer owns the PA at the rehearsal space.

    OP sounds like you might have gotten into this situation because you're also the rehearsal space? I see no reason you should not be getting at least one extra cut from any shows just for wear/tear/damage. So if you're a five piece, divvy it up into six pieces and you take two. If I was in the band with that arrangement, I'd consider that reasonable, especially since you're providing nearly all the gear for everyone!

    If you want to extricate yourself from this a bit, you could tell everyone you're not as flush as you once were and you're going to have to sell some things to stay afloat. Starting with all of the rhythm guitar and drum gear. IMHO, you're not a guitarist if you don't own a guitar and amp - you're just a guy who plays guitar sometimes. :smug:

    This should not challenge his commitment to the band one iota. If it does, then you know where his priorities lie right away. Same with the drummer, in fact the drummer I play with has three kits, one at our rehearsal spot, one at his other band's rehearsal spot and one at home. He only brings his cymbals with him. :thumbsup:
  7. Goodluck with spitting the cost. Shoulda been understood from the beginning. It maybe harder now and somebody's going to start crying regardless of how fair it seems. Have plenty of tissue handy. Be ready.
    lfmn16 and StevieMac like this.
  8. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    The problem with each member investing is that gear depreciates in value. If I kick in $500 towards a PA then leave the band 2 or 3 years later, the PA isn't worth what it was new. How do you figure out a fair buyout on used gear if the person leaves?

    With every band I've been in, the BL owned the PA and lights.
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    It isn't fair to volunteer to buy stuff and then resent the others for it. I would leave everything as-is for now, but see if you can persuade other band members to spring for any future purchases (such as subs). I agree with others that life will be much simpler if everyone knows what everyone owns, so if someone leaves there is no question about what they take with them and no need to figure out what stuff is worth.

    One other idea: What about trying to get the drummer to buy the drum kit from you and/or your nephew? The drummer really should own his own kit, and it sounds like your nephew doesn't want the drums and so might be willing to sell them at a bargain price. Maybe you could split the proceeds with your nephew to recoup some of the money you've put into the kit.
    Beej and garp like this.
  10. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    It's not completely unusual for one band member to carry more weight than others. But that individual needs to be at peace with this reality, and I get the sense that in your situation, times have changed, and the equity situation now needs to be addressed. To @Beej's point, if you're already providing the rehearsal space, do not discount the value of this contribution to the band as a whole.
    While the drummer's noble efforts to protect the kit and haul band gear should not go unrecognized, I agree with @buldog5151bass and @Lobster11 that a drummer ought to own the kit he plays. I'd suggest coming up with a fair price reflecting your nephew's ownership interests and your subsequent investments/maintenance costs and making that sale offer to the drummer. If he declines, sell the kit locally to someone else and divide the proceeds with your nephew.
    Absolutely. The resentment thing needs to excised ASAP like a cancerous tumor, or else it will only metastasize. Do not purchase any more gear – PA subs, drum heads, fog juice, or anything – until you resolve this issue. Best of luck.
    mikewalker and Lobster11 like this.
  11. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Oh, so many pitfalls in hoping to achieve some sort of equity here.

    Unless ALL of you were involved in spec’ing out the existing system(s) and have the financial and/or in-kind commitments in writing, pursuing some sort or equity or parity is going to be a tough thing. Even getting fairly remunerated for bringing very tangible things to the table is going to be tough since everyone’s contributions are more or less sunk costs or can be argued as intangibles. This kind of wrangling can fracture a band pretty quickly.

    Yes, it’s possible and likely common that some people bring more to the table than others, be it equipment, contacts, work ethic and/talent, etc and some people bring less. That’s just the way it it’s.

    Even though everyones personal financial situation has changed, that doesn’t mean there should be a direct correlation to relative remuneration/compensation.

    What you *might* do is suggest that others step up when something needs to be replaced/upgraded. Speaker fried? Tell the boys that you’re not in a position to fund the replacement....could someone else step up? Then they own they piece of gear. What happens when someone gets a raise or gets fired or needs to pay for a new roof? Do you rewrite the agreement based on whatever financial conditions prevail at the time? I personally wouldn’t want that kind of link to my personal financial situation.

    Actual/implied joint ownership of gear is also a minefield. I’ve got a thread here from 2015 that goes into exquisite detail in how that kind of thing can go wrong.

    I ended up buying, operating and maintaining the PA and lights for my last band. I specifically told the boys that no compensation was being asked for or expected from them. Made it SO much easier. I had the autonomy to do what I wanted, brought a quality product to the table, had the satisfaction of being able to stage a great production and most importantly, NO strings attached in any way. I retired from gigging, offered the boys the opportunity to buy me out or rent to own. They didn’t bite so I pieced out the system and recovered most of my initial investment. They did buy the mixer from me!
    mikewalker likes this.
  12. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    People think an "agreement", written or otherwise, will save you with shared band equipment. If someone is going to screw you for $500, are you gonna to take the time to take all the band members to court (remembering that court fees, which you will have to advance, are going to be about $100)?

    A contract is not a magic wand.
    CGremlin and mikewalker like this.
  13. I've been in both situations, where PA gear costs were shared and I came out on the losing end of that one (see the "ever been fired from a band" thread if interested) And currently I own our PA and lights, haul them, run them and store them. That was a decision I made not only based on past bad experience but also based on purchasing gear I liked and was comfortable running without getting the opinion of others.

    Our PA is not huge, two Mackie 1000w Thump "tops", two Behringer 500w subs with speaker poles, one 500w powered monitor, Mackie 16 ch PROFX mixer, 3 Chauvet 4 bars with footswitches and all the cabling. And I always take two basses, my Rumble 500 amp, two Shure mic's. All of this fits in my Ford Edge. The other two band members have their own guitars, mics, cajon, cajon riser, etc.

    We generally get paid $400-$500 for our 3 pc depending on the venue. After splitting the $$ 3 ways as equitably as possible, the other two members generally kick in $20-$30 each to me for the PA/light responsibility. It's what works for us.

    All I'd say to the OP is I would find a workable way to get out of hauling all the extra instruments, how can the drummer not own a kit? Seems to me if you want to be in a band you'd at least be providing your own instrument and mics.
  14. rocmonster


    Oct 31, 2011
    Been in a similar situation. When the singer wanted to replace me with a friend, I held on to a Crown power head, some cables and a 15” PA woofer from the PA we all went in on 25% each until I was ‘bought out’. They bitched and moaned about needing the equipment to earn money to buy me out, but I knew that if I gave back the equipment I’d never see my portion. That equipment collected dust for over a year before the brother of the guitarist came with cash and picked up the gear.
    mikewalker and Bajo Clarkko like this.
  15. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I think you're well on the way to owning all the major band equipment, even down to the drum kit.

    If I were you I'd buy all the rest of the equipment you can, from other members (like drum cases you mentioned).

    To me,the bandleader owning all the common equipment (and maybe including the drum kit!) is the very best way. It puts you on the road to operating like a professional band. I don't think any of the actual pro bands I've worked with had individual musicians owning anything except their instruments. Shared equipment is a guaranteed way to engender dissension.
    DirtDog likes this.
  16. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    Splitting the gear just never works. You think you will never break up, or have an illness or a job relocation.
    Have one member buy a P.A. and charge you per use at gigs.
    SoCal80s and DirtDog like this.
  17. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    When I got back into playing, as an adult with some disposable income, I mostly played with other adults who were in a similar situation. Basically, we all had our own complete set of equipment. This was fine. However, one band member who was more acquisitive than the rest was a source of tension for an unexpected reason. He would just go out and get things that were then used by the band without being asked to do so. For example, we were getting to the point where just playing with individual amps was at an end and we were going to have to get a proper PA. We would all have been able and willing to invest in one, but this one guy just went out and got one on his own without discussing it with the rest of us. It was a very nice PA and he was always wanting to use it. However, the difficult part was that because the PA was his, getting everyone's level and mix adjusted became a problem - it was his board, so he wanted to try to figure out how to mix it, but he wasn't good at it. He also used to constantly record us and try to remix us through his own studio system, which again, no one asked him to do (and again, he was not very good at). In short, it was like being offered free medical care, but from someone with only limited medical training (but he had his own medical equipment). Mostly, I think the issue was that he didn't really involve us in the decision making.
  18. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    As has been stated a couple of times, group ownership is just a good idea. There's really no equitable way to deal with this if someone leaves and expects to get his share back. Even if you could agree on a value, where does that money come from.

    Everyone should own their own instrument/amps/mics/cables. Period. If you're going to let someone use your gear, than you are loaning your gear - how would they ever claim ownership of it?

    Stuff like PAs, lights, drum risers - legitimate group needs, should be owned by one person. If I'm willing to pony up for a PA, it's mine. Sure the band may use it, maybe even rent it from me in a perfect world, but if I move on so does the PA unless one they want to buy it from me and I want to sell it.

    The harder stuff to deal with is stuff promo stuff (biz cards, recording/video costs, banners, etc). But these items are pretty clearly a good choice for "group purchase" with no expectation of compensation if I move on.

    I'm not seeing anyone laying claim to your gear, just that you don't want to spend more money for a needed item. I get it, but it's your PA, so it makes sense that you would buy the sub - what good does a sub do me without a PA?

    In my previous band, one guy owned the PA, was BL and humped gigs. I fully expected him to get an extra gig share - but he didn't even ask - he was willing to do it so he could do the band thing. I would've had no issue with him asking for something extra.

    In my band we all pitch in for band needs: one guy owns the PA, another guy humps gigs, I 've spent a great deal of time doing recording/video editing, another shelled out $500 out of his pocket for stage rental for a non paying gig (with no expectations of compensation). Under these circumstances, nobody gets extra gig shares for rental or duties. But if I was funding the band and probably doing all the other management work, I'd be expecting something extra from gig pay.
  19. Not a fan of equipment owned by 'the band', as it leads to trouble when members come/go.

    In every band I've been where individual members own things like PA etc, those members are own and are responsible for their gear, but they get a certain % extra from every gig fee as 'rental'. Same for transport. In one of my bands the drummer owned a 17-seater minibus that he converted to have room for gear and 8 seats and he drove us everywhere. It was great, and he got extra pay because of that (on top of fuel etc, of course). I think that's the best way to do things.

    It is unusual that you provide most of the gear, but not necessarily a bad thing if managed well.
    Ross W. Lovell likes this.
  20. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I don't share anymore. too much can go wrong and as soon as it does, others duck and run.