Is it me, or does running a band just suck? (Long)

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
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13,732
I'm highly aggravated today. Some history: I joined a party/wedding/cover band 5 years ago, and through a series of circumstances, I ended up taking over sole ownership of the band about 2 and a half years ago.

I lost focus on it in 2015, so we didn't have that many gigs. This year, I decided to refocus on it, and got my wife involved in running it and booking it (this is a very good thing). She's getting us gigs and managing things, programming our (very nice) website and handling other social media.

This month was looking like a great month for the band: 5 gigs booked, including 2 weddings and a corporate party, and I turned down 3 other gigs due to conflicts on dates (among this band and the 2 other I play in).

The first gig for the month was this past Sat: A wedding. Three of the five people in the band showed up at the venue after soundcheck was supposed to be over. Great.... so no sound check (note that my wife and I are running sound too for most gigs, including this one). Things ended up being OK, but I seriously stressed that 3 of 5 people showed up so late for a freaking wedding. I made a lot of money (for a gig, that is) for this one, but I just don't need that kind of stress. I sent a plea email to everyone yesterday to get them to understand that that was unacceptable. Response has been good, but we'll see.

The next wedding gig is the weekend after this one. On this one, the only available band regulars were me and the bass player. So I hired 4 subs for the gig -- including two female singers instead of the usual one, to make sure we can cover all the tunes well. Due to that I'm taking a pay cut to cover the cost of the additional musician. I created the set list for this gig weeks ago, and gave it to the subs so they would have time to learn everything. We had one rehearsal and have one more scheduled. But today I got an email from the client with their "must have" songs culled from our website. If I had the regular band, this would be no problem, but most of their "must haves" are not songs that I asked the subs to learn. So not sure what to do about that. I already told the client that besides their special request songs, I pick the set of songs we're going to play, so I didn't expect to receive a message like that. I'm pretty stressed about that gig.

Also today, we got a text from the booker at a club we're scheduled to play near the end of the month (one of the four best venues, and best paying venues, for cover bands in Austin). They are canceling on us due to private party they booked in the space that night. WTF? They gave me a new date, but it's while I'm out of town, so we're working on finding another date, but we're out in June already.

Last week, I thought I had another wedding booked for later in the year ---- the client said she was booking us, she had the contract, and she said she was sending the deposit check ---- then, two days later she emailed me to tell me that the band they *really* wanted suddenly became available, so she was booking them. After spending more than an hour on two phone calls with her before she agreed to book us, that pissed me off.

Last Friday I had gig with my classic rock (old man) band. It was a fun hang, but I got say, my playing was sloppy, which lessened any enjoyment from it, and I only made $69 for a 4-hour gig. That band is just for fun, theoretically --- but I want more than $69 for my time and effort.

I think that I don't have the right personality type to deal with stuff. It's too much stress. While I love performing and really like money, I'm considering what it would like to return to being a guy who just plays at home and tries out and collects gear for fun. But if I'm not making money playing, I'll never feel good about spending any money on gear..... while I'll have lots of time on my hands, and with it, the temptation to buy stuff. That doesn't sound good to me either.

OK, I vented. Now I feel a tiny bit better. Thanks for listening.

Joe
 
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loudboy

Member
Messages
27,322
It can be a pain, altho I never had to deal with the recent trend towards using a lot of subs. As mainly a club band guy, I also found the PITA factor of weddings to be mostly not worth it, but that's just me.

How about finding a better "dad band" to play with? You could make some more money and just play.
 

jota

Member
Messages
11,018
I understand where you're at but you probably would miss being in a band.
At least for me that's the joy of playing.
It's good to be alone at home playing but it gets old and boring too fast...
 

Yer Blues

Member
Messages
8,579
I don't run the band, but I'd imagine it sucks. You're managing the schedules and expectations of 3 or more people with very little in return. On the flip side, I guess it beats the alternative.

I wouldn't worry about venues occasionally rescheduling. Mistakes happen... Especially if you're gigging a lot.

Sounds like if you can get together a solid stable of subs you will be good to go.
 

Sam Sherry

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,116
Running a general business band is running a business, except that when you run a regular business you have a shot at make a living from it. In contrast, playing music is not a great way to make a living for most people.

Find what moves you. Find what brings you pure, undiluted musical joy. Hit that hard and hit it again. Let somebody else "make the money" for a while.
 
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Fishyfishfish

Member
Messages
6,378
Right now I am in the middle. I am gofer for the band leader and the musicians because of his lack of musical knowledge and or social awareness. it is nice that I don't have to deal with PA ( just running sound) but the "Kid Gloves" are getting a little worn out dealing with people. The last group I lead drove me half nuts dealing with club owners, bass players and lead singers. Always some major first world problem, from I forgot we were playing Tuesday to Dancing with the Stars is on that night. I'm supprised I am not sitting in the corner sniffing glue after that band. As my old boss would say: "Just wait, I gets a lot worse".
 

msteeln

Member
Messages
1,529
What I've increasingly come to understand in managing a band is you are dealing with people and it's going to really suck. Anything better than that is a bonus.
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,732
It can be a pain, altho I never had to deal with the recent trend towards using a lot of subs. As mainly a club band guy, I also found the PITA factor of weddings to be mostly not worth it, but that's just me.
sounds like work.
Weddings are more work for sure, but my thinking is, the work is worth it if you run the band yourself, since I can make (literally) 10X club gig money for a wedding gig. That's how I got into this mess in the first place. I used to be a sideman in a wedding band, getting paid $200 per wedding. I got tired of that, since I thought my time was worth more than $200. I like the money from running weddings; it makes it worth the time --- and the aggravation factor is almost always from the band side of things, not the client side.
 
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swiveltung

Member
Messages
14,490
It is a pain. I spend half my week doing:
-booking (or trying at least)
-email and texting band members if we are trying to rehearse. Back and forth, always one non responsive.
-Making up cheat sheets for at least the bassist for rehearsal.
-Getting posters going for upcoming gigs.
-making set lists adjusted for the particular type of gig.

3 years ago I joined a band so I wouldn't have to do all this, could just arrive, set up my gear, and play. The bassist did the booking. It turned out he was an ass and he and I didnt make it. When we separated all 3 other members went with me. So now I'm designated band leader again... arghhh...
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,662
Honestly, I do think you need to have a certain type of personality to do this. And it's a thankless job on top of everything else.

I do see one thing I think you can control that can allevieate some of the stress. It's not something you will want to do, but it may be something you're able to do rather than just give up on it (or have someone else take it over).

Firstly, you're playing in multiple bands. You obviously are dealing with in-demand musicians who have other gigs as well. Either that or - watch out - because you may not take gigs because of conflicts with other bands, there may be some resentment that you're not booking them as much as they'd like, or they feel the need to accept other gigs.

I would say firstly, you need a couple of more regular subs in your stable. I know it's hard to get them to work if you can't promise them gigs, but maybe there's a way that you can work them in - sometimes, players who are doing a lot want a night off and are happy to train a sub to have someone available - I know I always feel obligated to play and I feel bad any time I have to be absent for a gig, but I know I'd feel better if I had someone in the wings who I was confident of (and who I know wouldn't steal my position, but who could, if something happened, take it over short or long term for me).

Cancellations are the nature of the beast unfortunately.

I also would like to know what you're paying your members - if you're taking the lion's share of the cut, paying them a flat rate, and that rate is not the best in town, well...they'll go where the money is if they're that type of player.
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,721
Part of the OP's problem is that the gigs don't pay enough to get reliable talent to commit. And given the market for music these days, only the topmost bands in the top markets can command that money.

On the other hand, I've worked in the corporate software world, and it's hard to get commitment from people even when they're making a thosand dollars a week. Meetings start late, emails are missed, ignored, deliverables are frequently late, work is done at the last minute or beyond. People are...people.

On the other hand, we know we're getting paid every week. Most bands, don't. So being a manager is always hard.
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,732
Honestly, I do think you need to have a certain type of personality to do this. And it's a thankless job on top of everything else.

I do see one thing I think you can control that can allevieate some of the stress. It's not something you will want to do, but it may be something you're able to do rather than just give up on it (or have someone else take it over).

Firstly, you're playing in multiple bands. You obviously are dealing with in-demand musicians who have other gigs as well. Either that or - watch out - because you may not take gigs because of conflicts with other bands, there may be some resentment that you're not booking them as much as they'd like, or they feel the need to accept other gigs.

I would say firstly, you need a couple of more regular subs in your stable. I know it's hard to get them to work if you can't promise them gigs, but maybe there's a way that you can work them in - sometimes, players who are doing a lot want a night off and are happy to train a sub to have someone available - I know I always feel obligated to play and I feel bad any time I have to be absent for a gig, but I know I'd feel better if I had someone in the wings who I was confident of (and who I know wouldn't steal my position, but who could, if something happened, take it over short or long term for me).

Cancellations are the nature of the beast unfortunately.

I also would like to know what you're paying your members - if you're taking the lion's share of the cut, paying them a flat rate, and that rate is not the best in town, well...they'll go where the money is if they're that type of player.
Thanks -- I agree with your points. I do have multiple really good subs who I can draw from for all positions in the band, but as you suggested, now that we're getting busy again, I'm planning on grooming a specific person for drums, female vocals and keys as my always first call subs, and hopefully given them enough gigs so that they're always ready to go. No issues with my bass player.

For weddings, I do pay sidepeople more than most other bands do here. I have no problem getting people to play my gigs if they are available. My 'band members' are as committed as anyone who has a life outside of the band can be. They are not always perfectly diligent though.

Part of the OP's problem is that the gigs don't pay enough to get reliable talent to commit. And given the market for music these days, only the topmost bands in the top markets can command that money.

On the other hand, I've worked in the corporate software world, and it's hard to get commitment from people even when they're making a thosand dollars a week. Meetings start late, emails are missed, ignored, deliverables are frequently late, work is done at the last minute or beyond. People are...people.

On the other hand, we know we're getting paid every week. Most bands, don't. So being a manager is always hard.
You're incorrect on your first point, if you're thinking relative to other band gigs, as opposed to relative to higher-paying real jobs (see my response to Stevel above), but I agree with your 2nd point. Thanks
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,721
Thanks -- I agree with your points. I do have multiple really good subs who I can draw from for all positions in the band, but as you suggested, now that we're getting busy again, I'm planning on grooming a specific person for drums, female vocals and keys as my always first call subs, and hopefully given them enough gigs so that they're always ready to go. No issues with my bass player.

For weddings, I do pay sidepeople more than most other bands do here. I have no problem getting people to play my gigs if they are available. My 'band members' are as committed as anyone who has a life outside of the band can be. They are not always perfectly diligent though.



You're incorrect on your first point, if you're thinking relative to other band gigs, as opposed to relative to higher-paying real jobs (see my response to Stevel above), but I agree with your 2nd point. Thanks
If your crew is reliable and talented, but they still not putting your band first, then they're not getting enough to money to say "no" to other gigs. Why else would they say "no"?
 

GtrWiz

Member
Messages
3,944
I could throw some reliable names your way. PM me if you need some.

Also the FB group Austin Texas Musicians has a lot of great players of all styles. Friend me and I can add you.
 

T92780

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,207
Like so many threads on same topic here, just seems writing and recording at home can provide a different kind of happiness of no stress, if not alone, a break to see if grass is greener on otherside. Why not try it out, if anything your playing and creativity might improve in a different/good way.?.

Good luck.
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,732
If your crew is reliable and talented, but they still not putting your band first, then they're not getting enough to money to say "no" to other gigs. Why else would they say "no"?
I don't want them to say no to other gigs. My band is not a full-time job -- I'm never going to keep anyone fully employed. I don't say no to other gigs either. If I don't have them booked on a date, they should (and do) take other gigs that come in first for that date. First come, first serve. Then if I get a gig and they aren't available, I use subs. I see nothing wrong with this. Of course, if I have them booked on a date, they expectation is (and the reality thus far) is that they are committed to me on that date, regardless of what other opportunity (musical or not) comes in.
 

Moxsam

Member
Messages
2,953
Somehow reading this and the responses makes me feel a little better when I think about leading my own band.

I don't know what it is about being in a band that seems to bring out the worst in people. For fawk sakes it's like people lose their respect for each other and it's over the stupidest sh!t.

I find it like a rollercoaster. Sometimes I love it, other times I hate it. I think you are in a lull right now OP. It will pass. Hang in there.
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,732
I could throw some reliable names your way. PM me if you need some.

Also the FB group Austin Texas Musicians has a lot of great players of all styles. Friend me and I can add you.
Thanks Chris. I'm already on that FB group -- I very rarely have an issue finding subs -- the only spot which is sometimes tough is keys, since most of the good ones are usually booked. I'm sure some of the people you'd recommend are people with whom I've played. Among the bands I've played with in Austin, one of them used a rotating slate of players, so over the years, I met a lot of really good musicians in town. But thanks for the offer -- and I will friend you on FB. I'll hit you up if I ever need help with subs.

[Edit: Ha - just friended you on FB -- we have 16 mutual friends -- almost all of whom I've played with in the past -- including 4 whom I'm playing with this month.]
 




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