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So what would you have done?


Griffinator

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Had the chance to audition today to play bass for a local cover band. Advert was a female-fronted "mixed format" cover band - meaning they play everything from 80's rock to current top 40 - the audition list was Miley Cyrus, Guns 'N' Roses, Drowning Pool, and a couple other way out there pieces.

 

Red Flag #1: One of the things they emphasized in their advert was that you were going to be playing basically for free however many gigs it took to scratch up enough dosh for the band to own its own PA. I figured, if the band was tight and the singer had some persona to go with a decent set of pipes, this probably wouldn't take long, and as long as buyout terms were on paper, I figured I could negotiate something where I'd at least get my gas paid for in return for supplying stage monitors and some amplification, both of which I have lying around gathering dust.

 

Red Flag #2: The drummer (singer's wife, bandleader) went way out of his way to emphasize how many other people they were auditioning for this gig. Considering Red Flag #1, I had to think that this was obviously bullshit, because there just aren't that many bassists around here at all, never mind ones willing to play for a cover band for free while they invested in PA. I kinda ignored this....

 

Red Flag #3: Their rehearsal space (read: The singer/drummer residence) is 40 minutes away, and they insisted on twice weekly rehearsal until we started gigging, then minimum weekly rehearsal while we were gigging. :freak: To me, the only reason to rehearse if you're playing regularly is if you want to add at least a half dozen or so new songs - something that shouldn't be happening on a weekly basis. If you don't have your shit together when you're playing twice a week, you'll never get it together by rehearsing in between those gigs.

 

Red Flag #4: I finally stumbled over their Myspace page. The guitarists were horrible on the recordings they did (obviously in their little home studio, obviously engineered by the drummer/bandleader, and obviously a hack job trying to make the singer sound better than she actually sang) It was a real facepalm moment. It's a damned six-piece band (two guitars, keyboard, bass, drums, vocals) and the rhythm guitarist couldn't even play the verse riff from "You Give Love A Bad Name" correctly (one note off, but that one note was rather glaring....) on a recorded demo (and no one else in the band was aware enough to correct him on it....)

 

Here's the kicker - this band stays booked. They did 14 shows in December/January, using hired gun bassists and rented PA.

 

I finally decided that it just wasn't worth the time to show up to the audition, and e-mailed the bandleader/drummer to tell him that I didn't think it would be a good fit.

 

Sure, I could have used the money from a paying gig, but the ambiguity about when exactly pay started, and the fact that I was going to have to try and negotiate my way into a break-even point right out of the gate was just too much.

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Red Flag #1 - How do you know that some other members aren't pocketing the cash for their own expenses while saying "Oh, we're all sacrificing to save up for a PA?" Is all of that money being held in escrow somewhere? How much have they saved up so far? And what happens when the band breaks up/fires you or someone else. How does the PA/money get divided up? Sorry, been there...done that. No no no a thousand times no.

 

Red Flag #2 - Yeah, I think he was just trying to make the band sound like it was hot stuff. They're probably desperate for a steady bass player.

 

Red Flag #3 - I'm not bothered by any of that, frankly. Sounds like they need the practice!

 

Red Flag #4 - Well, it sounds like they basically suck but clearly they have some ins somewhere if they're getting shows.

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You did the right thing. It might become a paying gig, but no one can or will tell you when. And their musicianship is substandard. It sounds like the singer and her husband are trying to feather their nest with your labor. It's an uninformed speculation, but I'd wager if you decided to leave after the PA is bought and paid for, there would be no reimbursement. I've seen exactly that sort of thing happen before.

 

If I couldn't be sure I'd make any money and not get screwed on the PA, and if I didn't have any respect for the musicianship in the band, I wouldn't see any reason to play with them. With "all the other candidates they're auditioning", you're surely not causing them any hardship by not taking up with them, and you're saving yourself a lot of aggravation.

 

Run, do not walk, away.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Here's the kicker - this band stays booked. They did 14 shows in December/January, using hired gun bassists and rented PA.
If the band is getting gigs and staying booked they should be getting paid, which means you should be getting paid. That's not professional at all, which means they're not looking at this band as professionals, and that limits their potential. You did the right thing.

 

Another thing, they did 14 gigs last month, supposedly saving all the money for PA, and yet they didn't make enough in 14 gigs to buy a PA? That seems odd. As an original band, yeah, sometimes you play for dirt in the beginning, but for a 6 piece cover band that should be doing parties and events they ought to have made plenty in that time.

Mutiple award-winning, original BRC (blues/rock/country) at http://www.zeyerband.com, http://www.myspace.com/zeyerband and http://www.soundclick.com/zeyer - check us out!
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You did the right thing Griff. As a bass player, you are in demand. Trust me.

 

You are in a position that you could play out as a hired gun. Go out and play a gig with a band, and charge them a set fee, regardless of what they are making. Get two or three bands that you do this with and you are all set for weekend gigs.

 

Back at the end of the eighties, I could pull in about $100 a night. I'm not sure what bands are paid now or if that amount has gone up or down (I assume it's gone up).

 

Bring a level of professionalism to a gig. Show up, play your parts and do your job. If the band is happy, they will keep asking you back to do gigs with them.

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I should add, you don't have to spread yourself between two or three bands, if you find one band that is playing regularly.

 

A professional band has a band leader that pays his players a set amount each gig. The band leader will usually make a bit more then the players, simply because it's his show, his gear and his gigs. Although, the band leader can also make less if expenses, such as truck repairs or required gear replacements, occur.

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I agree that expecting a hired gun to work for free on spec is unusual - unless you can hear that there is some kind of extraordinary potential in at least one of the band members.

If it's a group of high school kids who have been best buds since grade school, who will stick together to the bitter end no matter what, and are living at home, not having to pay for food or rent.... it's one thing. If these are people you don't even know, and they want you to play for free for them, and you're an adult with expenses... well, it's a different scenario, IMHO.

Of course, hearing a lousy demo by them is the kiss of death.

 

Doing a lousy demo with and for family and a small circle of friends is cool, but if you're looking to be a professional, trying to attract the attention of people who don't know you, why on earth would a band want to put out a lousy demo, when, in effect, it's a job interview? Would you show up for a job interview not having bathed or shaved, wearing dirty clothes, drunk and/or stoned? It doesn't make sense to me...

 

 

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You did the right thing Griff. As a bass player, you are in demand. Trust me.

 

Bingo!

 

I wouldn't have immediately blown the whole thing off, just because in the past situations that have looked crappy at first glance have actually turned out pretty good.

 

If i decided to check it out further, I probably would've said "Here's the deal: you'll pay me 1/6th (or whatever the share per band member would be), no strings attached, for each gig we play." If the other members want to pool their money to buy a P.A., that's their prerogative.

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and what if you join...chip in gig money for a PA...and leave in 12 months time. Do you get to keep the drum mics, a couple of wedges, or the FB mixer??!! All sounds very messy and unpro..

 

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Like Craig said, if you don't suck, you can be working. The only question is, what kind of work do you want to do?

 

If I'm playing for free, it is because it is my band and I'm paying the guys while I do without. I don't play for free for someone elses band.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I talked to a guy about joining his worship band that played festivals and special services for various churches. The band was being paid for their services, but he had decided that all the money was going into promoting the band and recording/duplicating their CDs. He said "You DO have a day job, right?"

 

After considering the band and their music for a few days, emailed the guy and told him I didn't think their style of music was what I wanted to do(true enough, it was pretty wimpy stuff), thanx anyway, etc. He didn't even bother to send a reply. I suspect we are both better off.

 

 

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Yes, a deal has to be good for BOTH parties, or it's not a good deal! There is no reason to walk into something that's going to be more of a pain than a blessing.

ESPECIALLY if you don't care for the music, LOL!

 

Well, one of the things I've discovered over the years that I've been playing is that no matter what sort of music I'm playing, I can enjoy the hell out of myself playing it in front of a crowd. The energy overrides my musical tastes.

 

I think my wife probably made the best point in all this, after we heard their material... She asked me "Do you really, after the time you've spent building a reputation as a player around here, want to associate your name with that?!"

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Your mention of "You Give Love a Bad Name" reminded me of an offer I got a few years ago... I had an offer to join a start-up cover band around these parts with a bunch of pretty well-known-in-the-local-scene (but highly douchey) players. I was between bands at the time. The band already had management and gigs lined up as early as one month away from my "invitation to audition" date. Basically, I would have been playing out about four days per week in three states. I'd never have to lug gear (because the band had a crew to handle the PA and the backline), I'd never have to rehearse (unless the whole band needed to learn new songs) and I'd make something like $500 per week.

 

The downsides were that I'd be stuck playing songs I hate with people I don't like... four nights per week. After learning the set lists ("Me and Bobby Magee," "American Girl" and others equally odious as the aforementioned Bon Jovi quasi classic), I decided to opt out of the situation and looked for a band that might not get paid as much or play as often... but at least I could play what I like with people I like. Being happy with my musical situation means more to me than getting paid.

 

I think you did the right thing for you. Sounds like this situation would have only wound up pissing you off.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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"...a bunch of pretty well-known-in-the-local-scene (but highly douchey) players."

 

Can I quote you on that?

 

"...I'd be stuck playing songs I hate with people I don't like... four nights per week."

 

Sounds too much like a twisted version of High School all over again!

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Unless you're hurting for money or just have to have the free drinks, stay away from music that you do not like to play...if the band sucks and you're contribution isn't going to correct the problem, then you should find a new band...to play on stage while knowing the crowd isn't going to like you, can only create negative energy that will override your musical talent and/or subtract from the fun you were expecting to have...

 

Name your price and play if you must, but don't go in on the PA...IMHO.

Take care, Larryz
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I don't respond to ads that ask for 2x/week rehearsals. Period. The only time that is appropriate for a cover band is when they are a bunch of teenage buddies that want to hang out. Really. 2x/week = don't have it together.

 

I wouldn't have read any further.

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I don't respond to ads that ask for 2x/week rehearsals. Period. The only time that is appropriate for a cover band is when they are a bunch of teenage buddies that want to hang out. Really. 2x/week = don't have it together.

 

I wouldn't have read any further.

 

That's what I'm saying. Last band I auditioned for prior to this mess, the audition was the only rehearsal planned prior to the next show. They played that show with the guy they picked over me (no complaints, I know the guy, and he is definitely better than me).

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Gut reactions are right most of the time. If they have been playing lots of gigs they should already have a PA. I remember buying a PA in my first band and was payed back from gigs over a couple of months. When we ended the band I bought out the PA for 50 cents on the dollar, pretty standard value for used. I can't imagine with 6 people you couldn't afford to get some basic system. Something just doesn't seem right to have played 14 gigs in two months and not have a PA yet, how can you even rehearse without a PA, renting is silly way to lose money.

 

The big thing is you don't like the music or the people, it would have to be a gravy gig to get past that. As far as rehearsals go, if you like the music then you will want to play as often as possible, regardless of money or an audience. Even if everyone knows the songs and are good musicians, to be good as a band you need to practice a lot. I like practicing, both alone and with others. I like bands that work hard and try to be good, sometimes it is a chore but the results are worth it.

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I agree: whether I would want to practice twice a week would depend largely on how excited I was about the music and ability of my bandmates - especially if we were going to do something creative.

There might be other factors, such as whether I had to drive a long way and pay tolls each time, etc. In that case, I had better like the music a lot, and expect to make enough money to at least cover my expenses. I guess the novelty has worn off a little!

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Here's the kicker - this band stays booked. They did 14 shows in December/January, using hired gun bassists and rented PA.
If the band is getting gigs and staying booked they should be getting paid, which means you should be getting paid. That's not professional at all, which means they're not looking at this band as professionals, and that limits their potential. You did the right thing.

 

Another thing, they did 14 gigs last month, supposedly saving all the money for PA, and yet they didn't make enough in 14 gigs to buy a PA? That seems odd. As an original band, yeah, sometimes you play for dirt in the beginning, but for a 6 piece cover band that should be doing parties and events they ought to have made plenty in that time.

 

Either they aren't playing for much or they are mis-managing their money. This Friday will make our 14th show for December & January combined. I totalled up our take and it comes to $33,050.00 gross, less 10% for the booking agent - I think we could buy some PA with that. Although we don't need to - we hire it out and add it to the price if we need it. We did buy an IEM system, and members who have left were bought out. We keep out a little from each show (usually $5-$10 per member) and put it in a Band savings account for Marketing, Equipment, web site, etc. But I keep records of all the cash flow which are open to everyone, and the savings belong to the members - if someone leaves, they get 1/5 of it, it's their money. New members don't have to buy in, so we end up on the short end on savings, but that's motivation to make things work.

 

And practice twice a week or even once a week? I'm with you - ONE practice to learn 6 songs at a time, and that's maybe once every 3-6 months. When I first joined the band, we practiced something like 3 times over a period of a few weeks before I started playing out with them.

 

No way I'd even consider them.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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