Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

To start up or not to start up...


picker

Recommended Posts

I'm trying to decide if I should try starting my own band. I am having very little success in finding one which is already going and in need of my services. I tried working with a band that a couple of other guys were trying to get going, and they turned out to be flakes, and I doubt very seriously they'll ever get a band going.

 

The only thing that stops me is that I have no idea how to get a band into and out of rehearsal, or book gigs, let alone get a band out of playing penny ante bars and into decent paying jobs. All I really know how to do is play guitar and/or bass and sing. Well, I am knowledgeable enough about PA to set one up and operate it. But I lost a sales job because I couldn't meet quota, I just don't have the "salesman" gene or something.

 

So, you guys who have done it, successfully or otherwise, tell me what you did (or didn't do) that you should and/or shouldn't have done, and tell me if this is just asking for a lot of headaches.

 

Here's a couple of questions;

 

1. why is it that so many bands never get out of rehearsal and into playing out, and how can you avoid making those mistakes?

 

2. How do you spot a flaky individual without investing a lot of time in trying to make it work with them?

 

3. How many tunes is it reasonable to expect a band to learn in a week's time between rehearsals? Bear in mind I'm not talking about magnum opi from prog rock or fusion jazz bands, I'm talking about blues covers and originals, maybe some classic rock.

 

4. How long would you estimate is reasonable from finding the right people and starting rehearsals to gigging? I realize the last two questions are dependent on how accomplished & experienced the musicians, so figure they are at a semi-pro level.

 

5. How do you handle the business end? Do you set up an LLC, or get a business license, or what, and who from?

 

6. What other questions SHOULD I be asking, and how would you answer them?

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

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 8
  • Created
  • Last Reply

hey bro, i'm kinda in the same boat atm. i've started/fronted/booked a lot of bands in my day, so i'll try and answer what i can.

 

1. why is it that so many bands never get out of rehearsal and into playing out, and how can you avoid making those mistakes?

 

 

cuz they're stupid. for real. one gig is equal to 6 months of rehearsing. you gotta take the plunge, and quickly, or you become mired in the idea of rehearsing. if you have good peeps, rehearsing is something that only needs to be done on rare occaisions, and should only be to work on new stuff, or maybe vocals. people need to learn the stuff at home. not at rehearsal. rehearsal is for those who've done their homework already...practice is what people do at home. ideally, from my background, anyways rooted in the blues, all ya need to know is the chord progression and the arrangement, and that's it. maybe signatures and hooks. but ya gotta and they gotta have that down cold before they ever show up. if they don't, run screaming into the nite like richard pryor with his head on fire and don't look back, cuz you'll be there every nite otherwise while the poseurs and lackeys waste your time and try your patience. fwiw, most of the bands i've worked with have never rehearsed, or if they do, it's like once. it's not uncommon for me to rehearse one nite with totally new peeps and be gigging the next. and if you're gigging, and paying attention, you shouldn't need to rehearse at all on weeks you're playing. don't play with peeps that aren't as good as you, strive to play with peeps BETTER than you are...and that will force ya to be on your toes and be a better performer.

 

 

 

2. How do you spot a flaky individual without investing a lot of time in trying to make it work with them?

 

if they don't know alot of the same stuff as you, are into coke, show up beer in hand, or in general expect you to wait around during rehearsal while they try to figure it out, they're flakes. if they talk a lot of shit about how great they are, they're flakes. if they're cocky, but humble, that's what ya want. you can FEEL it as soon as ya show up. if they make apologies for their clams but have great chops, that's ok if YOU don't notice the clams too much. but generally, other than potheads maybe, avoid druggies, drunks, poseurs and prima donnas, and you'll be a lot happier. try to structure auditions so ya have some time between the different cats, and make sure they're not all hanging around listening to each other. auditions are tough enough already on most peeps without being critiqued by their peers. also, avoid show offs. look for team players with chops, dynamics and attitude, but not ego maniacs. attitude can be crucial. look for groove. alot of guys with chops for days can't groove if their life depends on it. don't make any commitments to anyone til ya play with them enough to know if they're for real. sometimes jumping at peeps can just result in losing. and sometimes the best guy to play with may not be the better musician technically. it's all about feel, vibe, and groove.

 

 

 

3. How many tunes is it reasonable to expect a band to learn in a week's time between rehearsals? Bear in mind I'm not talking about magnum opi from prog rock or fusion jazz bands, I'm talking about blues covers and originals, maybe some classic rock.

 

save time by having potential people send you lists of shit they have down cold. see where the common ground is, and start there. i don't think, if people actually do their homework, that a set or MORE is unreasonable in a week's time. if something almost works, throw it on the back burner and revisit later. go for the stuff that clicks, now. that's where to start. try not to have a lot of diversity in taste...you'll get it together faster with people that share common ground than trying to get a nu-rock guy with no idea of what the blues is to be able to play with a classic rock guy who has no idea what nu rock is. better to have peeps into the same shit, the same styles...common ground is where it's at, bro.

 

 

 

4. How long would you estimate is reasonable from finding the right people and starting rehearsals to gigging? I realize the last two questions are dependent on how accomplished & experienced the musicians, so figure they are at a semi-pro level.

 

the next day. a week. hard to say. but if ya don't have it together in a week or two enough to gig, you may be wasting your time. with semi-pro peeps, like i said, we don't rehearse.

i make a couple phone calls, instant band. i remember one time i got asked to open for my present band the easton brothers at an aids benefit. at the time, i wasn't taken seriously, i was the "kid". i called my drummer, called a friend that was a bass player, and another that was another guitar player that i knew could play his ass off. we rehearsed once, over the phone via conference call...songs, chord progressions,and arrangements. the drummer wasn't even involved.

when we took the stage a couple days later, people started dancing from out first tune, and by the time we ended with zep's immigrant song, they were screaming. when the headliners came on, everyone sat down and started eating...paying them no attention whatsoever. we cut their well-rehearsed head so good the bassist and drummer wouldn't even TALK to me for a couple years. so...don't waste time. and remember...one gig will teach you more than 6 months of rehearsal. when i was in high school, i played upright bass, won all kindsa stupid awards, all eastern, all state, all new england etc...and tell ya what, if a 60 piece orchestra can rehearse once and nail a concert, a 4 or 5 piece band is cake. people get too hung up on trying to impress other musicians. screw other musicians. impress your audience, do your best, have fun, and they will too...and they'll come back, too.

 

 

 

 

5. How do you handle the business end? Do you set up an LLC, or get a business license, or what, and who from?

 

 

under the table. lol. when ya start making enough cake to claim it, claim it. write off every single expense you can. but until then, don't bother too much with business. treat each other fairly, ALWAYS ask for twice what ya need to make, and pay each member an equal cut. if you're the booking agent, ask the band for 10-20% off the top. it's fair and as long as you're honest, fine. don't bother with incorporating if you're just a small local band, it's most likely not worth the hassle and expense of paying a lawyer to do all the paperwork. beware of hucksters and "managers"...if they are any good, they probably will be too busy to bother with newbees in the first place. just keep your wits about you, you'll do fine.

 

 

 

6. What other questions SHOULD I be asking, and how would you answer them?

 

find out how much time in a set is required, find out how long breaks are expected to be...believe it or not, i've had club owners bitch at me that they lose money off the jukebox if i cut my breaks too short...try not to drink too much alcohol, and conversely, if ya drink soda, watch that too, or you'll be peeing all nite.

 

i'm sure other peeps will have more advice. i'll try to answer any other questions you can come up with as honestly as possible, but remember, this is me we're talking about, so other peeps mileage may vary.

 

peace! and congrats on preparing to take the plunge!!

;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow Picker - Sounds like you are about to begin a great adventure!

Being in a band has been a very rewarding AND eye opening experience for me. I'm in business for myself so the money making aspect was never a concern as far as a band goes. Making music was/is my primary motivation.

I was lucky enough to meet some great people that live in my area and that had similar musical goals. Been in several bands over the years but have been with the current guys for about 2 yrs. We have a blast. We play out 2 or 3 weekends a month.

We are pretty tight and are into classic rock and blues.

I'll try to answer your questions based on my experiences although I'm sure there are forumites that will have their own advice.

1st you should decide what it is you want from being in a band and then find others that are in it for the same reasons.

 

1. why is it that so many bands never get out of rehearsal and into playing out, and how can you avoid making those mistakes?

lots of reasons. mainly though I think some people want everything to be perfect before playing out. big mistake. Just go for it and things will work out. Get 4 - 45 minute sets together and just do it.

 

2. How do you spot a flaky individual without investing a lot of time in trying to make it work with them?believe me - they will reveal themselves rather quickly. trust your gut.

 

3. How many tunes is it reasonable to expect a band to learn in a week's time between rehearsals? Bear in mind I'm not talking about magnum opi from prog rock or fusion jazz bands, I'm talking about blues covers and originals, maybe some classic rock.

Unless it's an original everyone should learn songs by themselves... then show up at rehearsals ready to go. That's the only way to make good progress. Make sure you all are working on the same version of a cover. When we 1st got together we were learning 10 - 12 new songs a week. course it takes a few rehearsals to get things worked out and sounding tight.

Now we try to add a new song at each rehearsal... but sometimes go a couple of weeks without adding any. But that's what keeps things fun and interesting... new songs. Always new songs.

 

4. How long would you estimate is reasonable from finding the right people and starting rehearsals to gigging? I realize the last two questions are dependent on how accomplished & experienced the musicians, so figure they are at a semi-pro level.

Not sure how long finding the right people will take... might be tomorrow... might be never.

Depending how good the musicians are and how often you rehearse, you should be out gigging in 2 weeks to 2 months. Find a club to test the water with. Play for free if necessary to see how things go. It's always good to get the rough spots smoothed out in a place that doesn't really matter... like a few towns down the road. Local reputation will be important later on if you want steady gigs.

 

5. How do you handle the business end? Do you set up an LLC, or get a business license, or what, and who from?

Someone in the band should have a good business head. I don't know how heavy you want to get into this but my band does not work off contracts or anything. If a club burns us we never play there again and we spread the word to other bands. Always get paid right after the gig unless other mutually agreeable arrangements have been made. We don't have a business liscence either. Some areas might require that but here in central Florida nobody really cares. Might be different in bigger venues where you are making a lot of $$$. We play mostly biker bars with anywhere from 100 to 400 people.

 

6. What other questions SHOULD I be asking, and how would you answer them?

Don't know but when you think of them... ask away.

 

Anyway Picker, that's just MY experience. I hope there is something you can use.

Good Luck and keep us posted as to how things are going.

SEHpicker

SEHpicker

 

The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." George Orwell

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never been in a successful band, so what I know is extremely limited. The best I can do ya is to advise avoiding getting mostly friends to join. If you all become friends in the proccess, then it's fine. Otherwise, every one before me gave good advice.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. Why don't bands get out of rehearsal?

In part because some guys really DON'T want to get out there and play..... they just want to have fun playing with their friends. Which is fine if you're just doing it for fun, too, but if you're serious about gigging, that won't cut it.

2. Re: flakes

It doesn't hurt to make it clear from the start what you want to do. This way, if the person is not on the same page as you, you can either find common ground or just call it a day, no hard feelings. (Say, he wants to do creative originals and you want to do a cover band.) If the person calls to say they can't make it to rehearsals, especially at the last minute - they might do the same to you if you have a gig! Caveat emptor

3. How many tunes per week?

If they're well known tunes and not overly difficult, I can see asking each member to sit down with the record and learn 5 or 6. Of course, a lot depends on how much time the person has to practice!

I'll defer to others on the other questions - especially regarding business, since I never played for a living. Of course, I have heard plenty of war stories. As far as band members, "honesty is the best policy."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well at the first time in my life i have the seeds of a band in the works. i am no longer held hostage by my mates who play guitar seasonally when there is no hunting, fishing, soccer and hockey to consume every minute of their schedule.

 

just do what is right for you Picker, i am sure you can spot a flake easily enough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. why is it that so many bands never get out of rehearsal and into playing out, and how can you avoid making those mistakes?

Several reasons but one of the biggest is either they're young & focused on playing their fave type of music...& not much beyond doing that.

Older players carry that over, compounded by rehearsals being their time outta the house from their gfriend/wife & a chance to practice their hobby.

BTW, avoid players who seek to "practice" or use that term for get-togethers...reason being self-apparent.

 

2. How do you spot a flaky individual without investing a lot of time in trying to make it work with them?

Develop yer own plan, as specifically as possible & ask questions before extending invitations.

If someone gets in & they don't seem what you're looking for---for whatever reason---ask if they can modify their approach. If they can't, explain your intention & politely say goodbye, for now.

Heck, ya might be able to work with them some other time.

 

 

3. How many tunes is it reasonable to expect a band to learn in a week's time between rehearsals?

Depends on their skill level; & time available to study material, as well as whether it's new to them.

Also on the method of study; players sharing scores will learn faster than players who listen to recordings at home, who will learn faster than those who only hear the material at sessions.

Sometimes the speed of development's not as important as the quality of development.

If yer still working on the shape of a piece of material more than a few sessions, something's wrong, either with the players or the focus of material.

 

4. How long would you estimate is reasonable from finding the right people and starting rehearsals to gigging?

I really think that has to do with the market in an area as much as anything.

Sure, easy material can be learned more quickly by better players but what if yer in either a sparse market or in one crowded with hot acts ?

Are there any agents you can engage? Help from club bookers you know ?

 

5. How do you handle the business end? Do you set up an LLC, or get a business license, or what, and who from?

The biz model should wait 'til you actually see some potential, before you lock into anything.

Options:

You control the whole show & hire everyone else to do yer bidding.

Partnership with people you trust & have shared goals (doesn't have to be the entire act).

Semi-democratic approach, which, unfortunately, is the least likely to be effective...in many ways.

The specifics of biz set-up are best explored by investigating the requirements of your locality & your decisions on your goals but typically you find out from county clerks & state officials abt required licences, tax formalities (maybe an accountant friend ?), etc.

If you get serious in success, start looking at TM for band names, entertainment-oriented attorneys, etc.

An attorney who knows the biz can be your best advisor.

 

6. What other questions SHOULD I be asking, and how would you answer them?

 

I'd check into some of the literature abt the music biz that may be available at libraries or other sources.

I be back soon with a potential reading list.

Keep in mind that the entertainment biz changes constantly; you want to keep up to date.

 

d=halfnote
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...