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Bass player demand at an all-time low?


EddiePlaysBass

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My dad and I often discuss the cyclical nature of live-music demand. There's always periods of hightened activity and demand for live bands, and this is usually followed by periods where bands can't even get gigs for free.

 

I'm wondering if we're currently at a low point again. I sporadically cruise the "musicians wanted" ads and there's hardly any demand for bass players. Some hardcore / punk bands and the occasional Top 40-style wedding band, but other than that there's nothing, niks, nada.

 

On the other hand, I do see several posters and flyers advertising events which feature live music. So maybe it's just me: I'm on a band sabbatical for an undetermined period of time, and I find myself simply not interested in the whole band experience for the moment. So maybe this is the universe's way of protecting me from myself ...

 

I'm sure there was a question in here somewhere :) Sorry, just feel like rambling a bit, I guess ...

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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It seems to me from communications with people all over the world, as well as different regions of the US and Canada, that there are regional differences in demand for live music in general, though the trend has mostly been down - in favor of DJ's mostly. Certain types of live music are doing better than others - theme and tribute bands do well for concerts, casinos, and corporate gigs.

 

I can only speak locally as far as demand for specific instruments. Bass, keys, and female vocals all still seem to be in decent demand. Guitar and drums, not so much.

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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I haven't personally played a live gig in several years, but I'm not really looking to.

 

But by the same token, there are really only a handful of local venues that feature live music at the moment.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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My band could probably gig more often than we do (about six times a year) if we worked at it. There's a pretty good demand for bands in the Philly area and plenty of venues (one bar where we play used to have a live band one Saturday per month, now they have bands every Friday and Saturday night).

 

Just out of curiosity though, I took a quick look at the Philly Craigslist and there wasn't one appeal for a bass player in the first 100 listings.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Maybe if anyone's looking for work, come to St. Louis.

 

I've never used CL for finding bands or musicians because we have a local site dedicated to that.....

 

CLONK

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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When I moved to the SF Bay Area at the very end of 1991, I found the talent pool was so low here (compared to Boston) and the demand so high, that I had my pick of gigs.

 

Today, I would say the talent pool is high, and the demand quite low. I don't know if there are fewer bands now, or if there are relatively more talented bassists than before.

 

I find that it has become common now for guitarists to switch over to bass. I was used to this in Boston but didn't see it so much here until recently.

 

Bassists usually have to have at least one other instrument to garner attention from band leaders. Usually it's rhythm guitar; sometimes keys, and in my case (at this point in time), horns.

 

I don't really look at the ads, and never place them (it would be seen, and would cause problems for me, no matter how well-intentioned the seeking out of other opportunities).

 

At the local Guitar Center, however, I notice there's an age barrier. Usually no one over 30 need apply.

 

When I was in Boston, my biggest problem was height. I'm extremely short, and people in that part of the country are quite tall on average. Most ads wouldn't let anyone under 6' apply, and I'm over 6" shy of that requirement.

 

I don't see those kinds of filters anymore. Not even "must have quality gear". Ads say "we'll drive you, or loan you gear". I guess that's how it was in the 60's, probably, so it's a return to form. No one seems to care how you look or dress these days either.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Ann P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico Bari, Dano Bari

Select Strat/Tele, Am Pro Jazzmaster, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, T64, PM2, EXL1, XK4, Voyager

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In my area there is often just as many "bass player looking for band" ads as "band looking for bass player" ads.

 

Where I'm at, it the same band that looking for a bassist that fired the bassist that's looking for a band.

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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I never look on craig's list or ebay to find a gig and I don't know anyone who looks for a bassist there either.

 

All the bassists I know are working. Maybe a little less than we used to, but we're still working.

 

That's an excellent point. Everyone I've auditoned and every band I've joined has been word of mouth, and every bass player I know is working, as well.

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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I never really moved in the right circles for the word-of-mouth to work. After the blues band imploded I got a few offers based on that but it didn't work out and I joined a pop band. The rest is documented here :)

 

I should go to some regular jam sessions and get my face / name out there again. But before I do that, I should practice more :(

 

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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I never look on craig's list or ebay to find a gig and I don't know anyone who looks for a bassist there either.

 

All the bassists I know are working. Maybe a little less than we used to, but we're still working.

 

Of course. That's to be expected in that level of play and with a lifetime of exposure to top level cats much in the same way that I've never looked on craigslist for patients or employers looking for my optometry services.

 

But I've had great success meeting people that I otherwise wouldn't have met on craigslist. The Steely Dan cover band that I used to be in. My current gigs with: the Kirtan Chant band, the alternative rock originals band, and a rock trio that gigs or 8 times a year have all been craigslist finds. A couple good friendships also grew from these contacts. Indeed, there are a bunch of craigslist losers out there; you've got to kiss a few frogs. And I list on craigslist the open mic that I host for the arts council that I'm a board member of. It's worked better than the listing in the local free-paper and paid newspaper ads. And I know a couple teachers who have had success in attracting cash-paying students via craigslist. Craigslist rocks it. I check it every other day, at least.

 

 

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Extremely low demand in whatever town I happen to be in.

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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Are you in Belgium these days?

 

No, but I recently had a Belgium Waffle.......sorry. :(

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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Bassists usually have to have at least one other instrument to garner attention from band leaders. Usually it's rhythm guitar; sometimes keys, and in my case (at this point in time), horns.

What kind of gigs call for that?

 

Sure, I've been known to swap instruments with the guitarist for a song or play mandolin on a bass-less song, but that kind of thing is pretty rare. If I'm the group's bassist, 99.99% of the time I'm playing bass.

 

These days I mostly play rock, pop, country, r&b/motown or blues in a 3-, 4- or 5-piece band. {The only time it's a 5-piece is when the singer doesn't play an instrument.) In my case what puts a bassist at the top of the list is vocals.

 

The bars prefer 3-piece trios because they cost less, so it's easier to book a trio. Trios usually sound better if everyone sings: harmonies, multiple leads.

 

A 4-piece is still doable but band members have to be willing to sacrifice in a 5-piece (lower pay, less gigs, etc.).

 

From what I've seen, wedding bands are different; everyone has only one assignment, either voice or a single instrument. That way everyone can be an expert on one thing. The bassist plays bass 100% of the time and never sings. It doesn't matter if the band has 7+ members; there are always clients willing to pay to make things worthwhile for everyone.

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Interesting. I'm more likely to cover more roles at a wedding or corporate gig than at a bar gig, as the clients usually have one-off special requests that fall outside the norm of the band and require "special skills" from a former life.

 

For instance, brushing up on my woodwind and classical guitar skills will make it easier for us to provide the entire entertainment bill at such gigs vs. farming out part of it to others.

 

No singing at all in my main current project. A lot of genres don't have much singing. Many venues in fact don't want any singing because it would distract more from people's conversations than anything else could. This can even be true in dance-oriented situations, depending on the style and the audience.

 

I haven't played rock or pop in years now. As far as I can tell, that is a shrinking genre. Historically, it will probably be remembered as a very brief blip in music.

 

When I was in an 80's cover band, I played bass, keys, vocals (usually at the same time, through dextrous split-hand duty) and sometimes winds (or even wind synth via the Yamaha WX5 controller).

Eugenio Upright, 60th Ann P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico Bari, Dano Bari

Select Strat/Tele, Am Pro Jazzmaster, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, T64, PM2, EXL1, XK4, Voyager

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I never look on craig's list or ebay to find a gig and I don't know anyone who looks for a bassist there either.

 

All the bassists I know are working. Maybe a little less than we used to, but we're still working.

 

That's an excellent point. Everyone I've auditoned and every band I've joined has been word of mouth, and every bass player I know is working, as well.

I've been working more this year and last than I had the previous two years, but that's more the result of joining a band with established, full-time musicians. (CL? No. Folks I met years ago by going to shows, i.e. networking.)

 

I've been at this long enough now that all subs/replacements are either people I've met or word of mouth.

 

I still check out CL regularly. Recently a wedding/corporate band posted there looking for musicians, so good opportunities can be found there. [edit: but, yes, most of it is tripe.]

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All time low? Seems about the same to me. If you can play (and aren't a big jerk) you can find a gig in my area. As far as CL goes, its a pretty good resource - if you know how to weed stuff out.

 

There are some pretty fantastic players/singers/people that I would not know otherwise.

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I played ten hours yesterday, with only a short break in the middle to drive from one gig to the next. How many bassists are unemployed because of me?

Eugenio Upright, 60th Ann P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico Bari, Dano Bari

Select Strat/Tele, Am Pro Jazzmaster, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, T64, PM2, EXL1, XK4, Voyager

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Via one FB group or another (I always get added by musicians to groups I have no interest in, usually in order to buy/sell gear) I saw an ad of a band looking for a bass player.

 

Quotes influences: AC/DC, ZZ top, CCR, Eric Clapton, Joe bonamassa, Jimi hendrix,... Looking for a bass player and a singer. They're young (between 16 and 23) but "a bit older is no issue." Figured I'd mail them to see what gives.

 

Turns out they have formed last week, and agreed to play 1 song... "Summer Of '69". Somehow, I do not see this working out well :)

 

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Turns out they have formed last week, and agreed to play 1 song... "Summer Of '69".

 

New thread: if you could only learn one song, what would it be...

 

My vote: not "Summer of '69."

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Turns out they have formed last week, and agreed to play 1 song... "Summer Of '69".

 

New thread: if you could only learn one song, what would it be...

 

My vote: "not Summer of '69."

 

When Doves Cry

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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Via one FB group or another (I always get added by musicians to groups I have no interest in, usually in order to buy/sell gear) I saw an ad of a band looking for a bass player.

 

Quotes influences: AC/DC, ZZ top, CCR, Eric Clapton, Joe bonamassa, Jimi hendrix,... Looking for a bass player and a singer. They're young (between 16 and 23) but "a bit older is no issue." Figured I'd mail them to see what gives.

 

Turns out they have formed last week, and agreed to play 1 song... "Summer Of '69". Somehow, I do not see this working out well :)

And yet, when you were 16, that would have sounded like a great opportunity!

 

Funny how age/experience changes perspective.

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I told the guy that I don't see the correlation between his cited influences and the choice of "Summer Of 69" and he replied saying he has to take into account what the others want to play.

 

This told me a number of things:

 

1. He considers himself the BL;

2. He won't be very good at it; and

3. The set list will be a generic whatever-everyone-wants-to-play type of set with no direction or genre-consideration whatsoever.

 

Unless he contacts me again, I won't bother with it. I already get a vibe similar to the last band I played in and the truth is, I would rather not play in a band than do this sort of stuff again. My choice, my consequences.

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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