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OT: Investing In A Band


cphollis

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Most of us join established things. Sometimes we get something off the ground ourselves.

 

Somewhere in between is the notion of investing in a bunch of guys who might have potential (and thus more playing satisfaction) before long, so you put some effort into them.

 

I joined a fun band here locally. It was there first band. Definitely not my first band.

 

My first job was showing them the difference between a band and a bunch of guys playing instruments. Mission accomplished. Took a while, but it happened.

 

Second job: dialing in the live sound. No $$$ for sound guys, so OK I'll figure it out. Learned what I needed to learn, bought some stuff, it's all good. Our live sound isn't painful as it was, but there's certainly room to improve.

 

Third job: show up with style for the gig. Bring good equipment, own your sound, own your look. Dress, people. I splurged on some stage lights, etc. Go buy some decent stage equipment, folks.

 

Now the pictures people take of us look half decent vs. a bunch of geezers at a rest home.

 

Fourth job: set list. We're a Dead cover band. Ok. First set, warm people up. Second set, let'em dance. Third set, stretch out a bit on the more difficult material. Surprise, much much better than playing random songs.

 

Their progress has been great. As has the reception by audiences, venues, etc. Booked solid for the next few months, so I guess that's progress. They've done their bit, maybe I need to do mine?

 

So I pulled the trigger on a rehearsal space last week. Yes, costs will be somewhat defrayed by band earnings, but someone had to take the plunge. All of our stuff set up, all the time. Great to dial in the sound, less effort schlepping in and out of someone's house.

 

So, question to all of you -- how much to do you "invest" in your bands, vs. phone it in? I've done both. What might make you take one course over another?

 

Just curious.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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I've done every iteration. Pros and cons to each. I managed a band pulling quarter million a year and "showed up" for a band landing at best $150/man. I really don't know what to tell you. It's sort of like being the guy who deals with all the stress and does ok, other not have to deal with anything and make just a little less. Thst's my experience.

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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Look for sponsors!!! The last 4 bands I have been in had at least a few small time sponsors who are friends with money or money people you become friends with. Do a special show for their birthday if you have to, but make them feel a part of the band.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

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I have never, nor will I ever invest a lot of money in a band. Yes, I have split rehearsal studio rent fairly with the other musicians, but throwing good money into a million to one shot is foolish.
'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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My first job was showing them the difference between a band and a bunch of guys playing instruments. Mission accomplished. Took a while, but it happened.
This might be obvious once you explain this, but I'd like to know what this entailed.

 

As far as your OT, I'm often reluctant to invest too much in a band. Maybe there's an instinct that I have and don't realize. For instance, the band I played with this summer was talking about sharing expenses for the rehearsal space they had rented. When the subject came up, I avoided it. I felt like I didn't want to put that money into a project that had but one gig booked. Then, once I knew I wasn't going to continue with the band after the one gig, I definitely didn't want to commit to the space.

 

I suppose if I felt a connection with a band and that it was going somewhere, I'd be more likely to invest some into it, but OTOH, can't just go play some damned gigs? Why do we have to spend much money at all to do that???

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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The difference between a band and bunch of guys playing instruments?

 

When I first started playing with these guys, it was their first band. They all knew their various parts individually, but not collectively. Technically, they were fine, but they each were extremely focused on how they sounded in isolation vs. how the band sounded together.

 

I still have photos from the first few gigs: guitarists with death grips on their instruments, hunched over and furiously concentrating on their specific parts.

 

Over time, I helped them loosen up, learn to listen to the collective sound, engage with each other -- and the audience. We now sound and act like a real band.

 

That took a LOT of rehearsing, hence the need for a rehearsal space, etc. It wasn't going to fix itself anytime soon.

 

Another example? The three vocalists were, ahem, weak. I figured out that part of the reason is that they couldn't hear themselves sing, thanks to a bargain-basement monitor system. OK, let's fix that. Situation now vastly improved.

 

You say you can't hear your amp, so you keep turning up? Try pointing it at your ears instead of your ankles. And so on.

 

I guess that I don't like playing in bands that suck. If I can see a way for them to suck a little less, I want to help if I can.

 

Certainly don't want to invest the time (and sometimes a bit of money) in all that unless you think it's going somewhere.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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Somebody has to step up and be the leader. If you are the only one with experience, it has to be you.

 

I'll be the leader reluctantly. Right now I am in a new band just getting off the ground. These guys are old pros, but this band is for the purpose of playing the kind of music I love playing - instrumental organ jazz funk. So I guess that makes me the leader.

 

I'll invest in gear like PA and lights since I will at least have some tangible assets to show. Not so much rehearsal space or band vehicles. Definitely never will I put up money for promotion or recording or band living expenses while we conquer the world... (the Supertramp model)

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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I'm there. Bought the PA system this year. My basement is the rehearsal space.

 

Nice gigs are coming along. I might see the beginning of an ROI around 3rd quarter quarter 2017. :laugh:

 

Seriously, a lot of work goes into being a bandleader. It is not for the lazy or faint of heart. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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The difference between a band and bunch of guys playing instruments?

[snip]

Great answer. Thank you. :thu:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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On the "phone it in" part...I don't ever feel I have the luxury of that. Even on gigs where I could probably get away with not being at my best, you never know who is there, and I tend to be the type who walks around with a big enough mental file already of the stuff I've done badly or still don't do well (in my estimation). So for my own peace of mind and future financial state, no phoning allowed here.

 

As for the general question of investment...I have traditionally kept up to one passion project in the mix. In my definition, that's one where I might rehearse without a specific gig associated with it, or even play with them for free sometimes.

 

In general, though, I'm a strict believer in paid practice. Book a gig and get out there. It doesn't matter if it's too small a place for your future hopes; you won't get to the "future" without some miles on you. Get your best friend who has a nice DSLR to take 100 pictures, so you can find three good enough ones to send out for future gigs. Yes, most of them will be useless artsy ones of the guitar player's pedal board. But others will show you "out there" and playing, and that's important.

 

Ditto video/audio. Get some good recordings, choose a chorus from each of three or five representative songs, and use it to get you working. As the venues get better, so will the photos and video, and so will the money. Along the way, commit to shaving a little off and sticking it in a band paypal account. When it hits a couple hunny, THEN do a pro shoot. When it hits a couple more, do your studio demo, and combine it with some video.

 

Making enough to hit that point, will be the strongest indication that the shoot and recording are worth the investment for this band.

 

So in most cases, if I'm rehearsing, it's because a gig is on the books, and if I'm playing, it's to ensure there is a NEXT gig on the books if at all possible.

 

"
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Good thread.

 

I must admit I don't invest in bands these days. In my youth, my first straight-outta-college band were renting crappy PA systems for every gig. I persuaded them that we needed to save up for our own. After about 8-10 gigs, we had enough for a small PA of our own, and our net earnings per gig grew. We then saved up for a bigger PA, and were playing bigger gigs.

 

These days, I'm a jobbing/journeyman type. Give me a call if you want a keys player, what does the gig pay? And I might be able to make one rehearsal, not more.

 

I tend to invest in myself - time as well as money. I haven't sunk fortunes into gear recently (a few hundred a year, perhaps), but I took time to build my own pedalboard and ordered custom cables. This saves time and hassle at gigs - definitely a worthwhile investment.

 

MOI's post .

 

Cheers, Mike.

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Good paying gigs are coming up less and pay less than before. Ive never recouped my expenses if you add it all up. Im not a working pro that relies on gig revenue to pay my bills so it is probably different for some others but at this point every dollar i spend will likely return me 25 cents before some crybaby in the band quits for some reason and were back to square one. I look

at it like buying golf clubs or gas for a boat. Will i invest serious money? No chance.

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Pro tip - if the band goes together on communal gear like lights or PA, everyone should buy individual pieces. That way if a member leaves it is crystal clear what gear also needs to be replaced.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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Moe's right about the communal gear stuff IMO. It works for us, anyhow. I own some EQs, a half dozen powered speakers, some lights, and a bag full of cables. Everybody owns their mic and stand, as well as instrument mics. Singer owns the outboard effects unit and mixing desk. Drummer owns subs and sub amps.

 

Jointly-owned stuff always has the "shares" and angst about what happens when somebody leaves. We know, it is crystal clear. Nobody decides what we need, we just buy. I get consulted on suitability. If we don't own what we need for a gig, we rent and it comes out the top.

 

This is certainly not equitable from a business arrangement POV, but nobody cares. That is one advantage of having a group full of old guys that plays out once a month vs. a group of people actually trying to put food on the table with music.

 

Wes

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Moe's right about the communal gear stuff IMO. It works for us, anyhow. I own some EQs, a half dozen powered speakers, some lights, and a bag full of cables. Everybody owns their mic and stand, as well as instrument mics. Singer owns the outboard effects unit and mixing desk. Drummer owns subs and sub amps.

 

Jointly-owned stuff always has the "shares" and angst about what happens when somebody leaves. We know, it is crystal clear. Nobody decides what we need, we just buy. I get consulted on suitability. If we don't own what we need for a gig, we rent and it comes out the top.

 

This is certainly not equitable from a business arrangement POV, but nobody cares. That is one advantage of having a group full of old guys that plays out once a month vs. a group of people actually trying to put food on the table with music.

 

Wes

 

Yep, I stay clear of the "shares" unless something is purchased with band funds, and we all agree. More often, one of us (mostly me) springs for the needed kit, and ownership is clear if we part ways. The fear on the other side is that I move on, taking a serious chunk of essential gear with me.

 

Can't solve that problem.

 

Yes, not equitable from a purely business perspective, but this is a band to have fun vs. pay the bills. We do have a mercenary in the band who needs to eat, so we try and accommodate his needs first.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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In the road band I ran, I owned most of everything. I felt it was worth the investment, as the band was pretty good, and a living was made during those years. When that ended, it was a hardship for me, being a bit behind the curve as far as ROI goes. It would have to be a hell of a good band, with income potential and the right people for me to go out on any kind of limb ever again. Been there, bought the t-shirt, then lost it off of my back.
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I bought my PA system because I was tired of other members buying mediocre equipment. The band immediately saw the ROI when they heard how much clearer the monitors were. I got my ROI as the system has endured three bands in the last sixteen years.

 

I have a day job that pays good income so I can afford better stuff. The PA is a big portion, while the other guys supply their monitors and monitor power amps. That leaves lighting, and you don't have to spend a lot of $$$ these days for club lighting.

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None of the people in the band I play in are doing it to put food on table, but we vary in age and financial capacity. Myself and another member individually own and provide the basics, lights, mixer, foldback, cables and FOH. If anything larger is required we rent it and it comes off the top. We share the cost of rehearsal studio rental.

 

I'm cool with that, a band is one of the few places where each can contribute according to their financial capacity without it becoming an issue. Plus you can get good gear for not a lot of money today.

 

 

MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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About 8-10 years ago I totally changed my outlook on investing $$$'s and effort toward light and sound gear.

 

I seriously don't know if it was a bad luck of the draw or if it is truly a generational thing but ..... the oldest guys in the band seemed to always be doing all the physical labor of lumping and setting up the PA. The bassist and I came to an awakening one hot August afternoon and decided 'F*** this.'

 

I hire all sound and light production. We hire good guys, they come in and handle it all. If it isn't financially feasible to hire out production then I'm in the wrong band. I'm too old to play in bands that suck. As much as people seem to hate sound guys on this forum my experience from listening to live recordings of gigs is outside production generally kicks ass.

 

It is a good thing musically. When cost of production drives up the band price you cannot have slow nights. Venues are forking over a sizeable chuck on money to hire you. You have to bring it or you don't get gigs. A $600-$800 4 piece can have a slow night. We can't. I like end result of having that pressure.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I wish there was a single venue in this town that could support an act with production.

 

Well, I guess the stadium can, but my draw is somewhat smaller than Carlos Santana's.

 

I hate big cities, but I think it might be easier to be a musician in one.

 

Of course, the competition would be stiffer, too. I might not get any work, rather than being run off my feet...

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Location is a huge factor. Where I grew up there was no place to play. That was actually a great thing for me as a player. Since there were no local venues I travelled. By the time I was 20 I had played all over the Midwest US. If I was born where I currently live I would have probably been content to have played the local clubs and never would have met all acts done all the double bills and did the things I done. I could have done without trying to live on a Silver eagle though. Buses smell like beer farts after a while.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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A recent example of the stuff I invest in:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EZPar64RGBA

 

Needed simple but effective lighting for our bar band. Didn't want more equipment, more setup, etc. as it would all be on me.

 

Got four of these self-contained battery powered jobbers, problem solved. Takes 60 seconds to set up, another 60 seconds to stow into a single bag. I can handle that. I even can hand them over to one of the more equipment-clueless band members and there's a decent chance he won't screw it up.

 

And its the sort of thing you can take with you to other gigs :)

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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In my band it is a mix. One band member has purchased some PA equipment and the bulk of the lights. Another already owned some PA equipment and purchased more. I manage the web site, FB and other aspects so despite not purchasing a lot of "communal" equipment I pull my weight. Since the band is a hobby, I hav a tough time justifying spending a lot of money. There are not a lot of gigs that provide PA or that we can afford to hire professionals. Something to aspire to.

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I've done it a number of different ways. Like Ed, for quite some time now, I much prefer to hire out the production, but not all the bands I've been in could afford to do that. In That 80s Band we hired it out but owned our monitor rack for IEM's. That belonged to the band and as members came and went, there was no buy-in or pay-out. You leave, you forfeit any of your cut that went into that stuff. It's just the cost of doing business. I'd imagine if the band ever completely disbanded, whoever' left would split remaining assets.

 

I myself own a small PA that I've used with other bands since, like the 5pc acoustic I played with for a while. They had some PA when I joined, but mine was better so we used it until I left and their back to using the other one,

 

The band I fill in with occasionally and will begin playing with 50% starting January owns their own PA - actually, the BL owns it along with a box truck and a bunch of stationing and lighting. He has a production manager with some crew that does all the setup and runs the lights, and another guy he hires to run the system. I don't know what he pays those guys, I'm sure it's cheaper since he owns most of it (except the lighting). I'm just a hired gun in that band. It amazes me sometimes that they can put in the production they do with all of the crew - sometimes as many as 4-5 guys in addition to the 5pc band - and still pay $300/man for the band members (like I said, I don't know what the crew gets). I tell you what though, it makes a big impact on how the performance is viewed by the crowd - like a legitimate rock concert as opposed to an ordinary cover band. They go all out even in the clubs setting up additional risers, trussing, lighting, etc. they may have crew setting up all afternoon for an evening show. Talk about investment - I think that's only possible because of the investment that's been made over the years. To hire all of that outside for every show I don't think would be profitable.

 

That's sort of the difficult transition to make - when you first start out with a band, you're not going to get top dollar. In some cases, hiring out sound and lights may cost almost as much as the bar wants to pay. Once you're in demand enough to command higher prices, you have more options, but in some ways, it can be the chicken or the egg scenario. Do you suck it up and play for peanuts spending all your money on production in order to wow the crowd and leverage that for higher pay? Or do you work your way up slowly building a crowd base until you can afford it, and risk not differentiating yourself enough to ever make it to that level? The same goes for stuff like promotional videos. In order to do one that's professional enough to land you the good gigs, you're going to have to fork out a few thousand bucks. That can be sort of a leap of faith when the gigs aren't rolling in yet.

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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Nice to see that the folks on this forum are incredibly engaged in what they invest in, why they invest, etc. That gives me courage.

 

OK, I pulled the trigger on a "band place" to rehearse, etc. Initial indications are that, yeah, everyone is way into it. All the gear set up, just show up and play for a rehearsal. I'm dialing in the sound with an iPhone app, which is way cool.

 

It may blow up at some point in the future, but -- for now -- it's all cool.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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