Managing band members: The do-nots and the red lines

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by nightlight, Mar 14, 2021.

  1. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    I have a couple of acts I'm working with, but have oft late wondered if I'm some sort of Yoko Ono, given that most of my acts implode after a few months or sometimes after a year.

    Just the regular reasons: guys want to spend more time with their girlfriends/wives/kids, guys don't come for jams/come late, guys don't practice, guys just mysteriously vanish...

    Like I said, I'm well aware that I am cursed, so I'm always civil, though short of being obsequious. I let late coming and no showing slide, I shrug at the lack of practice and say nothing, I've had girlfriends too so I understand the pressure on time...

    Despite that, it seems like I'm always the person pushing everyone to jam as frequently as possible, arranging for the jampads (and then being out of pocket when someone cancels at the last minute), making videos and notes of areas where we are not as tight as we should be at jams.

    Just wondering if there's some kind of "do not" rules that I keep transgressing. I'm lucky I have a solo project, and I've been toying with the idea of doing complete covers (guitars/bass/drums/vocals) to keep myself occupied.

    But I would like to know if you guys have any tips on managing band members, as well as any red lines that you don't break because it's probably going to end up being a waste of time.
     
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  2. Dayn

    Dayn SS.org Regular

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    Ultimately it comes down to needing to find people who share the same vision as you. Tolerating people who cancel, arrive late, and don't bother to rehearse will just hold you back. It might be hard to find people with the same drive as you, but it'll be even harder wasting your time on people who don't care. Better to go it alone until you find those people instead of wasting your own valuable time trying to drag along the unwilling.

    If it's meant to be serious, then treat your bandmates as such. Everyone needs to perform their role, and if they don't step after having that conversation with them, you're better off moving on. Even if you do the bulk of the management, the others still need to play, and not even showing up is a fatal strike.
     
  3. Pietjepieter

    Pietjepieter SS.org Regular

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    be realistic, if you get older people have jobs, kids, wives, etc. leaving not enough time to practice etc.

    So if you have a band existing out of non professional musicians with a regular day job and family, than be realistic.
    * write music that everyone can play, fixes the practice problem
    * If someone doesn't show up on band practice because of kids / work / etc. accept it. don't bother, those things happen
    * make sure it is fun! people with work and family have busy life, so if you make sure the band is fun, they will be motivated and stay.

    Now this sounds a little like you it will get you now where, but it can keep a band together, staying together mesns you get better, and if it is fun people will be more motivated etc.

    If you what people to be very motivated with the same vision, try to find them but you have to find people who want to make the same music as you do, willing to inverst time etc. etc. I think that is almost impossible.

    Good luck, bands are lots of fun, but always the fucking drama :S
     
  4. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Hire people and those problems go away.

    In my experience, most people who want serious bands are in at least one already.
     
  5. Demiurge

    Demiurge Intrepid Jackass

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    Were these organizational tasks taken by OP delegated/discussed or were they simply not being done because it occurred to no one else to do them?

    There could be a mismatch in ambition which for any relationship (work or personal) is not sustainable. It's not fair to be the guy stuck with carrying everyone. At the same time, it's not fair if you're jamming causally with buddies and the new guy wants to start cracking the whip.
     
  6. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    It's like they say: out of every 10(0) bands that are formed, only one sticks together for the long term.

    I did hire a drummer a long time ago, I think circa 2010. Once the guy took the first payout, he started acting like a diva and stopped showing up for practice.

    It wasn't a small sum either, so I learnt a hard lesson: don't trust amateurs to act like professionals. That's when I started to learn how to play drums myself.

    I do have a serious band too, it's in my signature. But I don't want to put my dreams in the hands of other people, so that one remains a strictly solo project. Hoping to get some label interest in it once I am done so I can hire actual professionals.

    Still, you can't grow as a musician without playing with other musicians. So I put in the effort to actively seek out bands where I can hone my skills. Currently in one band as a vocalist and another as a drummer.



    This is how I look at it, why waste time? I was drumming for a band for a bit where I was happy not to play bandleader, but then a few sessions in, the bandleader tells me he doesn't want to play live and so I dropped out.

    So, it's not always commitment, like you said. I just wish he had said this at the first jam, not three jams later.



    You're right, always the fucking drama!

    Usually we have a few pow-wows at the time the band is getting going about what covers we want to do, and everyone picks one or two. But what's the point when someone doesn't bother learning a song for two, three sessions. Or they know the song, but didn't practice...

    Or some member drops out of practice, or someone quits the band...

    Almost feels like going back to Square One all over again at each session with some guys.



    I think one reason for it is that I like to think my time is money. I could be doing a gazillion other things instead of planning, practising and showing up for a jam on time.

    If someone else in the band feels that is unnecessary, it boils down to not respecting my time or that of the other members who showed up ready to play.

    I also do it because everyone else is often too lazy. For example, you need to book jam rooms in advance if you want to get a good one/one in the right location, because everybody has the same idea. I don't make a fuss about it, but far too often, after a jam date and time has been set, I often see a message in group chat where someone says, "Sorry, guys..." and then I have to figure out how to placate the jam room owner.

    If that happens too many times, I get a bad reputation because the jampad owner thinks I'm wasting his time and making him lose revenue. So usually, if it happens once, I tell someone else to do it next time. But they don't and then at the last minute, we don't have a jam room. So it's back to zero once again and I have to do it.
     
  7. Mprinsje

    Mprinsje st. anger ain't bad!

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    I am in multiple bands and they all seem to work. There's a couple of things that's the same in every band.

    I have known all members before the bands got started. Some I went to school with, some I got to know afterwards. But I knew I liked all these guys (and girl) before the bands got started. This is (imo) the most important thing.

    Treat it like it's fun. Let's be honest, you most likely won't be able to make a decent income playing metal (assuming you make metal, haven't checked it out). So don't treat it like your livelihood is on the line, it should be fun for everyone involved. If your band mates also think it's fun, they're likely to care more. Assuming your band members are functioning members of society, they've got a job/study and maybe have a family. They're probably doing this in their free time and want to have fun doing this.

    Lastly, going on what you're saying: maybe chill out a bit, lower your expectations and just see where it goes. Of course if someone keeps not showing up kick them out but take it easy.
     
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  8. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    I spent 5 years in a band where i'd met the singer once and my first time meeting the drummer was picking him up to drive from toronto to ottawa to practice. If everyone gets along and agrees on the goals and scheduling, you dont have to know them for years first.
     
  9. Mprinsje

    Mprinsje st. anger ain't bad!

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    That's true, but I can speak only from my own experience of course. I have never been in a band where I don't know anyone beforehand. Probably a lucky situation not everyone has.
     
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  10. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    All the bands ive been in where i knew them first didnt do as well because the level of commitment wasnt there.

    It's all about finding people committed to the goals outlined at the start. Communication about said goals is also key.
     
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  11. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    For me, the sticking point has always been when there's "homework" involved. Because I'm that guy who "doesn't learn the songs" and "doesn't practice" - and it's not because I don't want to or because I'm lazy (although I am lazy) - it's because it's homework. Jam time is for jams, home time is for none-of-anyones-beezwax. If you want people to learn songs, invite them to jams, teach them the songs. Don't hand them an assignment and tell them go off and do things for you. Involve yourself in the process if it's important to you and if you've decided you must motivate people to work for you.

    The key is not to make the process a chore for people. Optional chores don't get done. Either it's not a chore, or it's not optional, or it doesn't happen.
     
  12. VibTDog

    VibTDog who farted?

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    If this is a thing that keeps happening, maybe nobody likes what you are doing or coming up with.
     
  13. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    I dunno..musicians tend to just be pieces of shit.

    This is why I have a solo project. The live band I have are pretty good dudes but even still, my patience for fuckshit is really short.

    There's time and money put into this, so the fight someone had with their girlfriend really isn't my issue. I leave that shit out of the job so I expect everyone to do so. For the live band they have even less responsibility. All they have to do is show up on certain dates, do a thing, get paid, and leave. Some people can't follow those instructions. I don't want to constantly make allowances for inability to do a simple thing.

    That being said, you'll eventually end up finding people who want to be part of what you're doing. If you've laid the ground work and establish it, people can look at it and decide if they want to be a part.

    Oh yeah, I should also point out that there are contracts and whatnot signed and I'm very transparent about all business and whatnot.

    Everything is explained in the contract papers so everyone is on the same page and it's a partnership of sorts. You are expected to do this thing on these dates, you get paid this amount on these dates.

    You tend to attract professionals when it's presented as a business and not just some dudes jamming out.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
  14. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    after 4 or 5 bands that ended painfully , and were painful for most of the experience , I realized you just cant change anyone .Being the band dad ,getting people to to rehearsal and managing personalities is just no fun

    Music ability and taste aside, if its a stress to manage people then you may as well can it on the spot. its not going to get better with time. life's too short
     
  15. erdiablo666

    erdiablo666 I'm from Canada...and they think I'm slow...eh

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    This is an important point. If you learn best at jam then you gotta lay that down so everyone knows what to expect. I'm not that guy personally, I don't want anyone in front of me teaching me anything. Give me the chart and F-off, I'll see you later. But I've seen good dudes get shit on because they just don't learn that way.
     
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  16. buriedoutback

    buriedoutback SS.org Regular

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    I've been in numerous bands over the years and am currently in multiple 'bands'.

    IMO/IME:

    The one constant is drama. It doesn't matter where it comes from, or why (singer is an asshole, guitar player can't dedicate time, drummer wants to play rock music instead, bass player calls you a nazi, ETC). As soon as that person was cut, everything got better.
    I've tried putting up with the BS for years, I've tried talking to them about their BS, and the BS drama doesn't stop, until they're cut.

    I found that I'm more creative, more free to be creative and producing more material now that we're not dealing with people who didn't practice, or change what they play every time, or are late, ETC -- less cooks in the kitchen??

    I said 'bands' above, because in 3/4 projects I'm part of, we use ezdrummer, or backing bass tracks, ETC to replace the members that were cut, and we (so far) haven't replaced them because we're worried about the drama the next person is going to bring.
    The 4th band is (what I would consider) missing a 2nd guitar player (I play bass), but we make do.

    **none of these are serious/money making/quit my day-job bands -- which is why it's not a big deal. This is all just for fun and playing some shows once in a while**

    Buried out Back
    Nasty Bucket
    Within Nostalgia
    Falamh

    YMMV
     
  17. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    To quote Catch-22: "You think you've got problems, what about me?"

    Sure, people have their own lives and other commitments. But in a situation like that, why take on another commitment if you aren't prepared to put in the work required to make it fun for everybody else as well?

    Reminds me of college, where people want to be in a band because of the "trappings", but don't have the dedication to make sure the act works out. The sad part is that these members continue for a period of time, and then realise they don't have the time and then the whole band suffers.

    Singapore isn't like America or Europe, that's another thing you have to factor in. There's a population of about 6 million, and the actual local population is just 3 million.

    Out of that, the people who play metal is not even 0.001%. It is incredibly difficult to find members, leave alone members you know.

    That said, I have quite a large network of friends who are musicians here. I'm drumming in a band where I know all three of the other members, two Singaporeans and an Australian. And I went for an audition with a band full of members I don't know, and we've sat around drinking and shooting the shit afterwards.

    Insofar as that, it's not a personal chemistry issue.

    What helps is the guys practice beforehand, I don't want to just hobnob, I want to make music. The networking does help though, because if there is an act that is looking for a member, I can connect people.

    There's little money in metal, that's for sure. Thankfully, I have a day job, so it isn't a monetary thing. It's just having an act that won't get booed off the stage. I don't want to play "at all costs". The audience remembers.


    We always finalise the setlist before we jam. Everybody gets a say, and there's some give and take. Little point in playing music that someone/everyone doesn't like, so that's always factored in during band introductions and whatnot.

    Original material is also shared for input, feedback and criticism.

    Often, it's not the whole band either, just one person, and he drags the entire band down with him. Once that happens on a regular basis. So it might not be me, even though I suffer as a result. Might just be the other guy who doesn't show up or doesn't practice, making the whole outing an exercise in futility.

    Listen to this jam if you have time. I'm on the drums. Can't really hear the other guitarist, but the guy who is closest to the camera isn't prepared at all. Sounds really chipper though.

    https://www.instagram.com/tv/CMO9hz5DK9V/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

    https://www.instagram.com/tv/CMPLkbWDBtw/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

    I'm still in touch with the guy (he has an amp collection that is amazing), but the band collapsed specifically because it wasn't seen as feasible to go on stage after months of practice.

    I was also in a band in college that got featured in the local newspaper. Band broke up because jam sessions turned into shooting up sessions for the guitarist and bassist, and then they couldn't play for shit.

    It's not like this hasn't been tried when someone doesn't learn a song before a jam. But usually this happens across multiple jams, which is when you realise they aren't willing to put in the hard work.

    Everyone wants to be in a band. But if they're not willing to put in the hard work, forget the practices, the live show is going to be a disaster.

    In that regard, you have to be professional in your approach, if not your playing. We're all paying money for time in the jampad, I really don't see that as the place to be learning songs when there's an hourly payment involved.

    As far as writing music, those sessions are done at my place, because I have a drumkit and can handle a full band. But what's the point of writing originals if you can't even do covers?
     
  18. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade John Bohlinger's Dank Stash

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  19. RoRo56

    RoRo56 SS.org Regular

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    Interesting to see this to see someone on completely the other end of the spectrum to me! I am of the opinion that the brunt of the learning should be done at home. You should have a fairly good idea of how to play a song before you turn up to practice, then you're jamming out the music as a band. In most cases you're paying for a rehearsal spot so it's a waste of time and money to be sitting around and showing people chords or figuring out structures.
     
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  20. sleewell

    sleewell SS.org Regular

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    everyone has different goals and we are all in different locations so this varies tremendously for each person. some areas have tons of musicians and some don't.

    if you are happier on your own hoping to find the perfect band that is up to you. if you wanna try to communicate with the people you have to see if everyone wants the same thing and can work towards that goal you can try that route.

    just depends on what you what and what you are willing to put up with. in some areas it would be really easy to keep looking for new members while in others it might be pretty dry.

    set the expectations early and try to find the right way to say things when you are frustrated.
     

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