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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    You can tell she'd been practising that.
     
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  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I might very well be in the minority on it, and I can understand why people look at it as "do the work at home and be ready by the time you hit jam - rehearsal is for rehearsing not for learning". It's great in theory, and it's great for new projects, it's great when you have that momentum, but in practice I find I just can't keep that level of enthusiasm going for very long. I mean, yeah, the jam room is being paid for, there's some investment, there's some level of seriousness, but at the end of the day I know why I'm there and why I'm doing it. I set that time aside because I want to socialize and bang out some tunes, that's about it. I'm not adverse to learning new material but putting pressure or constraints on it makes it a chore. And I also know that I have a life outside of the bands and that there needs to be lines drawn, the same way you would for your job. I work during work hours, I do band things during the time set aside for bands things (ie. jam days). If I blur those lines and let any one aspect try to dictate how I spent my free time, I'm going to get really resentful of it really quick. But I get that not everyone is like that.
     
  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Hmm.

    Great topic. Very interesting to me.

    Different strokes for different folks, I think.

    Up until I was in my 30's, I always shied away from being the "band leader." I just wanted to show up and play my guitar. But bands seemed to fall into one of four categories: fun and not making money, no fun and making money, no fun and no money, or fun and profitable. Most bands I was in made money, or else were a load of fun. Sometimes they started out making money and being fun, but once they stopped being fun, they somehow continued to make money.

    Band leaders who treated the whole thing like it was a business enterprise usually (not always) sucked the fun out of it.

    My personal approach, shaped by what I tended to think worked and didn't work, once I decided to put together my own bands:
    1. Don't micromanage. Let people figure out their own gear, their own parts, their own practice routine. Judge the end result if necessary. I told people I'd be willing to work with them one-on-one at their own discretion.
    2. Book lots of gigs. Don't wait for everyone to agree on a date or whatever. Have them tell you specifically when they can't do it, and then if the dates aren't blocked out, just book it.
    3. Be consistent and communicative.

    Still, with all of that, you're bound to run into some characters. Everyone has their strengths and also baggage. You've got to ultimately be like co-workers. If you can be friends with your bandmates, things will obviously be a lot more fun. When it stops being fun, the threshold for BS drops through the floor. If you guys are making $1200 a show and it's no fun, then maybe everyone can get along for a couple hours, but if you're trying to get off the ground and someone is sucking the fun right out of it, then you're going to have to make adjustments that might be difficult in the moment, but if you know it'll be easier in the long run, do it.
     
  4. erdiablo666

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

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    To be clear: I agree with you. The "do the work at home and come prepared attitude" was drilled into me early in life, and it's served me well. But the way I see it, managing band members is managing personalities and expectations. I don't do it actively because I'm too exhausted from my day job (managing personalities) to do it. But it comes down to whether you believe a dude can pull something off and whether you want to invest the time to help him do it. Give a little, get a little. Not everything can be done on your timeline when you involve others. Does that mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater? Not necessarily. Do I get frustrated sometimes that others don't come prepared when I know factually that I have 10x more going on in my life than they do? Yeah, but that's up to me to manage my frustrations.
     
  5. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    Is there a red line in there though? I've dropped out of bands when I see they're going nowhere. This usually takes two or three sessions tops. What helps is to always be congenial, exchange numbers with bandmates and not burn bridges. Never know when another act has an opening.

    On the receiving end though, I'm not sure what motivates other people to drop out of bands. Better opportunities elsewhere? A lack of fun? Quitting music? All valid reasons, but...

    Communication is definitely key to managing any relationship, but I've seen some strange stuff. Like one time, the band goes out for a few beers and food. Time comes to split the bill and there's this one dude who says he'll pay it off and then send each of us a request for our share. Fair enough.

    But when the guy sends the bill, he's divided the bill into what each person ordered and also the tax share. Sends an Excel sheet with the calculations, which was really goofy, but okay. Then, the bassist gets annoyed that his share is much more than the others (with the exception of me, I like my beer too) and drops out of the band.

    I mean, that's farked up, it's hard enough to get members in Singapore, especially drummers and bassists. It's these kinds of incidents that I really wanted to discuss on this forum. I mean, sure, tough shit, but what the hell can I possibly do to avoid this?
     
  6. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    @nightlight that example shows the dude who paid up front will be incredibly nitpicky about who is doing how much, and will probably do "their share" and then stop instead of keep helping to get x job done. Buddy may have recognized that quickly.

    People usually leave when its not fun, especially if theres a recurring expense (jamspace).
     
  7. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    Maybe, I don't know. What if there's an alternative way to look at it, like the bassist didn't want to contribute/carry his own load when he was supposed to? The whole thing was idiotic.

    What bugs me is the waste of time, really. It's important to be professional, I always have that in mind whenever I play. Otherwise I could be just as drunk or unprepared as the next guy and waste everybody's time.

    By that I mean, have fun by all means. But one of my red lines is that the act has to be presentable to an audience. I don't care for the idea of just going out there and hoping a miracle will happen and things will happen on stage that didn't happen during practice.

    But perhaps why I keep getting roped into outfits or called and asked if I'm free to participate in a project. Still in touch with the first guy I ever played in a band with in Singapore, we just spoke the other day.

    He's out of the band business though. He's a lot younger than me, but I guess the constant struggle to put together a class act finally got to him.

    As far as I can tell, most musicians' dreams die when they can't get that line-up together.
     
  8. BenSolace

    BenSolace Divine Solace

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    I get that some people are like this but, speaking of technical music i.e. metal, whether you learn better from tabs or face-to-face, there will be difficult parts that need perfecting, possibly to a metronome. I've had to ask myself in the past if I want to be in a band with someone who doesn't actually want to play the material in their own time (and I'm the only one in the band married with kids!).

    I'm the same - in the past I've tried teaching people stuff face to face but, because of the way I write, the parts don't always repeat themselves in the way you'd expect, yet the musician is rushing ahead assuming they know the next part. If not corrected this leads to them creating muscle memory for the incorrect riff! Definitely factors in more with technical music.

    100% agree. Again, as I mentioned earlier, if someone doesn't even want to play the stuff "out of hours," then why are they in a band at all?
     
  9. Lozek

    Lozek Desk Magnetic Contributor

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    Having had to lead members from starting a band, right through to European tour support slots and festival dates, this is always the sticking point and the reason I work as a hired guitarist now instead, after 18 years of dealing with the problems that come along with it.

    When my band were looking at new members, we would undertake it almost like a job interview, to try and figure out whether the prospective members were serious enough and really make them understand what is needed to be in a regularly gigging band. Obviously this is a balancing act of what the band have to offer vs what the musician can realistically give.

    In my experience, even a good percentage of the guys who say they want to tour and come to practice fully prepared, will falter when you put a string of dates longer than around a week in front of them (ie significant impact on the holiday time they have with their family/partners for the next year). Even then, the ones who do step up and make it happen will only manage it for a year or two, if there is no progression to larger shows/tours or financial incentive.

    There's no magic bullet for any of this, you just have to be very clear what your expectations are and learn to spot the warning signs for people who won't deliver what they say they want to deliver.
     
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  10. MrWulf

    MrWulf SS.org Regular

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    Why bother with bandmates when you can be a one man band? I'm working on my EP and LP, doing everything by myself and hire ppl in areas where i needed their expertise (drum, bass, orchestral programming for example).
     
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  11. VibTDog

    VibTDog who farted?

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    Getting a band together in general is tough. I'll be honest though, it might be a lot harder in Singapore. Without googling it, I don't even know any Singaporean metal bands. I live in Massachusetts, and this place is overflowing with musicians, good and bad alike. I paid a drummer for my single. I'm paying him for my next single too. Its just easier that way, and he's a hard working drummer with an amazing resume under his belt. On top of that I don't have to compromise my vision of what I want to do, and I don't have to deal with problems like the ones you are experiencing.

    Honestly, after I stopped thinking about trying to be successful, touring, playing shows, etc., is when everything became better for me.
     
  12. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    +1 to job interviews for touring bands. Thats how we did it - informal but still an interview. We put in the time and money, so dont waste our time lol.
     
  13. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I dunno that I'd buy that (in part given that I know we know a lot of the same people). You can very rarely know what's actually going on in your bandmates lives unless you're either involved in said lives, or they volunteer that info.

    Maybe I'm different in this regard, but I've always benefited more from just playing the songs at jams once I've got the jist of it down. Following tabs is one thing, but people tend to change up their bits, the drums are never exactly the same as the way they were written, metronomes don't have the sway or pacing of a real rhythm section, etc., sometimes you end up adapting things to the little changes that other people have made -> in my head, being in a band is an inherently collaborative process, so most progress for me happens when I'm in that feedback loop of the jam.

    But I'll also admit that sometimes I'm lazy (most people are sometimes lazy), and I kind of hate tabs. Tabs immediately make the process feel like a chore. It's the one positive to not doing much guitar anymore in band situations: not having to deal with tabs.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that any expectation of learning-at-home is bad or wrong - at the end of the day it's all just management of expectations and communication and keeping people on the same page and motivated and all that kind of junk.
     
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  14. BenSolace

    BenSolace Divine Solace

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    Everyone's different and, as it's been established, it's better if all members of a band are on the same wavelength. In my case, I write absolutely everything in my band (with the exception of the drum beat intricacies, I just program the basic part and my drummer gets creative within that general pattern) as it was a solo effort at first. The rest of the guys do not wish to contribute anything, but if they did I would of course be open to it - seemingly they're quite happy to just let me get on with it at my own pace and learn/rehearse/gig the stuff.

    We're not really the improvisational type as gigs are "on rails" (click track with other shit in the background) and, as with a lot of modern metal, how it's recorded is how it's played as everything fits together by design.

    I'm unbelievably lucky to work with the musicians I have (they're also close friends). I've been in bands before where people wanted to write stuff and contribute just to say that they had done so, rather than because they had something they thought was gold.

    Oh, and I'm super lazy - I've been stuck on the mixing stage of our debut for the better part of 2yrs now as I just hate the engineering side of recording songs but can't relinquish control of that process to someone else (also, money... I don't have much of it!).
     
  15. nightlight

    nightlight SS.org Regular

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    A bit of an aside here, but as far as my solo project, I have the same feeling about getting someone to mix: it usually costs a lot of money, though I've also heard that the results are worth it if you get the right people involved.

    One thing is that a fresh set of ears is invaluable. A professional would not know your song as well as you do, so he'd try to play up the bits that you already know in your head, but no one else would hear if he didn't bring it up or something else down. Basically, being too familiar with the material means you hear all the little details in your head, but no one else would know what to listen for.

    In my case though, I'm really not looking to self-publish, given my social media skills. More interested in trying to put together a demo to try and attract a label. If nothing pans out, I really would have to explore my options but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. That might include getting a professional mixing and mastering job, then a distro deal minus streaming options.

    To be honest, I was just about done with recording my project and was set to mix and then the pandemic occurred and I was completely demotivated by the thought of playing guitar or sitting in front of my computer. Probably dumb luck I hadn't embarked on a life on the road, it would have been humiliating to return home to stare at the walls, given that some of the biggest bands these days have to keep a side job.

    To top it off, I realised how lazy I was being when it came to singing and playing the songs - while I could do it with four of the tunes, I found with the other four, unless I refined my lyrics and stripped them to the point where the delivery was convincing, it would just be faking it and I'd be busted if I tried to do it live. Not a huge catastrophe, I just need to practice harder.

    Still not in a good headspace, so I think I might re-record again as well, given that the first time I thought recording everything from end-to-end would yield a far more lively sound and only punched in when I screwed up. I think it might be better to record in sections so that it is tighter when I quad track the guitars.

    I also keep thinking: "play the drums, play the drums, play the drums". And I might, but have you ever tried to record by yourself? Set up a pre-click, click play, run to the drum throne and try and adjust yourself in the right position, and just as the song starts you drop your sticks?

    All those issues are what pushed me out of the house post-lockdown to jam with people and prompted this thread.
     
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  16. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade John Bohlinger's Dank Stash

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    Oh. Mechanevil. I thought that said Mechan Full.
     
  17. brector

    brector SS.org Regular

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    I thought it was Merhon Full
     
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  18. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    TL;DR - being in a band is like 5 girlfriends, and communication from the outset is key

    It's been said, but the biggest thing is to make sure everyone is one the same page. If you're expecting people to learn songs at home, they need to know what from day one. Same goes for if you expect to be doing any touring, what kind of timeline you're looking at for playing shows, everyone's individual financial expectations , etc. I'm also someone that expects people to do the bare minimum of research and rehearsal outside of practice, because if we have three-four hours a week to get our music tight, I don't want to spend half that time waiting for people to get done socializing or showing one member a section over and over again. It's a waste of my time, and really a waste of everyone's time. It also doesn't do any good to just "put up" with someone being a drag to everyone else. As soon as something is an issue, say something.
     
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  19. VibTDog

    VibTDog who farted?

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    I thought it was Mechon Full
     
  20. erdiablo666

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

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    I'm not talking about you though ;)
     

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