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  • Bandleader telling me how to think..

    Hi, I wanted to get feedbacks from other musicians about a band issue I've been having.

    I recently had a band meeting with a band I am involved with.. basically the leader wanted to gauge where everyone was at in terms of commitment. He wanted us to be very frank about it too. I basically told him that right now I am doing this because it's fun, and I understand that he is really pushing for the band to "make it" , and I see this as an investment for something better to come in the future. But I also told him that we are getting paid little considering how much time we spend on rehearsal/individual preparation, and I can't see myself doing this 2-3 years from now on if things don't improve.

    At that point the bandleader got really annoyed at me, and started telling me that I was being negative, and my thoughts shouldn't even go there. His point was that things have already improved a lot(which it did) and I don't have any reason to think things won't go anywhere in the future. He said that kind of thinking affects the overall vibe and it's seriously affecting his ability to work with me.

    As far as I am concerned, I see this as having different perspective and outlook in life. Maybe this is my background in Eastern Philosophy speaking, but I try not to get too attached to particular outcome whenever I get involved in things. I understand and accept all outcome, including things not working out as I expected. As far as I am concerned,, life as a musician, and life in general is very transient..bands and band members come and go. Besides, even the best musicians are known to have backup plans if their music careers/band didn't work out. I don' think it's there is anything wrong with that.

    On the other hand my bandleader comes from "If you believe hard enough and work hard for it, you will get there" school of thought. For him this is his calling and there is no other way. I definitely respect his relentless conviction and the work he puts into it... But it kind of irks me that he wants everyone to feel the same way about the band. I've done my share of booking and getting opportunities for the band, and I've definitely given to this band way more than I would have for other bands. So i really don't know what to say or do when the bandleader tells me that how I think is affecting the vibe. It's not like I am counting on the band to not succeed.

    My question is how important is it for a band to be same page when it comes to things like this? I am starting to think maybe I am holding the band back and maybe i am not doing the band justice because I don't share that kind of conviction(but then again I don't know who would be willing to commit as much as any of the band member is right now considering how little we get paid for the amount of work we do).

    I've worked with a lot of bands and frankly I don't mind different perspective/attitude as long as we are working towards common goal. Everything kind of starts with "let's try it and see where it goes",and you can't make people believe in it...there is always uncertainty IMO that kind of conviction only comes in time.


  • #2

    Just curious ..... how old are the folks involved?

    The SpaceNorman

    www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
    www.souldoutrocks.com

    Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
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    • etcetra
      etcetra commented
      Editing a comment

      Anywhere from late 20s to early 40s, the band leader being the youngest. 


      Just to clarify, in terms of what we are getting paid it's certainly not worth it.  I'm talking about having to transcribe/learn at least 10 new tunes each gig, 20+hrs of prep/rehearsal time(most of that time are rehearsal time) for a gig that pays less than $200. Where I live most gig that pays that much requires fraction of prep time.

      So I don't think it's unusual for anyone to wonder if their commitment/investment will pay off.  This has coincided with me getting a lot more work recently, so I am concerned that at one point, the time committment will take a toll on my ability to do other work. The other band members have already expressed concernes about not having time to do his own band too.

      To bandleader's credit, he is doing everything he can to network and make a name for himself.  He has gotten support&backing from well known local artists/producers..etc..and we are doing a lot better now than ever.   And He is VERY determined... he says he is going to make this happen no matter what, even if it means having to sleep in his car for a while.  I guess he has this kind of relentless drive to pursue is calling that you see on people like Oprah or something.   But the bottom line is, it's really up to air just how much this band is going to take off at this point.

      I definitely see a split in everyone's commitment too.  Some of the band members have gone as far as cancelling other money gigs and ended up having trouble paying rent.  I can't afford to do that myself.

      Also, just to be clear.  I told him I am willing to commit and see how things will go for now.. but he just wasn't happy with the fact that I thought the future of the band will be anything other than success.


  • #3

    etcetra wrote:

    On the other hand my bandleader comes from "If you believe hard enough and work hard for it, you will get there" school of thought. For him this is his calling and there is no other way.

     

    ...he wants everyone to feel the same way about the band.


    People like this either become huge stars or nobodies, unfortunately. In my experience, they end up pushing away their band mates. It's great when a band comes together with that type of passion, but those who are more pragmatic and have a back-up plan tend to... not... click... with those types quite so much.

    It's admirable what your singer is doing, but thinking everyone he plays with will be in the same boat isn't realistic. Sometimes you find those who share your kindred spirit, and sometimes you work with people for as far as they'll go. It's up to you to determine where you want to end up and how much you're willing to take. It sounds to me like you're on the fence, and I don't blame you -- I chased the dream, but I had a good back-up plan which I now live, and I'm happy.

    There's a good "is it worth it?" question to ask yourself, and only you can answer it. Good luck!

    Music, music, I hear music

    Comment


    • etcetra
      etcetra commented
      Editing a comment
       
      Thanks, yea, I agree, and I will have to come to conclusion about "is it worth it" part very soon. I do like to see where it goes.. after all this project is realtively new, but I'm thinking perhaps I am not being fair and maybe they ought to be finding someone who share the same kind of conviction(but considering the lack of local talent and the amount of time that is  required of this band, it's going to be very difficult)
       
      For me that kind of passion isn't something you ask for but, something that happens naturally over time... at least it's been that way for most bands I've ben involved with.  I played in another band where the members met through other pick-up gigs and we decided to do something together.  We stuck with it long enough and we are at a point where we are playing regularly and getting money for it.  I don't think any one of us had any real expectations about what this band will be like when we started and I'm sure everyone had their reservations&doubts too.

  • #4

    etcetra wrote:

    basically the leader wanted to gauge where everyone was at in terms of commitment. He wanted us to be very frank about it too. I basically told him that right now I am doing this because it's fun, and I understand that he is really pushing for the band to "make it" , and I see this as an investment for something better to come in the future. But I also told him that we are getting paid little considering how much time we spend on rehearsal/individual preparation, and I can't see myself doing this 2-3 years from now on if things don't improve.

    At that point the bandleader got really annoyed at me, and started telling me that I was being negative, and my thoughts shouldn't even go there.

    My question is how important is it for a band to be same page when it comes to things like this?

    I've worked with a lot of bands and frankly I don't mind different perspective/attitude as long as we are working towards common goal.


    I think the bandleader did the right thing by wanting to gauge everyone's level of commitment (he probably sensed some dissension which is why he scheduled the meeting) and I can understand him being annoyed when finding out not everyone is on the same page he is.  But unfortunately for him, that's life. 

    How important is it for everyone to be on the same page?  Well, I think it's pretty important.  Ideally, and historically, the best bands and those with the most longevity are those where every member wants the same thing out of the band and works towards the same common goal.   When bands eventually split up or change members -- whether it be for "personal" or "creative differences" or whatever -- that's just another way of saying everyone is no longer on the same page and the band no longer provides the same path to their personal goals that it once did.

    But more important than everyone being on the exact same page is that the band be able to provide the same amount of pleasure and ability to reach personal goals for everyone in the band.   Maybe you don't all want to spend your last dying musical breath playing on stage with THIS band---that's fine.  But as long as it's the best band RIGHT NOW for everyone in the band, that should be good enough. 

    But if somebody in the band hates the material, or the type of gigs, or the money while somebody else thinks all those things are perfect---then obviously it can't possibly be the best band for everyone involved.

    Your bandleader is expecting too much if he expects everyone to love it all as much as he does.  Especially if there is a lot of time/effort-for-little-money being expended.  If he wants to keep everyone interested and "on page" he needs to set up realistic goals that everyone in the band wants to achieve together.  "We're gonna make a lot of money....someday..." might not be enough.

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    • Lee Knight
      Lee Knight commented
      Editing a comment

      guido61 wrote:
       If he wants to keep everyone interested and "on page" he needs to set up realistic goals that everyone in the band wants to achieve together.  "We're gonna make a lot of money....someday..." might not be enough.

       

      Right, I agree.

      Whenever I see the phrase "make it", it sets of an alarm for me. Making it is far too nebulous. And nebulous goals are never attained. Maybe someone might stumble across the goal of making it. But more often, goals are attained in steps. We're gonna write, arrange and release a GREAT single in our genre that will stand up with the best. We'll get it up on iTunes and gig to support it.

       

      That's a big goal, but a real one. We're going to take a gig in Hamburg and play 8 hour sets on speed until our fingers bleed. That's real. We're going to be the best party/cover band in Racine, WI. That a big goal too... but it is a real goal.

       

      You have to do real things in order to achieve real success. "Making it" is a fairy tale and a guarantee for heartache..


    • etcetra
      etcetra commented
      Editing a comment
       

       

      That's a really good question.  I touched upon this on "How many new songs will you learn for your next gig?" .. basically he wants to make it as someone who does mostly original music.  Bur right now his strategy is to collaborate with other artists and us playing their songs and doing some covers with them.  So each new gigs we have to transcribe&learn 12-14 new arrangement from scracth, which makes it very impractical in terms of $ we are getting for the work we put in  These well known artists and producers like what we do wants to collaborate with us, and I was told they want to set up bigger shows.. But right now the only thing that is certain is our next gig at this small venue.  Nothing else is set in stone.  But I do get the vibe that the audiecnce are there for the guests and our material are too artsy for the crowd..

       
       
      I agree, and I made it clear to him that I'm cool with doing this RIGHT NOW.  But I also made it clear that depending on how things turn out in the future I might not feel the same way.   He was bothered by the fact  that I didn't think the future would be anything other than success.
       
      I also agree about the importance of being on the same page, but doesn't that come with time though?   The band recently rebooted after taking an 1 year haitus, and things do seem to be a lot better(thanks largely to bandleaders networking and what not), but we are still at it's infancy stage, and there really isn't any sufficent sign that it's going to take off like he claims.  The only thing we are sure of at this moment is the next gig in may, and another gig I booked later this year.  There is talk of touring but nothing set in stone yet.  Things are better but I don't see really momemtum coming in our way.
       
      I am a little puzzled with his inconsistancies too.  He made a lot of bold claims when we started playing before the haitus and goals were not met.  Now he is telling me he never made those claims.  He also have said that he wants to move on from the current venue to something bigger after we did 2 shows.  We are playing our 4th gig in the same veneue in the next few month.
       
      Also about your 4th paragraph, I guess couple of the members are kind of on the fence too.  We've made some concession about the material we do(please refer to what I wrote to New Trail) to promote ourselves, but all of us (including the bandleader) feel that some of the stuff we do for the guests are real drag and not our thing.  Now I understand that we are doing this as part of business move before we are "big enough" to do our on thing, but it certainly has dampened our enthusiasm for it.  One of the band member actually thanked me for bringing it up with him, because he was new to the band and was too afraid to say how he felt.
       
      So I guess bottom line is that we are spending A LOT Of time learning, and working gigs where we get paid little doing stuff we mostly don't care for...with the hopes that "We're gonna make a lot of money(and do what we want)....someday..." . 

  • #5

    When it comes to assessing the commitment of band members - I pretty much ignore anything that gets said and focus solely on what a bandmate does.    Give me a band mate who displays the following behaviors:

    •  Responds quickly to email, text message and phone calls
    •  Shows up on time for all band activities.
    •  Shows up for all band activities prepared for the activity (i.e., has obviously done their homework prior to rehearsal, has done their homework prior to gigs, has all the gear they were expected to have with them, etc.)
    •  Is engaged in band activities (i.e., moves with a purpose during load-in, setup, teardown and load-out; remains focused and on task during rehearsals). 
    •  Contributes their thoughts and opinions on matters involving the band (i.e., song selection, wardrobe, etc.) - and takes it in stride (i.e., no tantrums) if/when the group decision doesn't always go their way.
    •  In "part time" band situations - is open and honest about their other projects,  and maintains an obvious "first come, first served" policy about their commitments.  
    •  Says what they will / will not do - and then does what they said! 

    I'll happily work with a bandmate who consistently displays these behaviors over a bandmate who wants to talk about how much they love the band, how committed they are, etc. - yet does NOT display the behavior I've outlined above. 

    Way too many bands are filled with guys who talk the game - and worse, are focused on making sure that everybody around them talks the game too.   Screw that!   If you stay focused on behavior and action - the "drama" associated with talking the game simply evaporates.

    The SpaceNorman

    www.facebook.com/SuperstarsOfRock
    www.souldoutrocks.com

    Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
    Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
    Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s

    Comment


    • Lee Knight
      Lee Knight commented
      Editing a comment

      SpaceNorman wrote:

      When it comes to assessing the commitment of band members - I pretty much ignore anything that gets said and focus solely on what a bandmate does.    Give me a band mate who displays the following behaviors:

      •  Responds quickly to email, text message and phone calls
      •  Shows up on time for all band activities.
      •  Shows up for all band activities prepared for the activity (i.e., has obviously done their homework prior to rehearsal, has done their homework prior to gigs, has all the gear they were expected to have with them, etc.)
      •  Is engaged in band activities (i.e., moves with a purpose during load-in, setup, teardown and load-out; remains focused and on task during rehearsals). 
      •  Contributes their thoughts and opinions on matters involving the band (i.e., song selection, wardrobe, etc.) - and takes it in stride (i.e., no tantrums) if/when the group decision doesn't always go their way.
      •  In "part time" band situations - is open and honest about their other projects,  and maintains an obvious "first come, first served" policy about their commitments.  
      •  Says what they will / will not do - and then does what they said! 

      I'll happily work with a bandmate who consistently displays these behaviors over a bandmate who wants to talk about how much they love the band, how committed they are, etc. - yet does NOT display the behavior I've outlined above. 

      Way too many bands are filled with guys who talk the game - and worse, are focused on making sure that everybody around them talks the game too.   Screw that!   If you stay focused on behavior and action - the "drama" associated with talking the game simply evaporates.


       

      Well, that cuts right to the chase. Perfect.

       

      For instance... I've been seriously and diligently writing and producing songs for the modern country market. It's a lot of work and I'm getting better and moving closer to both placement opportunities and a publishing agreement. And I'm working my ass off to not suck at it.

       

      I have an old bandmate best friend. I've known him since high school. Every time he hears something I'm working on he says, "We gotta get together and write!" OK. And then he'll strum out some half realized chord pattern. No actual work has gone into this "idea" of his. So... cowriting means I write your song for you? Naw. I love him and I know he means no harm, but he doesn't have the slightest notion how much WORK is involved. And yet he talks still about MAKING IT. He's 56. And can't finish a 1st draft of a song idea. You ain't gonna make it with me...

       

      He talks commitment though.

       

      Meanwhile I'm quietly working an additional 8 hours a day on top of my corporate marketing day gig. Concrete goals. Small steps and lots of them. Without stopping to talk about it. 


  • #6
    Yes yes ditto! I get slammed because im not available for a practice date but the long time members have bowling of softball on other nites
    I lose auditions because i want to remain a free lancer keyboardist not "join the band". Only to find out join the band commitment excluded the band leaders out of Town business trips the bass players socker dad time etc.
    Commitment seems to be one way trip

    Comment


    • etcetra
      etcetra commented
      Editing a comment

      Yea, after reflecting on this for couple of days, I am thinking I might need to take some steps soon. I am definitely in a different place now.  It was cool last year because I was still networking and I wasn't getting much in the way of gigs, but things started to really pick up this year.

      The problem right now is that I did book a pretty big gig later this year for the band, and since the person in charge of the event hired mostly because of me(they know what kind of work I do, but they dont know anything about the other members of the band), we would risk losing the gig if I opt out of it.  I am going to set the deadline around that gig.  If this problem surfaces again between now and then, and if I don't see the band moving to bigger and better things then I am ready to leave this thing.

      I do love working with these guys, and musically it can be one of the most exciting thing going for me.  Heck it will be great if things picked up for this band and I can turn down other gig to do this(both financially and musically), but I am not counting on it.


  • #7
    LOL Been there done that, several times, unfortunately some folks are just so focused on "making it" and have such strong feelings about it that they can't see any other vision but theirs and get angry if anyone disagrees with them about anything or has a different point of view...IMHO there's nothingn you can do to change these people, and depending on what their worldview is and how far delusional they are there's really no working with these people, it only gets worrse and worse, and if they think you;'re not on the same page with them 110% they will most likely replace you with someone that they think is in a heartbeat,...
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