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So we made a business decision...


TrickyBoy

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We are playing our biggest gig to date this Saturday. It's a tent outside of one of the most popular bar on the LSU campus. We start immediately following LSU's first home game. The tent is 60x60 and the pics I saw from last year, the thing will be mobbed with tons of overflow outside. Over 1000 people in total

 

After our last gig, when we were settling up with the owner, he gave us a substantial raise (like 30%) moving forward, with the following caveat, "You gonna need to bring more PA from now on." These shows are all outdoors and in truth, we were underpowered.

 

Our initial reaction was to just hire a sound guy with our raise but then I got to thinking about it.

 

We have a decent PA system and have played to clubs with 250+ and even done some outdoor gigs with no real complaints. However we did have a few deficiencies:

 

1. No Crossover, we were using the one built into the amp. In hind site, this was our biggest deficiency.

2. Inadequate subs. Our mains are pretty decent, but the subs just couldn't hold up.

3. Inadequate amp for powering the subs

4. Didn't mic all the drums, so I would hear that people in the back struggled to hear the drums.

 

So... In thinking of it further, I got to talking to a soundguy who has done the tent in the past about what he brings to those shows. Then I went shopping:

 

Found two nice used Dual 18" Subs (each has 2 18" Peavey LowRiders) with a power amp that can really push them.

Bought a used crossover (the best $115 I've ever spent)

Our drummer actually had a drum mic kit, he just lost the clips and the cables, so I bought those.

 

Here's the catch, if you will. The way we paid for it is we took our band fund (a few hundred bucks), then for our last show and this upcoming show we each took a $100 a person paycut (total of $1K). So, now the "band" owns about 50% of our PA system. I fronted the money from this upcoming show and will get it back on Saturday.

 

The rational was this: The cost of this was about the same as 4-5 nights of renting the sound guy (round here the going rate is $350). We play this club once a month and they are already booking us through next year. So, we'll basically make our money back by early next year. Additionally, we're looking to break into the frat party scene, and many of these are outdoor events, where we'd still need additional power.

 

I know common wisdom is "Don't buy stuff as a band, because when the band breaks up blah blah blah". I get that to a point, but to me, we have a manager who runs sound, so why throw good money after bad renting someone else's stuff when we can buy our own and be self sufficient.

 

IDK, maybe I'm crazy, but it made sense to me.

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My first gigging band, many years ago, had no PA. Giving all our gig money to a sound guy got old fast. We decided to invest in a PA. I put everything except a few mics on a credit card and took a percentage of our gig money to pay it off. It worked out fine for us.

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I've never had a problem with the band-owned-gear thing. In my experience, if you go into the deal professionally, you can get out of it professionally.

 

I've done it twice. Both times with the caveat that if you quit the band, you lose whatever investment you might have made; if you get fired, we'll buy you out.

 

First time went just fine. Band was together ten years, we bought a ton of PA, lights, and a truck during that time. At the end of the band there were four of us still "invested" in it and we sold what we could of the lights and PA and split the revenue. Stuff loses a lot of value anyway after years on the road. AFIAK the all-but-dead truck is still sitting in the bass player's father-in-law's empty desert lot outside of Las Vegas.

 

Working under the same premise with this band. So far no problems. We've got stuff we're buying all the time to add to the project: more lights, more PA, backdrops, drum head with logo, etc etc etc. Plus there are on going expenses for promotion, fees, repairs, etc. Makes more sense just to take some money off the top of gigs and pay for all that stuff rather than figure out who's going to pay for what and who owns what. Last thing I need is some guy quitting and saying "Oh yeah, that backdrop is MINE. And so is that crossover. And these six mic cables..."

 

Better to just say "what belongs to the band stays with the band" and at whatever-point-in-time the band is finished, deal with the cleanup then.

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Jason,

 

5 years ago this month we came to the same decision. Our woefully underpowered, band contributed' (each band member donated a hodgepodge of gear) PA went down again for the 3rd time in a 9 month period-this time with bad pots on the mixer. Easily making more than $1000 per show we knew we couldn't hold the business back without A)replacing our entire PA or B)hiring a sound guy at $250 per popto run sound at our shows. The decision wasn't hard at all... we spent $6K on a brand new PA, mixer, snake, and rack case. At the time one member had a sizable home equity out. We paid in full and the band took $6K shows (less than 3 months) and paid off the loan. That PA has covered us for more than 350 shows and in that time two members quit and another fired. Like Guido suggested the guy we fired we bought out. We did the same a year later spending $12,000 on a van and trailer to haul everything. Over the years the band has spent $2k on lights, $1k on cases. My contribution for those investments was probably $4k... all paid through gig earnings. A mere pittence compared to what I made. It was a wothy investment and I consider the PA, van, lights all tools to help get the job done.

 

Last year we used that PA to perform at a small civic arena. A 4600 watt system filled comfortably a 7500 ft space (15,000 sq ft arena space cut in half). http://Boo Ball 2009

This was just two tops and two subs.

 

You won't regret it... as long as everyone's on the same page! Have a great show!:thu:

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Tricky, you aren't gonna run all that from the stage are you? You have an out front guy, right? That much pa, run from the stage is a recipe for disaster....

 

No, we ain't crazy. We have a manager who we consider a member of the band. One of his duties is that he's our sound guy. I tried from the stage once.... ONCE! It was a miserable failure. :facepalm:

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Tricky, you aren't gonna run all that from the stage are you? You have an out front guy, right? That much pa, run from the stage is a
recipe for disaster
....

 

IF you don't know what you're are doing.:) I run sound from stage at about 90% of our gigs. We are using 15 inputs on the board and using as many as 6 subs and 6 main speakers. You need to be wireless to do this correctly so you can walk off the stage and into the audience to hear. It is a compromise and a band will always sound better with a good soundman.

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IF you don't know what you're are doing.
:)
I run sound from stage at about 90% of our gigs. We are using 15 inputs on the board and using as many as 6 subs and 6 main speakers. You need to be wireless to do this correctly so you can walk off the stage and into the audience to hear. It is a compromise and a band will always sound better with a good soundman.

 

Emmanual Kant said "A true genius knows what he knows, and does not know what he does not know"

 

Now I'm not saying I'm a genius, and I can run sound OK from the FOH, but I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a damn thing about trying to run sound from the stage. So I don't try. :lol:

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No, we ain't crazy. We have a manager who we consider a member of the band. One of his duties is that he's our sound guy. I tried from the stage once.... ONCE! It was a miserable failure.
:facepalm:

 

Cool. Sounds like you guys are working pretty regular, so do wheresgrant3's idea. Get a loan and get the PA you need. And don't skimp. It seems scary to take a loan, but you are working regular. $2500 buys a lot of p.a. and you can have it paid off in 6 months! Come up with a plan for the band to buy it, and if someone leaves, you pay them 65% (devaluation) of what they have in it to buy them out. YOu got a guy to run it, so design it to be efficient, clean, flexible and powerful, and eventually, PAID FOR. And use these LSU gigs as the spring board. Now is your chance.

 

Better sound, ALWAYS leads to better gigs. Never seen it NOT happen.

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Cool. Sounds like you guys are working pretty regular, so do wheresgrant3's idea. Get a loan and get the PA you need. And don't skimp. It seems scary to take a loan, but you are working regular. $2500 buys a lot of p.a. and you can have it paid off in 6 months! Come up with a plan for the band to buy it, and if someone leaves, you pay them 65% (devaluation) of what they have in it to buy them out. YOu got a guy to run it, so design it to be efficient, clean, flexible and powerful, and eventually, PAID FOR. And use these LSU gigs as the spring board. Now is your chance.


Better sound, ALWAYS leads to better gigs. Never seen it NOT happen.

 

 

Thanks man. Basically that's what we did, except I fronted the money.

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I tend to find that the musicians who are wary of full band investment are usually the ones that don't treat the band fully as a business. And there's nothing wrong with that. However, would you start a landscaping business if everyone bought their own lawn mower? Sure maybe to start... but as time goes on, and the jobs get bigger and more people are hired to cover the work do you still try to shell out of your own pocket equipment for others to use? Probably not. I understand why some bands want to keep equipment ownership seperate, but I'd guess that most (not all) are just in it for the weekend hobby, not for the income they can earn.

 

For us, group ownership really solidified us as a group... after that point we were financially obligated to one another. I'm not saying that someone didn't offer a dissenting opinion... however squabbles about personal likes and dislikes didn't seem to channel the band in one direction or the other after that point. At the time we made that decision we had a few things going for us... #1-we had been together a few years... so the lineup was stable. 2nd- We had a calendar full of future dates and decent buzz behind the band. #3- We were increasing our pay at regular intervals. So the time was right to make the investment... we were confident that we could pay the debt quickly without significantly impacting our income. For us as a band, that decision was pretty transformational for us.

 

It sounds like you are right at that stage Jay.

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My Brother,

 

I have a mid sized PA that I own and the band uses. JBL single 15" tops and single 18" subs. It's sized for medium clubs or a small outside gig. Works great most of the the time. When we need a bigger rig, we call in the pros; Premiere Sound. Any size rig we may need with a good engineer! Makes life easier.

 

It all started when some of the guys didn't think my rig would cut it for an outside gig. I asked, "Well it's time for ya'll to kick in for more equipment" to which I received a quite silent response!

 

Bigger gigs need bigger rigs with experienced engineers!

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I tend to find that the musicians who are wary of full band investment are usually the ones that don't treat the band fully as a business. ...

 

that might be a reflection of the band more than the band member.

 

some bands are more of a business than others.

 

some bands i would trust, others i would not.

 

:evil:

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