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I believe the band has "hit the wall"


Yer Blues

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After our last gig we had a band meeting... basically laying out everyone's expectations at this point. We get along very well, but it seems like every one's expectations are quite different in regards mainly to money. We're basically stuck at bar band level, along with the majority of bands in the area.

 

Two members state this isn't worth it and they'd prefer to play 1-2 times a month... or however often they can get the pay they want. The band leader and myself agree that sense there's really nothing to seperate us from the pack, these are the only gigs we are going to get. Despite this, no effort has been made to make any changes to the setlist, invest in the band, etc, etc.

 

Although I don't really like the results, I think it was a good discussion to get it in the open. It seems like it will be difficult to keep everyone happy and if the guys won't play, they won't play... there's no really any way around it.

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There isn't room at the top for everyone who wants to be there. Sometimes you have to face the facts that your act isn't the best in town and either be happy with what you have or get everyone on the same page moving in a direction that leads to greater success.

 

The band I play in will never be at the top and I am fine with that. We play as much as I want to and our pay has gone up a bit this last year and we have gotten booked for some cool events.

 

With a full time job I am just not driven enough to achieve the rank of one of the top bands.

 

Max

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work within your limits and compromise.

 

With us I feel we are doing a very slow crawl to some higher paying gigs but that's how it is. we have been around for 7 1/2 years gigging usually 2-3X per month. Me personally, I would love to gig more and I think if we did these high paying jobs would come faster...

 

that is not going to happen with us because of some of the other guys' jobs and family life. Since I love playing with these guys I am not going to rock the boat that much. It's all about compromise. :thu:

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It's always tough trying to get people who mesh musically, AND are on the same page with their goals. I've left many bands because I wanted more than they did. It happens.

 

Like Jeff and Max said, you can compromise, and be happy with what you have, or you can look for another project with similar goals and move on (if you can't get the guys you're with now to move forward). Just keep your eyes out for a good opening in a more driven-for-success band.

 

Good luck man...

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I think I just finally realized I should look for an additional band to play with. The gigs are there, but it looks like in this current situation the group as a whole are not willing to do the work to get them. For example, we play somewhere and get no crowd reaction. It seems to me the logical choice would be to make some changes in the setlist. If people find the songs boring, maybe the material needs to be changed or updated.

 

I have a hard time justifying to myself paying for promo stuff, which I think would benefit us the most, when the other members don't think it would be worthwhile, I don't have input as to the setlist, and the band was already established prior to me joining (I was a replacement). With the little input I have, I don't feel like it's worth my time other than to show up and play. No one else seems to feel any different and they "invested" more into it than I have.

 

Thanks for the additional perspectives.

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If I've learned anything hanging out on this board, it's that there's no right answer in terms what your goals for your band should be. For some people, playing to 20 of their buddies in a little bar once a month is all they want. For others, it's playing 15 times a month and making a career out of music. What you see as "hitting the wall" your band mates may see as "reaching their goal".

 

All you can do is start looking for like-minded musicians.

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It's quite simple. The bands that float to the top do so because they put in the efforts, making set list, song changes, creating a visual brand which is consistent to the genre and style of the band, creating a solid SHOW with choreographed moves (for example- everyone jumping in tandem) and other flashy or participatory events during songs, and last, but not least: playing the *right* gigs and not playing the wrong ones (knowing comes with experience, and LOTS of HOMEWORK!).

 

I know several bands that do that well, now.. if only ONE of them had an opening... :p

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a lot also depends on where you are, the type of music, etc.

If you are geezers playing classic rock in a college town, guess what?

If you are all Gen Xers playing in Leisure World, guess what?

If there are 20 decent venues in the area, and 100 bands, then the venues win; they pick the best and you need to keep a competitive edge, rotate in new material regularly, better stage act, tighter arrangements...in other words, all the things that you would expect when you pay to see a band :thu:

As the new guy, you should be allowed to push the more complacent guys a little toward shaping up the act, or it may be time to roll on.

On the flip, several years back I came to the conclusion that playing every week for gas money was not the way to do it. I did about 90% of the booking, and it was a lot of work keeping us working. We had some very good paying gigs, not many, but they paid really well. And we had a bunch of low paying gigs where we always had to really sweat just to get the room moving....once we did, we owned the room, but some nights it was like pulling teeth.

I finally called the meeting and said, 'I won't do the crap gigs anymore. I don't see why I should spend te nhours a week getting gigs, then haul gear, set up/tear down for a couple of free beers and what I would earn in an hour or two on my day job. I mean, I love to play, but I actually know I am worth more than I can make playing clubs, so why do it anymore?'

Everyone in the band looked at me and basically said 'thanks, we all felt that way, but didn't know how to say it...'

So now we do private work, get paid well, treated well...but we don't play all that often.

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getting everybody on the same page has always been the biggest hurdle for the bands i have been in. in our area, our band is not at the very top, but right next to it. we get great gigs, make really good money, but i think we are not meshing enough promotionally as we do musically. i dont see any bands in our area who play the music as good as we do or sound as good as we do. our sound man and i own a sound company and provide sound for festivals and other bands and have been for years, we have excellent equipment, knowledge, and experience so sound is not a problem. all of us are pretty accompished musicians in my opinion. i just dont think we are professional enough and it shows. i believe the things we need to change could easily be remedied, but what if you piss somebody off, and they want to quit, or would you rather just stay where your at and try to be happy. musicians are not a dime a dozen where i live. although, we never have had a real problem replacing anybody because of popularity i guess. the visual aspect of our band lacks because one member thinks because we play the songs well that should move us up, but in reality, you need to look like your having fun, move around, and dress like your in a band, at least that what the top bands are doing. also, in between songs when our singer is talking to the crowd, there goes the guitar noodling and it is driving me insane! i am going to have to say something, i just dont want to come off wrong with it! i know this is a very discussed issue on here, i just havent gotten the gumption up to deal with it yet! it is too the point that our soundman even pulls the guitar fader down between songs! i know i need to address this. also, when its time to load up, its time to load up. quit talking and get to work. just tired of having to tell people what to do. we do 50+ shows a year, everybody should know by now. just unprofessionalism. i thought about asking our booking agent to come to a few more shows and act as a band manager and just say what he thinks, maybe somebody from outside the band would be better? i dont know. i would rather play fewer gigs for more money than be stuck in the same bars for the next 10 years. i handle all the work between agent, clubs, and all that stuff, plus drive the 24' truck to every gig, handle most the promotional stuff on the internet, repair the truck when necessary, repair gear, and operate a full time business that is open 6 days a week and a wife and two kids. just wonder if it worth it sometimes. i love the extra money, but our soundman and i could make just as much running sound as we do gigging, but gigging is more fun. i dont know! i got to do something though!

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Lots of great advice in this thread...

 

Managing a band successfully is a challenge. We started as a side project... gelled as a cover band, made decisions and investments along the way that paid dividends down the road. You have to have the right mix of players with the right attitudes, and eventually you need to focus on the 'business' first and the band second. Regionally (3-4 states) we gig 10-12 times a year to just maintain the rooms we've built, but locally we've established ourselves as the premier cover band in the area. And that's fine for us. We're first call on any major events, clubs call us ( instead of us calling them), our calendar is full 9 months in advance with a waiting list and we make great pay. But it's continually investment, decision making and consensus. I'm sure many bands believe they are worth more... we know exactly what we are worth. And when you can set your own price that pleases both the clubowner and the people in the band with room to grow then you are on your way. As the business builds so will your income. And the more you bring to the table the more your pay has the opportunity to grow.

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I think a lot of the frustration that I see from other bands stems from the fact there are certain aspects of building a successful band that just take time and can't be short-cut. The most important one IMO is building a reputation and a following. If you have talented like-minded individuals you can rather quickly put together a very good band and get into a lot of good rooms.

 

However, just like advertising, building a reputation and a following takes time. People generally need to see you quite a few times before they begin "seeking you out". So, a good talented band can rise to a certain level rather quickly, but they are going to find breaking that plateau a long process that takes a lot of determination.

 

Down here, there are three tiers of cover bands.

 

1. The lowest tier are the bands playing at 50 or so establishments that pay $300-$600 a night.

2. The middle tier are the bands that get into the 'A' rooms (there's maybe 8 in town. These are rooms that have a built-in crowd. People go there regardless of who the band is so you're guaranteed to get 150+ people at every show. The bands that can entertain these people and keep them dancing and drinking until 2 AM can get upwards of $2K a night.

3. The top tier are the bands that can draw 400-500 people to a place that has no built in crowd (ie a small theater). Everyone that comes is coming to see the band. Tickets for these events range from $10-$20 and there are a couple bands that pull $8K-$10K a show.

 

You can get to the middle tier rather rapidly if you're good and catch a break or 2 (we're in 3 A rooms in less than a year). But getting to that top tier takes YEARS and it may never happen. I have spoken to a couple bands in that middle tier that are perfectly content and really have no plans of even trying to get to the next level.

 

A lot of other places around the country probably aren't so lucky as to have 3 tiers. I would bet in a lot of the US, the clubs with the built in crowds just don't exist. We're really lucky down here.

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You guys make a lot of sense. I'm not sure why some band mates think we deserve certain gigs without doing what's "necessary" (demo, promo pack, actually rehearsing) to get them.

 

The band leader actually called me last night for a lengthy conversation. He likes to discuss things, but I think he kind of has his mind made up.... i.e. if he books the gigs they will do them. He stated we're just as good as any band musically, which may/may not be true, but I agree that's probably not enough. The way I look at it is unless we put more effort into the entire thing as a group then we are either stuck taking the lower paying gigs or the gigs we can get that are few and far between.

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Well, this weekend I drove ought to see an "old" friend and jam with some of his buddies. They are a metal band... I guess you'd call it. To me it seemed like riff based rock like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pantera type stuff. My right hand technique needs a lot of work, but it was the most fun I had playin music in a long time. Someone would start a riff and eventually we'd lock into something cool. It had a lot of similarity to stuff I play, but also was a lot different... I haven't had that much fun playing music in a long time.

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