Band business and strategy

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Our band Big Rye Little Whiskey had a scheduled rehearsal at our usual rehearsal place - a local Sports Bar. We rehearse in a large room at the back of the bar / game room area.

Last night we gathered there and found out the owners wanted to remodel the concert / stage area in the back where we usually rehearse. Ok. That's fine. They hinted to us previously that they were planning on doing that. Our bass player had class anyway and couldn't make it. So the remaining 3 of us - lead, rhythm, drummer, sat down at a table and had a few beers. Soon the conversation turned to what types of songs we need to include in our set lists, how to play them live, when to included them, when to play our originals, recording songs, flyers, logistics, PA systems and monitors, etc. Even who to get to manage us / book us. What upcoming gigs we have, possible gigs, etc.

Even though we didn't play a note, it was a very productive session just planning out the next few months of the band. Ways to proceed, whom to contact, how many more demo CDs we need to burn, etc.

And it didn't hurt that there was plenty of eye candy on display at the bar, either! LOL

Anyway, I just wanted to report that sometimes taking a break from playing and rehearsing and sitting down to discuss actual business matters can be very productive and yield ideas that nobody may not have considered before.

I believe we spent our time well last night.
 

theindian

Senior Member
Good for you man. The business and booking end of music is often overlooked by local bands. You have to do those things and it definitly pays off big time in the long run.
I have been looking into booking agencies to help my main group get more gigs. It can be hard to get gigs and promote yourself without it down in the south. Even with a good press kit. Do you or anyone else here have advice/experience with booking agents?
 

mcbike

Silver Member
That is a good tip! It probably helps that you rehearse at a bar though because meetings in a stale practice room can get boring really fast. I can't really pay attention to those meetings because I'm usually looking at my drums wanting to play them!

I always feel bad though when my band has a meeting without everybody being there.
 

mcbike

Silver Member
Do you or anyone else here have advice/experience with booking agents?
My band has an agent. It is a mixed blessing I suppose, and that depends on how well you are able to book shows yourself. It does hurt taking a cut of everybodys pay to after a hard nights work to pay the agent. A good agent will have alot of connections to good gigs, like festivals and colleges. Usually the best part of an agent is their roster of artists which they use to get you into venues you might not be able to get into.

It really depends on what you want to do with your band. Local, Regional, National, International? Full-time? Part-time? of course everybody can say they want to be a fulltime international band, but is that a real possibility for you?

There are booking agents at all those levels. I think agents are looking for bands like to stay busy, play alot of shows, are extremely dependable. Is your band versatile? this is important, can you adapt your show to different situations? Do you already have a following? Do you have a cd out? They are putting their reputation on the line for you so you have to deliver.

You also have to decide if it is really worth it. usually you are giving up 10 to 15% of money per show to pay somebody to make a phone call for you or send an email. most of the time all the other stuff they do like sending out contracts, etc. is a waste of time. nobody ever signs those contracts, and there is no point in trying to go to court over a broken contract for a gig unless you are playing stadiums.

I have alot of varied experience with agents, I used to be a concert promoter, my band has an agent, and my old roomate who I used to promote shows with is now a pretty big national agent.
 

Concrete Pete

Senior Member
Hey RD and crew,

An excellent suggestion--I have a fair amount of difficulty getting all the members in my bands together for a pow wow to discuss a lot of pertinent issues for us.

One thing that has been a real asset to my bands is an on-line forum, so people can post and share all kinds of info.

I use FORUMER. It's free, and no annoying pops and crap.

Cheers,
C. P.
 

ChipJohns

Senior Member
just about every business requires meetings at some point in time. A band is no different. During practice is no time to discuss business.

Keep the business end of a band separate as much as possible. Depending on how your band is set up determines the structure and topics discussed. Even if your band doesn't have a specific "leader" different roles can be conducted by different band members. I have found that this has worked best for the best bands I have been in. Who can argue over a democracy. It works if everyone trusts it and is willing to yield when necessary.

Regular Meetings, as well as regular "heart-to-heart" sessions help to keep things from getting out of hand. Discuss problems and differences. Use a Win/Win strategy and bands last a lot longer and stay much healthier.

So meet, and discuss the business end of a band, but, also, the emotional side too. This helps to keep bad emotions out of practice.. Where they don't belong...

Everybody wins..
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
This is a great thing. Monthly business meetings. It bonds the guys and provides an outlet for things that need to be said.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
YES!

It drives me crazy when the guys start talking about things at band practice (paid by the hour). I get to play on my drums just three hours a week and then they start ^%&$# gasbagging!

Then I start playing anyway to give the hint and then I'm being inconsiderate.

Last night I was chatting with our singer, who for talking makes me seem like a Buddhist nun (quite an achievement). I told him how hard it is for me to not be able to play at home and then have my precious limited drumming time reduced by chatter.

He suggested to me that if anyone gives me that "Please don't make noise while people are talking" vibe that I should tell them that the rehearsal space is for playing and if they want to talk, could they please step outside.

Since he's the worst offender he added that he only suggested that so he'll have an excuse to snap back at me - lol

Chip, you are so right. We need to compartmentalise more. The hard part is getting everyone to leave wife, kids and dog behind for an extra evening.

When we play we are the staff. When we meet we are managers. Contrary to common wisdom, you need both.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Sounds as if it was productive indeed. You nay have taken a few minutes to cruise the bar and talk to the "eye Candy" and other patrons and ask if they had heard you or planned on being at your next show. Do you have business cards with band name and phone numbers on it?
 

yesdog

Silver Member
The band I am in right now has a booking agent. We record every practice mainly songs we are having trouble on. We also have a meeting and review or performance after a show.
I find it very conctructive and we see imorovments from that.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
All the rehearsing in the world can't get you gigs or set your business strategy. It's important to have these meetings if you plan on doing any gigs anywhere.

The last band I was in rehearsed at my house, and I set an 8:30 pm curfew on the noise to keep my neighbors happy. So usually every rehearsal or two we would go grab water or beers or what have you, retreat to my office, and do a little business, whether it was talking about the next CD, the next few gigs, or places we wanted to book.

All of us were booking agents for the band. We all carried business cards for the band, and could just drop into any place we saw and start business, or toss a card out if a random conversation led to talk of gigs.

The one possible impediment to this approach is that you may have one (or more) persons in the band whose talents stop at music. Hopefully they're graceful and self-aware enough to realize that and are cool with that level of contribution. If not, it may fall to one of the rest of you to gently break it to them. Or you may want to explore possibly greatly helpful things that they CAN do, such as silkscreening shirts, web design, or organizing transportation.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
All the rehearsing in the world can't get you gigs or set your business strategy. It's important to have these meetings if you plan on doing any gigs anywhere.

The one possible impediment to this approach is that you may have one (or more) persons in the band whose talents stop at music. Hopefully they're graceful and self-aware enough to realize that and are cool with that level of contribution. If not, it may fall to one of the rest of you to gently break it to them. Or you may want to explore possibly greatly helpful things that they CAN do, such as silkscreening shirts, web design, or organizing transportation.


Absolutely! There are 4 of us and we pretty much all act as booking agents for the band. Our rhythm guitar player has designed all of our Flyers and has taken the lead on business cards by getting them ordered, printed,ect. His day job is in IT, so he has good software to make designs, modify images, etc. And he seems to have a lot of contacts and enjoys full support from his extened family. Our lead guitar player burns all of our demo CDs and puts labels on them, plus passes out flyers locally. Both these guys call the venues to work out the logistics of our gigs, payment, equipment needs. I print up all of our Flyers and color Labels for the CDs ect. since I have access to a great color printer. I've bought blank CDs and labels at an office supply store, with my business discount, etc. Our bass guitar player has a lot of local leads and seems to know a lot of local musicians we network with. He got us our current rehearsal space at the bar from his contacts, plus he knows what group is playing what songs and genres, so we sort of have some intel in that area.

So it's a group effort to be sure. But everyone is committed to this project and seems to thoroughly enjoy the genres we play and works hard to make it happen. I believe one thing in our favor is we are all older and more experienced, than say 20 somethings. We've lived life and have experiences and knowledge we can bring to the table.

When we were at the bar, we took a break from drinking to place Flyers in strategic locations throughout the bar, around the game room, in the restroom areas, tacked on several cork boards, etc. And several of the bar patrons came around to chat about our next gigs, etc. It seemed to be very productive.

One thing we realize that is very important, is to get a booking agent or manager that also books. We are still a very new band with limited financial resources, so we need a manager or booking agent who knows and understands this and can work with us to help nurture and grow the band, so to speak. All of us have full time jobs and 3 of us have families, so we can't dedicate a lot of time to it. One thing we want to avoid is getting on with some fat cat who charges a bunch, but doesn't deliver, or gets us crappy venues. In other words, we don't want to get fleeced. There are a lot of scam artists out there who pretend to be managers and agents, ect. We don't mind paying so long as they deliver. And from Tuesdays meeting we came up with a short list of people who may be able to help us out in that area.
 
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Cedwico

Senior Member
Every Saturday we can, my band comes over to my house and we practice in the garage! They also stay the night and we go out together late out or whatever and it's good fun. On Sunday we play quietly, I stick my silencers on and they all play quietly so neighbors don't get annoyed. It's good. Too plan things also we sometimes just have a four way MSN conversation and get it sorted online. It's easier than having a meeting somewhere because we all live 20+ away from each other and we're all 15.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
One of my bands has a habit of starting a "business meeting" at every rehearsal that can go on for the entire 3 hour block of time, if we let it. Some things absolutely need to be discussed, but I try to steer rehearsal time more to rehearsing and leave the discussions about gigs/finances/business plans/etc. for corresponding via e-mail or before/after gigs when there's time.
 

BoomBoom

Junior Member
Even though we didn't play a note, it was a very productive session just planning out the next few months of the band. Ways to proceed, whom to contact, how many more demo CDs we need to burn, etc.

And it didn't hurt that there was plenty of eye candy on display at the bar, either! LOL
Yea, yea, yea but did you score? I mean that is why you are in a band, right?
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Yea, yea, yea but did you score? I mean that is why you are in a band, right?

Heck, right now I'll just settle for a lady to talk dirty to me! LOL

I'm finding it's harder and harder to do that or to even get dates now. Back in high school and college, the fact that I even mentioned I played drums was enough to get what I wanted. Nowadays, I gotta actually play and have before referrrenced lasses actually hear me before anything happens. Then it almost becomes a job interview. Like "...here's my balance sheet, here are my medical records for the last 5 years, here are my yearly 1040 tax returns for the last decade...."

Like everything else, even THAT has become complicated.
 

toddy

Platinum Member
Yep.. I have constant 'meetings' with people in my band(s), though some of us are together so much (shared accommodation) that its just normal conversation really, I can't stop talking business.
Personally I make sure I keep up to date books on incomings/outgoings and keep an up to date database of every promoter I've ever worked with. The most important thing is networking.

In terms of 'marketing/promotions', I have a mailing list setup that I send out every month with upcoming gigs/releases and am constantly updating various pages through twitter/facebook/myspace.

I also do some booking and put on shows of my own, though that is for DJs, so its a little different than contracting for a band, a little less volatile.
 

Gretsch09

Member
This is a great thread! My band was having a meeting after our last practice and we decided that our next big effort was going to be to put together a split release with two of our friend bands in the area. I think this is going to work out very well for a few reasons. One reason is that by doing this, we can reduce our cost of production by spliting it with the other bands. I think we will be able to afford something very professional. Another reason is that we will be putting these other bands to work for us. And we will also be doing them a great deal of promotion each time we put a CD in someones hands. I'm excited to get it going!
 
C

Casper "DrPowerStroke" Paludan

Guest
My wife and I colead a band, Detour Ahead, and we invited the other three boys for dinner later this month. Out of that same feeling of a need for a business, or bonding meeting, outside the rehearsal space.

Casper
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
Our band Big Rye Little Whiskey had a scheduled rehearsal at our usual rehearsal place - a local Sports Bar. We rehearse in a large room at the back of the bar / game room area.

Last night we gathered there and found out the owners wanted to remodel the concert / stage area in the back where we usually rehearse. Ok. That's fine. They hinted to us previously that they were planning on doing that. Our bass player had class anyway and couldn't make it. So the remaining 3 of us - lead, rhythm, drummer, sat down at a table and had a few beers. Soon the conversation turned to what types of songs we need to include in our set lists, how to play them live, when to included them, when to play our originals, recording songs, flyers, logistics, PA systems and monitors, etc. Even who to get to manage us / book us. What upcoming gigs we have, possible gigs, etc.

Even though we didn't play a note, it was a very productive session just planning out the next few months of the band. Ways to proceed, whom to contact, how many more demo CDs we need to burn, etc.

And it didn't hurt that there was plenty of eye candy on display at the bar, either! LOL

Anyway, I just wanted to report that sometimes taking a break from playing and rehearsing and sitting down to discuss actual business matters can be very productive and yield ideas that nobody may not have considered before.

I believe we spent our time well last night.
I agree entirely. We spend about half our practice basically discussing what we're going to do about business and gigs and also discuss it on msn and the mobile phones as well. It's not just about playing the songs, being in the band.
 
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