Lead singer = band boss?

trickg

Silver Member
This prompts the thought that there are two types of bands that have vocalists: Those in which the vocalist is the star (e.g., Justin Timberlake, Madonna) and those which present themselves as a band of musicians (e.g., Foo Fighters, Vulfpeck).

I know which type of band I’d prefer to be in.

You made the right decision, and I hope you land on your feet and land a great gig.
Who are the Foo Fighters without Dave Grohl? How about Nirvana without Kurt Cobain? Some might argue that Van Halen did ok without Diamon Dave, but I've never liked Van Hagar - to me, Van Halen is only Van Halen when it's with David Lee Roth.

AC/DC managed without Bon Scott, but they got a heck of a singer who worked really well with their sound when they got Brian Johnson. But how about Queen? Queen tours with Adam Lambert, and he does a pretty good job, but even Adam will tell you that he's no Freddie Mercury. Another case in point is Gloria Estafan. I remember when that band was billed as "The Miami Sound Machine." Then it became, "Gloria Estafan and the Miami Sound Machine," and then eventually it was just "Gloria Estefan." The band was all mostly the same, but who would they have been without her fronting the group?

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that a singer sometimes makes the band. However, that's also in the context of bands who have made it doing their own original material.

This case is different. MUCH different IMO.

Cover bands are different animals altogether, and IMO the singer should NEVER dictate what's what in a cover band. To the OP, I don't blame you one bit for leaving. I'd likely have done the same in your circumstance. I hope the rest of the band wakes up and realizes that this singer is replaceable, and believe me, he IS replaceable.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Who are the Foo Fighters without Dave Grohl?
They're nobody without Taylor Hawkins, and Grohl knows it. That's why he went to the mat to save Taylor's life and rescue him from heroine addiction. That and the fact that Dave had already lived through a band with one suicidal addict and didn't want to repeat it. Through the process they became close friends, almost brothers. How'd you like to be in a band like that?

(yeah, I confess I think Taylor is one of the best rock drummers working today)

How about Nirvana without Kurt Cobain?
A better band? 😲
 

One Up One Down

Senior Member
I've never been in a band but OP I think you made the right decision -- you were unhappy and you took control of what you could control to change things. Good on you.

Regarding that the lead singer often makes a band...well, IMO Weezer was never the same after Matt Sharp left. There are exceptions to every rule.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Egos in bands are toxic. ALL PARTS ARE MEANINGFUL. As a show band he may be out front. . .here's what I think--at the next gig, you all should play a few songs and when he's out front getting all the attention--just stop playing--and walk off the stage. It's not going to last long with just the singer out there.

If he wants to be a solo artist, that's an entirely different situation, correct? Rarely can a man, be a band. He needs all of you way more than he knows.

I know the first part of my response is not realistic at all. But I'm sure you've felt that way. A band ONLY works when all parts fit and work together. Good move on leaving. He'll never change. At least not until he grows up.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
First things first, you did the right thing. If you aren't being respected, then forget it. It's not worth it unless the money is stupid-good (even then you have to think about it).

Here's a point of view that I've taken on thanks to the words of wisdom of someone on here:

I hope that I'm never a permanent member of a band again.

I like to consider myself an independent contractor who frequently plays with certain groups. It makes it easier. For example, in one of the bands I play with, the lead singer does all of the bookings and does a lot of the hauling of gear. He hires me to play for him every show, and I make what all of the other band members make. I go into it knowing how much I get paid. When I leave, I usually leave with money in hand OR I get paid (without fail) at the following weekly practice. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that our lead singer gets paid more than I do pretty frequently, and he also keeps 100% of the tip money we make. But you know what? I don't care. I was paid to do a job, I did the job, and I got paid the agreed-on price. As a matter of fact, I WANT him to get paid more than me because this is a major part of his income, and I want him to succeed so he will keep wanting to play out and being successful. It's his name on the side of the trailer, and he needs the money more than I do. I have a great day job that allows me to pay my bills, and I get paid to play music most weekends.
 
Last edited:

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
When the singer lands a record deal he can hire musicians and and be the boss. Til then he's a band member. Life's too short to deal with idiots. Talented or otherwise!!
 

Toclemen

Junior Member
Egos in bands are toxic. ALL PARTS ARE MEANINGFUL. As a show band he may be out front. . .here's what I think--at the next gig, you all should play a few songs and when he's out front getting all the attention--just stop playing--and walk off the stage. It's not going to last long with just the singer out there.

If he wants to be a solo artist, that's an entirely different situation, correct? Rarely can a man, be a band. He needs all of you way more than he knows.

I know the first part of my response is not realistic at all. But I'm sure you've felt that way. A band ONLY works when all parts fit and work together. Good move on leaving. He'll never change. At least not until he grows up.
We think alike. Thanks!
 

Toclemen

Junior Member
First things first, you did the right thing. If you aren't being respected, then forget it. It's not worth it unless the money is stupid-good (even then you have to think about it).

Here's a point of view that I've taken on thanks to the words of wisdom of someone on here:

I hope that I'm never a permanent member of a band again.

I like to consider myself an independent contractor who frequently plays with certain groups. It makes it easier. For example, in one of the bands I play with, the lead singer does all of the bookings and does a lot of the hauling of gear. He hires me to play for him every show, and I make what all of the other band members make. I go into it knowing how much I get paid. When I leave, I usually leave with money in hand OR I get paid (without fail) at the following weekly practice. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that our lead singer gets paid more than I do pretty frequently, and he also keeps 100% of the tip money we make. But you know what? I don't care. I was paid to do a job, I did the job, and I got paid the agreed-on price. As a matter of fact, I WANT him to get paid more than me because this is a major part of his income, and I want him to succeed so he will keep wanting to play out and being successful. It's his name on the side of the trailer, and he needs the money more than I do. I have a great day job that allows me to pay my bills, and I get paid to play music most weekends.
Completely understandable. In my case we started as a band, 5 way split, everyone share the responsibilities of the band, actually the bass player with the bulk of it. But as the ego soared, he insisted on a bigger cut, he wanted more but we settled on $250 extra a month for the star. If anything he still does less than the other members. bit I hear you, I’m not a contractor and after 11 years of doing everything I can for the band, I shouldn’t have to feel like one. Thanks for your input.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
In my case we started as a band, 5 way split, everyone share the responsibilities of the band, actually the bass player with the bulk of it. But as the ego soared, he insisted on a bigger cut, he wanted more but we settled on $250 extra a month for the star.
Your bassist should get the bigger cut which is only fair but that should only be things like booking fees/deposits because organising gigs and dealing with the public is ballache at the best of times.

Playing should be an equal split,

$250 a month extra for the 'star'. Who is he? I've never heard of him. Must be a lot of mirrors in his house so he can get the self worship he deserves!

He'd be unemployed if I was in your band.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Completely understandable. In my case we started as a band, 5 way split, everyone share the responsibilities of the band, actually the bass player with the bulk of it. But as the ego soared, he insisted on a bigger cut, he wanted more but we settled on $250 extra a month for the star. If anything he still does less than the other members. bit I hear you, I’m not a contractor and after 11 years of doing everything I can for the band, I shouldn’t have to feel like one. Thanks for your input.
Got it.

With one of the bands I was in, I really liked the idea of whoever got the gig gets an extra 10%. Also, whoever's PA system is used gets another 10%. Why? Because I did EVERYTHING in the last band that I was in. I was the PA guy and the drummer. I bought the PA in addition to all of the crap that goes with it (mics, cables, repairs, etc.). I got so tired of loading and unloading my drums AND the PA at house by myself before and after each gig. I knew that after that band ended, I was going to treat myself as an independent. I don't want to be a full band member anymore...not at the club/dive-bar circuit anyways. BTW - this band just broke up this past Sunday. My PA is now set up at my home-based gym. :)
 

Toclemen

Junior Member
Your bassist should get the bigger cut which is only fair but that should only be things like booking fees/deposits because organising gigs and dealing with the public is ballache at the best of times.

Playing should be an equal split,

$250 a month extra for the 'star'. Who is he? I've never heard of him. Must be a lot of mirrors in his house so he can get the self worship he deserves!

He'd be unemployed if I was in your band.
I’ve actually given the bass player money out of my pocket for just that reason. The band is very popular in our area, the money is really good. As much as I would like to name names. I can’t do that even though I want too.

I’ll be hard pressed to find a cover band and make the same $ honestly But I need to leave for my own self respect. If this was my only source of income, I would have to suck it up. But it isn’t.
 

Toclemen

Junior Member
Got it.

With one of the bands I was in, I really liked the idea of whoever got the gig gets an extra 10%. Also, whoever's PA system is used gets another 10%. Why? Because I did EVERYTHING in the last band that I was in. I was the PA guy and the drummer. I bought the PA in addition to all of the crap that goes with it (mics, cables, repairs, etc.). I got so tired of loading and unloading my drums AND the PA at house by myself before and after each gig. I knew that after that band ended, I was going to treat myself as an independent. I don't want to be a full band member anymore...not at the club/dive-bar circuit anyways. BTW - this band just broke up this past Sunday. My PA is now set up at my home-based gym. :)
Well you deserved the extra for doing all that and supply sound, drums are hard enough. He doesn’t supply a system but does book shows like the rest of us. I wouldn’t be leaving this band just because our egotistical singer gets more money, honestly it’s because he’s an asshole about it and only cares about himself.
 

Toclemen

Junior Member
I understand your frustration, but there is another way to look at this. If this guy is the crowd magnet that you say he is, and it's his presence that is keeping the band employed, I'd say pamper him.

Simple truth: the lead singer is the one element that can (and literally does) make or break a cover band, regardless of how great the instrument guys are. That's just the way it is. Be honest: how many cover bands have you seen whose stage presence (and audience devotion) is negatively affected by a mediocre singer? I'd say, the majority.

We all love to play. But audiences love to listen and be entertained. A great vocalist is just as important (maybe more so!) as a great guitarist, keyboardist, or bass player. Yet, most of us leave this most important element of a band to pure chance. We ask the bass player or guitar player, "Man, you play great. Can you sing, too?" If so, the thought is generally, "Great. We've got a band now."

It's an unfortunate truth that a great singer who wows a crowd with his infectious personality is almost always a prima donna. These folks adore adoration and special attention. They feed on it. And, outside of simple craziness and rude, dominant behavior, I'd say they are probably worth the extra effort.

It's sad that it so often has to be that way, but if that singer truly is the draw that keeps this band steadily employed, just consider the extra expense a business investment. Or, as a few others pointed out, tell him to walk. Go ahead. Then try to find somebody to replace him who is just as good at drawing and keeping the audience that you now enjoy. For me, the choice would be easy.

GeeDeeEmm
Very good points and true. But it gets to the point when being in a successful band isn’t worth the it if your dealing with a narcissistic dictator. That is the case with me.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
. . . I really liked the idea of whoever got the gig gets an extra 10%. Also, whoever's PA system is used gets another 10%.
Excellent idea.

A method I've been used to is to split the income to members + 1, and that "1" is money that goes toward maintenance of the PA system, gas for the person crating it to/from gigs.

. . . I did EVERYTHING in the last band that I was in. I was the PA guy and the drummer. I bought the PA in addition to all of the crap that goes with it (mics, cables, repairs, etc.).
Brütal.

My PA is now set up at my home-based gym. :)
Nice! A friend just loaned me his PA system that had been sitting in his basement for years (Mackie 808s powered mixer, Cerwin Vega loudspeakers & monitors) and I'm now hosting band rehearsals and jam sessions. 😎
 
Top