Selfish/Stingy band leader?

PacifRick

Senior Member
Like some (or most) of you guys, I am lucky enough to have a great studio for recording just about any situation. I take great pride in capturing the best sound possible out of my kit and the other instruments. I cannot settle for just a decent sound, and any project that I have ever been a part of, I have spent a great amount of time tweaking and tuning for the best possible sounding recording, with great results.

With that said, I'm a (new-ish) part of a 4 piece cover band that has started tinkering with some originals with plans to record them. Since I have a studio, and it also serves as our practice space, it was a given that we would record there. I actually volunteered to do the engineering because its my equipment and I trust myself to capture a great sound, plus I truly enjoy it. Also, keep in mind that our band leader/lead singer doesn't necessarily strive for perfection on stage, and the same has became apparent while recording. Everyone else is on the same page as to what we want to sound like as well as the quality of our recordings. We now have one song completely mixed down (by me) that I am excited for everyone else to hear. So far I have spent approximately 20 hours on this one song, including tracking all band members one on one, myself setting up drums and rehearsing and recording for many hours trying to achieve the perfect take/sound, and on final mix-down (all while taking time away from my kids/wife). What really bothers me though, is that today I get a call from the band leader just generally speaking about plans and associated costs about getting the to-be finished CD duplicated and sleeves/artwork etc. He had the nerve to break down the cost and the responsibility per member.........including me! Before I say anything, we are not talking about a lot of money here, but I work a normal everyday job and work hard for my money. I have worked just as hard on this recording, and were only 1 song into it. The band leader has spent approximately 2 hours on it. For the life of me, I cannot justify personally paying for any further work on this album, and by the time we are finished I will have paid my dues.....10 fold! I am also not wishing to defer my cost equally among the band, but since the band leader is making that decision I feel like he should cover my expense. Am I wrong to be upset at such a request? I feel like working up an invoice like I would any other band and itemize the studio time, equipment rental and engineering expenses and presenting it to him when he asks again for the money. Don't get me wrong, I am not griping about the money, but a little recognition about the amount of time that goes into a project like this would be greatly appreciated!

*Rant Over!*
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Sounds like this leader needs his butt kicked. Seriously, maybe you could have a group meeting, or ask the others what they think of covering your share of the CD expense? If it were me, I may just send the guy an invoice of how much expense you have incurred as if you were working for another band. That may open up his eyes. If not you can force it by saying you did all the recording and engineering work and the rest can buy the CDs and material, then show the rest of the band the invoice.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
This probably should've been discussed before you started the project- it's kind of hard to say after the fact that you were expecting your engineering time to take the place of a financial contribution, you know? I would probably say something along the lines of "gee, this thing has taken way more time than I expected it to- XX hours- can we work something out here?" or "I was hoping that my recording, mixing and mastering the record would cover my contribution." Or something. If you get into a discussion and can't figure out how to put a dollar value on your contribution, write up an invoice for your time and studio rental as a starting place.

When I'm new to a project, or my future commitment is uncertain, I make it a policy to be a little bit aloof about offering extra services without a clear agreement. I definitely let them know that my time and services are not free, even if I decide I'm going to donate some for the cause.
 

Adam B

Senior Member
He's a singer. They do tend take the rest of the band (especially drummers) and their hard work for granted.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
He could be cool and give you credit for your share. You did volunteer though. It's up to the others if they are going to acknowledge your contribution or just use it without thanks. Once a pattern is set.....

If you make an issue of it...you may win a battle but lose the war. Or not, depends.... Pay up or speak up, your call.
 

ChipJohns

Senior Member
Two parts to a band. 1) music; 2) business.

Nothing may have been arranged before hand, however, that goes both ways. There should have been a meeting about it. Personally I would be straight forward. "Hey guys, I would like for the use my equipment and my time to be considered in lieu of my monetary investment. At least at this stage of the project."

If they disagreed, my response would be, "Oh, okay. Here is a check for my share, but, we will need more money. I was able to spare the time for the first song, but we will need to find a place to finish the CD. Any ideas?"

If they think this is unreasonable on your part, do you really want to be in business with them?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Can only speak from my own experience here. In every band I've ever played in, costs of recording, marketing, promo's et al have been shared equally by each band member....it was just a given. Regardless of who's gear was used or who had slightly more or slightly less input.

YMMV, but that's the way it's always worked in any situation I've found myself in and I believe it's quite a common approach. It would be wise to advise of any changes beforehand.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
One thing you might want to keep in perspective, is that if you spend 20 hrs tracking and punching to get a perfect take, the other folks that did their parts in one or two takes and a punch or two may not agree that your 20 hours was a mutual band investment.

If you spend 20 hrs on your own mixing and mastering, you may want to have invited the others to participate and gotten their input on how much was required. It would be one thing if you are doing more highly produced music and lots of production/mixing time is required for that genre, then whoever is in the room working on it and contributing is putting in their share. But if it's extra work you are doing because you alone feel it's necessary (right or wrong), it's kind of hard to expect the others to pay into it. Which they would be doing if they took that work as a financial contribution and footed the duplication/production costs amongst themselves.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Years ago, I was asked to join a small side band by some close friends. So I agreed.

As I owned one of the early digital home recorders, I agreed to record the bands demo, just for the fun of it. No one paid me, I didn't ask. I spent plenty of my own time working on it.

So, out comes the CD, and the singer has some t-shirts made up. He tells me if I want one, it's $10. Which, you know, I get he paid for the shirts out his own pocket. But I paid a ton for my recording gear out my own pocket, so come on!

Needless to say, I got pretty pissed off he's try to charge me $10 for a shirt when he got a free demo off the gear I paid for!!

Anyway, the guitar player talked to the singer, I got my free shirt.

And the band never played again, but that's a different story.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Suggest each band member go to a studio to put their tracks down, then offer to mix it for free. That way they get the cost message, and you look generous at the same time.
 

jer

Silver Member
I don't think you are wrong to want to offset some of the hard costs with your time, however if you volunteered your services in the first place with no previous discussion about how you'd be compensated for your time / effort / investment in gear, you're s.o.l. on this one. I imagine trying to present the band with invoices at this point would cause more trouble than it's worth if you value continuing to work with this group.

A band I play with does their own recordings, most of the work falls on to the guy with the studio and the guy with the Pro Tools rig who tracks and edits. Maybe because I've been playing with these guys for over half my life and they are pretty much family, we work for what's in the best interest of the band. Saving money on recording is in the best interest of the band so the guys volunteer their time with no expectation of getting a break on hard costs when the time comes to manufacture. They get appropriate credit in the album where due.

Where we deal with balancing this out is on the finished side of the recording. The guys who put their time into the recording get a break on things like booking, radio tracking, marketing and promotion. These are all functions that in the real would would translate into billable hours, but are donated, as this is what we feel is in the best interest of the band.
 

Travis22

Senior Member
I would have to say I agree with those who say you are kinda up a creek without a paddle on this one. You said yourself that "it was a given" you were going to record the cd since the band practices in your studio. Followed by you "volunteered" to do the enginnering since it was your equpiment. Yeah, askin for money now would be kind of a jerk move.

Is this not different then instrument costs, though? I mean, you chose to buy the studio gear and learn how to use it. And you had it before this band got together and started practicing in your studio. So it's not like you went out the day before and dropped a crap ton of money to get all the gear to record this 1 cd/song. So you just saved the band, and yourself, the cost of having to get the recording side of it done. But once that is done then you have to produce more than just one copy to be able to sell it or give it out. If this was a solo project you would have the whole cost of that to yourself, but since it's not, you only have to pay a part of it. Be happy! Besides, haven't you recouped most of the cost recording the other bands you talked about? And isn't the purpose of having your own recording studio to benefit you and your band?
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I'm pretty much with the majority of posters on this one. Without previous discussion on setting prices for your services, the rest of the band probably assumed that you would continue to split things evenly. Our band tended to split everything evenly no matter who was doing the bulk of the work. What ended up happening is that I did most of the web design and artwork for flyers, as well as a hefty bit of the promotion and booking (along with the bassist), while the guitarists focused on recording and engineering. It made for a more egalitarian work environment where nobody felt threatened, and it unified our team mentality. Nobody ever had grounds to say "Well, I'm the guy who paid for everything".

Nothing saying that in any future recording situations, you can't sit everyone down and say, "Based on my experience from last time, I'd like to discuss this..." But for this instance, I think you'd be best off being a team player. You might also want to discuss more involvement from the other band members in the studio next time, so that the idea of sharing costs sits better with everyone, including you.
 

techristian

Senior Member
Contracts, contracts, contracts, right from the start. Even on a scratch piece of paper and make copies for all band members. All band members sign. It is sad but true. This is the world that we live in. Wait until you get into the royalties issues for each song!

Also make sure, that you notify them, that for the rest of the CD, you are charging $X an hour for studio and production time. (not in cash, but to be used against any rental fees etc.)

Dan
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I would agree to talk it over with your band. I can't for the life of me believe that the majority of people would not see your contribution as significant, time, cost of equipment, expertise, studio rehearsal time. Maybe you should bill the lead signer for his cut of your efforts. But seriously, I think if you talk it over with your band, they would agree that you have done your share.
 

PacifRick

Senior Member
Thanks for the advice guys. The general consensus is pretty much in agreement with what I had already decided. I was never really even close to following through with anything. I'm not outspoken and and very easy to get along with. I hate rustling feathers and usually make sacrifices to keep everyone else happy. I guess when you are that kind of person, one has to blow up on occasion.

My rant was sparked by that phone conversation after being up all night fixing his tracks. He headed out the door after a "good enough" and left me there all night trying to splice together a usable take that wouldn't take anything away from everyone else's hard work.

Also, to clear up something...it hasn't taken us 20 hours to record one song. The 20 hours is a culmination of trial and error, experimentation of all instruments/mic combos to set up for the entire album, only to that point we only had 1 song completed. After last night, we now have 3 completed.

Again, I will pay my share, it is not about cost. I just briefly wanted to remind him of how much work goes into a good quality sound, before and after he is already out the door finished with his tracks. Everyone has been welcomed to be there for there input and have at one time or another, except the guy in reference, but he wouldn't even have a clue where to start. Anything and everything "sounds good" to him, even if it sounded like sewage spewing out of a pipe. There is nothing wrong with that if thats not his thing. I'm not downing him, but he needs to realize that when he hears our final mix and he's got a huge smile on his face (he did), it came at a personal price from myself.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
Don't rant, don't be angry, be respectful and polite, and definitely do this:

I feel like working up an invoice like I would any other band and itemize the studio time, equipment rental and engineering expenses and presenting it to him when he asks again for the money
And say in a reasonable tone "Folks, I have already committed way more than any of you will spend on this CD, but that's gonna have to be enough, ok?"
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
It sounds like you and the lead singer have different idea of what is adequate. This needs to be resolved between you. Does he really think that on listening to playback, that the track he put down is adequate? Or is he really expecting you to "fix it in the mix"? Two different outlooks and I can't tell if you know where he's coming from.

If he truely thinks that his track is good enough to publish, then does the rest of the band think so too? If they think it needs polishing, then you have a case for spending hours cutting, pasting, pitch shifting, doubling and whatever else you have to do to bring it to a level the whole band is happy with as representing them. And you have a case for those hours being your contribution to the bands efforts.

I use the conditional forms as everyone has different opinions as to how far to take things. I've worked with folks who are Eric Johnson like OCD and will punch and tweak for months to get one song perfect to their satisfaction. While driving everyone else nuts in the process. The other side is the completely lazy phone in one take and be done with it. Most folks are somewhere along the continum between these extremes.

Where things get in trouble is when folks only see their point on the continum and expect everyone else to be in the same place. Hash it out with the entire band. Have everyone in agreement with how polished they want the product to be. Some folks have an aversion to highly polished music. You have to find the happy medium everyone can live with.
 

PacifRick

Senior Member
It sounds like you and the lead singer have different idea of what is adequate. This needs to be resolved between you. Does he really think that on listening to playback, that the track he put down is adequate? Or is he really expecting you to "fix it in the mix"? Two different outlooks and I can't tell if you know where he's coming from.

If he truely thinks that his track is good enough to publish, then does the rest of the band think so too? If they think it needs polishing, then you have a case for spending hours cutting, pasting, pitch shifting, doubling and whatever else you have to do to bring it to a level the whole band is happy with as representing them. And you have a case for those hours being your contribution to the bands efforts.

I use the conditional forms as everyone has different opinions as to how far to take things. I've worked with folks who are Eric Johnson like OCD and will punch and tweak for months to get one song perfect to their satisfaction. While driving everyone else nuts in the process. The other side is the completely lazy phone in one take and be done with it. Most folks are somewhere along the continum between these extremes.

Where things get in trouble is when folks only see their point on the continum and expect everyone else to be in the same place. Hash it out with the entire band. Have everyone in agreement with how polished they want the product to be. Some folks have an aversion to highly polished music. You have to find the happy medium everyone can live with.
Well, I see your point, but we are kind of getting away from my intention of my original post. He made me mad, I thought about doing something about it, I aired my feelings to you guys and you gave advice....now I feel better!

I don't have to justify time spent on this project to the other members because we all want something to be proud of. But what he would be proud of would make the other 3 of us not too proud. So yes, we hold ourselves up to a different standard he does. He truly believes that it sounds good as it is, but we don't want to use any of it, but we kind of have to because that's the right thing to do. So the effort is made to make it usable.

But to answer your questions, everyone else in the band agrees that he is "holding us back somewhat" but we also at the same time enjoy playing music and have worked hard learning the songs, so we don't want to just give up and throw it away because he might be less capable than everyone else.

And no I'm not the crazy guy that wastes his life punching in and pursuing perfection. But if there is an obvious mistake that can reasonably fix, I will take time to fix it because I will regret it later when I hear the playback. Remember, I am not complaining about how much time this is taking, I and the other 2 guys knew well before we started that there would be a lot of work involved, however the band leader did not. Hence ^
 
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