When a band of youngsters first form, this is what usually happens. The singer/vocalist turns up, without a PA, or even a mic. When a band of youngsters first form, this is what Guitarist turns up with an amp the size of a house. The bassist turns up with a bass from a car boot sale and no amp. The drummer turns up with a drum kit that is either broken, or worth a £1,000.000. Whatever drum kit it is, it will take one and a half hours of the two hour practice to set up. The focus of this combo will be to get a dozen tunes together to a one day gig.
Now there a number of mistakes been made already, so obvious, I hope I don't have to point them out. One that is usually not thought about at this point is who owns the band. The band may one day make money. In the short term, it will lose money. It is usually accepted without any discussion or thought, that all members own an equal amount. This is despite the guitarist having invested perhaps several hundred pounds in equipment and the singer nothing, not even his bus fare to the rehearsal, because he usually begs for lifts everywhere, claiming it will benefit the environment. This is obviously a generalisation, but the point being, financial commitment. When it comes to receiving payments for gigs, the said vocalist will be first in line for an 'equal' share. After all it's only 'fair'. I've seen bands save the money to buy the 'band PA'. When the band break up over musical differences, two speakers, the head and the mixer, go four different ways, all pretty useless on their own.
I would imagine anyone who was young, and started or joined a band has met with similar problems. This blog post is advice (from my thirty five years of experience) for anyone doing so, so you don't make the mistakes that I made in the past.
The first thing you need to do is treat it like it is, a business. I know that doesn't sound very rock 'n' roll, or fun, but that is what it is. You get paid, it's a business. Let me point out the advantage of this. If you are working at Tesco, you have a what is called in the entertainment industry, a'Day job'. On that day job you pay tax. If you hire a room every week for a year to practice, and never gig, you have made a loss. This loss can be claimed against the tax you paid in your day job. It can also be claimed against the earnings the band do make when gigs start to come. There are many other things that can be claimed, like guitar strings, phone calls, drum skins, polish forbyour drums, Musicians Union subscription, petrol/diesel, insurance and the list goes on. Basically, anything you spend, that relates to your business. Now you are in a situation where you are financially better off, even if you have not gigged, because you are paying for much of this anyway. For more information and advice on this, consult an accountant or the Musicians Union.
Every member of the band should be registered as a separate business. The allows members to play in different bands or even several bands at the same time. One person in the band, should own the band. This person effectively manages the band, agrees with the other members how much they get paid on a gig by gig basis. Then the owner of the band will obviously get more pay for gigs because they pay out more and manage. The other members of the band invoice the band leader for the agreed amount. Some things that have to be paid for could be divided, such as rehearsals, room hire and advertising, but then again not necessary. If divided, each member could take it in turns to pay for the room hire. On the other hand, the band owner could invoice the other members so all pay an equal amount. Again he could just pay for all of it. It up to you how to do this, but it does need to be fair. Receipts need to passed and kept. This allows all members to move around easily between bands and pay out and receive money on a fair basis. If the guitarist owns the PA, or light show, when gigging, he could receive more money for this, effectively hiring it to the band for the night, or the band may hire one from a local PA hire company. Whatever, it's all fair. It will stop the free ride vocalists in bands always seem to always get. You never know,they might even invest in a PA and take their role in the band more seriously.
Besides the playing of instruments, there are also other jobs that need doing to run a band. Website need building/updating, Twitter/Facebook page Myspace need updating, posters need designing/printing/displaying, press releases need writing and sending. Telephone needs answering, emails replying to. It all takes time and needs to be paid for. If the band leader is doing all this other work,the income that he receives from gigs needs to reflect this, but equally if other members of the band take on this work, an agreed payment scheme needs to be put in place from the very early days of the band forming.
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