One thing I’ve noticed in my years of playing in a live band is how important members are that can do multiple things in the band. I was in a band where we had a lead guitar player that was a good lead guitar player, but that’s all he did. He didn’t sing lead or sing backup, he only brought his guitar and his amp and he didn’t book any of the gigs. Yes he would have the songs all learned and he played his parts perfectly but he just didn’t seem to contribute as much as the other members of the band.
In the same band we had a keyboard player that was a good keyboard player, maybe not the best keyboard player in the world but good enough to cover the parts he needed to for the songs. The keyboard player also built a lighting system that he brought to every gig and which he also set up and ran at the gigs. The keyboard player also sang lead on a few songs and sang a lot of backup vocals. Not only did the keyboard player do these things, he also printed band promotional material such as flyers, business cards and CD inserts. As you can see the keyboard player had a lot more value to the band than the lead guitar player even though he may not have been as good of a player. I’ll tell you, the keyboard player has been playing in live bands a lot longer than the guitarist did.
In todays picture, I posted up two guys from my band. Frank Lee and Kyle Johson are both multi-instrumentalists. Between them they play drums, keyboards, saxophone, trombone and guitar. They both also sing lead as well as singing loads of backup vocals. That’s a lot of added value from two band members.
So what are some easy ways to increase your skills which will increase your value in the band? The easiest and best thing you can possibly do is work on your singing. Being able to sing in tune is incredibly important in a band. Even if you don’t sing lead on any songs you will be extremely valuable if you’re able to carry a good harmony singing part. In the best bands, everybody can sing. Make sure you have a good vocal microphone such as a Shure SM58 or the Shure Beta 58A. It’s cheap to get a good microphone and you increase your value when you have the right equipment.
Another easy way to increase your value to the band is to pitch in with P.A. equipment or lighting equipment. If you own some P.A. equipment and can set it up and run it, you will be a very important member of the band. The same thing goes for lighting which is overlooked by many bands.
If you can play multiple instruments then you will also bring added value to the band. I currently play with a player that plays keyboards, guitar and sings lead on a lot of the songs. Needless to say, he’s a very important member of the band. He also owns all the lighting, sets it up and runs it every gig. If you do things like that, your position in the band will be very solid.
Remember to look for any way you can help out. It could be as simple as owning the truck that hauls all the equipment to every gig. Having multiple skills and talents will definitely increase your value in the band.