Band Members Must Have Common Goals

Every member of your live band should share some basic, common goals.

Matt Rushton and Tom Nedreberg
Matt and Tom Have A Goal Of Playing As Many Gigs As Possible

   One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my live band is getting a group of musicians together that all share the same goals. There are a lot of musicians out there but not all of them want to play in bars. Some musicians just want to jam and don’t want to play any live gigs at all, ever. If your band is going to succeed you really need to have common goals.

   The first thing you need to discuss before you even decide on what type of songs you want to play is where and when you will play gigs. This will determine your song selection as well as whether or not the individual band members are willing to commit to certain types of gigs. Too many bands dive right into learning songs which is always the first goal of any band. Let’s talk about that first goal of learning songs for minute.   Continue reading “Band Members Must Have Common Goals”

What To Do When One Of Your Band Members Won’t Practice

Having a band member that will only practice at band rehearsal is something that you can actually work around.

A Weak Bass Player Is No Problem At All For AC/DC
A Weak Bass Player Is No Problem At All For AC/DC

   What can you do when one member of your band will only play their instrument when the band gets together to practice? I get this question all the time from friends and colleagues that play in live bands. It’s actually a lot more common than you may think to have a band member only practice when the band gets together as a group to practice. It’s something that you may have to deal with in your live band so let’s discuss some of your options.

   It may seem like a no-brainer to just kick the offending member out of the band. That may seem like the easiest solution but let’s face it, this person may have other qualities that make them very hard to replace. For example, I was working with a young band that consisted of 3 brothers and it was a great marketing opportunity having 3 brothers in the same band. The problem is, one of the brothers would never practice his instrument unless it was band practice. It was very obvious that this brother was far behind the other two in terms of being prepared and also in his actual playing ability. But, it was crucial to keep this brother in the band.   Continue reading “What To Do When One Of Your Band Members Won’t Practice”

Is Your Live Band Feeling Stale? Bring In A Guest Musician

If your live band is feeling a little stale, try bringing in a guest musician to liven things up.

The Beatles With Guest Musician Billy Preston
The Beatles With Guest Musician Billy Preston

If you’ve been playing in with the same group of musicians in the same live band for a while it’s pretty common for things to become routine. A problem arises when the doing the same old routine every time you get together starts to get boring and stale. This happens to a lot of bands over the course of their career and it doesn’t matter what your bands routine is.

Your band may be playing the same 3 clubs over and over to the point of boredom. Or you may get together regularly to create music in the studio and make recordings but never play out. The Beatles became a recording studio band and guess what? It still got stale and boring even for The Beatles! So what did The Beatles do to get some fresh ideas and some new life in the band? They brought in guest musicians to play on their recordings.     Continue reading “Is Your Live Band Feeling Stale? Bring In A Guest Musician”

In A Live Band, Multiple Skills Will Increase Your Value

You can increase your value in your live band by bringing your mutiple skills and talents into the band.

Frank and Kyle Are Both Multi-Instrumentalists
Frank and Kyle Are Both Multi-Instrumentalists

 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.

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Your Live Band Must Have A Stable Core Group Of Musicians

Your live band must have a stable core of three musicians that can carry an entire gig alone.

The Core = Guitar, Bass and Drums
The Core = Guitar, Bass and Drums

Over the years I’ve played in a lot of various live band lineups. I’ve played in 3, 4, 5 and 6-piece rock bands as well as some 20 person Jazz bands. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is the bigger the band, the bigger the problems. I’m talking about scheduling problems, personality conflicts, incompatible work ethic, weak skill levels and mismatched goals for the band. It can be a real challenge in a band with a lot of people to keep it functioning. Fortunately there is an excellent solution to this problem. All you really have to do is have a compatible, stable group of core musicians.

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Getting Along Is More Important Than Musicianship

In Stereo Gets Along

   That’s right, getting along is more important than musicianship. This is band chemistry 101 for all you live musicians out there. I’ve played with some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever heard and I’ve also seen them not able to function in a band for more than a year. The musicians I play with now are all excellent. Maybe not the best in the world, but excellent players. My two bands have been together for 18 years and 14 years respectively. Let me tell you why we’ve been together for so long.

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Have Fun At Band Practice

Bill Says - I LOVE practice!

   When I was just starting to play in rock bands and learning how to be a good live musician, I absolutely loved band practice. Hanging out with the guys and learning how to play together as a band was such a great rush. We’d play and talk about music and pig out on junk food. It was great! Over the years though, band practice has become more and more of a burden. It’s not very convenient and once you play live in front of a live audience, practice just doesn’t compare for getting a rush.

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Highlight Your Skilled Players

Tony Levin - Elite Player

   Previously I wrote about how all the instruments in a band are equally important. Especially in the fact that everyone in the band is going for something greater than the individual parts. Another obvious fact of playing is that all musicians are not equally skilled on their instruments. I do believe that no matter how skilled you are on your instrument you need to remember to keep an eye on the ultimate goal of a band which is to create great music, not to simply play a great part. That being said, it would be foolish indeed not to feature your more skilled musicians with more prominent roles in the band.

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Which Instrument Is The Most Important In A Band

David Lee Roth - Not A Stellar Solo Career

  The other day I was talking to some young musicians that were just forming their first band. One of them asked me which instrument was the most important instrument in the band. This is a question I’ve heard a lot over the course of my career and I’ve had a lot of discussions with other musicians about which instrument is the most important in the band. Is it the Lead Singer? Everyone focuses on the singer when the band is playing right? How about the drums, you couldn’t have a rock party without drums. Everyone loves the lead guitar, always getting high-fives after a good solo. What about the bass, no bottom end means no rumble in the chest and it’s a lame show without some good shaking going on. Without decent keyboards the music loses it’s harmonic texture.

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A Good Show Is A Collective Effort

   I always figured if I practiced long and hard enough that I would become a good enough musician that my skills would guarantee a successful show every time I played. So I practiced and I became a good musician but I found that a good show doesn’t just depend on musical skill. A good show is a collective effort between several different factors.

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