Are Bands Even Worth It?

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
#1
Those of you who follow my 'Chronicles of Me' thread will know that, as a musician, being in a band is way, way, down on my list of musical career paths.

The main reason being there is a lot more money, opportunities and respect in a lot of other paths - the trouble is the require a slightly different skill set.

So I would like to open the topic to debate and see what you people think. As a musician, why only be in a band? People always seem to feel the need to have a band as focus, and to 'make it big' and bypass a lot of other good musical gigs.

It's a very common complaint that bands get screwed over by promoters, struggle to make money and generally have a very hard time getting by. When the end of school was approaching for me I started to seriously think about music and bands, and decided against being a 'rockstar' as it always seems to be the main focus of musicians but in reality is the vast minority of the industry.

So far as a 22 year old I have been paid to compose, teach, transcribe and play, as session guy, in live and studio environments and it really bothers me when people say that music is impossible, or that you simply have to be 'lucky' to make progress when it's simply not true.

I have a good bunch of friends from university that are in bands that they started at uni, and are now singed, but still playing the same old clubs and still treading the same old ground. My other group of friends who are not in bands (composers mainly) are doing great and are making steady progress in writing for film, video games and TV.

So why always aim to be in a band when there are tonnes of other opportunities out there!? I honestly feel that if I had not made the choice to not priorities band live I would not have made as much progress in other areas of my music.

Thoughts?
 

DrKarnivore

Browsing your web and SMS history
Staff member
#2
Because being in a band was all I wanted to do, write songs, play shows, record albums for their own and others entertainment.

Not everyone wants to be a studio\session\someone's guitar bitch.

Some of us a are wild maverick rock and rollers.

2 completely different paths where an instrument and music is the common denominator.
 
#3
Depends on what you enjoy most I guess. My main focus is audio engineering, and that's what I plan to make a career out of, but I still love playing with my band. The fact that the rest of the guys in the band are all awesome guys and brilliant musicians themselves always helps though. But the band isn't the main focus, and we've all agreed that even if we don't make a single penny from this band, as long as we make some music that we can look back on in 10/20 years and be proud of, then we're happy. I wouldn't enjoy it half as much if I were playing covers, or the rest of the band were untalented, unreliable fuckwits, though.

I do agree that trying to make a living through 'being a rockstar' is a pretty daft way to go, however.
 

DrJazztap

Well-Known Member
#4
Hmm I've never really bought into the whole "making it" schtick. For me it's always been like the kid whose really good at football and plays at the weekend for fun. I never pinned all of my dreams and aspirations on making it big (maybe im just not that driven ?!? Or too cynical?) I do think being in a band is certainly worth it, even if you don't buy into the "making it" mentality.
I have friends that have invested everything into trying to make it, and yeah some small label success. I just think that bands making it big, or more specifically, again this maybe just me personally speaking. A musically intricate and interesting band making a sustainable income from music is pretty pie in the sky. I know we live in an age of blandness and tripe. And musically interesting bands can get by (meshuggah, dillinger, tomahawk etc) through the digital age, but i'd imagine it takes a fuck load of work (not saying you dont work hard sam :)). I mean an originals band would have to do more work than say a decent Queen tribute act? The other question then is are you making art or trying to maintain a sustainable regular income? I think if its the latter, then perhaps you may have to dilute or make slightly more accessible music? (do you know any non musicians who listen to free jazz?):p

Interacting with other musicians, playing music in a group teaches you life lessons (not to judge a book by it's cover, lessons in humility, socialising skills, it increases self confidence, increases mental stimulation and levels of creativity). Or maybe i've misread all of it, and it's all about trying to pick up chicks :p (yeah soooo many chicks because of the geetarr, you lied to me pugwall).
I do wish my scope was increased when i was in college, i literally finished my course and that was that. No real direction from the teachers, pretty dire tbh. I would have loved to have got into music history or some form of musical sociology study. Why certain chordal sequences and melodies stick more than others (cant just be boobs and abs?)
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
#5
Because being in a band was all I wanted to do, write songs, play shows, record albums for their own and others entertainment.

Not everyone wants to be a studio\session\someone's guitar bitch.

Some of us a are wild maverick rock and rollers.

2 completely different paths where an instrument and music is the common denominator.
I get that not every one is happy as a guitar bitch (new favorite term)

But would you rather work uber hard in a band with dwindling prospects, or take a slightly more 'behind the scenes' route and make a living still doing music - while at the same time increasing your chances of getting to know the right people.

It's just something I've always though about and it's interesting to hear what others have to say :D

So for you is it a complete your music or nothing type situation?
 

DrKarnivore

Browsing your web and SMS history
Staff member
#6
I get that not every one is happy as a guitar bitch (new favorite term)

But would you rather work uber hard in a band with dwindling prospects, or take a slightly more 'behind the scenes' route and make a living still doing music - while at the same time increasing your chances of getting to know the right people.

It's just something I've always though about and it's interesting to hear what others have to say :D

So for you is it a complete your music or nothing type situation?

It was.

Obviously not now so much I`m 40 and in a cover band, that's just for R&R and S&G`s though. I`m still writing behind stuff, albeit on my own.
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
#7
The other question then is are you making art or trying to maintain a sustainable regular income?
A lot of good things said there :) But this ^^ I guess is what it comes down to. I do feel, that mainly in guitarist, there has to be this "I'm going to be a rockstar and never play another note from anyone else" and I just, hopefully, want to show people that it is 100% possible to make a living from music the second you reaslise that there are thousands of people out there that want you to play their music.

I just have a lot of band friends that struggle, and could easily develop some decent musical skills that would pay the bills (that rhymed!) but are just too proud/pretentious and feel that they are the artists so therefor much wait for the world to reaslise how great they are...
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
#8
It was.

Obviously not now so much I`m 40 and in a cover band, that's just for R&R and S&G`s though. I`m still writing behind stuff, albeit on my own.
If you could go back do you reckon you would go into the session/transcribing/composing route at all? Or even wished you had pushed even harder with the band?
 

moonman

Well-Known Member
#9
I totally understand what you are getting at.

The last time I was in a band, I was 20 and it was during my 3 years studying music at college with the intention of going on into Uni to become a teacher. I played with many (roughly 150) other musicians and bands back then and although I enjoyed only a small part of it all, gigging regularly was enough to discourage me from wanting to be in a band because it seemed that conflict was always inevitable (esp amongst musicians) and the general headache of all the preperations before a gig used to piss me off most of the time. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to think that "some kind of magic" will one day bring me into touch with a great band (that works), but the likelyhood of that happening isn't worth waiting or trying for imo. If it didn't happen back then when people like myself where in abundance, it's even less likely now.

That's not to say that people should avoid the "band thing", it just would not be my prefered way forward - I'd much rather do what Peachy is doing and not have to constantly deal with egos or rely / worry about others so much.

So to answer you're question - (in a nut shell).......
Spiritually - probably
Financially - very probably not.
 

Darfuria

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#10
Bands are completely worth it if you want to be in a band. Just like being a session musician is completely worth it if that's what you want to do. It really comes down to what you mean by "worth". Achieving personal goals and feeling a sense of accomplishment makes something worthwhile regardless of whether it's financially profitable/viable.

I think it's not worth just being a band and not utilising anything modern to boost your fanbase and income. That seems foolish.
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
#11
Bands are completely worth it if you want to be in a band. Just like being a session musician is completely worth it if that's what you want to do. It really comes down to what you mean by "worth". Achieving personal goals and feeling a sense of accomplishment makes something worthwhile regardless of whether it's financially profitable/viable.

I think it's not worth just being a band and not utilising anything modern to boost your fanbase and income. That seems foolish.
My point is more so that bands, most of the time, are a hell of a lot of work for little pay off. Just with my experience in other areas of music it has been half the work with twice the pay off - compared to my band experiences and the experiences of friends.

People always seem to think that being in a band is the only way to make big money in music, so they chose to only with with bands, but that's just not true! (of course you can make a lot of money, but there are lots of other ways too :) )

Does that make sense :S
 

DrKarnivore

Browsing your web and SMS history
Staff member
#13
If you could go back do you reckon you would go into the session/transcribing/composing route at all? Or even wished you had pushed even harder with the band?

I didn`t consider being a session musician and never would as I`ve never had the slightest interest in music theory!

Yes, I wished I`d had the balls to push harder with my bands or taken a couple of oppos that came my way. But again, it was all down to taking risks.
 

DrJazztap

Well-Known Member
#14
A lot of good things said there :) But this ^^ I guess is what it comes down to. I do feel, that mainly in guitarist, there has to be this "I'm going to be a rockstar and never play another note from anyone else" and I just, hopefully, want to show people that it is 100% possible to make a living from music the second you reaslise that there are thousands of people out there that want you to play their music.

I just have a lot of band friends that struggle, and could easily develop some decent musical skills that would pay the bills (that rhymed!) but are just too proud/pretentious and feel that they are the artists so therefor much wait for the world to reaslise how great they are...
I'm not saying you can't do both and make a living from it, but you have to realise like you've said that you are not going to be the next Eric Clapton. I prefer to play original music, because i like the creative aspect of it. I spent far too long plodding through chord sheets in my youth for it to interest me anymore. The guitar is kind of like a puzzle for me. If i really needed money then i'd eat humble pie and see if i could get a gig in a covers band.
I'm a massive Holdsworth freak and I've read soo many stories of him trying to make it.
  • Honking an AC30 through the underground, only have enough money to buy some friend chicken and feeling like a loaded bomb after a recording session.
  • Selling a house to buy a synth axe (okay 80s indulgence).
  • Talking to Van Halen about quitting trying to make it in the states and heading back to the UK to work in a factory.
  • Crashing on guys couch when he moved to London.
  • In a questions and answers session i attended. He confessed that he was told by his dad "every time you feel the urge to play a pentatonic box shape, imagine somebody slashing your wrists".
Each time I read one of those I thought "jeeez your Allan "f'in" Holdsworth, how can people not hear your awesomeness immediately????!?" Yes he's not easily accessible or popular even. But if he struggled as much as that, what chance do I have with my original music? So yeah maybe im pessimistic. But for me, that's focus.
I auditioned and could have joined a successful reggae/ska band about a year ago. Now they were a very tight/professional sounding band. But they sounded exactly the same as madness. They had conversations about "making it", the average age of the band was late 30s to early 40s. Hats off if they do, but we already have madness...

As much as Simon Cowell gets a bad wrap, when he came along initially for me, it was like a breath of fresh air. Because you know as well i do, that a professional musician has to practice, has to turn up on time and has to be ready to get shit done. You have to be a certain standard. All Mr Cowell did was point out to misguided karaoke singers that they simply do not have the level of talent needed (or didnt fit the mould) to make it on a professional level.
 

stuh84

Well-Known Member
#16
My point is more so that bands, most of the time, are a hell of a lot of work for little pay off. Just with my experience in other areas of music it has been half the work with twice the pay off - compared to my band experiences and the experiences of friends.

People always seem to think that being in a band is the only way to make big money in music, so they chose to only with with bands, but that's just not true! (of course you can make a lot of money, but there are lots of other ways too :) )

Does that make sense :S
You seem to be confusing financial gain with self fulfilment.

I have a great job which I get paid a lot for and really enjoy. In my spare time I play in my bands because that's what I enjoy.

Think of it like cars. Some people get to race them and make huge amounts of money. Some people make huge amounts of money designing them. Does that make me think I shouldn't be driving my car, because I'm not making money by driving it?

End of the day, if what's important to you is making the music pay, then that ain't a problem. Being confused that others put the time in for a lot of the time pure enjoyment without the hope of financial gain is a very weird way to approach it.
 

woody77

Preparing To Join Club 40
#17
Jimmy Page was a session player, which direction did he prefer in the end. In my opinion, being in a band would be much more fun. You have more freedom to express in a band, not restricted to what's written on a piece of paper. But everyone's different, and if you are happy Peachy than carry on the direction you are taking. Or you could take a page out of Fred's book, and have the best of both worlds.
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
#18
You seem to be confusing financial gain with self fulfilment.

I have a great job which I get paid a lot for and really enjoy. In my spare time I play in my bands because that's what I enjoy.

Think of it like cars. Some people get to race them and make huge amounts of money. Some people make huge amounts of money designing them. Does that make me think I shouldn't be driving my car, because I'm not making money by driving it?

End of the day, if what's important to you is making the music pay, then that ain't a problem. Being confused that others put the time in for a lot of the time pure enjoyment without the hope of financial gain is a very weird way to approach it.
I should have been clearer in the original post - I'm talking more about a musical career then just a hobby. If it's your hobby knock yourself out! As a career though I think it's a pure lie that being in a band is the only way to make money/ to have an kind of integrity
 

peachy901

Priest in the Church of Fender
#20
Who's saying that's the case? That's obviously not true. Dorje obviously doesn't pay Rob's bills, or The Drills Phil X's.
That's my point!

A lot of guys from uni and various other friends sink all their hopes into being in bands without seeing the bigger picture.
 
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