CONFESSIONS OF A BASS PLAYER What it's like being in a band

This is my first blog post about what it's like to be in an unsigned band (or at least in my band). Hopefully it'll be interesting for non-musicians and musicians alike.

Am I A Pro Musician?

A question my band get asked a lot when we're out on the road is: 'so I guess you guys are doing this full time now?' - it's kind of met with an awkward silence from me because as much as I want to say 'yes' the truthful answer is a definite 'no'....

There's a certain stigma around telling people you have a day job when you're a musician, especially around other musos. One gig springs to mind where our support act was explaining how she's 'on tour' and has 'her own studio' - I guess what she was saying was true, but the tour is one gig a week and the studio is her mum's attic.

Our regular rehearsals in my mum's living room...

Why can't us musicians be more truthful about what it's like being in a band? We work really hard doing tons of gigs driving around the country from Oxford. It certainly feels 'full time' to me when I travel from Oxford to Leeds for a show, getting home at 2am, having to be up for work at 7:30am and playing a hometown show that same evening.

Recently I've been exploring the idea that this balance between day jobs and playing shows is the new 'full time' for musicians. Of course there are those who solely play in touring bands, but even some of these people struggle (check out this Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/30/rocknroll-stardom-live-music-struggling-bands-slow-club-brawlers). And there are those who play at functions (such as weddings and bar mitzvahs), but that often leaves very little time to perform in originals bands.

Let's do some maths! There are 5 people in my band, we'd like to earn £20,000 each a year (I think that's a fair amount), £20,000 x 5 = £100,000 a year the band needs to make through sales and playing gigs. Now management will take let's say 15% to 20% of that so let's say ideally we want to earn £120,000 - that's a lot of money!

The answer, I believe, lies in hard work and creativity. One of my favourite bands Vulfpeck really hit the mark in this field - on top of their stellar musicianship they've taken the world by storm with their viral videos and crazy streaming stunts. Have a read of this to see how they made $20,000 on Spotify: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jul/25/vulpeck-the-band-who-made-20000-from-their-silent-spotify-album

This is how we make top dollar at gigs...

It's too easy to blame big media companies and corporate record labels - if your music is good it'll be heard (eventually).

Check out the video below if you want to watch a video of my band Little Brother Eli - we've put in the hard work so far ✌🏼️

Created By
J R
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