Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
Hi Fan, My husband, two cousins and a friend have been practicing in my basement for about two years. (Wee for me!!! LOL.) They have played quite a few open-mics with good response. A few local bands have invited them to be openers, and the bar that they do open mics at has offered them spots on a bills.
Here's the problem: My husband is the lead singer and is super type A, so he has been doing most of the "managing." With his full-time job, he'd rather spend his free time writing songs than doing all the coordinating of practice time, shows, etc. All the other guys are kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants-type characters with no interest in being in charge. My husband asked me if I wanted to take over that kind of stuff -- including possibly putting together a promo package and everything else that will come down the road (merch, etc.). I'm 99 percent sure the other members would approve.
My question is: what are the biggest factors I need to think about? How to network? How to deal with a band that is mostly family? I am intrigued by the opportunity but have some reservations. Any advice you have for me would've greatly appreciated!
Dear Kim, Before we ponder the potentials here, my first question is this: Do you want to get involved in your husband's creative life? Sure, lots of couples have made this arrangement work (Celine Dion and her old man, Christina Aguilera is dating her assistant), but in my mind I instantly went to worst-case scenario where it's like 2:30 in the morning after load out and they are like, "What the hell, Kim? We only got paid $40?!" and you have to ride home in silence while they all load their gear into your basement. I don't know if you guys have kids, but managing a band is a lot like being a mom, except the hand holding and butt wiping is merely metaphorical rather than literal.
Of course the band would be more than happy to have you take the reins! It's more fun to just be free and creative, just devote yourself to easy parts of being in a band. Yet, I cannot imagine how dealing with the details of scheduling regular band practices at your own home requires more than twelve minutes a week. Set up a shared Google calendar and make that a collective six minutes tops. If someone is flaky and laissez faire about showing, they can get a reminder text (one minute) and practice starts without them because tough titty, they are a grownup.
So, the things that should be concerns here are: 1) This band doesn't need help; 2) They need to learn to help themselves; 3) Someone else doing this for them at this point could actually hurt them.
A band whose career has just left its open-mic infancy does not need an anything package. A Facebook page with cursory info, a clear photo and a contact e-mail should suffice for a while. Until they have a tangible fanbase of people who are not work buddies and blood relations, there is no need to make merch beyond, like, a few buttons or stickers to give friends. One or even three legit bookings at a venue does not mandate cash outlay for hoodies, or getting someone design a band logo or a fancy website. Though maybe your husband is just trying to write a career arc into your job description. Or maybe this first-real-gig booking has him really dreaming the dream. Such is the nature of achievement -- no shots, anonymous husband.