Is being a Pro a blessing and a curse?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by MrWookiee, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    Houston
    So much here that I've known for years, but never could get loser bandmates to wrap their thick heads around. That bit about watch your volume...last band I was in would routinely just blow out a room just because they could, two bass bins and four tops in a bar the size of a decent walk-in closet. Just stupid. Didn't help that the "sound man" was inept.

    -m
     
    MrWookiee, Tony65x55 and AZBrahma like this.
  2. dlew919

    dlew919 Country Gent

    Jul 18, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    If you want to be a professional musician, then maybe reconsider. If you have to be, you have no choice.
     
  3. NJDevil

    NJDevil Synchromatic

    942
    Jul 9, 2014
    Commack, NY
    I kind of see it in the same way as being an executive chef. People believe that the creative aspect of making living creating with food is sexy.....they see it as a reflection of how celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse or Tom Colicchio are portrayed on TV with glitz, tons of money and and casual life.

    In reality, the work is brutal. I know some friends that own restaurants, another that has spent time as an executive chef in a couple hot NYC restaurants and others. It brutal and I compare it to the life of gigging musician.

    For the executive chef, cooking is only a small portion......the pinnacle of years spent as line cook, sous chef and other positions. By the time your at the top? Your shot. Now the executive chef spends most of their time creating (experimenting, commanding the supply chain of ingredients and venturing into other components that fashion the position as nose-to-the grindstone 20 hr/day job. Many resort to drugs to "take the edge off". Anthony Bourdain colored it quite nicely in his books.

    I think the only real "pay-off" in that area is to save your money thru the years (it's not like one has time for a personal life) is to be a restaurateur....one who opens their own business as a restaurant. If successful, the payoff can be massive. But those folks are the .1%. Stephen Hanson and Danny Meyer are two such individuals but they sacrificed for sure.

    My guess is that being a famous musician isn't all that different. Yes....There are a few like Sinatra, Springsteen, Bon Jovi and a few other raking in the green, but still the 1%.
     
  4. Fat Bastid

    Fat Bastid Gretschie

    171
    Jan 16, 2021
    England
    My hat is off to anyone who attempts to make a living as a musician..
    These days you need to be a booking agent, merch seller, web master and marketing genius as well as an entertainer, roadie and sound engineer, plus have the people skills to keep a bunch of people together to even get to the stage!! With much luck almost everything will fall into place..
     
    Tony65x55 and mr coffee like this.
  5. Fat Bastid

    Fat Bastid Gretschie

    171
    Jan 16, 2021
    England
    Oh.. I forgot to mention an accountant and a lawyer too!!
     
    Tony65x55 and mr coffee like this.
  6. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    A pro who is earning money by playing the same songs a thousand times for the fans is a privileged person.

    You invested your time in composing a song and -if the world likes it- you can replicate it as often as you wish and get your money from it. That`s a very efficient way to work. Like develloping the Nutella recipe and selling it for decades.
    If you get bored with it you can always do a little extended version, put in a improvisiation or re-arrange it in a different way. If that is not sufficient you can invite guests to give your songs a new colour or you work out a different stage-show to put it in a different light.
    Nobody is hindering your creative process outside the stage. You can work on your next song and hope that it will find it`s ways into your setlist.
    I think that being a touring pro is still a very creative way to spent a life.
    I would love it.
     
    gtttrrr likes this.
  7. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    During the eighties my bandmates and I really tried hard to make a living as profesional musicians.
    We invested most of our time in rehearsing, writing songs, networking, planning/building the stage-production, recording, booking, etc., etc..
    It was a great experience but after ca 10 years we gave up because there was no breakethrough and our debts became more and more uncontrollable.
    So we got regular jobs and families and gave up on that project.
    We still play together on a non-professional level. That`s still enjoyable but it`s not what we originally planned....
    But we can still say: At least we tried it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  8. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    Making it in the music business is a very hard task.
    Especially in times of social-media which gives a platform for everybody and his grandma.
    But you can make good use of it. When you are open to new technology there are surprising concepts that seem to work even today:
    Joe Bonamassa is not only a fine musician but a clever businessman, too.
    Together with a very small team of people (with whom he is working with for many years) he succeded to keep production, marketing, managemet, publishing and promotion in his hands. So the revenues of all stages will go to him. Furthermore he is using new technologies like NFT to sell his work.
    So basically you have to be a musician and an entrepreneur to make it. That`s a combination you will not find all-too often.
     
    Robbie likes this.
  9. AZBrahma

    AZBrahma Gretschie

    392
    Dec 18, 2020
    Arizona
    'Sound men' were my least favorite people, and aspect, of playing out. The truth of the matter is that most are half competent at their best. It was a constant battle for me on the gigging/touring circuit. In the earlier years I'd stand there and watch them put a mic dead center on the dust cap of my amp's speaker. When he'd walk away I'd put it where it was supposed to go to, you know, actually sound decent. I've been badly shocked by a lighting riser because dope-butt didn't ground it correctly. Even when we started going directly to FOH and just used monitor wedges on stage (to better control stage volume), the dunces still couldn't get FOH mixes sounding good. I've had completely dead starts, inaudible monitor levels, blown out solo levels, dumb effects applied, anything stupid a sound man can do I've experienced.

    I once considered being a sound man just because I'd suck way, way less that the vast majority I've encountered.
     
    mr coffee likes this.
  10. Robbie

    Robbie Friend of Fred

    Age:
    68
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    It’s called The Music Business. If anyone wants to take a run at being a full time Professional they’ll need to have their chops together in both aspects…Music and Business for their best chance of succeeding, IMHO.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  11. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    That sounds like the last gig we did, before lockdown. It was a community event we did for free and they provided sound. The “sound men” literally did not speak so much as one word to us and acted as if we were inanimate objects that they had to work around. The monitors were completely wrong; all I could hear was my guitar. My vocals were all but inaudible and I couldn’t hear the rest of the band. So let’s get this straight, somehow I needed my guitar to be prominent through the monitors, even though I was standing in front of my amp, yet my vocals were unimportant and the rest of the band were just now inaudible, yet I was supposed to keep time with them. Couple this with the fact that these “sound men” were uncommunicative and not even slightly interested in our opinions of how it sounded to us, and you had a recipe for disaster.
     
  12. Robbie

    Robbie Friend of Fred

    Age:
    68
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    Well put @Tony65x55
     
  13. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    Houston
    There are good ones out there. I've worked with a few. A big part of my early twenties, I was really fortunate to be learning how to run sound under the guidance of some really cool guys, I don't think I'm great but I could get a decent mix for most bands. Management at the venue loved me and returning bands always requested me, so I must have been doing something right. It helped that I was working with a well thought out PA, a more or less permanent installation that had already been EQed well for the room and the EQs locked down.

    One reason I've always been wireless is so I could get off the stage and see what FOH sounded like. (Hint: when the inept sound guy figures that out, they don't like it.) A lot of times, especially in small rooms, less is more and keep it simple, stupid. One of the most fun bands I've ever been in, I was the sound guy, I knew roughly where everything should be to start, and I'd play through sound check from the floor. It wasn't that hard, and it was pretty much set it and forget it. Maybe a tweak to the monitors early on or something.

    -m
     
    loudnlousy likes this.
  14. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    I made a different experience.
    If you have a true professional at your mixing board it is a big asset.
    Usually they have much more experience "how it`s done right" than any amateur musician gigging once a month. They mixed hundereds of bands in indoor-and outdoor settings. So I am usually very humble with them and respecting them for their art.
    When we found a gifted soundengineer we made sure that he mixed every gig that we had. Basically he was our fith bandmember and was paid accordingly.
    The problem is, that many bands do not want to pay for a good man at the board. So they take whoever will claim to be able to do it /whoever will charge the least money for it.
    So you get what you paid for.
     
  15. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Gretschified

    Age:
    65
    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    I break "Sound Men" into four categories.

    25% are very good. They are a pleasure to work with and truly improve the sound, FOH and on the stage. The professionals.

    25% are adequate. They can amplify the sound but you can expect some issues. With many of them, you can work things out but sometimes you just have to live with it as it's not that awful.

    25% are not adequate. They actually degrade the band's sound quality. They might understand the concept of monitors but truly have no idea of how they affect the musicians. FOH just gets loud but not good sounding. Monitors are a mess.

    25% are atrocious and should be shot and p*ssed on. They are usually someone's brother-in-law and are filling in because the real sound guy got sick. They have no clue how to work the equipment, no clue how to achieve a proper mix, no clue about anything at all actually. Like the doofus I had to show - on his gear - how to achieve a separate monitor mix. And then actually explain to him what it is and what it does. These guys could screw up the Lord's Prayer and all musicians have been subjected to one of these fools at least 25% of the time. It sure makes you appreciate the good ones.
     
    mr coffee and MrWookiee like this.
  16. MrWookiee

    MrWookiee Synchromatic

    873
    Jun 17, 2020
    SoCal, USA
    Lots of great insights from you all, thanks for sharing! I've been fortunate enough to experience a fleeting, lighting-in-a-bottle moment maybe two or three times, where "it" happened during a performance - exactly like Supertramp's lyric, "When you're up on the stage it's so unbelieveable / Oh, unforgettable, how they adore you". It is as elusive as a unicorn - at least to an amateur - and about as good as life gets. Then your wife makes you take out the trash.
    Does/did that feeling make the Pro grind worth it for you?
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  17. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Sounds like my mantra of the past few years, Success is its own punishment.
     
    dlew919 likes this.
  18. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    That`s why you always should bring your own.
     
    dlew919 and Tony65x55 like this.
  19. Ducksteino

    Ducksteino Newbie

    3
    Jun 13, 2021
    NY
    "Yeah, it's pretty common. I've heard more than a few stories of aspiring musicians asking their heroes if they had any advice, and the advice was always something to the effect of "don't bother."

    I was a professional dancer for 20 years. I worked for a famous choreographer and his answer to aspiring dancers was to do something else. That even if they couldn't imagine doing something else they may not make it. Lots of similarities between the fields. Among them is performing the hits. One of my boss's 'hits' closed every show for 3 years. The Alvin Ailey Dance company performs Revelations on almost every show on tour and has since the 1970's. Also, an after-dance career transition is built into that field, but that doesn't make it easy.
     
    mr coffee and MrWookiee like this.
  20. Wavey

    Wavey Gretschie

    125
    Dec 31, 2016
    NorCal
    I was in a band from the late 80s through the 90s. We rarely played outside of the small area where everyone lived. Once we got established, we usually had one gig per week, sometimes two, and played pretty much every venue in town along with a lot of parties.

    It was something like a "community" band with 6, 7 or 8 players in the band at any one gig, and an even larger number of local musicians who had been in the band at one time or another, so there was something like a rotating lineup. Friends who were in the audience, and sometimes even unknown people, would jump on the stage and play with us, banging away at some percussion instrument or on a conga drum! As I traveled frequently overseas in those days, I would be out of the lineup until after I returned. Some of the players were pros who had their own bands and played with us when we had gigs, while the rest of us had other means of income. In those days on more than one occasion I would jet in from somewhere, pick up my amp and guitar and drive off to a gig later that night. Back then I had the energy and endurance to do that sort of thing, plus of course there was the aspect of fun, excitement and friendship that fueled the whole experience (or experiment, which is what it felt like most of the time).

    Our Y2K gig was our biggest and pretty much our last, the band even had to be reassembled to do it as most of the guys had called it quits after 10 years - a development which I found disappointing. We played one or two more parties later that year, by special request, and then it was over. Work (and travel) kept me busy for the following 20 years, and I refocused my guitar playing away from the styles I had played in the band, while enjoying numerous jam sessions with friends. I would join a band again, all these years later, under the right circumstances, as I always considered it a special experience to interact with my bandmates and with the people for whom we performed.
     
    Ducksteino and MrWookiee like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.