Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Aftermath in 4 Parts: Part 1

My last post before my re-commitment to the blog was July 15, 2009. What difference 5 months can make.

Tonight starts the countdown to my termination with Soul Track Mind. It's going to be very cold tonight in Austin and normally I would stay home. To be honest, the advice my friends gave me was to leave after the New Years Eve gig. The reasons I didn't leave:

1. I agreed to play until Saturday, January 23. That's a gig with T Bird & the Breaks, which is the best gig STM has to date.

2. The remaining gigs provide a great opportunity for me to advertise my skills as a bassist if someone needs one.

3. I have a new 2008 Fender American P-Bass I just paid off I want to try out live. I'm going to get it set up James Jamerson style at The Bass Emporium later this week.

4. I love to play. Music is the ultimate drug to me. I love to play.

The interesting story is the process STM is using to replace me. I'm still friends (and will work with) some members of the band. Yesterday I got an unsolicited call from a member telling me about an audition that didn't go to well and perhaps the back-up plan after firing me wasn't exactly thought out. They will do what they have to do. That includes an option of paying me or another professional player (plus a new horn section) to sit in. With a weekly gig like TC's, that will eventually present problems from a business and performance point of view.

STM had a revenue sharing agreement of 50% went into a band fund (covering expenses such as advertising, recording costs, merchandise costs, website, etc.) and the other 50% split evenly amongst the members of the group. Revenue is based on how many people STM pulls to each gig (STM is not on the level to have a standard fee). So if STM has to pay a standard fee to me, another bassist and/or a horn section (consisting of at least 2 horns) that's an overhead cost that effects the variable amount that will go to the rest of the band. Having contract players always effects the performance (it's difficult to get professional players to rehearse once a week and gig without paying for rehearsals.) Plus, since we are not talking thousands of dollars (more like tens of dollars)it will be difficult for the band to make money to keep paying for other expenses. Those expanses are critical-gotta keep the website up, an good quality album has to get done before anything close to a success tour can happen, tour expenses are not cheap (especially with a large band), to generate revenue merchandise will need to be bought to sell, quality posters and fliers to be printed and distributed, etc. Like most unsigned bands, STM has members with different jobs and income levels. This can lead to additional financial strains on some members. Uneven performances can lead to a crowd drop off "Man, they don't sound the same..." If attendance drops off at gigs, revenue to the band and more importantly to the club will drop off. Clubs tend not to like when attendance drops off.

If that happens, there could be a hungry band that says "Can we get a shot?" TCs, like any club will have to listen.

I'm not saying this because it was me who got canned. I've been fired before and I've fired people from bands. Like Hyman Roth says, "This is the business we have chosen." When you make a move like this, you have to be prepared with the consequences. More insights to come...