Is Managing My Husband's Band A Bad Idea?

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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 (whee 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 where they do open mic has offered them a spot on a bill.
Heres 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 rather 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% 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!

Thanks!
Kim

Dear Kim,
Before we ponder the potentials of this, 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 handholding and butt wiping is metaphorical rather than literal.

Of course the band would more than happy to have to you take the reigns! 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 12 minutes a week. Set up a shared Google calendar and make that a collective six minutes tops. If someone is flakey and laissez faire about showing, they can get a reminder text (one minute) and practice starts without them because tuff titty, they are a grown up.

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 email 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.

You babysitting their band this early in the game means that they never learn how to do this stuff, how to be responsible, what the next steps are. And no matter how much anyone gives you their "I'm just an artist," rap--they need to know. Understanding the basic framework of the world where they operate and what sort of work that involves is fundamental. It would be detrimental for them, as a band just getting a toehold in a scene to have you do their schmoozing and networking for them. That is how bands get shows much of the time--being friendly with other bands. If someone rolled up to them after their set and was like "That was awesome, we have a show coming up, you should totally get on the bill," and your husband or his bandmates are all "Uh, yeah, go talk to our manager over at the bar about that," you best believe that your husband's band would be the butt of every intraband joke in that other bands van that night.


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