How Does a Band Manage Its Finances?
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.
My question is more of a means to avoid drama and mistakes than to recover from it, so it might not be worth your time for the column, but I thought I would ask anyway. Are there any books or other resources you could recommend for a band that manages itself? Areas of particular interest are finances and booking, but since I don't know what I don't know, I'm sure any list I could present would be far from comprehensive. At age 30, we're a little old for beginners, and there aren't a lot of people doing what we're trying to do in our area that we could turn to for expertise. What are your suggestions for managing income if and when there is any? Should we start a bank account? Are there unexpected costs that we might encounter or things we should have money on hand to cover in the course of playing shows? Pessimist question: If we split the cost of equipment like a PA, should we discuss what will happen to it when the band ceases to exist?
You are a pessimist after mine own flinty heart: planning for the band's inevitable demise before you have barely played shows! If only more bands were like yours. Sigh.
You are smart to ponder these things now, though as you have figured out already, a new band's cash flow is maybe mid-double digits. "If there is any"--"if" is the optimal phrase here--and it's a big if. Right now your expenses are practice space, gas to gigs, the purchase of a PA. If you have a collectively-held band vehicle (and/or trailer) that is not just one person's ride, there is the maintenance, upkeep, insurance and Triple A. If it's one person's vehicle that is often used for band purposes, they should be reimbursed for an agreed-on share of those expenses, proportionate to use. Included in this talk/agreement: who pays parking tickets? Fender-bender damage? My opinion is whomever did it/parked it/sideswiped that Accord lays out that cash.