Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Music Band Dynamics

I am not a musician, but I'd like to share a couple insights and pose some questions about music bands. First of all, why does the lead singer of a band always seem to hog all the fame? I'm talking about all the Paul McCartney types out there who get most of the publicity for the group.

I recently saw a picture of a country music band and there was a guy on stage playing the fiddle. I'm pretty sure it was not Charlie Daniels, but rather some dude who comes out to accompany certain songs and has an occasional solo. It made me wonder how much money he makes compared to the other band members.

Do most bands split the money evenly among the performers? If they do, then groups like Rush must be happy to divide their income by 3 as opposed to Earth Wind and Fire who have to split it 16 ways. Moby is probably pretty stoked to be able to keep his entire check to himself.

This got me thinking about the pecking order when it comes to which instruments or roles are considered most valued in a band. I'm guessing it might be close to how I ranked them below. I apologize that most of my examples are from the 80's. I guess you can tell when I was a teenager.

1) Lead singer prima donnas (Steven Tyler, David Lee Roth, Mick Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi, Bono)
2) Eccentric lead guitarists (Eddie Van Halen, Rick Nielsen, Angus Young, Pete Townsend, Slash)
3) Bass players (Les Claypool, Geddy Lee, Flea, John Entwistle)
4) Drummers (Stewart Copeland, Neil Peart, Tommy Lee, Bun E. Carlos, Charlie Watts)
5) Keyboards (This was a hard one since most famous keyboard guys are solo artists like Elton John, Billy Joel, Chick Corea, and Ray Charles and are not really known for being part of a band.)
6) Miscellaneous (This includes back up singers, tambourine players, saxophones, horns, etc.

Even though drummers fall in the middle of the pack, I think they should earn more than the others since they are usually hidden at the back of the stage and because drums are far more dangerous due to the higher risk of spontaneous combustion associated with that instrument.


mCat said...

Drummers totally should be getting most of the take. Without them, the band pretty much sucks.

And no Freddy Mercury for lead singer. Love me some Queen. And Dennis DeYoung from Styx.

Ah.....those were the days

Anonymous said...

Nice Spinal Tap tribute!

W.C.Camp said...

Don't know anything about today's pay scale but in the early 60's a Union side man musician got $8 for a three hour job and the leader got a double share. Bigger bands of the same popularity no way book for the same rate as a single lead singer with a 3 piece back-up. If you were to see what is going on behind the stage, some of those large bands need 20 and 30 semis and motorhomes to transport all the junk that goes into a show. Tough life even when the money is honey!! Interesting post! W.C.C.

Kal said...

Everyone in the band who plays and instrument or is on the letterhead gets paid the same. If everyone works together it's lightning in a bottle. QUEEN and ABBA or early GUNS AND ROSES are three groups off the top of my head. You need stregth in all areas if you are going to be great.

Volcalists - Freddy Mercury/George Michaels/Axel Rose

Guitarists - Brian May/Slash

Drummer - Neil Pert/Stewart Copland

Songwriting - Dave Stewart/Jeff Lynn

Female Volcalist - Annie Lennox/Natalie Merchant