You have what you think is a great band. You have a killer set list, you’ve practiced until you can’t stand it, and you have booked your first gig. Everyone has their equipment ready, the sound guy is booked, and the bar owner is looking forward to having you play.
Sounds great right? You think this might be the beginning of something beautiful, and you have visions of packed bars and adoring fans. You want it to last forever. Have you forgotten to address the biggest problem many new bands have? Do you know what to do with your money?
The Root of All Evil?
Money is said to be the biggest reasons marriages fall apart, and many people lose friendships over money issues. Your band is not immune. As well as you think you know your band mates, money has a funny way of bringing out the worst in people.
In one of my husband’s earliest bands, money was one of their biggest issues. It came down to them not having a plan, and people just doing what they wanted, thinking they knew what was best for the future of the band. Guess what? They had no clue. This attitude eventually destroyed all trust the members had with each other. It was downhill from there.
Equality or Nothing
If you don’t have a money plan for your band, you are asking for problems both large and small. Before you play your first show together, you should all agree upon what you want to do with your money, and what it should be used for.
A smart band puts money aside for promotional expenses, and sticks to a budget the entire band has agreed upon. It’s quite all right to split some of the money you make among the band members as long as you have all agreed to do so.
You may run into problems with band members saying they took the day off of work, so they want more money. Someone may break something, and it has to be replaced. Unexpectedly, the sound guy demands more money. You have to be prepared before any of these things come up. If your band has firm rules about money, the questions are answered before they appear.
Property of the Band
If you decide to purchase a sound system together, make sure it is the property of all the band members who have worked to pay for it. Having a rule that the property paid for by band members is equally shared will help in the event that someone must leave or is fired.
A good rule is that with equal ownership comes equal money. Keep a detailed record of what is spent on each item the band purchases. When someone is asked to leave the band, they are entitled to their share back in cash.
You could also set it up as an investment, and if someone chooses to leave, they give up their share. Do what is best for your band, but make sure these details are all sorted out before you play your first show.
Knowledge Is Power
You may choose one particular person in your band to deal with the money. You need to keep that person accountable for what they do. Money issues should be openly discussed and everyone should know how much the band is making and where everything is going.
Buy a notebook or accounting ledger and keep a running log of what money is coming in, what money is going out, and how things are being split. That way, if there is any question, the book will have the answers.
Don’t let money ruin a good thing. Being in a band and playing for live audiences should be something you all enjoy doing together. Don’t let misunderstands about money drive an irreparable wedge between you and your band mates. Keep track of everything and have a common goal worked out before you play your first note before a live audience.