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Thread: Should vocalists provide their own PA?

  1. #1
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Should vocalists provide their own PA?

    So, my bandmates have been a bunch of little b*tches lately... you know how it goes, the last minute backouts, the theoretical interest in practice and gigs that never materializes. So, I'm looking to move on, and have been searching a bit.

    I get in contact with a fellow that seems nice enough, an "experienced vocalist" that wants to get an 80's and on rock group together, inform him that I have a practice space, but the only equipment I have is my guitar gear. Which I think is reasonable, I'm a guitar player and nothing else. He specifically asks if I have PA equipment, and I say no. So he suggests that maybe we should work on some acoustic stuff.

    DUDE.

    I didn't buy 2 PRS guitars, a PRS amp, and a pimped out pedal board to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. To be fair, this guy has been very pleasant, but it just grinds my gears when supposedly experienced vocalists expect to walk into a gold mine of band equipment, and don't think they have to contribute at all (this has happened to me before). Especially when they whine about having to buy a good vocal mic, stuff like that. Granted, I also don't expect them to have a PA system to play at an NFL stadium, but it would be nice if they at least had something that could handle their vocals at practice and small gigs where the instruments aren't being mic'd. Even as someone who only has SE gear, between amps, guitars, pedals, upgrades to gear, my gig rig comes in around $4G's. I'm not saying this to brag - I know there are people here who bring single guitars to a gig worth as much as my whole setup. And how much more frustrating must it be when you've got $10 grand in your rig, and a whiny vocalist who won't spend a fraction of that on PA gear? My point is, if guitarists, bassists, and drummers shell out thousands on our equipment, why don't vocalists realize that their voice is their instrument, and they need to have the equipment for it, just like we need an amp for our guitar?

    Just frustrated I guess, someone being a vocalist is one of those claims that never really tells you what you're going to get.

    End rant.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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    Happy Egads's Avatar
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    My personal pet peeve i when the singer doesn't help haul and set up the PA.

    The band gear debate is a tough one. So many bands have built up heir gear over time that a singer often can just step into a full blown setup.

    I think I've given up looking for a singer. Someone that plus something always seems more interesting to me. One of my bands has been of the circuit for quite a while now, since our lst singer quit (to take up Roller Derby, which lasted bout a month). Since then, we've been just playing and each of us sings some (me way less than the others). We're just starting a search for a musician that can also sing. We can grow from there.

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    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Singers are d!cks! They never help haul gear, don't own any gear, get all the chicks, and everybody looks at them like they are "the band"!.. That's why I became one.


    Dude should buy his own PA.

  4. #4
    Still a Junior Member Albrecht Smuten's Avatar
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    Maybe he's used to practice rooms that are fully equiped (where you pay the rent). I've been a "vocalist" in several bands and never owned any equipment except for a mic (once). Wind instrumentalists are the same, though they have bigger motivation in buying proper instrument microphone.

    I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying it's pretty common...
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    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy474x View Post
    ...DUDE.

    I didn't buy 2 PRS guitars, a PRS amp, and a pimped out pedal board to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
    Yes you did. You only need a generator for being around the camp fire. Play the Anthrax version.

    Our vocalist owns the PA. We all help load-in and out. It's a team effort or nothing.
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    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    Yes you did. You only need a generator for being around the camp fire. Play the Anthrax version.
    Just when I thought electric guitar couldn't be more awesome, you suggest adding a combustion engine to the equation.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  7. #7
    Pincher of Harmonics Blackbird's Avatar
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    This has been a point of contention with my band, and will probably be the straw that breaks our collective back. I have had to finance the PA and many other equipment purchases. I made the choice to pony up for these things because it was the sticking point for us, we would not be able to move forward and play shows unless we had a PA. I politely asked the others to simply contribute what they could to help with the $350 per month payment that I was shouldering. I respect other people's financial situations, but even if you can contribute $20 a month, that helps and is better than nothing. Our drummer is an attorney for a large university, so his income is public record. The guy makes 150k yearly and hasn't contributed one dime. Then I have to look at my other guitarist's Facebook posts showing them going to this bar and that bar, road trip here and there. Again, money to spend on booze and concerts but can't chunk me $20. So over a few months this built up a fair amount of resentment on my part and we're currently taking a break.
    On the plus side, at least I'll have my own PA for any future projects. And I noticed that wedding DJ's make a crap ton of money for just a few hours of playing songs. So putting the PA to good use and making back my investment might be easier than I thought. But yes, it is frustrating that others expect the band to be a free situation without any sacrifice on their part.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
    This has been a point of contention with my band, and will probably be the straw that breaks our collective back. I have had to finance the PA and many other equipment purchases. I made the choice to pony up for these things because it was the sticking point for us, we would not be able to move forward and play shows unless we had a PA. I politely asked the others to simply contribute what they could to help with the $350 per month payment that I was shouldering. I respect other people's financial situations, but even if you can contribute $20 a month, that helps and is better than nothing. Our drummer is an attorney for a large university, so his income is public record. The guy makes 150k yearly and hasn't contributed one dime. Then I have to look at my other guitarist's Facebook posts showing them going to this bar and that bar, road trip here and there. Again, money to spend on booze and concerts but can't chunk me $20. So over a few months this built up a fair amount of resentment on my part and we're currently taking a break.
    On the plus side, at least I'll have my own PA for any future projects. And I noticed that wedding DJ's make a crap ton of money for just a few hours of playing songs. So putting the PA to good use and making back my investment might be easier than I thought. But yes, it is frustrating that others expect the band to be a free situation without any sacrifice on their part.
    This is exactly what I'm talking about. Makes it easy to see who takes the band seriously.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  9. #9
    Senior Member MOBirds's Avatar
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    My last band, that was sort of productive before imploding, we took a piecemeal type approach to the PA. We didn't have a dedicated "singer", just split vocals between guitarists & drummer. We each bought a component of the PA, one bought the board, another the speakers, I picked up wireless IEM, and we kind of split the power amp/EQ cost. We each bought our own instrument & vocal mics, but I think it was the drummer had a bunch of mic stands from prior band(s). When we parted, we each took our piece with us. That way, replacing the part missing was less of an impact than the one person who owned it all leaving.
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  10. #10
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy474x View Post
    Just when I thought electric guitar couldn't be more awesome, you suggest adding a combustion engine to the equation.
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance But he's soooo over them now!
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  11. #11
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Fair is fair.

    If the only thing going through the PA is the singer, they need to pony up. It would be unreasonable for a guitarist to expect the drummer to buy his amp and similarly unreasonable for the drummer to expect the bass player to buy his china crash.

    The only way the rest of the band should be on the hook for any part of the PA is if their instruments are mic'd and also go through the PA. The singer buys his mic and cable. The guitarists buy their mics and cables. The drummer, etc.

    Everyone feeding the PA splits the cost of the amp, mixer and speakers.

    There is no "I" in group.
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance But he's soooo over them now!
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    'ya know though....the flip side of this coin is that a mediocre guitarist who happens to have a decent PA has a better chance of working with good musicians than one who doesn't Probably more of an benefit for me than it would be for most others here on the forum though

    In our case, I'm in a better position to cover the cost of the PA (which is less in total than a single guitar) and I'd prefer to be able to make decisions on what to get and what not to get without some sort of democratic process being put in place. And I get to keep it if we decide to scale back our playing out. In any case, from what I've seen, and right or wrong, PA's usually are either band property, or somebody come in with one (and usually not the singer unless they also play another instrument) because they just aren't gear heads...

    Having said all of that, everything said above makes sense from a "fair" standpoint...

  13. #13
    There are bad singers, decent singers, good singers, and great singers.

    Fact is, a great singer makes a group boatloads better, because that's what the audience focuses on. Unless you're playing instrumental music, it's all about the singer. It's not all about the guitar player.

    A great singer will make your band more popular, and make you more money. So there's that reason to indulge your favorite diva. There's a reason Jeff Beck hired singers to sing on his records, and had mega-hits like Truth, and why the only people who buy Robben Ford records are other guitar players. It's the singing.

    It's been said on every forum, many times, but it bears repeating: No one but you and other guitar players really care at all about your freaking guitars and amplifiers. Your audience would be just as happy if you played a cheap guitar and a modeler. Maybe happier.

    You play great guitars and amps because they inspire you to play better. Playing better is good. But the audience doesn't know that, and the non-guitar players don't care.

    A great drummer is another commodity that's worth making a sacrifice for. A great drummer is the pulse of any band.

    So it all depends what you're in it for. I haven't gigged in a few years, but when I did, we friggin' paid our two favorite session drummers to gig/rehearse. Yes, we hired them! One was the drummer for Was Not Was, and the other is the guy the Detroit Symphony Orchestra uses when they need someone to play a trapset. We had grooves so tasty, so deep and wide, to play along with, that it made gigging a dream experience.

    No one we knew could touch these guys.

    In addition, we hired a bass player who toured with Prince. They liked the material, but they were pros, and wanted to get paid for a gig. That was fine with us. The band got paid for the gigs, so why not? I didn't accept any money, because the rest of the guys were much younger and needed the gigging dough. For me it was just a fun thing.

    The venues we played had house PAs, so that wasn't an issue. But my point is that it pays to have some flexibility on this stuff. It ain't about fair. It's about what you need to do to keep everyone happy and accommodate folks' needs, and make the gig a good experience for the people who come out and pay good money to see the band perform.

    A great band gets better gigs and better money. Do what you need to do to be great, and whether you have to buy the PA or not will be irrelevant.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 10-15-2013 at 10:34 AM.
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    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    I get everything you say here, Les. It is all true and makes sense.

    But a band will never be great if some of the members feel like they are pulling all the load. Or, they might get to be great, but it won't last.

    Resentment and the feeling of being used will hold back progress due to the wasted energies invested in animosity instead of creativity.
    Thbbbbbt...
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  15. #15
    Pincher of Harmonics Blackbird's Avatar
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    All good points above. I should amend my post above to say that yes, the other guitarist uses a modeler, as do I. And the drummer sends most of his kit through the PA. The bassist is the only one that doesn't use the PA. Half of the places we play do not provide sound. We are doing this as a hobby, and not to "make it big." So paying the drummer or treating any other member with entitlement doesn't really fit our agenda. But I can see where bands with certain goals could justify that.
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  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    Resentment and the feeling of being used will hold back progress due to the wasted energies invested in animosity instead of creativity.
    My post was intended to explain why animosity is wasted energy in and of itself. Different folks have different priorities and different available resources.

    I guess it depends what the band's goals are, as Blackbird so astutely notes, but my point is, why bother with resentment? One thing a band can do is simply adjust how the band's income is divided to account for the various personnel investments. Small adjustments can be made to accommodate various investment levels, and amortized over, say, a year.

    This isn't rocket science. If you get a job with a company, they're not asking you to pay for their factory or other investments. Adjustments are made to what you are worth to the company, given their income, expenses, investment, etc.

    The president of the company doesn't come over to your desk and b*tch about the fact that he's got a lot more invested in the company than you do (hopefully).

    Or in the case of a professional practice, there can be associates who don't own an interest in the practice as partners, but simply are paid a salary for their work.

    In fact, in famous bands, when original members are replaced by sidemen or new members, there are adjustments made to what they get vs what the original members get. Sidemen get temp deals, and new band members get whatever salary or piece of the action they agree to. I could show you lots of sideman contracts, but I won't because I am way too lazy to dig the files and paperwork up.

    Why should it be any different for a local or regional band? This whole idea of "we're brothers and sisters, we are hippies and communists and therefore must share and share alike, and sing kumbaya" is silly stuff, really. Because in no other aspect of your real life is that the case.

    If a band is run like a business, there is no reason that different experience, different investment levels, and different skills can't be accommodated. There is nothing wrong with temp help, just as there is nothing wrong with hiring a very talented person who might receive a better deal than other members, etc.

    You make the kind of business adjustments that people make in real life businesses.

    Lennon and McCartney made more money than anyone else in the Beatles because they got the royalties for their songs. Page and Plant got more than anyone in Zep because they got the royalties, too. Name any band, and that's the way it works. So the writers in a band create immediate imbalance, and some folks in a band simply make more than others.

    What's the problem? Deal with the issues by making a smart business agreement before a band is formed, and you will not have to deal with resentment.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 10-15-2013 at 04:27 PM.
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  17. #17
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    No problem really.

    I thought we were talking about small gigging local bands that probably will never get a recording contract. The kind of bands where the members have day jobs.

    To be wholly immersed in the music business as your only job is just like any other business as you point out. But I think you and I are looking at opposite ends of the spectrum.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 10-15-2013 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Correcting my phone's correction
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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    No problem really.

    I thought we were talking about small gigging local bands that probably will never get a recording contract. The kind of bands where the members have day jobs.

    To be wholly immersed in the music business as hour only job is just like any other business as you point out. But I think you and I are looking at opposite ends of the spectrum.
    Not at all. Treat a band as a second business, as an investment like you would any other part of your investment portfolio. You don't have to be famous to do some decent planning.

    If you make money with the band, it's a business. Whether it's your day job or your weekend job. Treat it like one. The IRS certainly does, they expect you to pay taxes on what you make with it.
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  19. #19
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    I was responding to the scenario in the OP where Andy is about to start a new band from scratch. It seems clear to me that he is not in a position to go out and buy a PA and all the other gear ended for a startup.

    In his case, it sounds like he would appreciate some help from his future bandmates , including the singer , instead of an appointment with an accountant. I could be wrong.
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance But he's soooo over them now!
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  20. #20
    Just a member JustRob's Avatar
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    Or, if the band is for your enjoyment, you're going to have to reassess whether the angst it causes you is worth the fun you have.
    If I had to guess, it sounds like it's less the expense, and more the ingratitude and entitlement mentality from the others that is upsetting you. I'd suggest you honestly let them know how it bothers you. They might not even realize it bothers you, and they may change. If not, you've learned something about them and you can weigh whether or not it's worth looking for other band members.
    Maybe just blowing off steam here will get you by for a while, but you don't want to blow up at them sometime over something else when this has been simmering the whole time.

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