How To Make A Band Work

Pete Wernick How To Make A Band Work  (Boulder, CO: By the Author, 1991; 142 pages)

Book Review by Art Menius

Original publication in Bluegrass Canada

Pete Wernick’s new self-published volume, How to Make A Band Work,  proves a dream come true for anyone such as an agent, magazine editor,  or employee of an organization like IBMA, who is called upon by inexperienced  performers to explain how it all works. Wernick, the President of  IBMA and former member of Hot Rize and Country Cooking, provides a  gloss to every major aspect of the acoustic music business from agenting  to song publishing to recording. Even more significantly, Wernick  uses the Hot Rize experience to draft a primer for succeeding as a  band.

The insights provided in that area form the real substance and most  interesting portions of the book. Here the reader can find information  available no place else and earned by years of hard work and personal  trial and error. Wernick obviously does not attempt to explore each  subject in depth but instead serves up a fast moving overview of the  whole ball of wax. He deals with personal relationships in the band,  road management, traveling, band finances and concessions, and, thanks  to Nick Forster, how to put on an effective stage show. Readers will  learn how to book gigs and what to do if a band member is depressed  right before an important set.

How many times have I been asked the questions Wernick answers? (That’s  a rhetorical question, Pete.) You’ve faced them, too, I bet. How much  does a good publicist cost? Should we make a CD on our own or wait  for a label to pick us up? What if nobody in the audience is listening  to us? How do you get an agent and which one is best for us? How do  you do press releases? Why don’t we get more gigs? Should we buy a  band bus or keep the RV?

Wernick dispenses this information methodically and as straightforwardly  as can be imagined. Clarity reigns supreme over stylistic elegance.  As writer Wernick does everything possible to avoid ambivalence and  obfuscation; no mean trick for a sociologist.

Don’t think that this book is intended just for those who want to  make a full-time living as musicians. Even those acts who just play  a party or baskethouse every now and then will find a wealth of valuable  information. Indeed, anyone considering agenting, concert or festival  production, or starting a recording company needs a copy of How To  Make A Band Work. I’d suppose that a lot of fans would enjoy reading  it as well.

The utilitarian desktop publishing production values lend the volume  an appearance about as attractive as cafeteria food, but gold mines  don’t look like much from the outside either.

Pete Wernick  7930 Oxford Rd. Boulder, CO 80503

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