I’ve been playing music for years and most of those have involved playing with an amazing group of musicians who make me sound better, provide support, ideas, brotherly love and a constant source of inspiration. Now, being in a band is inspiring and loads of fun but can be hellish to organize. When we were younger, getting people together for rehearsals, scheduling gigs, going on tour and just staying in touch was easy but with members getting married, having kids and spreading our talents around in different musical projects, keeping everyone on the same page can be difficult.
Now, many of you know this already, but I’m a huge nerd and if there’s something based in technology I can use that will make life easier, I’m all for it. Since I started working for the wonderful Filament Creative 5 years ago I’ve learned to love using Basecamp by 37 Signals. I thought, if it could work to manage clients of all sizes, it could certainly work to help manage five guys in a band. I was looking for a way to take care of everything from song writing to gigs and rehearsals but due to the lack of calendar functionality I originally opted for their less-expensive option – Backpack. It had everything I needed for the time-being like shared calendars, messaging and writeboards, but the limitations on users and storage kept me coming back to Basecamp, staring longingly at the feature list hoping for some sort of calendaring function. Until recently, I just couldn’t justify the expense.
Enter Calendars. Released in June. The final piece of the puzzle – or so I thought. Backpack was great in that it allowed me to import users calendar feeds, much like a google group calendar but the Basecamp calendar, it turns out doesn’t necessarily make it easy for users to manage their calendars since the subscriptions can only be downloaded from Basecamp and not added to it from an existing feed. The vision for me was to make things as easy as possible; create the path of least resistance for the guys to keep everyone updated. Not so much with the calendaring function.
The bottom line is that Basecamp is a great way to keep band communication in one place. It’s great for sharing song ideas, getting input on lyrics, managing tasks that need doing for a tour or recording session but unfortunately, it’s lacking in the ways of full band management. Scheduling is a huge part of any project and it’s especially imperative when you’re trying to carve out and match up time from five busy schedules.
Though I do realize that there’s other services catering specifically to bands such as Bandize, even they haven’t mastered the two-way calendar. The interim solution (until 37 Signals decided to give Basecamp the same group calendars as Backpack) is a shared Google group for calendars and Basecamp for everything else. I don’t see that changing any time soon, but one can always hope.