The idea of mixing business with pleasure, through the oft-needed shared work space, came up recently during a discussion with two friends in NYC. He currently shares with other like-minded custom furniture builders without a problem. She no longer shares with other musicians due to the multitude of bad situations she kept finding herself in.
So I asked them, and a few others, for their personal advice about paying rent, keeping the space clean, and having some sort of organized schedule for a shared practice or work space. Weirdly it all came down to this short list:
Shared space, shared garbage duty
One person I talked with tells me he watched countless musicians use whatever they could find, including mic stands, to smash down the old beer cans and fast food wrappers to make more room for what else? More garbage. His suggestion to the problem? Take it out or set up a shared schedule so everyone gets a turn.
Shared space, (not necessarily) shared habit of smoking
The overflowing ashtray (or can used as a make-shift one) seems to fit in the shared garbage duty category, but not according to those I talked with about sharing a rehearsal space with smokers. Along with detesting the smell, which no longer lingers at live music venues, the worst I heard was from one band who says the group often using the rehearsal space before them– would leave cigarette butts on some of the amps they’d also agreed to share. As you can imagine, the agreement didn’t last long. I know it stinks to add more rules to shared situations, unless you don’t mind if your shared space stinks.
Shared space, (should be) shared rent
I had to ask about this a few times. One story in particular revolved around an artist who would say (when rent was due) he’d only been there three times in the last month, while everyone else had used the same space five or six times. And rather than paying the designated amount as agreed, would suggest paying based on the percentage of time he used the rehearsal space. Fair is fair, but that’s probably not the way to get there.
Shared space, (but not) shared home
You can’t make this stuff up. One friend says a fellow musician considered the community couch, toilet paper, soap, and water– free. Especially at those times when he was fighting with his girlfriend. She recalled many a day when others would show up, and there he was, sleeping on the couch or washing up in the bathroom. There are codes and liabilities that go along with this “residential” kind of behavior.
And this may also be the point, when you no longer bug just those sharing the rehearsal space, but the neighbors, too.