Band leader?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bluemonk, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    I'm in a new band and, especially since I got the band members together and chose the type of music, have been functioning as the band leader. This is a 60's cover band, not particularly complicated stuff, but made of of people who are not professional musicians. I've been pushing to avoid band jamming and focusing on rehearsal of specific song and harmony parts. Question: Do you think bands like this function better with a clear leader or "by committee"? Also, for those of you who have been in the same band for 5 or more years, which way to you think is the best?
  2. I've been in cover bands that were a) managed/lead "by committee", b) managed by a leader, and c) not managed at all.

    In theory the "by committee" seems like a good plan. But IMHO it doesn't work in most cases. Usually goes downhill into the (c) category....then into oblivion...

    The successful bands I've been in--by successful, I mean that actually held together long enough to develop set lists, play out, and make money-- have all been driven by a leader. It's hard for the other members to put up with this sometimes, because everybody has an ego, but the reality is (IMHO) that being successful takes a lot of energy that just doesn't happen when the band is being managed "by committee". A firm, solid leader will push the other people into playing, and he/she will force them into a common goal. The leader will develop the song lists, structure practices, and (usually) book the gigs. The band is succeeding because he/she really, really, really wants the band to succeed.

    Hopefully the leader lets band members give their input artistically as well as functionally.
  3. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    It really depends on the people and their motivation for being there in the first place. Some people are into songwriting and being creative, while some are just there to be a solid foundation. The latter tend to survive a lot longer in bandleader-led cover bands. With musicians you have to give them a reason to be there. Some play for money, some play because they simply love playing, and some need to be creative for it to be worthwhile. Obviously some require all three to keep motivated as well.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    A benevolent leader.
  5. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    we all tend to lead the band in different ways... the drummer does nearly all the gig organising & press/advertising stuff, the guitarist and I take the lead in organising the musical side of things, running the rehearsals etc, I run the website, and the band as a whole chooses the material... the singer is the onstage 'leader' and, well, y'know.. the frontman

    so, we all lead together, but it's not exactly a committee

    if one person tried to do it all, I don't think it'd work
  6. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I think much of it depends on the personality types, and as stated earlier, the goals of each member.

    My current band is pretty much a democracy. Our singer is responsible for the lion's share of the bookings, but each member has the authority to book. This is especially practical since all of our members are spread out across different counties, so each of us is familiar with the clubs in our respective areas. Any major decisions (hiring/firing, money allocation, accepting non-paying gigs, ect.) is done democratically. All band expenses (website, t-shirts, banner, stickers, ect.) are paid right off the top from money earned gigging, so nobody has a financial obligation outside of money earned from shows. We either use in-house production or hire a production company, so there's no PA politics.

    The reason this machine works so well is because everyone is on the same page. All of us are accomplished musicians and we all act like professionals. Everyone learns their parts for practice, and everyone gives 100% at a show. If an issue comes up, we discuss it like adults instead of getting pissed off. We actually fired a drummer a few months ago. Part of the reason for this decision was not only because of his playing (he had a tendency to rush, overplay, play out of time, miss fills, ect.) but also because of his attitude. He was taking it upon himself to make bad business decisions concerning the band.

    I've been in situations where a designated leader was needed. Musicians might have been lazy or unprofessinal. Now if I were in a situation like that, I would probaly just quit. I'm not old, but I don't have time to work with unprofessional players.
  7. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    Very helpful remarks. Thanks! Since we are all different (one musician, one returning, one student, etc.) maybe the leader approach would help get us all on the same page. I also like the idea of different members doing different things, but maybe that's after we get used to working in sync (and get some gigs!)
    Nashvillebill: when the egos get in the way over the leader, what irons things out?

    Got anymore thoughts?
  8. I don't know if anything really irons things out when egos start to get in the way. I've heard leaders tell people basically "it's my way or the highway". Which sucks, but let's face it, a lot of musicians don't get along well with the other kids, er I mean musicians. Sometimes Mommy or Daddy has to tell the kids to behave.... :D

    Even "professionals" don't get along with each other. Crosby Stills Nash and Young. The Eagles, even the Beatles couldn't "give peace a chance"..."we can work it out", hah!!
  9. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Don't gloss over this one too quickly. There appears to be a bit of wisdom here.
  10. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002

    I agree. We're lucky that we are all on the same page with the issue of motivation. None of us is interested in original stuff for this band. It's all covers and we're all (but one)older so not looking for turning it into a career. I think I'm just doing a reality check that having a leader is a good thing. I'm getting the sense that without one, since we are just playing for fun, the band could become undisiciplined and jammy. I think we also agree that even thoug it's for fun, we'd like the band to be good. Being good enough to be appreciated is more fun than just getting out there. And being good, even for fun, takes a lot of work!
  11. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i liek the benevolent leader approach like munji sugegsted. of course, i'm never it. i would suggest that as the leader you pay attention to the suggestions of the band members. I've been in a bunch of bands where the leader was the least experienced member. (or one of the least). Depending upon their ego's they missed some crucial suggestions, like what tunes were and were not viable in terms of crowd appeal, (but dude this is my favorite song!), venues to play, the fact that we desperatley needed more songs on our list, the fact that maybe the band should be better musically instead about image, etc.
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    After 25 years of gigging I can tell you the answer: a clear leader is best.
  13. If its a professional band, as you say... then a clear leader is probably the way to go. Of course, your command decisions should always involve input and two way conversation from the fellas. Then, if you go in a different direction - at least you've given them the respect of listening to their points of view. One less thing for them to bitch about.

    To me, the best situation is when you are the band leader and everyone knows it, but it doesn't have to be said.
  14. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Like many have said already, a clear leader is a must, IME. I have been gigging for 15 years, and have been in both situations. Guess which bands are still around??
  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Yep, and like Munji said; benevolence.