Band with no BL, who else ?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Clemouze, May 22, 2019.

  1. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    Salut all

    I read a lot here in Talkbass about Band Leaders
    "If you are the BL, you decide."
    " Then follow the BL "
    " The BL doesnt gave me right instructions "

    Who else play in a band with no BL ?
    I can't even imagine working hard with my passion and my heart in a band but having to follow rules of ONE BL.
    Every body the same for me !

    I guess it is a concept which has to do a lot with touring bands/pro when good organisation is necessary
    ( not that you can't have good organisation with all members with equal rights ) and when ego/ creativity destiny things/ true romantic musical passion/ friendship are not a lot involved. Like.... working
  2. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    It all depends on the band and the players. Personally, the older I get, the more I appreciate having an organized leader if I am considering my options for bands.
  3. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    You seem to be confusing the idea of a band leader with a band dictator. In some bands, the leader is a dictator - James Brown would probably be the classic example. The whole operation worked on his vision and talent, he made the band work, he paid the bills and the players, and what he said, went. If a band has a BL that can deliver like James Brown, that can be a worthwhile deal.

    More often, though, a BL is more like a chairman of the board rather than a dictator. This is a much more nuanced job. A BL is likely to have been the person who took the initiative to start the band in the first place, which means they will have done a lot to set the vision for the project. A BL should work with the interests and goals of the various people they recruit to the band, build consensus, and be the one with final veto over ideas that don't serve the overall goals of the band. They may be the public face of the band or the one responsible for its business side, booking, etc., either directly or by delegation. This kind of BL isn't ordering musicians around to do what he tells them, he's more coordinating and empowering and helping everyone reach their goals.

    It IS possible for a band to work on an anarchy model where there's no leader. But that requires that all the members have pretty similar goals and commitment without prompting. It can be a very fragile model if the members diverge.
    mexicant, Beej, delta7fred and 21 others like this.
  4. I play in two acoustic trios. Both are democracies. But Ive known these guys for years—since HS, and that was a long time ago—and we have similar tastes and interests. We hang outside of the band. And the band is part-time. We pick and choose our gigs, and if one vetoes, we don't do it. It works for us. I guess Im pretty lucky.
    cerrem and Clemouze like this.
  5. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Who’s writing the material? I’d say they’re the leader(s). Otherwise, if it’s a cover band situation, who’s the decider there? If everyone votes on song selection through whatever system you all have agreed upon, then you have something of a band democracy, leader optional.
  6. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    Well I have exemples of writers that are not particularly the leaders compared to other members.

    I guess the leader is the leader if the others want him to be leader
  7. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    Yes same here !
    You also are more in a friends kind of band
  8. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    What examples?
  9. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    Yes exact
    I was not implying that having a leader is bad !
    I was saying that I ( speaking for only me ) could not stand to have a leader in a band ( even a very good one ! )

    Indeed with no leaders come veeeeeeeeeery long conversations and argues. Ho yes !
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  10. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    My band haha
    Only one example indeed
  11. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    There is no one size fits all. In my experience with BLs, they put the band together, provide (or provide for) the PA, get the gigs, do most of the work. I'm happy to give up some of the decision making in order to not have to worry about any of that.

    I'm BL in my Rockabilly band. I'm not a dictator, more of a coordinator. I don't make all of the decisions, but I make sure decisions are made when needed and that we stay on course. I don't care so much what we decide, but that we decide.

    I was in a complete democracy once and it was a mad house. They would never make decisions and then discuss the exact same issues over and over, never saying anything different and never making a decision. When a decision was made, it was up for reevaluation at any time for any reason and if we had two identical situations, both would be discussed ad nauseum separately. It drove me nuts until I finally took charge. I didn't try to make the decisions, but I started combining similar situations, writing down our decisions and shutting down discussion when someone got a wild hair and wanted to start the whole discussion process over for no valid reason. Two out of the three other people in the band were actually quite happy about it.
  12. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    how to play in someone else's band | Danny Barnes

    "the principle rule to remember: your number one job above all else is to make the leader sound good, look good and feel good.{read that again. we will come back to it over and over. we will refer to this as the rule.}"


    "if you want to participate in making some art, get along with other musicians, get other jobs, make some bread, travel with some like minded souls, learn something, contribute in the lifting up of the battered human spirit, and otherwise maximize your opportunity, figure out who the dude {or dudette} is, and apply the rule. it's pretty simple."
  13. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    In my experience bands that start out leaderless (and this is not a negative at the beginning; a bunch of friends who like to play, say "let's form an actual formal band) either quickly end up with a leader, or they go nowhere.

    Now "Leader" can mean a lot of different things.

    - Booking gigs
    - Organizing the mechanics of being a band - start times, finish times, managing load-in, load-out, etc., making sure band equipment (PA, etc.) is appropriate and in good working order
    - Repertoire selection
    - General band direction (OK, are we going to be a note for note cover band, or are we going to do our own arrangements? etc.)
    - Musical director - run rehearsals, find musical weak spots and work them over so they are fixed, etc.
    - Personnel director - hiring and firing

    I have seen these functions split up in a number of different ways. In two bands I'm currently in, I have ended up as musical director, but without much of any of the other items.

    I think that if you don't have one person in charge of each of these items (not one person necessarily in charge of all of them, but each item should have one and only one person in charge) you are going to have immense trouble ever getting anything done.

    If your objective is to get together in the basement a couple times a month, play some familiar music, have a couple brews; then only a minimal degree of organization is needed. DON'T GET ME WRONG! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that being your objective! But be clear, the degree of organization and leadership that makes the twice a month basement jam a fun event for everyone, will almost certainly not be sufficient to make a working band be successful.
    bfields and Clemouze like this.
  14. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    +1 to "not all BLs are the start and end of all decisions". Even bands who are democratic need somebody to direct traffic and make sure peripheral tasks are done (song lists, booking gigs, scheduling and running rehearsals, recruitment, social media, staging, finances, etc). The BL may not even do any of these tasks, but needs to make sure somebody is.

    The "BL" is most likely the person who started the project - it's their vision that everyone else needs to see and agree with. They are not always the person with skills to handle all the administrative stuff.

    IMO, the best BL is one who can do all of these things, but delegates some to other willing and qualified members with a "what do you guys think?" approach to decisions rather than a "I say, you do" mindset. And then actually considers and applies what the consensus of the band is on any given decision - even if he/she may not agree with it.
    waveman likes this.
  15. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    I want no leader in my band

    Except if it's me. I have a great reign to offer
  16. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    And why dont we ever talk about band leaders , several BL in a band ?

    Indeed that's what we do in my band , we are all multitask and we are all looking what the others do, we are all acting to push the band forward. ( contacting events, making some organisation things, etc )

    So I play in a band with BLs
    Nick Danger and OogieWaWa like this.
  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Some bands operate as more of a democracy, so with stronger leaders. But if you expect to do anything, SOMEone has to have the final say.
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I play in churches. It's 6 AM. There are 12 of us on stage (a lot of singers) We've all practiced at home, but haven't yet melded the parts into one musical experience. We're playing in front of 1000 people in 3 hours. Someone needs to facilitate us getting to the point where we can do that. They need to make decisions, and steer us. They also need to understand that most of us are volunteers, so they can't treat us like they "own" us. The band leader is the someone that negotiates all that's going on, and gets us to where we need to be.

    In a different scenario, the band leader has to negotiate different concerns - maybe less critical timing, maybe folks are paid, whatever. Their role is similar, but obviously has to be a bit flexible.

    A good band leader is a good thing. A band can lead itself, meaning everyone assumes part of the role, but that takes the right group of people, and it's generally less efficient. When it does work, it can be magic, though.
    Clemouze likes this.
  19. Clemouze


    Sep 1, 2016
    Paris - France
    Ouh ! Yes with so many members you have to have an orchestra leader, logical !
  20. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Usually 5 singers, 2 acoustics, 2 electrics, keys, bass, and drums. Next weekend, we have a cellist. Yes, it gets to be a bit like an orchestra, except I never heard an orchestra conductor tell someone to "play some swelly parts there".
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.