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Can a band of 7-8 people function without a band leader?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Taustin Powers, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. The Mogpipe

    The Mogpipe

    Nov 9, 2017
    No, you do not want to add any rap elements.
    rendevouz likes this.
  2. It’s possible, but not probable.
    Remoman likes this.
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    A group of 7-8 people isn't capable of ordering pizza without a leader. Just sayin'....
    swarfrat likes this.
  4. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Yes, a group of 7-9 people can function without a leader.

    It's called shared leadership, but it only happens, in my experience, when you have a group of people with very strong in execution AND interpersonal relationships. It's rare. But research shows its the most effective form of leadership. When people gravitate to leading in areas where they are strong for a while and then relinquish leadership to others for work in which THEY are competent, it can be very powerful. But it's rare, in my view.

    Also -- I believe that if you are doing all the admin, you may NOT necessarily be the leader. If the band is full of influencing types of personalities (these are people who gravitate to sales and positions that require them to get people to do things), you may end up as a lackey for the band. You do all the admin work, while the Influencers dictate repertoire, pay, and other items that are visionary and fun. Not in all cases, but in some if you don't manage it.

    Be on guard for this. It has happened to me in two bands when my leadership emerged informally on admin work. If this happens to you, where they simply are sluffing all the hard work on to you with no compensation (pay or say in how other things run on visionary or other operational issues) and this bothers you, it might be time to claim your position as leader more formally. Be prepared for certain personalities to quit if you do, or for some storming about how things work.

    Remember, typical musicians, are normally not loyal to one part-time band, particularly if that band doesn't have them performing as much as they want. They will join other bands to fill their schedule. Further, you have no right to expect them to be loyal only to you unless you can put them on a retainer (right!). They will be unavailable due to other projects, family commitments, so insisting on a core repertoire of easy songs that can be pulled off with minimal rehearsal and sub musicians is critical. Otherwise, you're wasting your time in a rehearsal of songs to get your subs ready, when necessary.

    You might not care for a while, and shoulder all the hard work no one is willing to do, but if you're like me, after a while you might get frustrated having all your creative and song list ideas rejected, while you pay for the website and do all the leg work. At that point, it might be time to lay down some boundaries on issues that are causing you inconvenience or discontent.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
    mrcbass, Mr_Moo and rodsnhawgs like this.
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    If you want to be organized, someone has to make decisions.
  6. Turbo Sparky

    Turbo Sparky Supporting Member

    May 14, 2018
    South Eastern U.S.
    The natural "leader" will eventually show. Just the way things are IMO. Not that it is a bad thing, just nature. I have not played in a band with more than 5 people including vocalist, and in that one there was a BL. The BL tended to focus on "himself" and the selections showed. He never learned to work for his people, he only worked for himself. Check ya later dude.
    In my trio, there is not a designated BL, but depending on the subject matter, we each accept/know/mind our roles. Typically, he who writes it controls it...to a point. Our guitarist has been in the scene here longer so takes care of bookings etc., our drummer works in film/adverts so takes lead on promos and that sort of thing. Me, typically assist with sound/sonic management and act as the pain in the rear to help us stay on track of our goal consensus; merch, equipment, and costs. It's give and take. I think our maturity, or lack thereof at times, keeps us on track so to speak.
    In a 7 piece, I could see issues if a "leader" does not surface. Good luck.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  7. Isn't the bass player always in charge??
    Mr_Moo and Phil508 like this.
  8. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    You may not be an extrovert. You may not have ego issues, or a power trip going on. Despite that, it seems you're a leader, and I would argue because of it, you're a good one. When surveys of leadership qualities are done, the one trait that goes with the most effective leaders is...humility. People love a leader that isn't full of him (or her) self. Lead on.
    Seanto and Mr_Moo like this.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Yep. Band leader. :thumbsup:
  10. I don't care if you are in a two piece band. Nothing gets done without this guy. You can call him whatever you want. Musicians are like herding kittens. Someone has to keep the car on the road and pointed in the right direction.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  11. Sure they could...but will they and can they is the question.
  12. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    There have been bands in which I thought there wasn't a leader and it clearly appeared afterwards.
  13. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    A good BL will often delegate some of the responsibilites if time is at a premium.
    Seanto likes this.
  14. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Agreed. I was in a band that had no designated leader and we'd discuss things and never make a decision; two weeks later have the same exact discussion. I finally said, I don't care what the decision is, but we do have to make a decision. Then I wrote the decisions down so there was no debate about what we had decided.
  15. rodsnhawgs

    rodsnhawgs Custom builder. G-ratio basses Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    U.S., WV
    Two great insights here.

    It would be rare for a bunch of musician/artsy types to operate in both worlds...art and organization. That's not to say that an "alpha" personality has to emerge. A true "leader" influences things, recognizes others' strengths, yields to those areas, and delegates when needed. For example...I was the band "leader" for an 11 piece band with 5 horns... Clearly, the tenor sax player was the most experienced music theorist. So in arranging complex parts or hearing harmonies, we yielded to his expertise. The first trumpet was great at writing scores for the horn section. The drummer was best at hearing stray timing and holding everyone to being tight. Everyone took part in arranging. I was the best at organizing, marketing, administration, effectively communicating with everyone, and "herding cats" (something needed with 11 people). At the end of the day, even though we had a democracy, when it came down to it, I was the "leader" most of the time.

    If a band wants to get better, appear professional, and play like pros, someone has to do it...even in a trio IMO.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  16. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    I've been in three groups that I now remember had leaders. One was fairly relaxed. One was ruled with a rod of iron the rest of us mostly ignored as it was simpler than objecting (I ignored the parts as written as they lacked feel and made it up), and another had a leader because otherwise the cats would not get herded, but not in any way dictatorial, just pragmatic
  17. wizerd


    Jan 5, 2012
    Prone to ranting, episodes of moral outrage.
    FWIW the most enjoyable successful musically competent projects I have been involved with had a Czar. When involving two or more humans to some common outcome, a clear definitive authoritive leader is required. The individual doesn’t have to be a dictator, just set the tone for who what where when and how. Just my two cents.
  18. superiorpine

    superiorpine Superiorpine Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2007
    Milwaukee WI
    There is a big difference between the formal role of LEADER and informal leadership. We have all been in groups or on teams with a designated (formal) leader, and other members got things done.

    The advantages of a formal LEADER typically is that the people outside of the band have a go to person. In the OPs group, the outside stuff may or may not be the formal leader's job.

    Or, as Werner Ehard said: "If you’re going to be a leader, you’re going to have to have a very loose relationship with this thing you call ‘I’ or ‘me’. Maybe that whole thing in me around which the universe revolves isn’t so central! Maybe life is not about the self but about self-transcendence.”

    -Werner Erhard, The New York Times, November 28, 2015

    or, in a different quote:

    "Leaders do not act from a plan, but plan from their action. The planning is really a conversation which gives other people access to the possibility to which you are committed."

    You're a leader, whether or not you are the BL. Just make sure whomever is the formal BL shares a consistent vision with the group. Then go forth and do good!
    Seanto likes this.
  19. Lava


    Jul 14, 2014
    El Paso, TX
  20. climber


    Oct 21, 2006
    “I don't make the decisions, but I make sure decisions are made.”

    I really like this... :hyper:

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