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Leading a Band 101: Seeking Advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TjMetalhead, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Hello everyone! So as the title states I'm seeking advice. After 5 years in the making the band I formed, play bass in, and wrote the music for finally played it's first two shows in September and October. It went over really well and a lot of people liked us. For reference we're a classic sounding progressive speed metal band doing original music. (Iron Maiden, Rush, Judas Priest style music with other stuff thrown in). So this where it all begins right? I'm very new to being a leader in a band. I've played in bands before but none where I was the active leader. So basically I just need advice as a newbie. Do's and don'ts, how to get gigs, making the right choices etc. Any guidance is appreciated, thanks!
    Stumbo likes this.
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
    TjMetalhead likes this.
  3. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Link your band here, for starters
    TjMetalhead and Stumbo like this.
  4. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Cool, didn't want to come off as promoting or anything. Should I post the social media here or is there a specific forum for that?
    Stumbo likes this.
  5. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Stumbo likes this.
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    The more links the better. :thumbsup:
  7. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Fantastic. Well for anyone who's viewing this thread here's our FB: Distortion of Time and Youtube: Distortion of Time Made a few mistakes in some of the vids, also the singer in the vids had to quit. We at least got 3 singers interested in auditioning luckily.
    Stumbo likes this.
  8. Think ten steps ahead, plan for everything to break or go wrong, read a book called "How to make friends and influence people", get proficient in hand to hand combat, insurance and always work on image.
    HauntedDave and TjMetalhead like this.
  9. About the role of BL itself, I suggest:
    • Always know that you are the BL and what that means, especially when decisions must be made. Remind others as necessary.
    • Think of the leader of a band as like the captain of a ship: You must be respected and respectable all the time. A well-run ship can sail many good journeys. A poorly-run ship runs aground, finds itself short on supplies, and puts its crew through many unnecessary troubles. Act like a good ship's captain reliably and your band could thrive.
    TjMetalhead and Skeptismo like this.
  10. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    Well, read every thread ever in the BM forum...

    Apart from that, one thing is to know your band members' goals. Bands are fragile things that break up so easily. Really, though, it's as simple as that everyone wants to get something out of the band experience - for some people it's money, for others it's artistic satisfaction, for someone else it's social, etc. Being aware of what each of your bandmates want will help you figure out how to keep them engaged.

    The other thing - run it like a business. Even if you don't plan on making it big or paying the bills with the band, operating as though you did and paying attention to the money can be a good rule of thumb for keeping it running tightly and making good decisions.

    For instance, if your business made widgets, you wouldn't dally around forever trying to make the absolute perfect widget - you'd start cranking them out so you can sell them and improve on the basic design as you go along. Likewise, if you're writing songs, don't let the band dally around the basement forever waiting for genius. Crank them out and the best ones will rise to the top.
    TjMetalhead and pcake like this.
  11. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    A couple of suggestions:

    1. Accept that there will always be problems.

    A good band operation has interesting and different problems. A badly run one has the same problems over and over.

    Get systems and procedures in place. Anytime you have the same issue come up more than once, analyze it and develop mechanisms to deal with it - and ideally to prevent it from happening again.

    2. A short list is better than a long memory. Write things down. Take notes. Keep lists. Know that checklists and calendars are your best friends. And if you do it electronically, keep a hardcopy printout of anything really important. Stories about stolen or broken laptops and smartphones belonging to bands out on the road are almost proverbial.
    DirtDog and TjMetalhead like this.
  12. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Every band needs a different type of leader - depends on the BL and the group that's being led. The very lucky few require little more than someone to schedule things and take care of administrative stuff - kind of like a very talented basketball team where the coach just needs to roll the ball onto the floor. I've read threads that indicate there are a handful of those types from this forum, but most are not.

    For the rest of us, it's a lot of people management, and a lot of that is determined by who you are working with. For your sanity:
    - Define your goals/genre; make it clear what type of music you want to present and what you want to accomplish
    - Do your best to gather people who prefer your genre and share your goals. Determining this should be part of the audition process. Landing a great drummer is no good if they expect to gig next week, but realistically you're 3 months away; getting that vocalist in place that requires a different rehearsal pattern than everyone else is a problem. It's my experience that this is the first step to minimizing drama.
    - Aside, from musical needs, try to gather people with other skills. Gig connections/sales skills; recording skills/tools; video skills; artwork skills; transcribing skills; media/public relations/promotion skills; musical director skills; rehearsal space; PA owners etc. The more of this you can get help from your team, the less you have to manage. This is particularly critical if you don't possess a critical skill. Example: I'm not a sales guy, have no connections and know nothing about promoting. assuming my goal is to gig, I would make sure I got at least someone in the band who is good at that (or expect to hire management).
    - Nip drama in the bud - the longer an issue lingers, the harder it is to contain.
    - Communicate and encourage everyone else to do the same - how do you know if there is drama brewing if there is no communication.
    - Deal with money issues openly and up front.
    - Delegate - if you gathered your team properly, you should be able to lay off some of the responsibility of tasks.
    As a band member, this is what I want from a BL:
    1. Make it clear what your style is. Is this gong to be fairly democratic? Do you want to hear my opinions/suggestions? Are you a dictator and expect me to just shut up and play? Let me know how I can best serve the band - if I don't like the way you want to run things, the sooner I know the better. If I don't like it, I can move on or not even accept the project to begin with.
    2. Direction - tell me what you want me and everyone else to do, whether it be specific to my playing or other contributions I make to the band.
    3. Reasonable expectations - know what your team can do - and don't expect more (at least not immediately if you're expecting a new skill. For example, I suck at slap; expect it to be a long learning curve if that's how you want me to approach a song.
    4. Insist that people to show up on time and be ready for downbeat NLT X:00. It can be very hard for some people to get places on time. It's just poor form to make your team wait for someone to show to show up. For rehearsal type gatherings, it's mostly just rude and annoying; for gigs it could be a very expensive habit. As BL, we're expecting you to do what it takes to get people to be on time.
    5. Be consistent. It can be very difficult to manage things when the "rules"/process change from week to week. Develop solid routines and stick to them.
    6. If things are not working, make changes. This most often means personnel changes. This pretty much falls under the "nip the drama" bullet above, but from a member perspective, I expect you to deal with this. It's not my role to deal with other members shortcomings - unless of course we agree that that is a role you asked me to perform. BE fair - don't make knee jerk, in the moment reactions, but don't let a destructive situation linger. Changes could mean musical changes as well (new set lists, shift in genre, shift in gig type etc).
    7. Try to be positive about things - just because there is an issue, doesn't mean it has to be painful to deal with. try to be understanding, but firm.
    8. Do what you can to be aware of how your team members are feeling about things. I'm not saying you need to do therapy sessions with everyone, just be alert for members that may be sliding towards discontentment about a situation. Not everyone will step up and say they have a problem with something. You don't want to let a situation get beyond repair. If you notice that someone seems unhappy, pull them aside or call them in the very near future. Talk to them one-on-one and ask if there's something not sitting right with them. They may just be having a bad day; they maybe tired of dealing with something that another member (even you) is doing. Dealing with it early provides the best opportunity for resolution. (Communicate, nip).
    9. Unless you are taking the dictator ship approach, make me feel like I'm part of the team. Listen to my ideas, and at least pretend to consider them - even if they suck. I like to contribute. If I feel like you don't care about what I have to say, I'll eventually become disinterested and you better be paying me a lot of money at that point if you want me to stick around.
    10. Expect people to learn their own parts. For those in the "roll the ball on to the floor" bands, this is never an issue. They probably don't; even rehears much. For those of us who do rehearse very regularly, make it clear that rehearsal's are for blending the individual parts that we learned at home. I enjoy rehearsing; I hate watching you woodshed on my time.
    11. Hold the same standards for yourself as you do for your team. Don't expect me to be on time or learn my parts at home, if you don't.
    12. Be as open as you can about everything. There are times for partial team rehearsals/meetings, but unless you are working out a member specific issue, it should all be above board.
    TjMetalhead likes this.
  13. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    1. always act with integrity. Integrity with colleagues or employees can take years to build, and 2 seconds to lose. Don't lie to people. Walk the talk. follow through on what you say you're gonna do. Set clear expectations for them, and for you, and then YOU follow them and you make sure others do. Resentment is a cancer and eventually kills off a band.

    2. If you're going to be a dictator, be a benevolent dictator. Think of your bandmates and their needs, not just your own, first.

    3. Don't do sneaky stuff. It gets around. If you want to let someone go, at least be honest and up front about why. Don't lie to them and try people out behind their back.

    4. To be a great band leader, you need to know your market and how it relates to the band goals. Not everyone can get their way, but you must be the one that's making the right calls. just because everyone wants to play an obscure tune from The Pineapple Thief doesn't mean you should do it. Just because you played a place 100 times in the past doesn't mean you should continue doing it. Musicians often aren't practical about achieving their goals or have no clue how to. They will get behind, however, someone that does seem to have a clue as to how to do it.
    TjMetalhead likes this.
  14. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Here are just two things (out of many) that I find important:

    1. Communicate with the others in whichever format THEY are most comfortable with, and will respond quickest to. Some people it's text, others email, facebook, and some people still want to get the good ol' phone call. You'll get much further communicating on their comfort level than you will trying to make everyone work on yours. It will also be more helpful when you need to get quick answers to confirm gig dates.

    2. Have three forms of press kit ready to go at all times. In the same theme as 1 above - some places want a CD and paper, some an EPK, others just a facebook link or youtube channel will suffice. My point being that if you run into a place that still wants a CD (they still exist), and you try to show them a webpage....you're not getting booked. Communicate with the venues and booking agents in whatever format they want.

    - traditional hard copy kit
    - electronic kit
    - email form letter style with links to social media, and MP3's/video
    TjMetalhead likes this.
  15. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Wow! Thanks for all the responses guys. This is great knowledge to have, especially from the ones who are speaking from experience. From the 5 months that we've been an official band its been fairly difficult in certain avenues especially trying to keep it all together. Luckily we're not having any real issues right now. The only slight issue I'm personally having is with my rhythm guitarist (every so often). Since he's new to playing live in a band and has certain ways he wants to do things. Sometimes I think he want's to be the leader but this band is my baby and I have to remind him that this is still my band even though of course it takes us all to perform the music. The other guys are okay with everything. Never had a problem with them. The main issue now is finding a singer because ours had to step down, I don't mind singing until we find another guy but I'd rather stick to my bass and backing vocals. Now I have another issue and maybe should make a new thread for it. How do I go about getting gigs? I've messaged a couple venues 3 weeks ago and none of them have gotten back to me. Keep in mind we still are a new band in town doing original music, only 86 likes on the official Facebook page and we only got our first two shows thanks to people we know.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  16. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Have a discussion, over a beer or coffee (not at a rehearsal or gig), and set down ground rules and priorities, so that everyone is on the same page (see the "how far would you travel for a gig thread" for what happens when you don't).
  17. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Is this in response to my issues with my guitarist or getting gigs?
  18. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Yes and yes. You have to determine who the leader is, and how it is going to be run - in most cases, a democracy sounds great, but don't work as well. Someone has to be accepted as the person making the decisions, based upon rules/priorities set down by the band.

    As to getting gigs, this is a business - messaging is not enough, as they are too easy to blow off. Stop in and find out who is responsible for booking gigs, and talk to them.

    Remember, booking original acts are tougher - the venue is not going to book you unless he/she can make more money after paying you. This is how you have to approach it. Also, consider working with other bands. Some times, a number of bands will get together and book a place themselves. You can work together to build one backline that everyone shares, which also limits down time between acts. Maybe a local theater/VFW Hall/etc. will rent the place to you. Be your own promoter, book your own show.
    TjMetalhead likes this.
  19. JohnPaulSmith

    JohnPaulSmith Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Lancaster County, PA
    What is everyone's stake in your band? My BL, the guitar player/singer, and his keyboardist partner play 2-4 nights per week and teach. Music is their livelihood. The drummer and I play with them about twice per month. We have day jobs. It's their band and we don't have, or want, much say in how it runs.
    We all get along great and have a blast so this works well for us. The youngest guy in our band is 40 so we've probably all seen enough stress and drama anyway.

    All of that unnecessary info is just to say that the makeup of your band may influence your leadership style.
    TjMetalhead likes this.
  20. TjMetalhead


    Oct 19, 2011
    New Mexico
    Got it, we're supposed to sit down so I can teach him more music. I'll be sure to have a good talk with him then. Got it, the old school way which makes sense. Probably puts us in better light too. People really like our original music so I'm hoping we can draw big enough crowds (which our first show we drew almost 70 people, got called for an encore, and almost half of them left after we played!).
    buldog5151bass likes this.
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