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No Band Leader?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by thefruitfarmer, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. thefruitfarmer


    Feb 25, 2006
    Kent UK
    There seems to be many threads about bands having a band leader, and what the band leader should or should not do.

    I agree that in some situations having an individual in charge is probably the way to go, it ought to keep everything focussed and make decision making simple...

    However, the covers band I am in at the moment has no leader as such. It has worked out that we each take various leadership responsibilities and in effect share that role. I am doing the admin and musical arrangement, printing out lyric sheets, writing the set list, working out the songs etc. The guitarist provides the rehearsal space and van, the singer and guitarist between them arrange gigs. The drummer brings a good attitude and plays very well. Everyone suggests new songs and everyone has the power of veto, although it is only usually me who occasionally says that we are not doing a particular song...

    I do prefer this way of working, without an individual calling all the shots. Everyone is involved in decision making so the decisions are more informed and better grounded. It does mean that time is taken discussing stuff that would not usually be discussed with a band leader making the decisions. However, as people get used to this way of working the actual discussion time is getting less and less as the same points come up again and again. Everyone is involved and perhaps consequently more commited as they feel an ownership. Everyone is doing only what they are best at too, I am good at suggesting guitar parts, vocal harmonies, getting a song up to performance level but I am lousy at getting gigs...

    What does everybody think?

    Can you have a band without a band leader?
  2. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    I've never been in a band that has a band leader. And probably never will. I like everyone having an equal say in all decisions.
  3. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    the problem with everyone having an equal say on everything is that it will take forever to get things done - at least that is the case with very opinionated bandmates (those bands also self destruct before the first gig).

    most bands i know work in a form of democracy even if it has a band leader ... the band leader can only rule 'martial law' style if he is paying everyone, but thats usually not the case.

    reading your job description, i can pretty much tell you are the band leader.

    being a band leader does not mean calling all the shots. it just means, you are the one delegating responsibilities, booking/hustling most of the gigs and coming up with action plans.

    kudos for being in a band with proactive individuals.
  4. thefruitfarmer


    Feb 25, 2006
    Kent UK
    Yes, I am effectively the band leader, sorting out the actual music and how it is performed. I do keep a step ahead with having a look at new songs before we give them a go.

    It can take a while to get things done, but as everyone gets used to this way of working and suggests solutions to the common problems, the actual time spent in discussion gets less and less.

    I am fortunate in that I am with people who all want to do it and will contribute according to their abilities.
  5. Comrade Momenta

    Comrade Momenta

    Oct 5, 2013
    I am in essence my groups band leader. The only thing I guess you can say we do democratically is I give them a lot of leeway on what songs they want to play, as I am very lenient. Only once did I say that we were not doing a song because it was just too corny. Everything else though I hold with down with an iron fist lol.
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Every band has a de facto leader. Whether or not that person is formally acknowledged (and/or compensated) as such is the only thing that varies.

    Any band I have ever been involved in that has tried to set itself up as a true democracy with nobody taking charge, has gone nowhere.
  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    It depends very much on the personalities involved. I've been in bands with no leader - everybody got to nominate whatever songs they wanted to do, etc. It wound up going nowhere, or rather it went in four or five contradictory directions at once. It CAN work, but only if everybody is good at keeping on the same page and splitting the responsibilities evenly. As others have said, there are some groups that pretend they have no BL but in reality the load ends up on someone's (unacknowledged) shoulders.

    My preference is to have a BL but not one who acts like Lord and Master of All He Surveys. A good BL should be able to take everyone's input, build consensus - and then make a decision that keeps the band on track.
  8. marijn van gils

    marijn van gils

    Jan 23, 2002
    Since the OP is not booking the gigs, I think he is not the band leader but rather the musical director of his band.
    He also didn't mention that HE delegates the responsibilities.

    I think it is possible to have a group with a true democracy, and there are plenty of them out there. But if you're in one in which everybody is sufficiently motivated to do their part and make the band work, hold on to it because that is extremely rare!
  9. As long as you all always agree with each other and get everything done, of course you can.
  10. marijn van gils

    marijn van gils

    Jan 23, 2002
    Sure, everyone likes someone else to do most of the work but still have an equal say...
    And so do I! :)
  11. Lobomov


    Aug 2, 2013
    In good times everything works .. In bad times less so.
  12. The guitarist and singer speak their piece. The drummer and I make the decision we feel is best. We let them think they have a say.
  13. Been in a pretty popular cover band for 4 years now. No band leader and it works out great. The unstructured sets play into the tourist crowds we get. We haven't rehearsed in years. The scenario usually goes like this: a text "hey, learn (whatever song) for tonight". We all share in booking gigs. We all roadie ourselves and take turns running sound. Never had any issues this way, which goes against some great advice I got long ago; "always have only 1 person book gigs or you will have problems". Ordinarily that's true. Depends on the type of band, type of community/region you gig in, and the types of cats in the band. And of course, more band members, more band issues. Whatever happens, don't let it stop being fun!
  14. thefruitfarmer


    Feb 25, 2006
    Kent UK
    Musical Director, MD fruitfarmer, I like that.

    MD is more accurate I think, yes.

    I did attempt to delegate the job or printing out the lyrics and getting them into a folder, but gui**** and singer (who live together) did not get their act together to do this. Eventually, I e-mailed the word files to my girlfriend, who actually owns a printer, and we got it done that way.

    What I have found more effective is just discussing the problems and then we eventually find solutions...


    Rehearsal Space - gui**** offered his workplace.

    Getting gigs - gui**** and singer in building trade so know all the local pub landlords.
  15. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    I am the band leader in my band, but run it like a "benevolent dictator," meaning the band members have a voice and input, but I make final decisions. I also have a musical director (my drummer), and he has a large degree of authority. It works. The key to leadership is in understanding the strengths of your team and truly giving a sense of ownership and input.
    It can work without an official leader too...I've just never been in that situation where things were managed efficiently, although I know it's just my experience and not a general rule.
  16. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    In my main band, the singer is the BL,
    drummer is the organizer/ dbl checker,
    and I'm the MD,
    figuring out what key the singer started the tune in THIS time and so forth.

    In my band, it's pretty democratic.
    Drummer and gtr player (and myself sometimes) book shows.
    Drummer does most of the advert.
    I get final say in tunes, because I gotta sing 'em.
    We generally use my PA, but sometimes for the bigger shows,
    I'll have to call and say, "Hey bring your QSCs and a couple monitors."
    I'm the MD, because I can direct without making it obvious to the audience.
  17. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    I think the conventional bandleader of the past is gone, largely because the booking agent/manager of the past is gone. The bandleader was the contact person for the booking agent and handled any money that came from the booking agent. Nowadays finding & booking gigs, promotional materials and handling the money isdone by band members. Which they sometimes confuse with leadership. If you have very co-operative BMs you may not need someone to micro-manage rehearsals. I keep pushing for a "facilitator" style of leadership: one person basically keeps the sessions on track, makes sure if anyone has an idea/complaint/thought it gets examined within reason. Optimally they would be someone who really is ok with another's idea holding sway on a point. Sometimes the drummer is good at managing the "what's next" part, since they usually are itching to move on while other instrumentalists are noodling or trying riffs.

    It is nice when people recognize each other's strengths and don't tell themselves they are being left out. Those with a particularly strong skill needs to be sure to include the others to avoid that claim, even if total BS. E.g. [For last 3 bands]I built the website, managed the Facebook and Reverbnation accounts, created 99% of the promotional materials - I always ask them to give me input and save the emails where I asked them for their thoughts. I had the occasional person who said, "you didn't ask for anyone else's input". "Actually I did, you didn't respond so we went ahead."
  18. JaamE

    JaamE Owner of the GK Angry Bird amp

    Apr 13, 2011
    Olympia, WA
    We dont really, although we're not a working band, we're mostly in it for fun. Practice space is the drummer because he and his wife (lead vox) own the music school we use.

    I'm usually the one who makes chord/lyric/setlists because it's me who needs them most. We all bring songs to the table and all vote on if we'll learn them or if we're playing them for a gig. Lead guitar and drummer help me modify bass parts that are beyond me and i help them figure out where they need to fill over what i can't do.

    Beer duty is usually rotated or we'll all chip in and someone will make a run.
  19. dnosewor


    Apr 14, 2009
    I would say that we are a band without a leader. We all have equal say in everything and all share in the work. Been working well for us now for almost 3 years. We're lucky that our band has pretty much come to a point now where it practical runs itself.

    I feel bad for all those guys that are writing about the controlling band leaders. I wouldn't be able to play for anyone who wanted to control every detail of the band.
  20. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Our band makes decisions on a democratic basis, however I am the leader of the band.
    Seems Im the one doing everything outside of rehearsing & writing.
    The other two guys trust me in leading the band, and are there to help when I need them to.

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