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Responsabilities of a good band leader

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by cassanova, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    What do you think are the responsabilities of a good band leader?
  2. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Understanding the in's and out's of every instrument, their function, musical talent (duh :D ), original ideas, and the ability to express his musical talent and original ideas properly.

    Along with many more
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sorry, BARKBOO, I gotta disagree. I don't expect the leader to play bass, that's my job. What I expect the band leader to do is:

    1. Be the liason between the band and the venue -s/he speaks to the venue on behalf of the band and the venue speaks to the band only through the leader

    2. that the band booked for the venue is the band that's right for the venue.

    3.make sure any charts or arrangements for anything out of the standard repertoire are available

    4. Called me for the gig cause they want me, what I sound like, to play the music.

    5. Have the bread ready after the first set. (Cash is always a nice touch).

    6. LEAD REHEARSALS IN A RESPONSIBLE FASHION - I was playing with a big band that had some great players in it. But it ended up breaking up because the leader (who also arranged and wrote for the band) would spend inordinate amounts of time rehearsing the sax solis and not anything else. So cats starting quitting and by the time I left, we'd be having a two hour rehearsal and the brass section would be dragging so bad they'd be in a different time zone, but all that would ever get stopped for work is the sax solis.

    If the leader isn't going to handle booking, they are the one's responsible for getting an agent to book. if the leader isn't going to be responsible for handling travel arrangements, venue issues etc., they should be responsible for hiring a band manager. If they don't want to be responsible for running rehearsals, then they should be the one to assign that responsibility.
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    QUAD FEU nailed it. I think the leader's role is more logistical than musical. His/her job is to be where the buck stops so the other band members can just play music.

    I'd put #5 as #1 though :D
  5. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    I didn't say the person had to know how to play the instruments, just know about them. Know when the drums are too busy, or conversly, not busy enough. Know when the tempo should slow to create the intended mood.

    I don't feel that he or she must be an multi-instrumentalist that can play any part of any song, no matter the difficulty. If a person is in a band, they were chosen for talent, style, etc, and for someone (bandleader) to tell another how it should be played is wrong.
  6. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    A good band leader should be able to lead both on and off the stage. But, what usually makes for a good band leader is the stuff done off stage.

    On Stage
    - Conduct the band. Be able to give a signal for the key. Be able to count out the tempo and feel of a song. Call out sections of a song, like the head or bridge. This is helpful when you are caught up in an improv jam.
    - Conduct the flow of the show. This can range from creating setlists to calling out songs on the fly. Some band leaders schmooze with the audience as well.
    - Make sure the PA and lights are working properly. Regardless of whether or not there is a soundman, a good bandleader should be able to give some oversight.

    Off Stage
    - Book gigs, and get the required personnel to do it. This includes sound and light guys, as well as musicians.
    - Arrange rehearsals, and running the rehearsal so that time is used effectively.
    - Define the material to be played and give charts and songs out to people to learn and practice
    - Give details of the gig to bandmembers like directions, time, equipment requirements, etc.
    - Promote the act. This can range from press releases to paid advertising to merchandising.
    - Plan the show
    - Deal with the finances of the band. Making sure that everyone gets their fair share, as well as putting money back into the band.
    - Be the spokesperson for the band to venues, promoters, press, etc.
  7. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Soooo true about the rehearsal part. I can remember playing with several people over the years in which there either was no clear-cut leader or the leader didn't hold the practice together. More often than not, half the rehearsal was wasted.

    The most memorable was when a singer/guitarist brought me and another guitarist in for a gig - and he would ask us "ok guys, what do you want to do?" at every rehearsal.

    We'd say "It's your stuff, you tell us what you want to do and what sound you want and we'll go from there."

    Answer: "Well I don't know."

    A leader has to be the exact opposite of this when running a practice.
  8. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Im not too worried about booking gigs and things of that nature. Im planning on hiring a booking agent to do that for me. I just dont want the hassle of having to deal with it and truth be told, I dont feel comfortable enough with my P.R. skills to try that just yet.

    Im mostly concerned with the audition/rehearsal aspect of things right now. You'd think Id be ok with it since Ive done too many auditions to count and have countless rehearsals under my belt.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is wasted rehearsal time. I know me and know that I want the rehearsals to be just that, a rehearsal not a practice. I dont want to be overly anal about it either, but I know me, I probably would be.

    I guess my question now is "when is the appropriate time to be anal?" (for lack of better words)

    I know what I want and though expecting a few mistakes, am expecting damn near perfection.

    Ive never had a band leader chew me out for being unprepared, having a bad atitude or anything like that. Hell Ive been lucky and never been chewed out by a band leader. (knock wood)
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If you don't want to be too much of a hard ass (especially if it's a new group) structure the rehearsal so it's part work and part play. You get to play through tunes like it's a session (with a "why don't we play through this and see how we like it, if we want to add it to the repertoire") but then you have some specific things that you stop and tear apart and work on the first 3 bars before the bridge, crap like that. Oughta keep everybody happy, keep forward progress. Just spell it all out, kinda (1 hour playing, 1 hour tearing - what tunes, how many tunes, you know the drill).
  10. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Never thought of it this way, but I think I am the band leader after reading Ed's guidelines, I pretty much have to do all that.
  11. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I wouldnt want a drummer in my band if I had to tell him/her what to play. Giving an indication is expected on origional material of course, but really I'd expect the players to make the right decisions regarding their playing themselves. On the other hand I'd expect everybody to chip in they didnt feel something was right, including my bass playing.. a balance I guess.

    I've sent out exampls CDs of ten tracks for a new band I'm starting, literally, today. I've found all the players, chosen the tracks and I'll be booking rehearsals, gigs etc.

    I must admit I'm pretty nervous about it. It's going to be a jazz-funk band - and all the players I've got lined up are really good, so I need to make sure I know exactly what I'm doing! I'm going to learn the tracks inside out before I get o rehearsal and do the best I can. Fingers crossed it all goes according to plan!?!
  13. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I must not be a good leader. All 3 of the musicians are flaking out.

    The drummer bailed out. He said after hearing the audition cd that the music is too poppy for him. (Why he couldnt have told me that when I emailed him a copy of the song list is beyond me) Also that the rehearsal area is just too far for him. I could actually be ok with that had he not had told me he didnt have a problem with it when I first told him where it was.

    The singer hasnt returned a one of my calls to find out if she got the cd I sent her. So Im writing her off.

    The guitarist, he wants me to reschedule the audition date because its now inconvienant for him, to a time that he knew in advance that I wouldnt be able to make.

    I honestly dont get people. I let all these people know well enough in advance the song list, rehearsal/audition area, times, dates, etc. Now they all seem to have issues with it all.

    None of this would piss me the **** off or bring me down (especially the ****in drummer) had he/they not known any of this crap 3 weeks ago when I first started talking with them and briefing them. Instead, I got, "yeah rehearsal in that areas fine," "yeah, im ok with playin that kind of music," yeah, the times are perfect!"

    Im done tryin to piece together anything. This whole ordeal has totally soured me wanting to put together any type of a band. It's actually turned me off of even wanting to play my bass for a while. :mad: :mad: :mad:
  14. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Better they flake out now than 6 months in, or right before a gig. Don't let it get you down, there are lots more musicians out there. Take a rest and then give it another shot. :bassist:

    I'm the leader for my band - I do almost all the stuff on the list and it's not always fun. Even with dependable members you've been working with for years everything doesn't always go right. Our last rehearsal was pretty bad -- singer was an hour late, drummer "learned" 2 out of 4 tunes on his lunch break that day, and sub guitarist wasn't ready for one other. You can't yell at people who are friends and who you want to continue working with, so I let it slide. Thankfully this is the first time it's been that bad.
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Man, that is pretty sh!tty. It has to be said, musicians are generally the flakiest people on earth, and we're usually the least flaky of the bunch, so we're bound to have a hard time!

    Still, jondog is right, you have to get back on the horse, you're bound find the right people soon enough.
  16. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I agree with alot of what's been said, if there's no manager to speak of. Alot of these tasks are the responsibility of the manager. Most importantly, a band leader must realize that the band works with you and not for you, unless you're a solo artist. Don't feel that it is SOLEY your job to do everything! If you need help, ask for it!
  17. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    I think the hardest part about being a band leader is finding a good structure for the band.

    Thankfully, I grew up in the entertainment industry as the son of a lawyer, so I got tons of useful information.

    The key to a successful band is a band partnership agreement. It sharpens all the dull lines and defines how the band works. You may want to have all the members be partners (meaning they all own a portion of the band), but in my band, there are just two.

    The lead singer/leader and I are partners. We both write all the songs. I handle all the business stuff, he handles the members and practices. It helps that we've very good friends and can get along well (since we were roommates for a year).

    The thing that keeps us together is the dedication a contract brings. We literally signed off saying that this band is more important than anything else (even our jobs). This makes the other members more dedicated because they know how dedicated we are.

    If your band is just for fun, then this probably isn't the way to go. If you're looking to be successful, you need to sit down with all the members and go over your model for your band.

    I highly recommend Nolo's Music Law book as it contains all the contracts and information you need to structure your band.

    I know this got off topic.

    Most important quality for a band leader: DEDICATION

    The other members will appreciate all your hard work.
  18. mattmcnewf


    May 27, 2004
    I think the leader most important is to get bookings and dealing with people. In the band they should keep the rehhearsels going. But I think the band should be like a senate Each members voting on most decisions, and making there side clear.
    The leader jobs is just to keep the band on track and take care of the bussiness side.