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The Band Leader Thread

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jive1, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    A thread for the guys who are bandleaders, or considering being one.

    Share pros, cons, challenges, benefits. Ask questions. Share tips.
  2. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Pro: At least you get some say in what goes on.

    Con: You have to deal with everybody's issues, do a lot of management work, pick up slack wherever it needs to be picked up, build consensus, arbitrate disputes, stroke egos, kick butts, tend wounds, drive all night when you'd rather sleep, explain why you did something a certain way to people who weren't willing to do it at all themselves. I could go on...
  3. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Definitely a lot of work, but worth it. For me the biggest pro is not having to live with other people's bad decisions.
  4. Waster


    Nov 24, 2011
    I'm not a band-leader, but I think they're totally necessary; none of this 'everybody's equal' crap. Sooner or later, someone will gravitate into that position of authority, which will only bring resentment on the rest of the band's part. If it is clear from the beginning who's in charge, then it's easier to accept that. All IMO of course.

  5. It takes a certain personality type to pull it off. Part manager, part salesman, part mediator, part dictator, plus a lot of other things you could throw in there. Not my thing. I'll just play the bass and stay out of the way, thanks.
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Well, if it's your band - you founded it and you're leading it - one thing's for sure: You'll never get fired! :smug:

  7. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    occaisionally my guitar player will send me a note saying "hey, thanks for taking care of business" so that's nice. the best description for the job i know is "it's like herding cats".
  8. I've always had a few things to say about being an effective band leader. Here's a short list:

    1) You must be a clear communicator
    2) You must be organized
    3) You must be consistent
    4) You must be fair-minded
    5) You must leave the ego at the door

    Not all bands are the same - given. The bands I've been in that were well-run had good leaders who made sure everyone had everything they needed to show up to rehearsals and gigs ready to do what was required. This meant they made sure everyone knew what songs were going to be rehearsed and for shows, that everyone had complete set lists. They were able to effectively set expectations for all members so everyone knew what the band was about and what they had to do as members to continue to be a part of it.

    There have been many threads here that complain about "leaders" - but the people they tend to describe are not leaders at all - they are just people who formed a band and made demands of players without demonstrating any of the rest of the above mentioned prerequisites. They don't lead - they dictate. They tend to get off on the power and embrace the classic, "my way/highway" ethic.

    Finally - one thing I've found to be true in all bands that had good leaders - everyone else in the band genuinely appreciated their leadership and rarely every gave them grief and in turn, the leaders genuinely appreciated their professional band members and never had a reason to give them grief.
  9. My singer and myself started the band,but I am the guy that everyone comes to for leadership since I have been on the music scene for many years. I never throw my weight around so to speak but when the tuff stuff needs to get done it is always me that takes care of business (hiring firing) I now play with a great bunch of guys all pros who are team players so we have had a great run 2003-present looking forward to many more years with them.
  10. Rockbassist4


    Oct 13, 2012
    Not true. I have seen several people who have started bands get fired. One band I was in did it to the BL who had founded the band. The keyboard player, drummer and I told him that we were moving on without him, found a new guitarist/singer and continued gigging.

    I have been the band leader in several bands, have been in others where I shared responsibilities with another band member and have been in others where someone else is the BL. I enjoy it more when I am involved in more than just playing. In my current band, the guitarist is the BL but he calls me and we make decisions for the band and before we discuss anything with the band we talk first.

    Pros: Having say in what the band is doing. Knowing exactly what the gig pays.

    Cons: Its a lot of work. Trying to keep everyone happy.
  11. Piggy8692


    Oct 2, 2010
    Northern Utah
    I've only been a BL in my earlier stages, playing in High school. Got rid of some people, organized some stuff. But nothing really significant. Since then I've always helped out where I could but never led anyone else. I've really only played other people's music too.

    I think it would be good for me to try out, but I think it would drive me insane. My writing rarely gets implimented in my bands because they all seem so boxed in to whatever genre/style the writer is in. It would be fun to play in a band that I have shaped and directed into what I have in my head.

    Is the BL's main role to decide musical direction, or organize practices, gigs and hire, and fire?
  12. Absolutely!
  13. I do both. With one band I am the band leader/manager. That involves everything from taking bookings, chasing people, dealing with venues/clients down to picking the tunes we shall be playing along with all the rest of it. I get paid extra for taking care of all of this stuff. The other members of the band know and are happy about this because all that is required of them is to turn up at the gig and get paid (by me) at the end of the gig. On one occassion the drummer tried to deal himself with a client and after seeing what hassles are involved he resolved never to take it on himself again and now passes any requests to me. It can get tiresome sometimes and I get to bear the brunt of the bad things which happen. For instance, if for some reason the client delays or refuses to make payment, I will still pay the others, whether I am actually sucessful in getting the money.

    With my other band, I am just the bass player and frankly I love it. I play the tunes the band leader asks me to play, turn up at the time appointed etc. It is a huge relief not to have the responsibility of taking care of all the things involved in bookings.
  14. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    My advice

    Have clear and concise goals and also make them realistic. The band should achieve these goals. Tell them what they are.

    Choose the right people to achieve the above.

    Give the band free riegn to play how they play. If you don't like what they are playing, you shouldn't have chosen them.

    Pay for everything.

    Be honest, if you are playing for free, tell the band before you hire them. There are people that will pay for free and read the above point again. The band doesnt pay expenses, you do. If you are playing for money, tell them what the money is.

    Honour your agreement. If the venue stiffs you, then you get stiffed, not the band.

    If it goes wrong, it's your fault. Fix it.

    If theirs tension in the band, fix it early.

    Have fun.
  15. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Lots of work, lots of time, generally unappreciated or at a minimum, under appreciated and underpaid comparatively speaking.
  16. +1 on all counts.

    I became the BL when really no one else wanted it. I got to be the A-hole and fire a really bad drummer and then initiate the finding of the replacement.

    Sometimes I think I'm being a little too type A in trying to organize things, but everyone knows exactly what's going on and I've never heard anyone complain. I'm not pushy (and I ask when I think I am) I just make sure everyone is on the same page.

    Everyone has their say, and the majority rules. I only reserve veto power in regards to the gear to which I own and the songs to which I cannot sing. When a new member is being brought on board, everyone gets a say whether they get hired. Any conflicts are dealt with immediately and again, majority rules.

    It's frustrating sometimes, but when you get that right mix of people and music, it feels really good.
  17. I am not the BL in my current band, and nor do I want to be.

    When I started my first band I was the BL. I did a whole bunch of things wrong and learned a lot about doing it just through my mistakes.

    What I learned;

    Being a BL is a huge responsibility. The others will look to you for direction and organization. It's a whole lot of work when the others aren't there and a lot of it is never noticed. Things that should seem simple, like song selection, order of songs, how many songs in each set, suddenly become complicated when everyone seems to have some idea of how THEY think it should go. And can be tense when what you want to do is different than what the others want to do.

    Personalities. If you're going to be a BL you have to be patient. Each member is an individual and for some reason sooner or later some sort of drama will pop up. It might be minor but it will happen. As the BL you have to be someone that can deal with it and put it to bed somehow, however it needs to be done. Which means that you have to be willing to fire someone if needed. And sometimes it's needed. So you'd better have a thick skin.

    Be a person who can organize things. Ultimately, as the BL, you're the "commanding officer". So you have to be able to put organization to the group. If you're disorganized yourself, you probably won't be successful as a BL.

    Be able to work for the group. This means being comfortable booking shows, discussing compensation, signing contracts, and selecting venues.

    Be open to suggestions from band members, but ultimately make the decisions. This was the biggest area I failed in. I was unwilling (or unable) to make decisions and often times I let the group sort of direct itself, which just doesn't work. There will be times where you have to be the mean one and say "that isn't going to work, we're not doing it". The same goes in practice. You have to be willing to do what is needed to keep other member on-target and focused and reel them back in when they start to go off on their own path.

    Bands are always a collective effort, but in the end someone has to be the responsible one. Whether it's supplying sheet music, setting goals, booking shows, or doing those little PIA things that nobody ever sees, someone has to do it. And it usually falls on the BL to tie up all the loose ends. As a BL you need to establish clear goals, standards, and you set the tone for what the group does.

    IMHO, the BL should be the most level headed one of the group who doesn't mind extra work that they will never get noticed or thanked for. And they will have plenty of headaches, especially if they are the BL for a startup band.

    Still want the job?;)
  18. Spot on!!

    I'd add:
    - be very choosy with who you pick to join, make sure they are reliable, punctual, and respectful.
    - Choose people that carry their own part and give more than is expected.
    - Avoid people with big egos, no matter how talented they are.
    - Pick people better than you musically, it makes your job so much easier and rewarding.
    - Be fair.
    - Be willing to be corrected, admit you were wrong and apologize. Proud leaders build resentment in their team.
    - Show people you appreciate them, in private and publicly.
  19. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin

    Spend the time
    quickly resolve disputes
    set reasonable expectations
    advocate for the guys
    use a give-n-take attitude - BL is not always right
    be consistent
    make the gig day as easy as possible for the band members
  20. One component of leadership is comprised of personality factors. It's tough when the band leader lacks any useful ones for that role.