Band Leaders

Ive been in a few bands already and its always one person making the calls and very little group input on gigs, music style, etc.

in my opinion when a band forms...all decisions should be made by the group. if the group decides to a manager to book them gigs than make the decision together. write songs together and overall be a collaborative effort.

please respond as i await other views and your opinions!!
 

Kowalski

Junior Member
♪♫Aaron♫♪;617889 said:
Ive been in a few bands already and its always one person making the calls and very little group input on gigs, music style, etc.

in my opinion when a band forms...all decisions should be made by the group. if the group decides to a manager to book them gigs than make the decision together. write songs together and overall be a collaborative effort.

please respond as i await other views and your opinions!!
I agree, all band members should participate as much as possible in a band.
 
yah that is very true. i guess just make sure that your in a band that you trust. that being said, if you don't really know the members, anything could happen.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I think a band should be a collaboration, but also have clear leadership. I have never been in a successful band without a leadership structure. A good band leader takes all of the opinions of the group and uses them to make his or her decisions, even if it goes against what they want to do. Sometimes it's more than one leader...in my one band, my guitarist and I are co-leaders. In the end, there will always be times that the whole group can't decide on something, or when a member is slacking or something, and the leader has to be responsible for all of that. In the end, a successful band is a business, and businesses need a leadership structure to succeed.
 
I think a band should be a collaboration, but also have clear leadership. I have never been in a successful band without a leadership structure. A good band leader takes all of the opinions of the group and uses them to make his or her decisions, even if it goes against what they want to do. Sometimes it's more than one leader...in my one band, my guitarist and I are co-leaders. In the end, there will always be times that the whole group can't decide on something, or when a member is slacking or something, and the leader has to be responsible for all of that. In the end, a successful band is a business, and businesses need a leadership structure to succeed.
i've never looked at it as a "business" concept before and they way you described it makes sense to me now.
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
To me it depends on the gig/band I'm with at the moment with regards to leadership/my role.

I'll use the bands I am currently in and my particular role in it.


THE GOOD


Wedding band 1

This band plays covers and has no real goal as to anything else and with that in mind creatively, we are all the leaders. We all have input over song choice, orchestrations and everyone feels relaxed enough to pitch in with ideas about other peoples parts.
That being said, the keyboard player and guitarist are responsible for exchanging chords and working out correct keys BEFORE practice and distributing it to everyone while my job is to do an idiot chart for each song. so I have delegated and 'lead' sort of.

Business wise, that is all me. I take care of gig bookings, rehearsals, contracts, payment etc.
Money wise we split everything equally. Travel expenses are covered either by the person booking us or by the band kitty which we take a small portion from pub gig takings.

Band 2

Singer songwriter.

The singer wrote all the songs and lyrics and in this i am effectively a session musician. Ultimately she makes the decision as to what she wants me to play. Obviously I come up with suggestions and alternatives but she chooses the one she likes best for her song and I go with that. even if it's not what I perceive to be the best or what I would naturally play. Because she is a nice musician and the music is good and again there are no egos I don't have a problem with her calling the shots.

Jazz band

Again this band is playing standards and we all have the opportunity to put in ideas and song choice. So far there have been no ego's ....

Originals band

I am currently trying to set this up. in the beginning we will be using material from an E.P i wrote (listen to it here www.dave-major.com/media.php ....shameless plug!!!) so I guess I would be the band leader but eventually I want everyone to contribute songs, ideas, lyrics etc.


THE BAD

I recently left a band that really had everything I didn't want. Egos (or 2 in particular) and a bad band leader and not great music.

Basically i joined because they said they were doing adapted covers of songs. Great i get to use my creativity and they did a bit of latin and reggae stuff that I am not great at!. Woo hoo i thought.......however

Each song was a cover of someone else's 'interesting' cover that the keyboard player brought in to the practice and passed off as his own. The songs were also pretty shoddy arrangements and versions of obscure funk songs...

Anyway during a bit of down time me, the singer and the guitarist decided to have a meeting with everyone to see if we could begin to make our own versions. Long story short the bass player (the leader!, he organized all the rehearsals and gigs) basically said he couldn't be bothered doing that and was happy doing what we were doing.

That along with other things was my cue to leave.


Because of this band I have come to 2 conclusions.

1- Good Musicians don't necessarily make good music!

2- Music/bands is/are easy it is the people that make it hard.



For those of you that got to the end of this good on you.

Cheers

Dave
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Ya, I'm not too fond on "band leaders". I have a beef with one now that has been going on since January.

I agree with most of this thread, bands should be a collaboration among the members, not just a single person dictating and controling what is going on. There is a huge gap between dictators and leaders.
 

rootheart

Senior Member
in the 60ies when "bands" came up, all garage bands where a group of friends, covering songs, having fun together and splitting the money once they had a gig...Why do so many bands break up after a few gigs?
Times have changed...democracy in a band is the end of a band...cause gigs are "businesss" somehow...and this needs someone to take care of...
Quote my ex-Bassplayer: "Nobody comes to the band rehearsal, but if I can manage some gigs, then they all come to the rehearsal, being motivated, and I am the bandleader, and I can tell them how and what to play"....after he told me such, I quit the band....cause I knew that he was right, but he was an $%&hole and all he wanted was to be "a boss", and the music for him was less important
 
Last edited:

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I agree with Mrchattr about the usefulness of leadership structures in bands. It seems to me that democratic bands lack clear direction. The principle isn't miles from the corproate world where a leader with vision - usually a singer/wongwriter will make things happen.

I've always been in democratic bands and I earn my money in an office - says it all! Democratic bands are more fun IMO but if you want to get ahead, I think having a great bandleader is the way to go.

I emphasise "great" because some people want to lead simply because they demand that things their own way, ie. w*ers like rootheart's ex-bassist. A good leader only wants to lead because they can see a path, be it musical and/or professional. Their vision must be good enough to inspire the other musos.
 

rootheart

Senior Member
in the 60ies when "bands" came up, all garage bands where a group of friends, covering songs, having fun together and splitting the money once they had a gig...Why do so many bands break up after a few gigs?
Times have changed...democracy in a band is the end of a band...cause gigs are "businesss" somehow...and this needs someone to take care of...
Quote my ex-Bassplayer: "Nobody comes to the band rehearsal, but if I can manage some gigs, then they all come to the rehearsal, being motivated, and I am the bandleader, and I can tell them how and what to play"....after he told me such, I quit the band....cause I knew that he was right, but he was an $%&hole.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I think "leader" is like any other position in the band...you can't be successful without it, but a bad one can ruin you quicker and more thoroughly than not having one! It's true with any instrument, too.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
♪♫Aaron♫♪;617889 said:
Ive been in a few bands already and its always one person making the calls and very little group input on gigs, music style, etc.

in my opinion when a band forms...all decisions should be made by the group. if the group decides to a manager to book them gigs than make the decision together. write songs together and overall be a collaborative effort.

please respond as i await other views and your opinions!!
In theory yes,

In reality, not so much.

In an original band, there are usually one or two main song writers, and they usually end up the leaders, because it's their songs.

Or in some bands, it's just who wants to take on most of the work.

Also depends a bit on the size of the band; smaller bands are easier for everyone to have input.

Some examples:
Metallica is clearly led by James and Lars; in part because they write 90-95% of the music, and in part they started the band, and everyone else joined later, and in part because they're the ones who want to lead.

Dream Theater: Mike Portnoy and John John Petrucci are the clear leaders because they want to be, and the other members are happy to let them do it.

In Fates Warning, when they went from a 5 pc to a 3pc, they stopped getting new members, and just hired guys to fill out the band, because it made the decision process easier.

In Rush, all three members are equal, because in part, there are only 3 of them, and all 3 members contribute to the song writing process.

In Journey, Neal Schon is now considered the leader, because he's on the only guy who's played on every single album.

So it varies from band to band.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Good post, DearmEatDrum. I forgot about those willing to put in the work. That happens a lot in smaller bands.

Another thing is musicial ability and experience. The best and most knowledgable player/s in the group can have a lot of clout because if they left, the band would not be as good, but it depends if the player wants to use that influence.

I made a mistake in my previous post but I'll keep it because it's funny. In the corporate world singer/songwriters are almost NEVER leaders :)
 

Fiery

Silver Member
There's always a leader figure or two (or in all bands that have more than three of four members), sometimes formally, sometimes informally. It doesn't always have to be a dictator, it could be a coordinator too, the person keeps everything flowing smoothly.

In my opinion, it's worse when an obvious leader won't accept the role, trying instead to act as if the band is a democracy, even though it's he/she calling the shots.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
In my opinion, it's worse when an obvious leader won't accept the role, trying instead to act as if the band is a democracy, even though it's he/she calling the shots.
It depends on what's being lead. If different band members have these qualities then who is the natural leader?

  • the person who started the band
  • the person who is best at organising
  • the person with the best contacts
  • the person who is the main songwriter
  • the person who is most experienced and has the clearest conception of establishing a cohesive musicial direction
  • the best player.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
I think I've had my fill of too many "leaders", band or otherwise, who are on ego trips and thoroughly enjoy being the boss simply because they can order people around and have their own way on everything. Well sparky....um...life ain't about having your own way all the time.

I may have a beef with people who are in charge and can only sleep well at night if they know their subjects know they are in charge. That's why I wrote in my original post there is a huge gap between being a "leader" and being a "dictator" like Hitler or Stalin.

A leader inspires, consults, encourages, motivates, coaches, nurtures, and mentors.

A dictator simply barks orders to stroke his or her own ego and wants everything their own way, regardless of the consequences. As in "do it because I said do it".

Maybe I just have trouble with crappy authortiy......
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
It depends on what's being lead. If different band members have these qualities then who is the natural leader?

  • the person who started the band
  • the person who is best at organising
  • the person with the best contacts
  • the person who is the main songwriter
  • the person who is most experienced and has the clearest conception of establishing a cohesive musicial direction
  • the best player.
I think what Fiery meant, and if so, I agree, is that some people are just natural leaders. It doesn't matter if it's the person who started the band, the main songwriter, etc. It goes beyond music, and you can see it as a seperate talent. For instance, both my friend Derek and I are natural leaders. Even in a group where there is a different official leader, we are going to have imput, make suggestions, help rally the troops, etc. It's who we are. In Pulse, my cover band, the two of us lead together brilliantly. In the original band we perform in together, the main songwriter is the leader of the band, but gets advice and direction from us in a very real way. We lead a lot of what happens in that band...and when the actual leader disagrees, we do things her way until they don't work. She can admit when that happens and is learning a lot from us. A natural leader is always going to lead in some capacity, title or not.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Well, generally speaking I have nothing against band leaders. They've always been the ones who hired me and they've always been the ones who paid me. A guy's got to work, you know.
 
Top