Should a band have a leader?


maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/07/2014 12:59 am
As many of you know, I was in a band project run by a local music store/school. It had it's bumps, but with our mentor (instructor), things always kept moving forward.

3 of us are trying to keep things going since we had so much fun. It's been almost 4 weeks and we are frankly floundering. No matter how I have tried, we cannot even agree on songs to work on. The problem we should be having is narrowing them down :-).

So, it occurred to me today that our mentor was acting as the band leader. He had final say on what songs we did. He decided when we had it down or had to keep working on it.

I also think back when I was in the church choir. The piano player was the choir director (band leader). It went very very well until somebody else came in and took over. They were not a good leader, things floundered, and they fell apart.

I see it with projects at work too.

So, is it common for a band (just for fun and gigging/making money) to have a designated leader?

I'm thinking of suggesting to my bandmates that this is the case, but I thought I'd throw it out here as a sanity check.
# 1
haghj500
Registered User
Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 453
haghj500
Registered User
Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 453
05/07/2014 4:13 am
Band Leader as in what you did at the last gig? Yes

Band Leader as you suggest will not work. For the others
It just became a job. Too much time must be invested, which means playing a song you do not like too many times. People will move on. Wouldn’t you?
# 2
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/07/2014 12:58 pm
So you are saying basically a band needs a stage leader? It was you or somebody else that used that term to describe how I tried to direct things on stage.

OK, I get that having somebody that is "the boss" could be a drag and make it not fun, but how do you keep things from floundering? I feel like I'm trying to herd cats! :-). At the moment, I'm stepping back and letting the others figure out what is going on.

I'm in this for fun, but I also want to accomplish something. Otherwise, I feel like I'm wasting my time.
# 3
markm0926
Registered User
Joined: 01/01/14
Posts: 65
markm0926
Registered User
Joined: 01/01/14
Posts: 65
05/07/2014 2:07 pm
The singer is a good one to make the set list and come up with the songs. They need to be sung well and the singer would know his/her abilities, and what song maybe not to do right after another.
Just a suggestion that works for us.
Main Gear: Gibson SG, Gibson Les Paul Sig T, Martin Acoustic, Mesa 5:25+, Orange OR15, Carl Martin Quattro
# 4
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/07/2014 2:41 pm
Thanks Mark for chiming in.

That has been actually been said in our conversations. How we play them will be dictated by the singer if we have to change keys and stuff too.

We are likely to continue to flounder until we get a singer. I think that's what it comes down to.

Since we are really just starting out, all of our skill levels impact song selection. Unless we get a hot shot lead guitarist, anything with ripping solos are out. That's until I get my chops up...some insentive for me :-).
# 5


Joined: 04/14/24
Posts: 0


Joined: 04/14/24
Posts: 0
05/07/2014 3:41 pm
Originally Posted by: maggiorSo you are saying basically a band needs a stage leader? It was you or somebody else that used that term to describe how I tried to direct things on stage.

OK, I get that having somebody that is "the boss" could be a drag and make it not fun, but how do you keep things from floundering? I feel like I'm trying to herd cats! :-). At the moment, I'm stepping back and letting the others figure out what is going on. Er

I'm in this for fun, but I also want to accomplish something. Otherwise, I feel like I'm wasting my time.

Hey there rich,IMO I think there should not be any band leader .".I think what really makes a band a good a good band,is haveing all band members being on the same page as your self.....if u and ur band mates can not even agree on the songs to play,that's a big red flag IMO ,thats what managers are for......u don't want a band member acting as a manager....best regards
# 6
Kasperow
Registered User
Joined: 10/09/12
Posts: 693
Kasperow
Registered User
Joined: 10/09/12
Posts: 693
05/07/2014 3:41 pm
I would say you should decide on a Band Leader, even though you don't have a singer yet. If you have a designated Leader, you'll be less likely to just waste time when jamming, and you might actually get something done. Then, once you get a singer, you can always transfer the Leader-role to that person.

No matter what you do, though, you'll want to keep the songs you already know as a band rehearsed, so you don't have to go through the trouble of re-rehearsing the songs :)
"Commit yourself to what you love, and things will happen."
- Mika Vandborg, Electric Guitars, "Follow Your Heart"
---
Gear:
Chateau PS-10 Cherry Power-Strat
Epiphone G-400 LTD 1966 Faded Worn Cherry
Epiphone Les Paul 100 Ebony (w/ Oil City Pickups Scrapyard Dog PLUS pickups)
Epiphone ES-345 Cherry
Fender 2014 Standard Stratocaster Sunburst
Martin DX1K Acoustic
Fender Mustang II Amplifier
Jet City Amplification JCA22H Tube-head and JCA12S+ cabinet
Pedals...
# 7


Joined: 04/14/24
Posts: 0


Joined: 04/14/24
Posts: 0
05/07/2014 3:55 pm
Bad idea I wouldnt elect any band member that role,then to take it away,I don't think that would go over so well......think about it,what if you were the band leader,then suddenly it was taken from you and given to someone else.thats a reck waiting to happen......the solution is a experience manager ,that's what they do,besides booking gigs,they manage the band as a whole...making decisions,suggesting songs to learn and play...it shouldn't be up to on member of the band at all.......
# 8
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/07/2014 4:10 pm
This is all good stuff guys, things I hadn't thought about.

Good point about keeping songs we already know rehearsed. If anything, we can keep doing that at rehearsal.

Axe - you make a good point regarding the manager. I guess that's a better description of what our mentor at the music school did for us. And yes, there are big red flags going off here. We had the same problem at the music school except we had our "manager" to step in. So this shouldn't be a surprise to me :-). I think we are in fact NOT on the same page, and that doesn't appear to be in any danger of changing.

What's sad is I got a call from a friend of mine who is a guitar player and a very good singer. He's looking for a paying gig, so it wouldn't have been long term anyway. I told him I'd give him a call down the road if we manage to get it together. I could not in good conscience get him involved in the situation as it is at the moment. I also told him to keep me in mind if he finds a gig that needs a solid rhythm guitar player :-).
# 9
Steve Barrow
Registered User
Joined: 04/20/12
Posts: 132
Steve Barrow
Registered User
Joined: 04/20/12
Posts: 132
05/07/2014 7:45 pm
Rich, you were the standout musician in the music school band, and to take it to the next level I think you need to a) decide what type of music you want to play yourself and then b) surround yourself with people who want to be in on your project (even if that means saying goodbye to some current members). Personally I think someone needs to call the shots in any developing band and that person should be you. But what do I know......? Good luck with it all, Steve
# 10
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/07/2014 8:39 pm
I think you are right Steve - and I appreciate your vote of confidence. I did some googling and found that this is not an uncommon question. From what I read, bands that don't have some sort of leader flounder and take an eternity to get off the ground. We seem to be living proof.

I've tried to encourage decisions by putting choices out there as well as suggestions. I was trying to promote and facilitate discussion, even during the music school period. It just goes nowhere...herding cats :-(. I'm getting a sense that my level of enthusiasm for this project isn't shared with the others.

I'm giving myself time to think this over more, but I think the writing in on the wall that this gig just isn't for me. I'd rather bow out now so I don't feel obligated to cover a gig toward the end of August.

I would rather focus my energy on improving my skill as a guitarist than fight an uphill battle like this.

I think I'm going to give it a week and if I don't feel differently about it or of nothing changes, I'll gracefully bow out.
# 11
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/07/2014 10:06 pm
So a friend of mine who plays professionally convinced me that I shouldn't walk away from this opportunity just yet. So I'm going adjust my attitude and lower my expectations on this whole thing and just kind of let it happen...for now. Obviously the other approach hasn't worked :-).

I appreciate the input from everybody here - it all has helped! It's given me some things to consider as this progresses.

Cheers!
# 12
haghj500
Registered User
Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 453
haghj500
Registered User
Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 453
05/08/2014 2:26 am
Leader as in someone who makes all the decisions and picks all the songs, will not work. Well if you have a few very week personalities, that don’t like to make their own decision…It just may work.

Now a stage or practice leader is a must. The more people the more important it is. Look at nature, every herd, group, pack…. has a leader or dominate animal they follow. Your group (band) needs someone to signal when to start a song or more important, someone to stop the song when it needs stopped so a part can be practiced. Unless one person is making this decision no one will know when to keep going with the song or stop. So people stop and others don’t, then there jumping back in. That’s not practice it a stamped. No one says the leader cannot change every couple weeks or whatever.

With the current group of cats, ask them to make a list of songs they can play or would like to learn. The list should be at least 30 to 50 songs as that is what is needed for a 3 or 4 hour gig. Each of you put your list on the table and look for like songs. If the group doesn’t have at least 10 – 15 that match, time to find a new pack to run with. Not to say you cannot still jam now and then to have fun and a lot of learning about what it takes to make a band. I would encourage that.

Now that you have the list, you can post it on “For Sale” boards at stores and places people do when their selling beds or lawn mowers. Advertise you’re looking to make a band; these are the songs I know, looking for…..

Back in the late 70’s whenever we had to find a drummer or bass. We would post our last two sets, with a looking for ________. Of course “For Sale” boards were in a lot of stores back then, may not be so true now days.

The “manager” led band you just experienced was set up to work that way from the get go. You all entered knowing that and agreed. Why not it’s only 8 weeks and I’ll play in a band, not by myself and even get to play on stage. I bet you had stars in your eyes and would have agreed to 12 weeks to experience what you just got to. So ya, in that case it worked.

I got to do this band thing for most of three and a half years, I was mostly rhythm. So while I speak with some experience three and a half years is limited. A band is like a family, you’re all interdependent upon each other. I mean how can you hit the stage without one of you?

I also found that if a person wanting to join didn’t already have at least 30 songs under their belt, they were not ready to be in a band yet. You can’t trust people like that to stick around for more than a few months. They would get over whelmed and quit. They simple have not dedicated enough of their time/life and some refuse to dedicate that much to music.

I hope you find something useful in my rambling.
# 13
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/08/2014 4:13 am
Hey Haghj -

Hmmm, OK. During practice session and our last time on stage I was the "leader". Out of all of us, I have the most experience, so I think that happened naturally. Nobody seems to mind either. We have that covered at least.

You bet I would have signed on for 12 weeks...I certainly had stars in my eyes and didn't want it to end. A number of us didn't...that's why we are here :-).

I'll keep your idea in mind of each of us making a long list of songs we know/want to learn.

Using your guide of 30 songs...I fit that bill, the others not so much...and that may be part of the problem.

3 and a half years is a good amount of time to be in band, so I'd say you have some good experience to pull from and you know what you are talking about.

More stuff to think about...

In the meantime, I just had a blast jamming to Comfortably Numb and Echoes backing tracks I found on the 'net :-).

Appreciate the input.
# 14
fretsmith
Registered User
Joined: 09/30/13
Posts: 180
fretsmith
Registered User
Joined: 09/30/13
Posts: 180
05/08/2014 3:28 pm
Hey Maggior - Predictably, you got a lot of good advice here. All valid. I do think most bands benefit from a shepherd of sorts. Finding 3-4 people who share your vision for a band can be quite difficult ( I've been looking for years). Picking tunes needs to be a very deliberate process based on: (IMO) Ability to pull them off vocally. Matching difficulty level to your collective playing ability. Picking songs people would enjoy hearing (ie; familiar songs). Pick tunes that feature the same instruments you have (if you don't have someone on keys, pedal steel, etc - don't pick songs with a significant presence of those instruments). Ability to pull them off vocally (worth repeating).

I get that your feeling a little frustrated - I think I would be too. I think you definitely play well enough to be in a group but maybe there's a chemistry/vision issue going on that may not allow for a long term project ? I guess , in the meantime, have as much fun as you can and maybe keep one eye open for a project that fits better?

Good luck - Take care
# 15
Zack Young
Registered User
Joined: 05/08/14
Posts: 2
Zack Young
Registered User
Joined: 05/08/14
Posts: 2
05/08/2014 7:37 pm
Originally Posted by: maggiorAs many of you know, I was in a band project run by a local music store/school. It had it's bumps, but with our mentor (instructor), things always kept moving forward.

3 of us are trying to keep things going since we had so much fun. It's been almost 4 weeks and we are frankly floundering. No matter how I have tried, we cannot even agree on songs to work on. The problem we should be having is narrowing them down :-).

So, it occurred to me today that our mentor was acting as the band leader. He had final say on what songs we did. He decided when we had it down or had to keep working on it.

I also think back when I was in the church choir. The piano player was the choir director (band leader). It went very very well until somebody else came in and took over. They were not a good leader, things floundered, and they fell apart.

I see it with projects at work too.

So, is it common for a band (just for fun and gigging/making money) to have a designated leader?

I'm thinking of suggesting to my bandmates that this is the case, but I thought I'd throw it out here as a sanity check.


Hey Maggior. Is it common for a band to have a designated leader? Yes. However, in my experience it can be severely limiting depending on your band model. I can't say what would be best for you, only you can determine that. I will share a small antecdote regarding the musings on whether its a good idea to have one solid leader in the band.

First, let me say before anything else that IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE LEADER!!! The worst thing that happens to bands is the members get caught in a gridlock of indecisiveness because nobody can make a decision on something. I've been down that road with my band before, we didn't even fully decide on a band name until we after we played our first show. Even worse, when we did decide on a band name eventually we went into the studio to record our first E.P. After it was recorded and for about a month afterwards we all couldn't decide on a name for the E.P. A couple of the band members didn't even give it the old college try. So, I thought for a while and came up with a name that I thought would work. Nobody in the band argued or came up with a better idea than mine so it stayed.

This has happened with numerous things in the band and it irritated me that despite having four smart individuals in a room together an agreement couldn't be reached. However, we had a very specific model for what we wanted to do musically. We didn't want just one, or even two songwriters. We wanted our band to be able to have all of our members be songwriters and even sing the songs if they had the ability to. To us, it felt extremely limiting to have one person just churn out song after song. After a while similar themes would pop up and it would only be a matter of time before the songs start sounding the same, and we absolutely did not want that. We just had to be willing to let our egos take the backburner (easier said than done lol!) and support the songs that each indiviual member was pushing to play. This would offer multiple bonuses to us musically. One of the biggest was we didn't want one of the members to feel like he was the heavy hitter of the band and without that member the band would be nothing. Not only does it add to an already inflated ego, but its also tiring. Imagine having to write ALL the songs, come up with MOST if not all of the music, come up with a vocal melody and THEN teach it to the rest of the band? Song after song, album after album? Burnout and animosity would soon follow, especially if you want to view the other band mates as equal artists.

So, lets get to the point. Depending on where you want your band (or whatever project you may be working on) to go musically, having a deep well of ideas made manifest by your other bandmates is something foolish to pass by. Then again, there are some times when the reins must be pulled in. If the band can't come to an agreement than things must be either put to a vote, or someone has to stand up and just DO something. If you do something and one of your band members doesn't like it or has a better idea, than you can continue to bounce your ideas back and forth until something truly brilliant hits you. Just remember, nothing kills a band faster than inaction. Make sure everyday you are taking steps to reach your next musical goal, whatever they may be. I hope this helps you out, or at least gives you something to think about.
# 16
Jeremie Emond
Registered User
Joined: 05/16/14
Posts: 11
Jeremie Emond
Registered User
Joined: 05/16/14
Posts: 11
05/17/2014 3:37 am
In the end a Band is like a Solo Artist
The people who Compose/Sing are
the leads and it's a good thing if
there's only 1 or 2 composers in a band.
When these people quit, the band is
basically over.

In my band, we are 3 and have decided
to give the musical direction to the guitar
player while me and the bass player can
suggest supportive ideas. Sometimes,
The guitar player will ask me to come up
with a drum beat for a specific section and
he even requested a "drum song form"
in which the Grooves was the main
idea to start upon.

In the long run the album sounds more
like a single and define band than
one who sounds like there's more than
one band on the same cd because too
many musicians try to force their ideas
or style.

And as long as it sounds good, there's
really no need to change lead.
# 17
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
maggior
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/13
Posts: 1,723
05/19/2014 8:58 pm
Lots of interesting thoughts, ideas, and insights in this thread. I'll be sure to apply them to the next project I come upon :-). Last week I emailed the other 2 people involved in the band and said I was very frustrated and had to bow out. The last straw for me was when band rehearsal was cancelled out of the blue. Turns out this was done because too much pressure was being put on song selection. Ugh!

As I reflected over the weekend after rehearsal was cancelled, I thought about what made it work at the music school. I remembered how even then my suggestions and attemps at facilitating decisions on song selection fell on deaf ears. Zak, you mentioned that your band couldn't decide on a name - we had the same problem. For our first gig, we were "The Band with No Name". Again, I tried to facilitate a decision and threw out some ideas...nothing. At the last minute, I suggested something - nobody objected, so at the last minute I had our name put down as something else. I was the only one that seemed to be embarassed to be called "The Band With No Name" again :-(. It was cute the first time, but come on...

So it was then that I realized this problem existed long ago and didn't come about just because we cut loose from the school. It was likely to not change either and I was setting myself up for frustration and dissapointment.

This decision has either pissed my former bandmates off royally, or they just don't care because I haven't heard a single word from them in a week.

I have friends that are gigging musicians, so now that they have seen what I can do, maybe I'll come up with a gig - even if it is just sitting in for a song or two here and there.
# 18

Please register with a free account to post on the forum.