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Take Me To Your Leader


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What chair leads your band?

Is it always the lead singer?

Is it the person who initiated the formation of the band?

Is it the music director?, the owner of the PA? The one who has the gig contacts?

 

All the above?

 

I'm about to do an audition where the band structure is unknown. Curious to see what everyone's assumptions are.

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What chair leads your band?

Is it always the lead singer?

Is it the person who initiated the formation of the band?

Is it the music director?, the owner of the PA? The one who has the gig contacts?


All the above?


I'm about to do an audition where the band structure is unknown. Curious to see what everyone's assumptions are.

 

In virtually every band I've been in, it's as much of a committee as is possible, ultimately falling under final authority of the person who initiated the formation of the band.

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Really just depends on the personalities and the individual strengths.

 

My present band started with a "committee/democracy" attitude, but we have evolved pretty far from that with 3 of us calling the shots and the other 2 (now 3) more-or-less just along for the ride.

 

My lead guitarist is the most mellow go-along-to-get-along kind of guy, so he contributes virtually nothing unless asked. That's how he wants to be. The sax player was the guy who started the band, and initially somewhat led the band as such, but as our direction has changed he's taken a much-more backseat role.

 

The bass player and I share promotion duties: we design the website together, get each other's input and share ideas back and forth on everything that has to do with how the band is presented to the public. He's much more of a natural salesman and one of those "everybody loves him" kind of personalities, so he's the contact person.

 

The drummer and I are the "co-musical directors", choosing which songs we learn, working out the arrangements, vocal harmonies and the set-flow. He has a great sense of showmanship and a lot of flare, so it just naturally falls to him to take a lead in this area.

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In my current band, it has been me for three+ years. Not that I really want to be the "leader" - it's just I seem to be the one with my crap the most together (high school math teacher, plus I am the oldest). There is a definite pecking order, but it's also a team process. I think I hear from every member every day trying to make things better in one way or another.

 

Roles have been pretty simple: bass player and lead guitar have been handling the music direction at rehearsal and they work with our drummer, helping to bring him up to speed. Amy and I do all of the promo and handle most of the booking. We also have the largest "say" in our songlist because we have the most experience/success with it, plus we know what she can (or can not) deliver. BTW - I also own the PA. :D

 

I think the most important thing is this: everyone does what they can for the greater good and everyone seems to put "the band" first. I absolutely love these guys! :thu:

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I am definitely the leader of the band. It even says so on the website. ;)

 

But in all seriousness, I pick almost all of the songs we do, I arrange all the songs we do, the manager comes to me for advice during negotiations, etc. All that being said, I'm also really laid back, so everyone has input if they want it. But for the most part, our drummer and bassist are along for the ride. Our singer definitely has some input on songs, but at the end of the day, I handle most things.

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For pretty much every band I have been involved with, the person who had the PA/light system was also the person who "formed" the band and who called the shots.

 

Around here, because there are very few clubs with house PA systems, if you want to have a band, you have to either spend a lot of $$$ buying a PA system, lights and a trailer (or van) to haul it, spend a lot of money renting one from a professional sound/light company (too expensive for bar gigs) or join a band that already has all of this stuff.

 

I wanted to form a band when I moved here in Grand Forks back in 2004, but lacked the funds to make it happen, so to get into the local scene, I joined other people's bands. I finally bought my own system (modest though it may be, it does the job) and formed my own band last year. I also played a gig in February where I hired two guys. It was very obvious I was the bandleader because it was my name, followed by the word "Band" for that show. After that gig, we decided to stick together, but as a real "band," not the So-And-So Band.

 

We are a "band" in that we all contribute to the group and we all have a say in the song selection, where we're going to play (or not play), how much money we will play for, etc. Maybe I'm delusional and THEY (the bassist and drummer) think they are actually the ones in control (the nucleus) and I'm just their employee, so to speak (joining their band). I personally don't view the band that way. Even though the bassist is booking the gigs and owns the PA/lights and the drummer is the one that finds us the practice space, I told them it is a 3-way partnership and that's that. Otherwise, we can simply go back to my name + Band where I hire them at a percentage of the gig and tell them what to play or I can find another bassist and drummer to back me. No big shakes either way in my eyes.

 

It is nice sometimes not to have to do everything like I did last year, though.

 

I have been in a few bands where the bandleader was NOT the lead singer, but it seems this is the most common theme, at least in the projects I have been involved in.

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We're pretty much committee... manager, bass player, singer all having the final say. The bass player and singer started the band. I've been in and out over 8 years so my pecking order is a farther down the totem pole.

 

But we all decide and contribute to decisions regarding the setlist. The business end is managed by the four of us.

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Around here, because there are very few clubs with house PA systems, if you want to have a band, you have to either spend a lot of $$$ buying a PA system, lights and a trailer (or van) to haul it, spend a lot of money renting one from a professional sound/light company (too expensive for bar gigs) or join a band that already has all of this stuff.

 

 

Same here.

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The current band I am playing with the leader is the singer/guitarist who books the gigs. He also owns the PA system you use. He takes some input for others, but it's basically what he wants.

 

I see myself as more of a hired gun so I don't offer a lot of input. Two examples.... In regards to booking, I said I would be happy look into help getting gigs, but that that I think we should put together some sort of promo pack or atleast a demo cd to give the bars instead of just trying to get them to let us play. They disagreed, so I don't go out of my way to do any booking. In regards to the setlist, they want me to sing more, but aren't interested in learning new songs so unless it is I-IV-V we aren't going to play a song they don't already know.

 

Is it the best situation, no... but I basically have to just show up to gigs. I've started going to some other jams to look for other opportunities so eventually something will come up. Honestly, a band like you are putting together sounds like it would be pretty cool.

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It's whomever:

 

- Has the strongest personality

- Has the skill, experience, & interest to do all the little crappy things that need to be done

- Has a clear vision of what the band could be

- Thinks quickest & acts most decisively

 

Alternatively, it's whomever:

 

- Has their name on the posters, web site, truck door, etc.

- Writes the checks

- Hires & fires staff (including musicians)

- Owns or rents (i.e. pays for) common gear such as PA, lights, etc.

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I'm in a couple bands. In my main cover band, the leader is the guy who formed the band, who also sings the vast majority of our songs. The band was his idea and his vision, which he articulated pretty clearly in the "bass player wanted" ad and on the MySpace page, and he does most of the booking and promotion work, so I have no problem with it being "his" band. Financially it's a partnership rather than a leader-and-hired-sidemen situation, but I figure the other stuff gives him the right to call the shots. Fortunately, I haven't had problems with what he's done so far.

 

The other band I'm in is an odd situation: it started with a couple friends who were just learning to play their instruments, and over the past few years as they've gotten better, other people have joined and it's sort of morphed into a real band. But while everybody enjoys being in the band, nobody else in that group really has a vision for the group. I'm the leader of that band, partly because I have a lot more experience than the rest of them and partly by default. I started out singing but we now have a couple gals who sing and I've been trying to get them to embrace the roles of front-persons, but with only partial success.

 

I think it's possible for the leader of a band to not be the front person, but at a certain level I think it's tougher because to be a forceful personality on stage requires an amount of . . . I don't want to call it "ego" because that has negative connotations, but at least a strong personality, which may have trouble deferring to somebody else, especially when most people outside the group will assume that person is the leader and treat them as such.

 

Still, there are enough examples of bands led by non-singers that it cannot be called an absolute rule. Malcolm Young of AC/DC is my favorite example.

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I post this question because so many false starts that I've endured could possibly have lead to a workable group with better leadership. Often it's about someone who wants a bunch of sidemen to sign on to a project, but isn't strong enough musically to warrant that kind of control.

 

What irks me the most is poor communication. Of course it gets complicated because it's easy to see what you want to see, rather than what's really going on.

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I post this question because so many false starts that I've endured could possibly have lead to a workable group with better leadership. Often it's about someone who wants a bunch of sidemen to sign on to a project, but isn't strong enough musically to warrant that kind of control.


 

 

If someone is going to run it as a dictatorship, then they better know what they're doing both musically and as a business. The leader needs to have a muscial and business model in place that is strong enough for people to be willing to put aside their own personal preferences and just be essentially paid sidemen.

 

If it's going to be a group effort, then the common goals need to be agreed upon at the outset: what kind of music do we want to play; what kind of gigs to we want to get; how often do we want to play; etc.

 

If you go into it with people thinking that they'll stick it out and hopefully it will evolve into something they actually WANT to do, then there will undoubtedly be big disappointments.

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If someone is going to run it as a dictatorship, then they better know what they're doing both musically and as a business. The leader needs to have a muscial and business model in place that is strong enough for people to be willing to put aside their own personal preferences and just be essentially paid sidemen.


If it's going to be a group effort, then the common goals need to be agreed upon at the outset: what kind of music do we want to play; what kind of gigs to we want to get; how often do we want to play; etc.


If you go into it with people thinking that they'll stick it out and hopefully it will evolve into something they actually WANT to do, then there will undoubtedly be big disappointments.

 

 

Excellent post.

 

I'm sort of a "benevolent dictator" in my band, but hell, I write the songs, book the shows, and pay for recording and duplication of CDs. With that much responsibility, it's pretty natural I'd call most of the shots.

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it's easy for me:

 

It's my way or the highway.

 

haha j/k

 

One has a formal leader the other is committee. I've always said a band needs leadership, but the committee thing can work too, so long as everyone is mature and reasonable.

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I post this question because so many false starts that I've endured could possibly have lead to a workable group with better leadership. Often it's about someone who wants a bunch of sidemen to sign on to a project, but isn't strong enough musically to warrant that kind of control.


What irks me the most is poor communication. Of course it gets complicated because it's easy to see what you want to see, rather than what's really going on.

 

 

I think it has more to do with "leadership", which could fall under communication. In most cases, the leader is responsible for getting gigs. I have been part of 2-3 start up projects that failed quickly. The scenario was always the same... band leader talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. IMO, it is hard to keep good players around if there are not gigs on the book.

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If it's going to be a group effort, then the common goals need to be agreed upon at the outset: what kind of music do we want to play; what kind of gigs to we want to get; how often do we want to play; etc.


If you go into it with people thinking that they'll stick it out and hopefully it will evolve into something they actually WANT to do, then there will undoubtedly be big disappointments.

 

I was in a situation not long ago where everyone seemed to want a co-op model. One guy ended up insisting we do it his way because the musical direction that was evolving was too much for him.

 

Another case was a complete autocracy, even though she never bothered to make it clear that that was the case or what was the nature of that direction.

 

Another case where it was clearly defined as an autocracy, but it took me a while figure out that what the band sounded like live and at rehearsals wasn't particularly important. It was all about a series of fairly lame CDs . . . that we would help pay for.

 

Another one was a case of being complete clueless . . . from a guy in his late fifties.

 

One rather obnoxious guy never bothered to tell me this was a daily jam band with multiple players in every chair (except his.)

 

Right now I'm trying to figure out why it's taking a month to schedule a mutual tryout. :facepalm:

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Right now I'm trying to figure out why it's taking a month to schedule a mutual tryout.
:facepalm:

 

Because good players don't want to rehearse with no prospective gigs on the schedule.

 

I've come to the reality that start up projects are next to impossible. The only way to do it is to get people you already know from other bands. You know what to expect from them not only musically, but also things like communication and practice schedules. You practice a couple times and gig.

 

It seems like the older I get the less quality musicians I met who are willing to put in weeks of practice. Most likely, because it's just not worth it... they can pull the gigs off with 1-2 practices or no practices at all. Of course it would be much tighter with multiple practices, but you'll get that way after multiple gigs anyways and the tradeoff isn't worth spending weeks practicing. Not too mention the sacrifices people have to make driving to/from practices and spending hours there when they could be spending time with their families, doing housework, etc, etc.

 

Those projects with a lead singer looking for sideman rarely work. These are often the guys with stars in their eyes who think people will be lining up to play with them because they are so talented. The truth is if they are so good they would have already hooked up with a working band.

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You practice a couple times and gig.

 

 

Not the kind of music we're expecting to play. Steely Dan changes and especially four part harmony take time. We've all made it clear in email exchanges that we're willing to put what amount of work is required to pull off complex music.

 

If gigging income is important to you, than that's another kettle of fish.

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Not the kind of music we're expecting to play. Steely Dan changes and especially four part harmony take time. We've all made it clear in email exchanges that we're willing to put what amount of work is required to pull off complex music.


If gigging income is important to you, than that's another kettle of fish.

 

So if it is clear in email exchanges that you are all willing to put the amount of work that is required to pull off the complex music why is it so hard to schedule a mutual tryout? :confused:

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I was in a situation not long ago where everyone seemed to want a co-op model. One guy ended up insisting we do it his way because the musical direction that was evolving was too much for him.


 

 

 

Even if you don't want to take charge of the band, you have to take charge of your own situation. I've played in relatively few bands in the 30+ years I've been doing this and I've been in charge of some, not in charge at all of others, but I've never entered into a band without a clear sense of what I'm doing and why. Part of that is because being in a band is always, at least to some degree, about business for me (I don't know if I've ever just gotten together with a group of guys just to 'jam'), but it's more about the fact that I simply just don't like wasting my time. If I WERE to get together with guys to 'jam', that'd be one thing. But as soon as we started talking about actual songs to take time to learn with the end result to be gigging those tunes in exchange for money--then we better have a direction and plan in place first.

 

Carl, you seem to have a pretty clear sense of what you do and don't want to do in a band. Is there a reason why you don't put together your OWN band and call the shots?

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So if it is clear in email exchanges that you are all willing to put the amount of work that is required to pull off the complex music why is it so hard to schedule a mutual tryout?
:confused:

 

Beats me. Falls on the guy who ran the ad and hosts rehearsals, right?

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Beats me. Falls on the guy who ran the ad and hosts rehearsals, right?

 

 

I am just saying it is easier to talk than to do the actual work. I think that's a lot of the reason so many cover bands play the same songs.... they've done it for so long that they can pull it off without much effort.

 

I am getting sick of the "stock" classic rock myself and I wasn't even around when it came out.

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Carl, you seem to have a pretty clear sense of what you do and don't want to do in a band. Is there a reason why you don't put together your OWN band and call the shots?

 

Sickman said it. The caliber of musician (and age, really) is hard to find if you have zero gig contacts. The lead vocal chair is also problematic. There's a lot of stuff I can't sing and play on at the same time. . . and least the way I'd like to hear it.

 

Still, if this falls through, I'm going to seriously consider it.

 

Any old funky DC area musicians out there? . . . :)

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