Does Your Band Have What it Takes?

Does Your Band Have What it Takes?

So many times I have a meeting with bands after a call from one individual in the band that is carrying the load.  While this can work and has happened in the past with certain groups, it is certainly an attempt at swimming up stream for the band and not fair to the individual doing all the work.  Unless the band is at a point in their career where they can afford a team of management, PR, Booking, legal, graphic design, web design and photography, they need to be able to handle the bulk of this on their own, with the exception of legal of course.

A band is team of individuals that hopefully are all on the same page as to what the bands vision and goals are.  It is up to each individual to carry his or her own weight and not pile all the responsibility upon one person.  There is usually one person who is the “leader” but hopefully the band works on an equal basis unless ownership dictates otherwise.  Each person needs to have defined roles and responsibilities and do their best to live up to them.  If any individual is not pulling their weight they are slowing the band down or putting them at a stand still in the career path the band has chosen.  This is not fair to the band.

I recommend that the band have a meeting or two on just business and have everyone pick the jobs they can do best or have time for. Not everyone may be able to put in the same amount of time or money, but that isn’t the point.  It’s about taking some of the responsibility and sharing it so it isn’t overwhelming one person and falling through the cracks.  Things that need to be done are booking, social media, growing the fan base, email campaigns, business plans, marketing plans, tour management, press releases, endorsements etc… There are so many things that need to happen for a band to have maximum impact and everyone needs to help out and do their share. If the band is not able to handle a certain portion such as writing a marketing plan, then they should seek out professional help with this particular item to help them get to the next level.

Band agreements are a great way to get everyone on the same page, explain the expectations, pay structure, touring expectations, per diem, royalties, band ownership and so on.  It should be drawn up by a lawyer and signed by everyone.  If any member of the band can’t sign it or is unwilling, they are probably not the right person for the band.  Everyone needs to be willing to put in as much as they can both time and money wise.  It should not be the responsibility of just one person unless it’s just their name on the band.

20 thoughts on “Does Your Band Have What it Takes?

  1. Very true – this article is well written and is exactly the truth. I have found that while all bands seem to have a “frontman” – if the rest of the band is not tangibly connected with the frontman – and they aren’t cohesive – they tend to drift apart after one year – because they each have different ideas.

  2. Great post David! I encourage bands to write individual success essays,bring those essays to a meeting and then construct a Musketeers Manifesto from them. If you’re not all for one, one for all, things may go awry quickly. That may sound a little schoolmarmish, but it forces people to really evaluate their reasons for being in a band, making music and wanting to bring that music to the public. If a singer’s idea of success is limos and ladies, and the bass players idea of success is sustainability, there is a problem before touring even starts.
    Success means different things to different people. Better be sure the people in your band are all on the same page.

  3. Michelle, I worked with a guitarist/singer songwriter and we were constantly being asked if he could “bring a whole band” . After haranging him about this for a month, he finally held his thumb up to me and said “SEE THIS? THIS is my bass player. He is never late. He always shows up sober and ready to play. He is my band”

    Nuff said! GOOD FOR YOUR SON!

  4. Absolutely! Ever member must have a designated position and there must always be authority with one person in the band. Every group needs a leader and no band will wander aimlessly and end up succeeding.

  5. Hey David, nice post. In response to some of the other posts above, being a solo artist works fine, but it is a ton of work and you have to be prepared if you don’t have anyone else to help you (and I mean REALLY help you). Certainly if you don’t have expectations of anyone else, you can’t be disappointed. Also, depending on what kind of music you perform, you can find folks out there to work with you on a semi-collaborative basis – it is just a matter of being clear about the expectations. So it doesn’t always have to be all (close-knit band) or nothing (solo artist with guns for hire, or thumbs for hire). I feel that what is being addressed here is when people are in a band and there is not an agreement about who is taking care of what. I was in a couple of bands like this and it essentially has to do with lack of a shared vision or that band members may not understand what else is required of them. The person who takes up most of the load may not do a good job of delegating. Resentment builds up over time. Many times an amateur group or a bunch of hobbyists get together for making music at the outset. Eventually if they want to play out and do a lot more with creating a platform for their music, then the biz side inevitably picks up, and perhaps unexpectedly. So it is hard to have conversations at the outset about everything, but I think if those who end up carrying the bulk of the load can learn to delegate tasks to others, it will go a long way. The rest is mutual respect and having a shared vision…I mean there’s a lot more, but in a nutshell.

    1. Manisha,

      Thanks for the post!

      In my experience it isn’t a lack of delegation. More often than not, the band one in charge comes to me saying that the rest of the members don’t live up to what they have been delegated and have agreed to do. It is usually that musicians truly do not understand how much work it is and don’t like to do that type of work and aren’t dedicated and disciplined enough to do the grunt work. Everyone wants to be a “Rockstar” but not do the work it takes to get there. They all think that they will just be discovered and instant success and they just show up and play.

      I would agree with you on most points though:)

      Thanks for the conversation!

  6. Very interesting stream of comments here! Has anyone ever issued WRITTEN job descriptions for bandmates as they’re working to achieve a specific goal? Sometimes bandmates simply DON’T know WHAT to do.

  7. I have a band that has been together for about four years now,and while I believe we all a common goal in mind,I seem to be the one most of the duties fall upon[-I am not complaining,just that as I write half of the music,all of the lyrics and try to keep us booked,and into new venues that seem to have a “click”…I don’t care to be a booking agent,or sell tickets for promoters,or kiss someones ass just to get into gigs I think may get my band heard by someone who can hear our talent and maybe see our vision…but that seems to be the only way these days to get a toehold.It is hard to make a living as a full time musician anymore unless you are very well known.Every bad high school band has forty friends whose daddy will buy their tickets for them and so get the prime slots from”promoters’,as well as most consideration -with seemingly no consideration for talent…I don’t know the answer to this situation,but it certainly is a “promoters” dream these days….

    1. Billy,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog:) Just to be clear, it never has been and never will be about talent. Although you can measure talent to an extent, most people can’t measure talent at all as they don’t have the same talent. They only know what they like. The music industry can create an artist but it also supplies a demand no matter what the talent level.

      As far as making it in the business. It isn’t any easier for the music professional as it is the artists. Business is business and both sides have to do whatever it takes to make it. In most cases, the team behind the artist does the most work and gets paid way less when the artist breaks. It’s not a fair system, but then again nothing is.

      Keep your chin up and keep persevering! Hard work and studying the business will help you immensely!

  8. Great advice. I’m not a front man in our originals band, but I carry most of the behind the scenes load…most of the non-music stuff you talked about. It’s a pain to do all that yourself. We had a band meeting last weekend and talked about ways to spread the work around. Now I just hope we can all follow through with those plans!

    I AM the front man in a jazz group that I formed several months ago. For this band, I’m willingly carrying the load, but I’m also getting a bigger cut of the gig money.

    1. Tom,

      I am glad you read my blog and posted! I am also glad you and the band had a meeting to delegate the responsibilities!

      May I suggest you use band agreements to supplement and spell out the roles and responsibilities as well as use a project management system to set goals and timelines to be tracked and make sure everyone is living up to their end of the bargain!

      Keep up the hard work!

  9. Thoughtful article. I have known some great bandleaders that seem to be able to juggle everyone’s different motivations and inspire all to work towards group goals, but it’s definitely a balancing act, and I’m always comparing notes with other musicians on these sort of agreements. A lot of the ones I know have two people run the band, but also own it and take larger percentages. Either way, listing all the roles and putting it in writing makes one realize how much is involved in having a group, and that’s a smart first step. .

  10. Unfortunately… this is the norm. You normally have one guy with the vision and the rest just want to play. Luckily, pretty much everyone on our band is up for the challenge of doing extra if only helping me get what I need together to promote the band.

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