Every musician worth his/her salt would probably want to be called the leader of the band. After all, we all wish to inspire the next Dan Fogelberg to sing a song like “.. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.”
However, it’s not a secret that the spotlight of being the band leader often leads to internal feuds. Some bands have even broken up because of leadership struggles. This brings forth the question, does every band actually need a leader?
Well, let’s find out.
Does Every Band Need a Leader? Yes, every band needs a leader. Keeping a band together and moving forward requires more than just creativity. There are numerous things a band must face, and performing on stage is just one of them.
What Does a Band Leader Do?
So, what exactly does a leader do that every band must have one? Here are some specific and broad tasks that a band leader performs.
Most, if not all bands, have a manager, especially in today’s time. The main purpose of this manager is to handle performances, shows, and promotions. When it comes to handling disputes and minor misunderstandings within the band, the band leader is necessary.
The band leader oversees his/her members and determines where they stand and how they feel about the band. Additionally, the band leader often handles the behavioral concerns of his/her members. Ergo, the band leader regularly needs to be firm in order to enhance the professional matters of the band.
Musicians have creative minds, but this also often translates to scattered thoughts. Sometimes, one member has a lot of ideas that it might be difficult to follow all of them through. The band leader organizes these and comes up with a comprehensive plan to lead the band in a certain direction.
Bands need to produce songs for themselves and their fans. This means that someone from the band must set meetings and sessions for the band to brainstorm new content. While some bands have one writer for the songs’ lyrics, others require a collective effort.
So, the band leader is the one that schedules and plans the content production. He/she often talks to the members when they’re available and provides them with details as to when and where they should meet up next.
There are numerous instances when the band needs to meet up with producers and agencies for promotion and other liaison matters. In some cases, only the band leader needs to show up, especially if the leader knows the band’s goals and vision.
The leader of the band is also responsible for boosting the morale of its members. It’s quite common for musicians to experience creative blocks and even lose motivation. The band leader boosts the morale of his/her members to sway them back to the right path and restore the band’s vision.
The Qualities of a Band Leader
There are no guidelines as to what a band leader should be. However, to be able to handle the band effectively, every leader should have the following qualities.
Being a musician sometimes includes temptations that may drive the band in the wrong direction. It is the job of the band’s leader to stick to the band’s principles and morals. That’s why every band leader should have integrity and never deviate from the things that built the band in the first place. The leader of the band should be honest, open, and fair.
Since the band’s leader is also its representative, he/she must have exemplary communication skills. Unfortunately, there are countless people only looking to profit from the band without really thinking about its future. That’s why it’s rather easy for a band to be pushed around if the leader is unable to stand his/her ground.
Every band leader should have strong communication skills to forward the band’s ideas and bring them to the table while in front of producers and other executives.
Empathy and People Skills
Aside from being able to communicate with executives and other people from the industry, a band leader should also be empathic and have people skills. The band would frequently be under the limelight of fame, and it’s quite often that followers and viewers would be quick to judge their statements and actions.
The leader should reflect the band’s behavior. While some bands can get away with their actions, especially if they’re labeled as the typical “bad boy rock stars,” it’s sometimes helpful for them to stay on the good side of their fans.
Additionally, the leader often mediates between internal struggles within the band. When two members have concerns that may affect the band, the leader is the one who helps them talk openly about it and iron out their differences.
There are dozens of bands out there that have succumbed to the test of time. They failed to adapt to the changes in the music industry, leading to their disbandment. In some cases, members would often feel demotivated and pressured about these changes, causing them to stop being proactive without even trying.
An effective band leader should always have the drive the move forward. He/she should be obsessed with the band’s success and keep on experimenting with the band’s sound to try and stay relevant.
Here’s a video that talks about what does it mean to be a band leader.
Bands with More than One Leader
It’s not always the case that a band should only have a single leader. Some bands have two or more. While we can’t argue whether or not this had improved the band’s direction, it’s safe to say that it has been helpful in some ways, considering the success these bands have reached with two leaders.
The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger is considered to be the frontman of The Rolling Stones. He often appears as the band’s leader and represents them in interviews and other public appearances. However, Keith Richards is believed to also be a leader in The Rolling Stones, but he focuses mainly on the musical aspect of it. He takes charge of recording sessions, and the members of the band follow him through.
The two Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, both led Oasis into stardom. Noel Gallagher is famously known for writing Oasis classics like “Wonderwall,” “Live Forever,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova.” However, since Liam also sings as lead vocals, he is also sometimes viewed as the band’s leader.
Unfortunately, the dispute between the two brothers grew bigger as their years in Oasis went on, leading to their disbandment in 2009. Liam went on to start a band called Beady Eye which also disbanded in 2014. Currently, he’s a solo artist, much like his brother Noel.
Of course, we all believe that Paul McCartney is the leader of The Beatles. However, John Lennon is a huge contributor to the band’s songs, and the two of them were mainly the ones who composed The Beatles’s music. That’s why John Lennon is also viewed as the band’s leader at times.
All of us can probably agree that it’s difficult to build a career in music. Sometimes, we have to gamble everything we have and focus all our efforts on our art just to ensure we become successful.
In building a band, part of its success relies on the leader. There’s a huge responsibility that lies on the shoulders of every band leader, but in the end, we’re certain that all of it will be worth it.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.