A band is composed of people with different strengths, weaknesses, goals, and personalities. It’s a complex relationship that needs a singular force that will keep everything harmonious with each other.
That said, leadership is important in a band to keep everyone on the same page. Everyone else will be performing different roles, but the bandleader will serve as the captain of the ship that keeps everyone organized, motivated, and driven to be their best selves.
Why is leadership important in a band?
A band needs leadership to ensure its success in the industry. The leader will perform important roles, oversee the band’s progress, and represent the group when meeting important industry people. All of these responsibilities go on top of playing well, looking good, and sounding great.
Here are five reasons why a band needs leadership to succeed.
To keep everything organized
Leadership is a critical element in a band to keep everything and everyone organized. Being disorganized can be a problem, especially since keeping a band together involves being in control of various tasks.
For example, bands can be busy booking gigs, hiring business managers, preparing music, corresponding with record labels, and many more. Everything can be disorganized quickly if no one leads the group about these duties.
That said, having a designated bandleader can help make the group organized in terms of logistical responsibilities. They keep up with the names and numbers of important people like club owners, other musicians, and potential clients. Leaders also need to keep an accurate calendar. They must be able to easily access information whenever the band needs them.
To remind everyone else of important things
Musicians are known to be forgetful, especially when things get busy, and other band members are deep within the creative stuff. While everyone else has already forgotten what was discussed the previous week, the bandleader must be on top of it. This person will remind everyone of all the agreements made and other important details decided on.
Bandleaders also ensure that every member understands the crucial details, such as the gig’s location, what will be the setlist, and how to dress. If a member left something behind, the leader is prepared to cover for him.
No wonder other bandleaders always keep backup instruments all the time. They expect the worst-case scenarios and always have plans A, B, and C in mind.
To effectively delegate tasks
In line with being organized, it’s easier for the band if there is a leader who can delegate tasks effectively. While leaders are on top of the most important things for the group, they must also delegate other responsibilities to other members. Doing so empowers the band and builds trust among all members.
A bandleader identifies who is best suited to tackle a specific responsibility. They divide tasks according to each member’s strengths to excel at their specific job. The band’s productivity increases this way. More importantly, it keeps the band’s morale where every player can feel valued in their group.
To ensure everyone is on the same page
When performing live, every guitar player, drummer, or vocalist knows their specific roles. Because they are in sync, what results from that is harmony. Similarly, keeping all band members on the same page is also crucial off stage.
Even when you’re just starting a band, you must already decide about your group’s goals. The bandleader usually asks the questions that will help define the band from the inside. Examples of these questions can be:
- What is the band’s music style?
- Who will be responsible for what?
- What is the songwriting process?
- How will the money be divided?
- How often do you need to be gigging?
- How will you select the songs?
Deciding on these things early in the band ensures that you will all get along in the long run since you have agreed on these terms beforehand.
To keep everyone motivated
Leadership is important in a band to keep everyone else motivated and driven. Without someone steering the wheel and holding other members accountable, the band can quickly lose their drive.
That said, the bandleader motivates the players to do their best at every moment. They fire up every other player’s passion and pull them in the same direction that the band intends to go.
In music, motivation is often met through intimidation and aggression. For example, legendary drummer Buddy Rich was known for berating and threatening to fire his band members. In the infamous “Bus Tapes,” his angry outbursts were secretly recorded that then became prized bootlegs. Many other famous musicians and conductors became well-known for being ruthless to band members.
A secret audio recording of Buddy Rich
Intimidation is one way to lead a band, but it’s not the right way to motivate musicians. As the bandleader, that person must effectively communicate their expectations. It’s okay to point out mistakes, but they must trust the player to work it out independently. Most importantly, bandleaders ensure that everyone else has fun and enjoys the experience.
Who should be the leader in a band?
The bandleader must have the right set of qualities and skills. They must have integrity and a drive to succeed. They must also have adequate communication and people skills to handle the band’s interpersonal dynamics.
That said, all band members must vote for someone who has the right kind of personality to become their leader. It must be someone with experience and commitment to make the band succeed. They can go about this in a democratic way where all members will agree on who the bandleader should be. They can also decide whether there can be more than one bandleader.
Choosing the bandleader isn’t solely based on musical talent. Great musicians don’t always become great bandleaders. They must have the qualities to deserve the role.
Is the lead singer always the bandleader?
No. The lead singer or frontman is not always the bandleader. While the lead singer is the band’s main focus on-stage, they aren’t always the designated bandleader that handles the creative and business side of things.
Difference Between Frontman vs Bandleader
The frontman is the person that takes center stage when the band plays live in front of an audience. Mostly they are the lead singers. However, some bands have the lead guitarists as their frontman, just like AC/DC. The frontman is the public face of the band. They talk to the audience, do the interviews, and represent the band in promotions.
On the other hand, the bandleader is the group’s creative and business driving force. They have the most business acumen. Bandleaders handle logistical responsibilities, business dealings, negotiate contracts, and generally steer the band in one direction. Sometimes, one person performs these two roles at the same time.
Leadership is important in a band to keep all members organized, harmonious, and motivated. With this, a bandleader must be committed to the role. That person will have many things to do and many hats to wear. They get the most out of their band by leading and driving them to be their best selves.
Without a bandleader, it might be hard for a band to succeed. Succeeding as a band isn’t always about excellent musicianship. It’s also about good management and handling the business side of things well, especially if you plan to start a proper band.
Michaela Jyra Melo is a freelance writer, music obsessive, and professional content creator with a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge with the world. Michaela is a music lover first and foremost. She's passionate about new music and artists, but she also loves to dig into musical instruments and equipment. Michael studies communication at the University of the Philippines. When she's not writing or listening to new music, she can be found reading on her Kindle or traveling somewhere new with friends.