drummer performing at live concert

If you’ve recently formed or joined a band, you might be wondering if you need a dedicated ‘leader’. Whilst you may want each member to have a clear say in the direction of the project, you might also want somebody to call the shots and keep everything running smoothly. 

 

So, does a band need a leader? Yes, a band looking to make headway in the industry will definitely need a leader. A leader is required to oversee the band’s progress, resolve any disputes and act as a representative when liaising with other industry operators. 

 

Keep reading for a full FAQ on band leadership: 

 

Why Does A Band Need A Leader?

A delegated leader can provide a band will the following attributes: 

  • Vision: A vision is a measurable, yet achievable set of goals for the band. The leader compiles the aims and aspirations of each individual band member into an ultimate vision. 
  • Direction: Without anyone creating a vision and taking charge, a band can wander aimlessly and subsequently achieve nothing. A leader can take hold of the reigns and place the band on the path to success.
  • Inspiration: When a band starts a new project, enthusiasm levels are often high. However, this initial enthusiasm can die down over time, causing members to run out of steam when the hard work actually starts. A leader can adapt and reinforce the vision to restore enthusiasm amongst the rest of the band. 

What Does A Band Leader Do?

A band leader usually does the following:

  • Internally manages the band: Whilst the band may hire a manager for shows and promotional appearances, they will also need someone to ensure things are running smoothly on the inside. The leader oversees the entire operation, monitoring the band’s progress and making sure all members are happy and fulfilled in their roles. If any internal problems arise (such as a member consistently turning up late to rehearsals), it will often fall on the leader to assess and resolve the situation.
  • Plans logistics: When working towards a particular goal, it’s usually on the leader to plan and implement the logistics that’ll lead the band to success. This may involve liaising with other industry operators, delegating roles amongst members or planning the production of new content. 
  • Acts as the band’s main representative: Other industry operators (such as promoters, managers or media outlets) will generally want to liaise with a single representative of the band rather than being thrown back and forth between several different members. The leader will almost-always fulfil this role when working with other industry operators. 
  • Directs the group: When rehearsing or recording, the leader plans and directs the session to ensure maximum productivity. The band leader also directs band meetings, ensuring all members voice their concerns and provide any constructive feedback they have. 
  • Boosts morale: Any serious band will experience peaks and troughs throughout their career. During a low point, members can all-too-easily lose faith or motivation. When this happens, the leader adopts the vision to restore motivation.

What Shouldn’t A Band Leader Do?

A band leader shouldn’t do the following: 

  • Criticize destructively: When criticizing anything, a leader should ensure it’s constructive and provided in the best interests of the band. Destructive criticism is extremely unhelpful and will only lead to arguments.
  • Refuse to pull their weight: Whilst delegating tasks amongst members is a natural part of band leadership, leaders should never delegate their own tasks to other members. In most cases, the leader should be the one who’s working the hardest. 
  • Take all of the credit: As mentioned in the previous point, the leader will often be working the hardest. However, this does not mean that they should take 100% of the credit when the band accomplishes something. A band is very much a team effort and the members are totally reliant on each other, regardless of their individual roles. 
  • Have the final say: In my experience, a band is best-treated as a democracy. Whilst the leader pieces the vision together and plans the logistics, they should not implement plans without consent from the other members. 

What Qualities Should A Band Leader Have?

A capable band leader should possess all of the following qualities: 

  • Integrity: A leader will have a clear set of morals and principles which they never deviate from. They will also make a point of being clear, open and honest at all times. 
  • Drive: Self-motivation, well-measured targets and a healthy sense of ambition are what make up drive. An effective leader should be obsessed with the band’s success, constantly thinking about how things are going and what can be improved.
  • Strong communication: Acting as the band’s main representative, the leader will find themselves liaising with a wide-range of different industry operators. They’ll also have to direct band meetings, rehearsals and recording sessions in a clear and concise manner. As a result, strong communication is imperative.
  • Empathy: When developing the vision or resolving problems, a leader will have to take the other member’s thoughts, feelings and concerns into consideration. Being able to view things from someone else’s point of view is a crucial component of making effective leadership decisions. 
  • Organization: A leader will likely be juggling several different tasks at any given time. Without good organizational skills, things will quickly fall apart. 

Which Member Should Be The Leader?

In most cases, the member who formed the band will naturally adopt the leadership role. However, the leadership role should be open to whoever’s most-qualified. 

 

If your band doesn’t have a clear leader, it’s worth holding a band meeting and deciding who should take charge. When doing this, take into account the qualities outlined in the previous section. 

Is The Leader The Most Important Member Of The Band?

The answer to this question is a resounding no. Whilst the leader might be at the helm of the project, the success of any band relies on the efforts of every member. If one person starts slacking, the whole band can quickly fall to pieces. 

 

Here are a few examples of other roles that are vital to a bands success: 

  • Songwriter: Often, the leader might not be the main songwriter. Without new material being written consistently, the band will struggle to grow and develop. 
  • Administrator: Shows need to be booked, travel needs to be arranged and finances need to be taken care of. Without someone taking care of admin, the project will be extremely disorganized.
  • Social media operator: In today’s throwaway culture, bands need to produce a plethora of engaging social media content to attract and retain an audience. The social media operator creates a strategy, produces content and engages with the band’s fan base. 

Related Questions

  • Does a band need a bassist? It depends on what style of music the band plays. However, a bassist will be required unless the ensemble is using another instrument with a range of E1-Eb5.
  • Does a band need an internal group contract? Yes, a band needs an internal group contract if they are earning an income or writing original music. An internal group contract divides and directs assets, whilst also outlining the commitments of each member. 

 

Additional Posts

George

I founded Indie Panda in mid-2018 to help independent musicians organically grow and develop their projects. I specialize in branding, identity, audience/industry engagement and project logistics.

I have a wealth of experience in both classical and popular music. After taking piano and violin lessons as a child, I went on to play first violin in philharmonic, symphonic and chamber orchestras throughout my adolescence. I began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 13 and have played in a wide range of bands ever since. At the age of 18, my music received airplay for 30 consecutive days on BBC Radio, which led to an 'in-session' event where I performed live on the radio. I went on to earn a Music/Popular Music BA from the University of Liverpool, where I specialized in popular music performance.

I'm passionate about helping other artists realize the full potential of their talents and abilities through a strong work ethic, coherent project identity and a strong logistical foundation.

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