Being in a band is one of the greatest experiences of your life. Whether you go all the way to superstar status or just be a hometown favorite, your days in the band can shape your entire future. This is one of the highlights of your life!
As the leader of the band, your bandmates are going to be looking to you to open doors and take them to higher levels of success – as a musician, as a songwriter, as an entertainer and as a manager. Below are five tips every band leader should put into practice from the start.
1. Have a Vision for Your Band
The number one trait of all successful leaders is that they have a vision for their team or organization. This is as just as true for working musicians as it is for politicians and business managers. If you want others to follow your lead, you have to give them a single, defining purpose – a goal that drives them forward.
For most musicians, that part is easy – get signed. At least, that’s how it was for generations of musicians over the past several decades, before the Internet. Today, your band has many roads to success, with varying degrees of scale. If you can get everyone in the band excited about a single goal like that, then you’ll have a much better chance of success.
2. Take Initiative and Be Decisive
A good band leader needs to step up, make decisions and push things forward. If you hesitate or are wishy-washy, you’ll lose momentum and things will begin to stagnate. That’s why it’s important to be constantly pulling the band forward towards higher levels of performance and opportunities.
If you don’t have a manager or agent– get one. If you guys can’t afford one yet, then you need to step up and land those gigs yourself. But beware – many talented musicians get burnt out trying to wear too many hats and take on too much responsibility for too long.
3. Improve Your Leadership Skills
This might seem a little out-of-place for a music leader, but it still applies: all leaders need to purposefully improve their leadership skills. Look at any successful band in the industry, and you’ll see that they all have a very strong frontman leading the way.
It’s not just about charisma and stage presence. Sure, those things matter. But your personality and talent alone aren’t going to get you to your goals. Educate yourself. Read some books on leadership, listen to some audio programs or even attend a corporate team building seminar. Your band’s success will be determined – or limited – by your leadership ability.
4. Don’t Micromanage Your Bandmates
As important as it is to step up and make decisions with confidence, it’s also important that you don’t micromanage your fellow musicians. Even when you’re the primary songwriter, and you have a vision in your mind of what every instrument is supposed to do, you still need to give your bandmates some space to express themselves too. If you try to be a puppet master and control every note that everyone is playing, you’re going to have guys quitting before long.
Nobody wants to be treated that way. It’s just not very fun. So let the drummer be the drummer, and let the bass player be the bass player. Give input, share the tune that you’re hearing in your head, but try not to railroad right over everybody in the band.
5. Get a Van
Seriously, if you want to be a successful working band – whether you get signed with a major label or just achieve YouTube fame – you’re going to have to travel outside your hometown, and that means hitting the road together.
A pickup truck is okay as a backup, but you can’t lock anything up when you go inside a truck stop or diner or motel for a few hours. That’s not the brightest idea ever. So get a van and spend the money you need to spend to keep it running reliably.
So there you have it – five solid tips every band leader should follow as they lead their group to higher levels of performance and success. Share your vision, take initiative, allow for individual expression, get reliable and secure transportation and work on your leadership skills.