Leader of the Band? How to Act Like One

hip_hop_musiciansEvery band has a leader. If yours doesn’t, it needs one. And by leader we don’t mean front man. We mean leader, as in the top dog who knows how to inspire without being preachy and delegate without being authoritarian.  And we don’t mean manager, either. Although, since many unsigned, independent acts can’t afford a manager, or have yet to reach a point where one is needed, a band leader may wear the manager hat as well.


A band is just that: a band of people performing together. Every marching band has a leader, standing on a ladder waving a baton and guiding the troops. Just like the leader of a marching band must motivate and inspire the squad, so should you. But, unlike the marching band leader, never talk down or bark orders. Check your ego at the door. If your band operates as a democracy, democracies still need leaders. Lead by example. Work hard yourself, then ask your colleagues to do the same.


If you are in a band that isn’t hired hands paid by the hour or the gig, everyone has a stake in the band’s success. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to delegate the many things that need to be done to ensure success. Spread the PR duties around, as so many exist, from hanging flyers, maintaining social networking pages, the website, the email list and media relations. Everyone in the band needs to do something other than play music. As the leader, it’s up to you to make sure this happens.


If you’ve yet to reach a certain plateau in the music business, you’ll need to be your band’s own business manager, booking agent and road manager. You can delegate these responsibilities as well, but you still need to be the overseer. Say your guitarist’s day job is as an accountant, then he can be the business manager. Your drummer is great with people and knows how to network? Booking agent. Your bassist is the punctual, sober one who also happens to have a 15-passenger van? Boom, road manager. But it’s you, as the clear-headed leader, who guides the process, always knows what is going on and can step in at any time to pick up the slack.

As your band becomes more and more successful, you’ll need to start hiring people, such as real-life accountants, managers and attorneys. For a good, thorough overview on picking the right team and learning the in-and-outs of the music business at the next level, get the latest edition of Donald S. Passman’s book, “All You Need to Know About the Music Business.” This indispensable tome is packed with expert info to help guide you through the next stages of your career.

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