There are two types of person when it comes to running the band – those who want to be involved in almost every discussion and decision and those who are happy to let others make the decision, turn up to rehearsals and don’t get involved in band politics. This blog will help you learn how to manage a band successfully and keep it together.
Whether you’re a 4-piece covers band or a 20 piece Big Band, you need a firm management structure so that everyone knows exactly who it is that will make final decisions, organise rehearsals, plug gigs and even deal with updating the band’s website or vlog.
Decide on who will make decisions
In an ideal world you might want every member of the group to have a fair split in decision making, my experience is that in practice this is almost impossible. This is for various reasons ranging from the skill sets of the people in the band (someone might be excellent at designing websites, another might have excellent management skills) and it will also depend on the ego’s and experience of other members of the band (ego is something we’ll cover later).
There is also the issue that not everyone in the band will agree on everything all of the time and it will be necessary for someone to have to make a final decision sooner or later. If this doesn’t happen then you’ll find the band will get stuck on certain issues, never to agree on how to proceed, and this will ultimately cause stalemate resulting in the band being unable to move forward. A band that can’t move forward is unable to progress to better things, which is why it’s vital that you learn how to manage a band properly.
Decide who is going to do what
First of all you need to decide on someone (or some people) to manage the band. Most band’s can’t afford a management company and will therefore need to nominate someone to do this for them. This doesn’t mean that the manager will take on every single aspect of running a band themselves; delegation is very important.
If you want to be successful you’ll need to treat the band as a product – a business – and like any well-run business there is a management structure. That structure needs to be respected and adhered to or the business eventually falls apart. If there is a certain member (or members) of the business that are unable to accept the structure they probably shouldn’t be in the band in the first place.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to be in a band where everyone agrees on every decision all of the time that’s great. My experience, however, is that it’s an unsustainable basis for a band and eventually falls apart resulting in a complete split due to their being no nominated person to clean up the mess.
Just because the band was your idea, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily the best person to run it and it doesn’t mean that the management structure can’t change at any time.
Sometimes people turn out to be poor at delegation or at making decisions. In this case it’s going to be important to address this problem quickly. If someone is better than you at doing a job perhaps it’s time you passed it over to them. Use the skilled people in your band to your advantage.
Value everyone’s opinion
Some members of a band will read and reply to every email. Others may not.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the members of the band who keep quiet aren’t interested in the direction or decision making of the band. Chances are that they are reading and digesting every email they receive.
You also need to ensure that you take on-board everyone’s comments, thoughts, concerns and ideas. Don’t get blinkered into one train of thought. Your opinion isn’t always going to be right and neither will your ideas, despite how much you might think you’re always right!
If you have a situation where the majority of the band disagree with something then it’s probably because you’re wrong. You must listen or risk losing members or even splitting the band completely. If you insist that they are wrong explain why in a polite and un-patronising manner.
Try to retain your most talented people
One of the things that many bands struggle with is retaining good people. From my experience these are the main reasons for people leaving a band:
- personal events such as a bereavement, divorce, having children
- they’re not happy with the overall direction
- they’re bored (either from playing the same songs or a lack of progress)
- they don’t like someone else in the band
- long-term illness
- disagreements about money or band finances
Whilst some of these issues may be out of your hands, you can prevent some of them. Too many bands spend months (or years) rehearsing but never get any gigs. Rehearsing over and over again can become very tiresome and getting gigs creates momentum.
Generally, if a band isn’t gigging within 6 months of commencing rehearsals they’re probably never going to get out of the studio and as a manager you need to assess why you are not progressing (it’s usually because either the band or certain members just aren’t good enough). You need to make a decision and either replace some member or just call it a day, sell your guitar and take up skiing.
A band that is already out gigging should look at revising their set-list and trying new songs every now and then. I’ve been in bands before where we’ve tried a new song in front of an audience and you’ll find that in the right situation an audience will actually respect you for it. Be honest – tell them it’s new. If it goes well bask in the glory and if it goes badly wrong just laugh it off and move on. New material keeps interest up, shows diversity and interests fans.
If you’re looking for ways of successfully advertising for new members my page ‘how to advertise for band members‘ has a wealth of ideas and information to help.