Have you ever stepped back and considered all the moving parts of a band? It’s a miracle things actual happen at all given how humans interact.Ever thought about your role in a band?
- Am I a support or lead musician?
- Am I a volunteer or getting paid?
- Will I be allowed and/or expected to contribute creative ideas?
- Do I have even have a role?
Maybe you’re in a situation where you feel like you are pulling all the weight or feel like you are not being used to your full capacity. Look no further as roles may solve your woes.
Why are roles important?
Roles and Responsibilities provides clarity, alignment, and expectations to members in the band and those executing the work to make a successful performance, record, or any other musical venture. Roles & Responsibilities enables effective communications between the various members, preventing folks stepping on each other’s toes and building trust… not to mention making things much more efficient.
As you can imagine, there are many roles doing music. To prevent this note from being a book, I’ll touch on the more common roles and be leaving out roles such as manager, engineer, publicist, publisher, social media strategist, music supervisor, video tech, promoter, a&r, radio promoter, tour manager, website designer, stage crew…etc.
Leader: The life blood of the band. The role is to guide the band, mission, and to be an effective communicator on goals, schedule, and all band affairs. If you are the leader, you have the greatest responsibility. The bands health, morale, momentum, and success rely on your ability to communicate effectively, to serve, set goals, to inspire, and to be honest and transparent with your members. It’s a role which requires patience and the ability to understand others perspectives while holding members accountable as well as yourself. As a leader, you need to be the solid rock who exemplifies the standards that you expect from others. The disposition a leader has in the room drives everybody else’s behavior to a large extent. A positive and confident leader not only stands like a rock for the team, but helps promote and dissipate the same reaction among the team.Band
Members: Without you, the band doesn’t exist. You and your input are critical to making the ship move. Make sure you exercise diligence, flexibility, support, and participation in transforming the band. You must be transparent and honest with the leader and let them know when they could use extra perspective. Learn others strength and weaknesses and always respect the capabilities of others and encourage. Continue exercising your commitment to the band through learning material, lending a hand to others, and ensuring the standards are also met.
Sound guy / light guy: Well, maybe you are the most important after all. I include the sound / light techs in with the band because after all, they are your ears and eyes to a successful performance. They know more than you do in terms of what the crowd is seeing and hearing so respect them and be kind and let them do their role. When there are literally hundreds of variables going on and there is a small feedback, realize it’s a bit more complicated than you think and many times this could be caused by changes in stage volume. Pro tip: loud stage volume leads to less control on the mix, louder isn’t always better because you end up competing with each other in smaller clubs.
Booking / Promotion: If you don’t have an agent, most likely you or someone on the band is doing this role. It’s not the most fun role and it comes with a lot of pressure. It’s not just making calls, it’s doing flyers, promotion, managing schedules and people. The trick I’ve found is to define what the bands requirements / goals are up front and allow the person booking to negotiate on the band’s behalf. If you play in a band because you want to have fun, rock on! Do that and enjoy having the best time of your life. If you play in a band to make money, rock on, Do that! However, when booking, please respect the venue / bar or establishment and look at it not from what they provide you but how you can partner with them to equally benefit. I’ll write an article on this by itself as I see folks who do not completely understand where money comes from to pay bands, the death of live music, or understanding actual value versus perceived..etc. Hint: Remember why you got into music in the first place. 😊
The everything role: Unfortunately, the role many people find themselves in. Although it can feel rewarding at times, I’ve seen it personally take a toll on the individual and the band leading up to eventual problems. We’re human and we all want to give everything we got but running everything can ultimately lead to error and burnout.
Example: If you find yourself doing the promotion, booking, setting up PA, running sound, creating the song lists, doing the website, social media..etc. You will inevitably start the human instinct of feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated (it happens, it’s normal). You may even start to feel like others just don’t care when in reality, it could be because:
- Roles were not defined
- Roles were not equally distributed and accountability not in place
- You failed to rely on others
- You have members that are in fact included but not committed (uh oh!)
If for some reason you can handle the load of everybody and everything, rock on, you are better than most! However, in my experience, that’s not a band.. that’s a boss that just tries to tells others what to do.
I realize this was a bit less exciting of a read, however, please take time to evaluate your roles and place people in the roles where they have strengths.
Everyone cannot be the leader and there are no leaders without followers.
Hopefully this rambling can help in your band and personal development. I continue to make mistakes and learn from them. These notes / articles are meant to establish thought and if you have other experiences, please share your insight! Rock on.