Drummer Cafe Forum

LOUNGE => Music, Musicians & Musicianship => Topic started by: Steve "Smitty" Smith on March 11, 2011, 01:29 PM

Title: Bands and Democracy
Post by: Steve "Smitty" Smith on March 11, 2011, 01:29 PM
My cover band is having trouble advancing from being a bar band to a more lucrative show band. I believe this is a result of the democratic nature of our operation.  By this I mean everyone in the band tosses out ideas for new songs and show ideas – mostly via email– and we just organically incorporate some of the ideas and discard others.  We just keep chugging along in this manner. There is no unified vision or game plan.

I believe that most successful cover bands (and this probably also applies to original bands) are driven by one (maybe two) individuals with talent and vision who basically run the show – including developing the song list, look, and presentation of the band.   The other members support and execute the program developed by the leader.

Incidentally, I’m not looking to be this person in my band.  I’d have no problem playing a subordinate role to a talented and effective leader.  In truth, I’m fine just being a bar band that gigs two or three weekends a month and picks up a few extra bucks along the way.  But there is frustration among other band members who lament the fact that we haven’t advanced to “the next level.”

I chalk it up to democracy.

Anyone have thoughts on this subject?
Title: Re: Bands and Democracy
Post by: David Crigger on March 11, 2011, 02:14 PM
Oh absolutely.  The idea that bands should be democrat collectives is one of THE great romantic fantasy/myths.

Not saying that successful bands don't have complex, symbiotic relationships within them - just can't imagine any scenario more prone to failure than a "one player-one vote" model. I've always found it most surprising that it is so embraced by so many, when it has actually shown up so rarely throughout the history of pop music's most successful bands.

David
Title: Re: Bands and Democracy
Post by: Paicey on March 11, 2011, 03:17 PM
I think the one player one vote models usually involve a strong personality and main writer, Joe Walsh, T. Nugent etc....usually a visionary of sorts. Natural leaders just seem to fall into place, the problem is wether or not the other egos can be submissive enough to allow things to work. Hold a meeting or two with some of your thoughts and goals to be presented. Sometimes bands that are farther than club status have some sort of management but if you dont you have to have a strong democracy and or willingness to give and take. In all my years of playing egos are thee hardest thing to deal with. Good luck and best to you in this situation.
Title: Re: Bands and Democracy
Post by: Rusty Beckett on March 11, 2011, 03:19 PM

I believe that most successful cover bands (and this probably also applies to original bands) are driven by one (maybe two) individuals with talent and vision who basically run the show – including developing the song list, look, and presentation of the band.   The other members support and execute the program developed by the leader.

Incidentally, I’m not looking to be this person in my band.  I’d have no problem playing a subordinate role to a talented and effective leader. 

I chalk it up to democracy.

Anyone have thoughts on this subject?

I believe for any band to excel there has to be one or two with the vision, drive and talent to steer it and subordinates to provide the supporting roles.  I also don't have any problems taking on the supporting roles.  Like any good leader or manager they need to be able to set up and accomplish the goals and keep it a group project.  We've all heard of the super players who seem to run roughshod over their band mates but still manage to “get up there”.  Personally I’d have a problem working for or with someone like that.  I’d like to have input into the song selection, arrangement and over all sound, but more importantly to have the feeling my input would be welcome.  I think there will always have to be someone with the final say-so. 

A successful band (IMHO) is like a marriage but way more complex.  You have a group of people and all those people will be talented, creative and have big enough egos to put themselves on stage.   It’s almost like a setup for disaster but there are thousands of bands that do make it, so it isn’t impossible.  Also, like a successful marriage it will take work and lots of communication
Title: Re: Bands and Democracy
Post by: Jeff Bankston on March 18, 2011, 07:03 PM
some people lead, some people follow. a band should be run as a business with one band member being in charge. all member need to be allowed to put their ideas and concerns on the table for discussion. this would include the songs , and long term goals of the band. if there are members of the band that want to move up the ladder and members who dont that needs to be handled. a long time ago i decided to put my own band together and when i interviewed the other musicians i made everthing concerning the music, gigs, personal conduct, and long term goals known. i am the leader of the band and its my band. i may sound stuck up and an ego head but i'm not. someone has to be in charge. some bands will get an non musician to manage them. i have ben in bands where no one was in charge and at times that led to a tug of war and arguing and stuff. i have joined bands that someone else put together and it was their band and they called the shots and it worked well just like a business. if your band doesnt have a leader then you could always ask if someone wants to lead.
Title: Re: Bands and Democracy
Post by: Chip Donaho on March 18, 2011, 08:01 PM
Many years ago I started my own band. I was the leader in that band for 8 years. During that time I also helped a booking agent handle 9 other bands. Never again, just let me play drums.  :-X