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How To Be A Good Band Leader (10 Essential Qualities)

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Dec 3rd 2021

A band is a unique and complex relationship with many distinct personalities and goals.

Leadership in the band is critical for getting everyone on the same page, managing expectations, and focusing on the bigger journey.

Without a band leader, a band can lack ambition, drive, and accountability.

To be a great band leader, you need to have certain qualities on top of your actual musicianship. Here are the most important qualities to harness as a band leader, as well as some tips on leading a band from the front.

1. Motivation

Band leaders have the important task of motivating the other band members. Good morale is essential for the smooth running of a band.

Creatives need to feel good to create and perform.

Motivating the musicians in your band to be their best selves at every moment is how you have everyone pulling in the same direction, at full throttle.

Being an inspirational figure in your band can take confidence but if you manage to work on this part of your leadership, you can push your band to achieve more.

band leader motivating friends

2. Professionalism

The modern musician has to take themselves seriously and act professionally in order to succeed.

If you want to get more music fans for your band it takes time and a professional attitude to make progress.

This starts from the stop down.

Gone are the days where musicians are stereotyped as lazy or unprofessional.

One of the best ways to establish a precedent for getting your desired results is to preserve high standards of professionalism.

Be the change you want to see with your band.

If you set high standards for yourself, your musicians will follow suit in rehearsals, on stage, and in every facet.

Professionalism helps present the band in a positive light to the outside world while also setting an example for internal expectations.

3. Respect

It's important to recognise that each band member has their own journey.

Their own expertise, talents, ideas, dreams, and passions.

If someone feels held captive or considered unappreciated and overworked, resentment may rise or affect music and the performance.

On the other side, if members feel respected as individuals, this can harness positive energy around the group as a whole.

A good band leader will respect their band members as individuals with good ideas, talents, and skills.

Guitarist and drummer performing music

4. Good Communication

A band leader needs to be clear, direct, and open with the musicians in their band.

The most powerful and efficient bands exercise good communication among themselves to ensure that everyone is always on the same page.

If something is bothering you or other band members, it helps to talk about it.

You also need to be able to communicate important information musically about the band's gig set list, performance notes, songs to learn, rehearsal schedules and upcoming gig dates to be aware of.

Keep communication lines open and clean with a WhatsApp group or similar for your band.

It's the duty of a band leader to ensure that they always have that information in front of their musicians at the right time.

5. Task Delegation

One of the prime traits of any good band leader is the capability to divide responsibilities within the family.

The band as a whole could be significantly better if you played to each player's strengths.

It begins with recognising what strengths each musician brings to band (outside of their musicianship), and then understanding what jobs they may excel at.

You can increase productivity across the board this way, as well as making band members feel like a valued part of the group.

Leadership is required for this to work, but if you can delegate the right tasks to the right people, things can operate significantly better.

Have someone who is on the ball with music marketing? Have them manage your social media profiles.

Is one of your band members an expert on the Spotify algorithm? Get them to look into how you can increase your Spotify streams.

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6. Self Awareness

Being a band leader that everyone wants to follow begins with being humble and self-aware.

An efficient band leader will catch themselves before they delve into the messy world of micromanagement.

Even if you disagree with your bandmate's opinion, you should be self-aware enough to not become a dictator in the band and allow everyone to speak their minds and be themselves.

You need to understand how your emotions, instructions, and general leadership qualities will affect the members of your band.

7. Be Organized

One of the reasons why musicians experience failure is because of their lack of organization and being inconsistent.

An organized band is an efficient band.

Do you have calendars set up for availability? Scheduled in band rehearsals? Song charts of setlists in folders for everyone to access?

This will not only give your band easier access to the things they need to see but also decrease confusion for all musicians involved.

Stay on top of things in regards to who is meant to do what, where people are meant to be and what is expected of them.

Music producer working at home

8. Decisiveness

The best band leaders have to be ready to react quickly and to make decisions with confidence.

Bands can stagnate and never improve if someone isn't willing to make quick and difficult decisions without much hesitation.

Are you having trouble choosing a name for your band? The band leader needs to step in and make the final decision.

They should also be able to decide on what songs you will be practicing in rehearsal, final say on the gig set lists, and other important decisions after discussing with the band first.

Sometimes, really tough decisions can arise such as firing a band member which is not something you should let consume the band.

9. Effective listening

Communication works both ways.

Whilst you need to be able to get important information across to your band members, you also need to have your ears open as they communicate with you, the band leader.

When a musician in your band is voicing their opinion, it is critical to listen carefully to all the points of concern that may need investigating. Maybe your musicians are feeling a bit of burnout or they aren't happy with recent performances.

Every band has its ups and downs.

Listening and being aware of the conversations, moods, and concerns of the band is how you can ensure that issues are dealt with quickly and effectively.

Successful musicians don't ignore their peers.

Become a better listener to become a better band leader.

Music band singing at rehearsal 2021 09 24 04 15 00 utc

10. Patience

Taking your music career and achieving success as a group doesn't happen overnight.

The ability of a band to succeed relies on a number of situations, but you absolutely need to have patience as a leader.

Every band wants to reach its goals as quickly as possible, but you need to set the tone as a leader for everyone to enjoy the experience and the journey together.

If you are all on the same page and have the same positive energy about the music you are making as a group, the right things will happen if you're patient and humble.

Surround yourself with the right people and lead from a headspace of positivity and motivation so all of the musicians in your group can benefit.