I think one of the hardest parts of being in a band is holding people accountable. I had a whole chat with a client about this today and some of the difficulties he faces with his band members. Now this ties into what I wrote about recently concerning ‘main dudes’. In fact in many ways this is merely an extension on those observations. I think that when it comes down to it you need to figure out who is doing what when it comes to band dynamics and realizing that sharing the duties of being the main dude isn’t necessarily always a good thing. I wanted to pick apart some of the accountability and responsibility of being in a band. These aren’t easy tasks but they are also the sort of tasks that can inspire us to push forward and try and find innovative solutions for our problems, helping bring the industry to brave new levels and encouraging all of us to work together in the name of a scene that we all love.
This issue of accountability most often comes up when people try to dole out different roles to different band members but simultaneously different band members have varying levels of dedication to the band. Now this can manifest itself in a variety of contexts. It could be something like the guy handling you social media just doesn’t think social media is that important. Alternatively it could potentially mean that certain members of your band aren’t as willing to tour as others – another thing that always drives groups apart constantly. There are a lot of struggles like this and making sure that everyone is on the same page is key. Beyond that you need to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the roles that they need to have in the band if they want longterm success. Otherwise it’s so easy to just fall into bland and repetitive suffering that leaves so many bands stuck struggling along rudderless and incapable of growing their brand.
What this really means is that in any good band communication is key. Different people have different capacities, different competences and different abilities to get shit done. When it comes down to it it’s sometimes embarrassing to have to say “Hey, I can’t handle this aspect of the band”. Some people are more high functioning than others – that’s all there is to it. So you end up needing to communicate and explain what you can do and what you can’t do with your bandmates. Remember that at the end of the day everyone suffers if you don’t get your job done and the odds are that someone else in the band can probably do it for you if you just reach out and ask. Otherwise things get tricky and suddenly a huge aspect of your band is crashing down around your ears and you get kicked out. I’m sure no one in your band will fault you if you can’t complete a task as long as you help to make sure that it gets done by someone else.
This is part of why it’s sometimes important to consolidate power. It’s like we discussed in the main dudes article – there are frequently situations where one or two guys in the band care a lot more about the group than most of the other members and we need to work together to make sure that that is respected. The dudes who run the band might just want to bring everything down under one flag because they know that they are getting into and want to assume that responsibility. I’ve often seen bands that try to hand out roles to members who just want to play their instruments. Guess what – if you just want to play your instrument that’s okay. Sure you probably won’t become the huge industry figure or whatever but odds are you don’t care about that. I think main dudes oftentimes have a hard time realizing this too and coming to terms with both sets of paradigms is one of those challenges that often drives a wedge in bands.
At the same time it’s often good to dole out roles within a group because bringing different ideas to the table can help to make a band embrace new opportunities and also get new perspectives on old problems. Furthermore – bands where everyone feels invested mean that they will stick together for longer and stay tied into each other even if you have a shitty tour or too. It’s easy to view someone who just plays their instrument as a hired gun and it’s important to help make sure that they don’t think that they are simply that. Rather everyone needs to come out and embrace some role in the band. It can be lesser or greater but people need to be aware of where they are. This is part of why it’s good to have the band plan on paper so that it’s easy to see who has done what and when. That way people can know where they stand and if their bandmates think the should step it up or if they are doing exactly what needs to be done.
Communication is key and letting people know if you want to just be a simple instrumentalist or if you strive to be a main dude is important Just as letting people know if you want to tour a lot is important. People need to have similar goals in a band in order to have long term success. If you look at the groups that are able to survive more than a few months it’s because in almost every case they either lucked into, or previously spoke about their goals and made sure that they lined up. Rather than one member becoming gradually more uncomfortable everyone gets a chance to step up and take ownership. And after all – if it weren’t for this – we might as well be dead.