by MATT BACON >
It’s okay to not be the main dude in your band.
I know I’ve written about this a little bit before, but I wanted to grow on this. I feel like my “Main dude” article cold have been perceived as slightly condescending wen that was not at all the intention. Rather I wanted to suggest that you don’t need to be the main dude in our band if you don’t want to. You don’t need to be the main dude in any band. It is perfectly possible to have a successful career as a musician whilst maintaining a fairly minimal interest in management, so long as you’re good at making friends with people and, of course, are damn good at your instrument of choice. That’s a simple fact that’s been going on for literally centuries now. Hell – a lot of these people aren’t even that good at emailing or any of that other stuff I rant on about. They just do what they like to do best and are able to find a fair amount of success going forward with that, and that’s great.
One thing that binds these, if you will, successful auxiliary dudes, together is that they realize the balance of power that this leaves them with. They understand that since they aren’t trying to run the band they need to take a back seat. They need to appreciate that there are other people in the band who really care about the future of their project and they let those people do their thing. They don’t hold up the process by insisting on seeing contracts they don’t understand or simply don’t care about, and they don’t try and propose ideas that they will never follow through on. They realize that there are people out there who genuinely care about that and they let those people do that. They maintain an active role in the band and try to remain friendly and helpful but again – they realize that the main dude is coming through to take care of a lot of the big stuff and they are unafraid to let the waves wash over them because they are willing to trust.
A big part of this is because they focus on what makes them special.
That is to say they concentrate on their musicianship and their creativity. They focus on generating top quality content in a timely fashion. They shake hands and drink beers with the industry people at shows and they hone their craft into something truly special. They also do their best to not embarrass the band – which is in many ways a part of the craft of being in a band. I think the key though is that as much as you will work on building up your brand and creating something greater they do their best to be a positive influence on the band and don’t act entitled. As much as it’s okay to realize that you want to be an auxiliary dude or just a musician you can’t hold back the process by insisting on having everything your way or trying to take control of some aspect of the band that holds things back. I’ve seen those attitudes rip bands apart, and you can’t afford to have them.
Another key in being a good auxiliary dude is being communicative.
I know I emphasize this all the time but guess what – it’s probably the single most important part of being in a band. If you are a auxiliary dude but you can’t get back within 24 hours about whether or not you can play a show, are going to miss a rehearsal or whatever then you’re not really in a position to try and be in a band that does cool things. People miss out on keys like this frequently and perpetually shooting themselves in the foot is not a good look – and yet so many bands get held back because of an auxiliary dude who is a flake but who they keep in the band because ‘he’s such a nice guy’ or ‘he’s a drummer’. Valid reasons to be sure – but you need to evaluate your place in the band. Guess what – if you don’t want to be the main dude that’s totally fine but you can’t hold up your peers because you’re trying to take your time on stuff that doesn’t actually matter to you.
That’s a huge part of this by the way – the willingness to let go of what doesn’t matter to you. Odds are if you’re not trying to be the main dude and you work in a gas station then a record contract isn’t going to affect you either way – it’s not like your expecting to make money off of this bullshit that we call the music industry anyway. By the same token – if you say your schedule is clear to play shows, make sure it’s clear. Realize what matters to you and then let go of the rest. If you want to create an internal list in your band of what matters to who, then you’re going to probably end up doing a little bit better. Like I’ve said in other pieces on this site – having stuff written down is going to make your entire life as a band a helluva lot easier. It also take a fair degree of personal maturity, to realize where you want to go and how you want to develop, the future you want to build and the relationships that you want to make sure you have.
As I wrap up I think that what a lot of this articles is trying to tackle is toxic attitudes in band members. When it comes down to it a lot of auxiliary dudes think that because they aren’t responsible for band affairs they can just go out and get ridiculously fucked up and embarrass the band since – after all – they aren’t the main people involved in the project! I think a big part of my frustration with music is its ability to attract adults who act like children, and I’m sure that many of you reading this article feel similarly. That being said – I don’t have much of a world outside of music so maybe people are just generally shitty. In the long run – none of this really matters. What does matter is that you try your best to be the best band member you can be and then you build from there.