So I just watched my nations team, the French team, win the world cup, and it was glorious. It got me thinking quite a bit about teamwork though and I wanted to write about this a little in order to kind of tackle the impact that having a good team can have on your bands success. This is something that I think is undervalued in America in a lot of waves, frequently because American sports are oftentimes focused on the achievement of the individual within the team. They are about the home run, the perfect spiral, Lebron James carrying his entire team to victory. The point being – this isn’t always how it’s supposed to be. Sometimes you need to have a team where you all rely on each other in an interconnected way as you do in soccer. One of the times when you all need to lean on each other is in the music industry.
So who are the core team members who you see in a given band Well of course you have the musicians themselves, but you can have different degrees of the musician. You can have session guys, or guys who are essentially session guys, and those are valuable, but they need to know their place. Then you have main dudes who are essential for communicating with labels and management if nothing else. Then you’ve got your manager, he coordinates everyone. On top of that you can have PR people, a record label, consultants, social media guys, lawyers and graphic designers as a part of the team. Now not all of these people are part of the team every day, but all of them are important. In fact there are many other important roles I haven’t even begun to dug into. What’s key to understand though is just that you need to have a team around you. It’s very hard to grow as a lone figure, so developing a group who believes in you is key.
Of course there are frequently two people who are coordinating any given team. You have the manager, who functions frequently as a project manager, but even in the biggest bands you have one guy who remains the point of contact for just about everyone. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t make any of the big decisions, the odds are that most folks are going to want to run some stuff by the main dude in a band./ this is part of why it’s important to have a main dude in the first place, because it facilitates communication There needs to be a focal point for the team members to talk to the band. Talking to band members individually is not going to help anyone because messages get muddled and you wind up in a big game of whisper down the lane. In fact most management and record label contracts have this baked in – there needs to be a specific person within the group for these people to talk too, otherwise it gets all mucked up.
When it comes down to it one of the most important things that you need to be doing as a team leader, be it in a managerial or band member role, or sometimes both, is making sure that everyone knows what their job is. Frequently I see bands teams falling apart because they expect too much of one party (usually the record label) or because they aren’t clear with who needs to do what. When that starts to happen folks get aggravated because then shit doesn’t get done. Other times overachievers come and in and overstep their bounds and have a chance of pissing off someone in a position of seniority. It’s a very delicate thing to manage a group of people trying to promote a record. It’s not something that everyone can do. At the end of the day though, it’s usually not a great idea to have full faith in any one person to perfectly represent your band. You still need to be able to have oversight to make sure things are getting done the way you want.
If you really want success you need to follow Ray Dalio’s advice and look at your team as a machine and each member as a component part. You should know the desired outcome, we’ve discussed of course the importance of clear goals. Then, when you see the outcome your team generates as opposed to the outcome you want you can start moving towards effective and productive growth. You need to tweak the parts of your machine, or modify them in order to ensure an efficient future. This is not always easy, but if you have a good manager then you will be able to identify problems and solve them by either changing the instructions that you give a specific team member or replacing them entirely. These are steps you will repeat countless times in your music career and eventually, hopefully you will get very good at them.
Team building can be a very challenging and very scary thing. Most people don’t like having to take charge and tell everyone what to do or to determine a goal. It puts a lot of pressure on you as a leader to not fuck up. However if you want to grow in music then you need to take the time and energy required to create a team that is effective and masterful. You are probably going to go through a lot of people who don’t know what they are doing and you are probably going to have to make a lot of mistakes before you get successful, but when it comes down to it this is just another step in the process. As the team grows the more you will be able to do, and the more you are able to do, the more great art you can create and share with the world.