I wanted to revisit a theme from last weeks set of articles – the concept of the “main dude”. For the uninitiated the “main dude” is the guy who does most of the important stuff for the band and the dude who consequently leads to shifts in band dynamics because they tend to be the one wielding the most real power. One of my concerns with my last article is that I feel I almost made it sound like a bad thing to have a main dude in your band, which is not really true at all. Having a focal point for your band can in fact be a good thing. That’s why with this article I wanted to spend some time discussing the balance of power and how it can be done in a healthy and sustainable way over the long term for your band. This is mostly gleaned from third party observation, since band dynamics are obviously different in every case. However having someone to help you think through hem can, in my experience, be a very fruitful thing that can save a lot of headache down the road.
Obviously the key appeal of having a main dude is the consolidation of power that he represents. It’s good to be able to avoid a ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ scenario and just have one or two band members filling out most of the marketing stuff and booking the shows. It can keep things from getting to confusing and it keeps communication clear. This is part of why a lot of labels like doing his, because it means they can minimize the amount of communication they need to engage in for their very busy lifestyles. Managers tend to feel the same way, as do promoters. The thing is all of these people are drowning in emails and having a main dude represents a unified front for your band. It makes your brand seem a lot more put together than it would otherwise which in turn helps industry figures to take you seriously. These should be key goals for your band especially as you move into new platforms and want to continue reaching higher levels of industry success.
Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. It’s up to the rest of the band to keep the main dude in check. Just look at Spinal Tap and you can immediately see where these sorts of things go terribly wrong. If your main dude is suddenly telling you to wear weird costumes or to present yourself in a silly manner or do something that doesn’t feel authentic on stage then you’re probably not doing yourself any favors. You want to make sure that everything you do makes sense to at least a majority of band members, or tat at least,, the main dude can justify why you are doing it. If not, then you need to rebuff him from his position of authority and work together to figure out a way forward. These can be hard balances to strike especially since the main dude tends to put so much work into the band, especially relative to most other band members. If you can work together to come up with a way to move together though then you quickly start to see results coming together in a way you never previously imagined.
This is because no man is an army. The band needs to be playing heavy support to the main dude in the band and giving him the resources he needs in order to help the band grow to its maximum potential. Look at the main dude as a de facto manager and treat him as such. Don’t be shocked when he wants things his way but rather try and see how you can help. Maybe he’s totally wrong, and that’s part of the checks and balances thing we discussed earlier, but maybe by helping you too can learn about this industry. If you are the main dude then you need to make it clear to your bandmates that there are certain things you expect them to be doing. Sometimes this can be easy, like having the graphic design guy design graphics, other times it can be very difficult, like trying to get other members to contribute to social media, or getting your bass player to not be a cunt. Fortunately there’s a fairly easy way to start getting things moving in this direction.
The answer is of course having regular band meetings. This is something that will probably be initially met with a lot of hemming and hawing but you have to ask yourself if you want your band to amount to something. You don’t need to make the meetings last long, they can be as simple as a fifteen to thirty minute session where everyone keeps everyone updated and looks at what they need to be doing next in order to keep momentum up. A lot of people view band meetings as a bad thing, I personally feel quite the opposite, I think that having meetings where you figure out how you are going to push things is vital to finding any sort of future for your band. If everyone isn’t on the same page or some band members are just content with being clueless then you had better pray that either you have a really solid main couple of dudes and managers or simply realize that you are going to see things fall apart surprisingly quickly.
A lot of these things are a bit of a commitment, I know this far too well and it’s why many bands grow to resent their main dudes, fire them from the band and then wonder why no one cares about their band after the fact. In fact I think that the very thing that pushes a lot of bands forward is also what rips them apart. This is part of the struggle of music, artist types sometimes can’t get over themselves and sometimes shit rapidly goes south. Alas, we need to embrace this and realize that when all is said and done it’s only rock and roll and if we just accept the music for what it is and try our best not to screw the whole thing up and just have a good time. The main dude wants to accentuate that, so why not let him?
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