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Only 373 pages left on your journey to becoming a rock star!

Some hard decisions to take if you're in a band

Just because you put super great musicians together, it doesn’t mean you’re going to have that chemistry as a band.
–Brian Setzer

As mentioned in chapter 1.5 (Ten Lessons In Life), you can’t afford working with the wrong people. This means that some hard decisions have to be taken sometimes, and that’s what I’d like to discuss before we go on.

If you’re in a band and you feel that you’re the only one who knows what has to be done, while all of the other folks are complete morons, or if they can’t really play their instruments, then you will need to quit.

You will have to get out now. Take the phone, call them, text them, or send an e-mail. You’re no longer part of their band. Game over, time to start you next project. No time to lose.

If you’re in a band and there’s only one member who really sucks, then you’ll have to replace this person as soon as possible.

Start looking for a replacement today, you will want to have a working team as soon as possible, so that you will be able to work on your future career. On some rare occasions however it will be possible to talk to the guy, he’ll practice like hell, and within a few months everything will be perfectly okay. I’ve seen that happen, but I think that’s quite an exception.

If you’re playing in a band and all members are okay but the hierarchy is not clear, then this should be addressed too.

There is always a band leader, a person in charge.

The boss if you want.

In some bands there are also two people in that position. It is very, very rare to find a successful band where all members are on the same level in the hierarchy – except for boy bands and girl groups of course, as in this case everyone is more or less at the bottom, as the producer will be the real boss.

In most cases, the leader of the band is the singer-songwriter – and if it’s two people, then it’s usually the singer and the lead instrumentalist, both again songwriters (although that may vary). Think of Lennon / McCartney, Jagger / Richards, Mercury / May, or Hetfield / Ulrich.

The structure and hierarchy in a band may vary, as all people are psychologically different. You will have to see if it works, but there are basically three scenarios that will not work:

  1. All members are on the same level of the hierarchy.
  2. The primary songwriters are not on the top level.
  3. The only person in the band who really sucks thinks he’s the leader.

As said before, some decisions may be difficult to take, but things should be clear before you get started. If things are clear already, then you’re quite lucky.

Just an important footnote:

Having one or two leaders in a band does not mean that they will take all decisions, that the other members can’t bring in their ideas or write songs, and that they somehow dominate everyone all of the time.

Leadership should be a more natural phenomenon, and it has nothing to do with dictatorship.

Being the leader of the band also means taking responsibilities and working while others may be partying, just as if you were the boss of a company. If the band leader is an incapable asshole (and it’s not you), then get out of the band right away.

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Chapter 4.1   •   Page 2 of 11

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