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The Band Family: Dictatorship or Democracy?

bands earliest days, democracy of family fun, no agenda

Van Halen in 1978. Their mission: FUN!

I really believe that a bands earliest days together are their most fun; the thrill of what lies around the next corner, having your buddies with you as you explore uncharted territory together. And the best part: the innocence of just doing what you feel without any other agenda.  Pure and simple fun!

But, getting out of the basement requires SOMEONE to take a charge.  In the beginning everyone feels they are equal; this is especially true in songwriting…just because you played the notes doesn’t mean that you wrote the song.  This is where we start to grow up.  Initially, It is always much harder to accept a leader than to BE a leader.  It’s the first step into manhood: acceptance of a leader, who, at the end of the day will have your best interests at heart…

in this together, dictatorhip of a band leader to take charge

King Arthur and his Band of Knights, galloping from gig to gig. One for all, and all for one...IT'S US AGAINST THE WORLD!

Or at least he will in the beginning. As Robin Hood and his band of Merrymen romp through Sherwood forest…”One for all, all for one!”  We’re a family and we’re all in this together…or at least until something better comes along.

Most musicians today are in at least two bands, automatically diluting the loyalty that we would like to be held sacred.  But what happens when the other band that your vocalist is in started to do really well, and he’s not coming to as many practices?  You don’t care about his other band, so now it poses a problem. How devoted will he still be to you?

devoted loyalty, problem of being in two bands

Two Van Halens grew to three; reunited with one Roth, 30 years later.

Your REAL family – meaning your biological mother and father and sisters and brothers – is the ONLY family that will never abandon you.  Your band may feel inseparable at the very beginning, but that’s not reality.  At the end of the day it is a survival game, there is no guarantee of commitment; any member may leave at any time for any number of reasons.  You must always be ready for that, and be mentally ready to keep moving forward. 

band family, the survival game, no guarantee of commitment

30 years after forming, Van Halen recruited a new bass player for their reunion tour...Eddie's son Wolfgang.

But, the good news is that if you are truly devoted, dedicated, and wear your passion on your sleeve, you will ALWAYS be able to join another band or have other musicians join YOU.  You will be a highly in demand specialist that will never be out of work.  And more good news is that in ANY business, the LEADER – which need to be a re-defined as the WORKERS – get paid more.  But what if YOU are not the leader?  Who cares!  As long as the job is getting done the right way, it doesn’t matter WHO is doing it!

True leaders are on a mission to get the job done, period; NOT to be recognized as THE ONE who is getting it done.  That is nothing but 100% ego.  Historically, the public’s perception of a band’s LEADER has always been the vocalist.  Most of the times this is about the farthest thing from the truth, but we can’t hold the vocalist accountable for how the public perceives him…after all he is the spokesman holding the microphone.  This is usually a very hard pill to swallow for the other band members.  Again this is where we separate the men from the boys, and logic from ego. Is the vocalist good?  Is he charismatic?  Is he truly a dynamic front man?  If he proves to be all these things, take his inflated popularity on the chin, and let it go. It’s not worth dropping the guillotine on the chemistry that maybe impossible to rebuild.

ego of band leader, the spokesman vocalist

The feuding returned to the fun. Making amends...and collecting a nice paycheck.

Van Halen was a band of four equal members, and at some point, a combination of fans, media and ego decided the spotlight should be only on Diamond Dave.  Twisted Sister became all about Dee.  Aerosmith is Steven and sometimes Joe. How did Robby Takac of the Goo goo Dolls feel about the teen idol status pegged on his childhood friend Johnny Reznick?  When it’s not all about you anymore, remember that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  And if the goose becomes a problem?  Boot him!  Don’t think twice about it.  Yes, be diplomatic, open minded and flexible…but don’t be a doormat either. You’ll always get wiped on.  

THERE IS AT LEAST ONE MUSICIAN IN OVER 55% OF U.S. HOUSEHOLDS.

“Artists and writers experience two to three times the rate of psychosis, suicide attempts, mood disorders, and substance abuse than do comparably successful people in business, science, and public life.”

Study by Dr. Arnold M. Ludwig, a psychiatrist at the University of Kentucky Medical

THERE IS A SOLUTION.

Please help make it happen.

PROBLEMS CAN’T BE SOLVED WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM.


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