As a bandleader, this is a dilemma! if I take all the decisions myself as a leader, I might look a little bit bossy and some musicians might not like that, as they are not employees.

On the other hand, if the band take all the decisions, it might sound democratic but sometimes we might end up with the band doing something completely different than what I had in mind at the beginning.

Is there a boundary or a rule on which decisions should be taken by the bandleader and which decisions should be taken democratically?

Mine is a soul band with 10 members.


2 Answers 2


(1) don't confuse leader and boss. Which do you need to be, and (2) what kind of band are you leading? And orchestra, a cover band of 4 people? Somewhere in between. I've worked in orchestras and I don't think people listen to conductors (band leaders) who try to be too egalitarian. Just make the decision and let us do our job. That's the other side of the coin, you look weak if you try to get a consensus. In an orchestra the players expect you to know what you want. If you are "leading" and small group the rules might be different. One major factor is how the band came together. If the band is a bunch of friends then you are all equal in the band. If you "started" it and the other players were picked up by you later then you are the boss in a sense and if you want your vision followed you just need to make that expectation clear up front. If everyone has been contributing and you assert your vision you may lose players but that's what happens. This is probably why a lot of musicians just do all their own tracks.

  • So, it seems to understand that the boundary is between vision and daily activities. For example, as a bandleader I have to take all the decisions regarding the vision or better make sure people follow that same vision, as the main reasons I created the band in first place is to follow that vision. But all the non-important decisions about daily activities can be taken democratically. Like for example where are we going to play, what time and where are we meeting tomorrow. Is that what you mean? Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 22:54
  • Maybe. If your band is a working band and you are the one who auditioned all the players then there is nothing wrong with setting the time place, etc. It seems that you may be reluctant to do that due to a lack of funds. You say that your band mates are NOT employees. In my experience the band leader made ALL decisions, time, place, music, etc. If you didn't show up you were replaced. But then again, we had work. He did take suggestions, and each section had a leader (first chair), who he would consult.
    – user50691
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 0:30

All the bands I've worked in that had a bandleader have regarded that person as the leader. Making all the decisions, whilst at the same time listening to suggestions from bandmembers, but not always implementing them. They had the responsibility of getting gigs, personnel, equipment, rehearsals (very few in some bands - turn up, wear the right clothes, read what's there, get paid, go home!), and sorting out any glitches on the night. And often getting more money for it all. Why not.

On occasions, it's been my gig, and the erstwhile bandleader expects me to be the bandleader, so roles are reversed. No power struggle: everyone knows their place. There's no discussion about it, that's how it is. All my responsibility.

The decision as to how it works in your band will ultimately be yours. You are the founding member, so are the initial organiser. You could delegate tasks - trumpet leader to sort out numbers, drummer get gigs, singer has responsibility for p.a.,bassist looks after finances, and such like. Maybe an answer comes from what happens when there are problems. Are they then directed to you? If so, there's an answer. You're in charge. Be in charge!

Otherwise, run it as a corporate, where everyone has their say. Trouble with that is rather like a committee, (or a government!), it takes ages to get a concensus, and it's often a waste of time. If a player is unhappy with you as bandleader, he'll either say so or leave. So that mantle needs to be worn with a lot of experience - both in knowing the music, knowing the music scene, and knowing how to handle people. A big mantle!

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