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Bands - democracy v dictatorship

alex s 10 Mar 13 - 08:43 AM
Leadfingers 10 Mar 13 - 09:22 AM
John P 10 Mar 13 - 09:56 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 13 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Peter 10 Mar 13 - 12:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Mar 13 - 01:55 PM
Nick 10 Mar 13 - 02:52 PM
Nick 10 Mar 13 - 02:57 PM
John P 10 Mar 13 - 04:28 PM
GUEST 10 Mar 13 - 04:48 PM
michaelr 10 Mar 13 - 10:12 PM
GUEST,FloraG 11 Mar 13 - 04:19 AM
Mo the caller 11 Mar 13 - 06:11 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Mar 13 - 03:29 PM
Mooh 11 Mar 13 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 11 Mar 13 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 11 Mar 13 - 04:38 PM
melodeonboy 11 Mar 13 - 07:37 PM
Phil Cooper 12 Mar 13 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,FloraG 13 Mar 13 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Lavengro 13 Mar 13 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 13 Mar 13 - 09:55 AM
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Subject: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: alex s
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 08:43 AM

I've been in a number of bands, generally totally democratic apart from those containing school teachers. (oh dear, but it's true)

Last night someone said to us "Who's the leader?" and we all said "No-one".
We all get on really well with very few tensions of any kind, and have done for many years, whereas bands with "it's MY band" leaders seem to fragment more easily.

Does a democratic band have more chance of lasting longer?


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 09:22 AM

As long as you dont have several members ALL taking bookings and deciding fees


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: John P
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 09:56 AM

I've sot of done it both ways. I think it depends partly on the size of the band. Duos and trios can easily be democracies, even to the point of everyone booking gigs. Communication is, of course, important. The last six-member band I was in was somewhere in between. It was a democracy until a decision needed to get made but there wasn't a consensus emerging. When that happened, I listened to all the ideas and then made the decision. Sometimes six people can get bogged down forever in ideas for arrangements, with different people wanting to take the song in different directions. Most of the time, whoever brought the song in decided the general direction and feel for that song, everyone came up with stuff to do that supported that, and no problems. In that band, two of us did all the booking and stayed in touch with each other about what we were up to.

I don't think I would like playing in a band that was a complete dictatorship. If someone else was in charge, I'd get tired of not having any input. If I was in charge, I'd get tired of not getting enough input. One of the big reasons I play with other musicians is because I like their ideas, and like what their ideas and mine do when they meet. I suppose that if I got a chance to be in the band of some huge star, I'd buckle down and do what I was told, at least for a while.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 10:07 AM

I'm in a 7-piece ceilidh band. One person is the caller and chooses the dances. Another is the musical "director" who lashes us into rehearsing (with beer) at the garage/studio of another member - where we all discuss numbers, sets and arrangements. Another member maintains the accounts and the website. I handle bookings and the band diary. The drummer provides lighting where needed and, being a DJ, also advises on sound. The fiddle player plays fiddle and leaves the rest to us - but he's a great fiddler and we all love him to bits!

I also play in a guitar duo - jazz, blues, a bit of this, a bit of that. I maintain the website, the bookings, the set list, the transport, the PA and some of the beer. The other guitar player plays guitar and leaves the rest to me - but he's a great guitarist and I love him to bits!

As long as it works.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 12:25 PM

You will be expected to have one member who acts as the contact point with the hirer and caller during a gig. Most people will use the term "leader" to describe this person as "band leader" is a well established title. It has nothing to do with the internal organsiation of the band.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 01:55 PM

Delegating responsibility for particular tasks to ndividuals, formally or informally, is perfectly democratic. In fact it is perfectly compatible with an anarchist agenda.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Nick
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 02:52 PM

I just joined a band today bizarrely.

We've agreed a set list and where we are going next.

So far the guy is a good leader.

From my end people just need to spell out what they expect.

I will turn up at first rehearsal being able to play the set. For me that is a given.

But if part of it is to hustle for gigs that is a skill I don't have.


It's management.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Nick
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 02:57 PM

So having not answered the question it's neither

It just needs to someone to manage the thing (not 'A MANAGER') otherwise it usually goes wrong

Excited on my new venture though. As an older person it's nice to get together with 20 and 30 year olds and work out a set list and look forward to playing.

I find age is a barrier to joining bands. I still like to rock a bit and I don't necessarily want to play with 50-70 year olds


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: John P
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 04:28 PM

Just out of curiosity, how and why is a person who manages things not a manager??


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 04:48 PM

I think the important thing is that you are all on the same page. In other words don't put out an advert/word of mouth for "band members wanted" which implies (not just in my opinion, but from discussions with others) that you want someone to be part of the creative process, and to contribute to that process. When in fact you mean "I have my own ideas and sound, and I want a bit of backing for it". Okay, inevitably your style and flair will come through to some extent playing for the latter setup, but if your opinion on arrangement, set up, bookings etc. is not wanted I think that needs to be clear from the start? Then no one can complain.

A lack of candour at the start can have a lot of negative impact down the line. I was in a really very good band formed from scratch where we all agreed equal input and effort, we would all sort gigs and the website etc. But two years in, the only one who was bringing in work, the only one making sure we set up practice times and the only one sorting the website (even though our fiddle player was in web design) and IT wise I am pondlife. Two of the guys even used to whinge on about how they needed the gig money, but still zero effort. So I walked and it still rankles me! As you can probably tell :)

So in short, either is okay, as long as everyone is clear what is happening from the start. I personally wouldn't join a Mussolini type set up (assuming I knew) as to me being in a band is a collaborative thing.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: michaelr
Date: 10 Mar 13 - 10:12 PM

John - I think Nick meant to distinguish between a band member who manages band business and an external person with the job description of manager.

I think of the band I play in as "my" band, because it was I who started it and recruited the players, and I who had the vision of what it should be. That vision has evolved over 20+ years (and 20+ former members), but I'm still the person booking the gigs and introducing the majority of repertoire - leaving lots of room for individual input. I suppose you could call it a benign dictatorship. I call the band Greenhouse, in part because it's meant to be a space for things to grow. But it's not a democracy (which has lots of inherent problems as a societal system and would not, I'm sure, have lasted this long as a way to perpetuate a musical group).


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 11 Mar 13 - 04:19 AM

I like the idea of a democratic band - turning up when you want to, playing what you want to, having breaks etc at will, and having everybody or nobody introduce the tunes. I'm not sure there would be a lot of repeat bookings, but it sounds a good idea.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Mar 13 - 06:11 AM

If it's a ceilidh band surely the caller is 'in charge' :)

Well, unless she asks for tunes the band don't know / like, which would be stupid because dancing goes so much better when the band enjoys the tune.
And unless the band stop because the dance has gone on too long!

But that's only part of it. Before that someone has to be IC liasing with the booker to make sure the band turns up at the right place & time - that person will be the one the booker is probably looking for when she says 'who's in charge', then there's the ones who give out cards and chat to the people at the gig, the one IC transport - driving the van, the one who maintains & operates the PA, the one who liases with the caller over tunes for dances, and the one who choses tunes to play between the dances, etc.

I have also worked with a band where the 'owner' wanted to tell the female members to wear skirts - he succeeded for a while, but couldn't stop one of the male members turning up in tatty jeans.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Mar 13 - 03:29 PM

The Beech Band is an Anarcho-Syndicalist Collective so I can't offer any advice until I have cleared it with the other 107 members


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Mooh
Date: 11 Mar 13 - 04:34 PM

I like for there to be one person to manage bookings. When one of the others hears of a possible gig it gets channeled to the booker who then gets everyone to okay the date.

The singer should get to veto songs he/she can't handle, unless another can willingly and competently sing it. Most everything else is handled democratically in my groups. Sometimes there will a song or tune one of us dislikes but will play for either the sheer enjoyment of being able to play something, or to make the others happy, ie compromise is part of democracy. Normally my band members are pretty compliant, the days of infighting over issues died with my youthful bands.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 11 Mar 13 - 04:34 PM

I've been in bands at both extremes and various combinations between.
In my experience either can work; it depends much more on the character of the individuals and the degree to which expectations are shared.

My ideal model (never achieved precisely, but we came close) is a democratic one, where one person (chosen democratically) is responsible for outside business contacts, but given guidelines (set democratically) for what is an acceptable booking. Anything this "manager" thinks might be a good idea but which falls outside these boundaries needs to be approved by the group. Equipment purchases, etc. are decided democratically. This is easy to implement for the business side.

As far as the artistic side, including personnel decisions, I think it's harder because the communication is so much more complex. The more equal the talents and experiences of the members, the more democratic it can be. Problems arise when someone thinks more highly of him/herself than he/she ought... but again, character and communicated expectations make the difference.

I have had the good luck to have had positive experiences with most of the groups I've been associated with. But I've seen both democratic and monarchical groups have terrible problems, too. You've got to have the human relationships working or the artistic/professional relationships will fail.

-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 11 Mar 13 - 04:38 PM

Like Mooh said, anyone can bring in a potential booking but one person must be responsible for the calendar. And in a part-time band where folks have lives and day jobs, real-time availability checks are a must. (It's also nice to be able to offer the option of a mini-band, if the group is large-ish and hard to get together tout ensemble.) -G


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: melodeonboy
Date: 11 Mar 13 - 07:37 PM

Horses for courses! I play in two bands. One is more or less a dictatorship (guess who's the dictator! :-) ), the other a democracy. They both work for different reasons.

On a linguistic level, it's quite acceptable to say "my band", irrespective of the organisation of the band, in the same way that I refer to "my family" (or "my people", as I learnt to say at the hearth!) without implying that I control them in any way or have superior organisational status.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 12 Mar 13 - 03:45 PM

I was the main contact/booking person for one of my configurations. Though we decided on repertoire and arrangements by consensus. The main policy was whoever sang lead determined text and if to include breaks or not. I'm now playing with my life partner and she does the bulk of the bookings, though I still keep in touch with contacts familiar with me.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 06:11 AM

I think it is quite interesting to consider why bands fail to survive. A lot of new bands are here today----.
has anyone experience of a bands ending ( apart from old age ).
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST,Lavengro
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 06:59 AM

There seems to be a lot being made on here of only one person actually booking any gigs regardless of who might have gotten the contact in the first place?

I personally think that some of the reasons being given behind this just don't hold up in the present day. We are all discussing this via our PC's, laptops, phones, tablets whatever. So open up an electronic band calender, all show a bit of responsibility in updating it with your availability and then everyone can make bookings and bring home the bacon. The chances of two of you being on the phone at the same time booking conflicting gigs is pretty remote, never happened to me. And you can always "pencil in" potentials while you are finalising things.

I have always found that the people who can't be bothered to find the work (or help with any of the less glamorous necessities) are invariably the same ones who turn up when most of the set up is done, are do their best to get out of strpping down and helping fellow bandmates in general.


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Subject: RE: Bands - democracy v dictatorship
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 13 Mar 13 - 09:55 AM

Lavengro, you are correct in theory, but I have seen in more than one situation that if the participants don't all have the same discipline and "rules of engagement" in the way they use the software, it can still get muddled up. Especially when engagements can be "pending" for a bit and not firmed up. It should work, yes, but it just doesn't always.

Of course I agree that all members should be encouraged to bring in the potential gigs. While keeping in mind that talents differ, and some are by nature much more productive in this way than others can be. (But all, barring disability, should be able and willing to tote crates.)

As to why bands don't survive... there are a lot more ways to fall by the wayside than to stick together. But in my part-time musical world, the biggest reason (once a group has established an identity as "us") is that life happens and people just get pulled different ways by their other responsibilities. And having to replace just one person can break down the synergy that made the old lineup work. People aren't interchangeable parts.

-Glenn


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