HomeBlogsdoubleshot's blogDoubleShot!'s Band Blog Entry #3: Keeping Account

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Greetings, everyone -- this is Mike writing today -- gig manager and vocal percussionist for DoubleShot! I want to talk a second about accountability.

(Relax, this doesn't have anything to do with bookkeeping or math.)

If you're in a full-time working, professional band with third-party management, then maybe every last little thing you ever needed to do is getting done on time, for you, by someone else.  Maybe.  But there's the less than 1% of groups who get stuff done for them and there's everyone else -- and let's face it, most of us started putting our projects together because we wanted to do something ourselves.  There's just so much work to do all the time, so many little things beyond "making the music" that need to be done in a typical year!  Rehearsal coordination.  Web and promotions design.  Managing that recording project you wanted to get started on.  Etc. The list goes on and on.  Every band's is essentially the same while having different specifics and priorities.

Often, we find that holding our individual performers accountable for their responsibilities in the confines of a five-to-six-man act is very difficult.  We rely on our performers daily/weekly -- these are our teammates, friends, family -- and often don't want to rock the boat we're sitting in when it comes to getting people to get stuff done to advance our act.  Also, all of our performers manage things outside the band (jobs, families, other conflicts) which often can make it tough to get "band work" to be a top priority.

With a limited number of singers (I've seen college groups with twelve different officers and event chairs and still have people left over who can just come in and sing) comes a finite amount of resources with regard to skill set and time.  Also, even when you have people "in charge", a small team setting definitely can dilute those roles.

This is a process we feel that we are far from mastering, but here are some things we've started to do in order to make ourselves more accountable as a group for forward progress in our act.

Make deadlines personal and public.  We base our needs on when they absolutely need to be done by and when we designate people to perform those tasks, we encourage that person to set their own deadlines within that.  However, we do encourage that person to voice their deadlines to the group in oral or even written form in order that the group knows when this person expects to have their end of things done.  This becomes even more important in checklist items that are being done in small teams or completing one task is dependent upon the completion of another.

Get people invested.   If you or your group is in the habit of delegating tasks, don't just ask them to do things.  Make sure they understand why these things are important.  In my "professional life" as a computer programmer, I was always the most motivated to do work when I understood what direct impact my efforts were making and got to see the tangible results of my actions (see also "Kudos", below).

Every task gets a point-man.  Even if the task you are trying to manage lies outside the band, you need to have one person who is serving as the contact within the band.

Discuss rules and regs.  Make talking about accountability part of your rules/regulations discussions -- whatever you've got down on paper about how you're running your act.  I've personally found that if you bring up the notion of people not doing a good job with deadlines (often includes me) and start somewhere in the realm of "what can we do?  I mean, the obvious solution is to start docking gig pay, since it's something easy and tangible," suddenly everyone (especially the poor guys) go "whoa, whoa, whoa -- there's gotta be something else."  I suppose this ties in a bit to "personal investment", and it's sad but true, but it at least gets people creative about enforcing the seemingly unenforceable and it conveys the import of the issue of holding people to deadlines.  And maybe this approach is a little skeevy/controversial to some of you -- but you definitely want to put the importance of getting band work done on a high pedestal for all to see.  However you get that done is up to you.

Make task meetings enjoyable.  Sometimes this is tough depending on the task, but you'd be amazed at how much work gets accomplished when people just arrange to get together for a coffee or a cold one. Some people rely on the comfort of the environment just to be productive.

Address strengths and weaknesses. 
I'm not going to ask our least technical guy to do a technical task.  Nor am I going to ask our guy who just likes singing to make a set list for a specific show.  If they're specifically interested in performing that task then I might well consider pairing them up with more experienced people so they can get up to speed and be ready to do it the next time, but the strengths of the group bubble up -- staying in people's wheelhouses and/or giving them work they're excited to do is a good way to get that done.

Give kudos.  Anyone in DS! will tell you I am not chief of the "praise department", but there's no doubt that illustrating the tangible results to the band and letting them know that it wouldn't have been possible without this person is an important part of making sure things get done quickly, efficiently, and effectively the next time.

As with anything, this advice is only worth what you paid -- and I'm sure there's lots more you'll expound upon in your blog comments -- but these are some things we're beginning to find effective.  Hope they help!  As always, you can email me if there's any feedback you'd like to give directly.

On behalf of DoubleShot!,
Mike Yanchak