Putting together a team for a client is like forming a band. You want the band to be great! The performance should also be rewarding – for the band and for the listeners. Here are some aspects to consider for smashing performances.
1. The right people for the gig
What people do you need for the gig? Sometimes you only need a duo. Other times you need drums, bass, keys, two guitars and a roadie. All are equally important. And when you are in the band, you are in the band.
- Picking the right team members is a key to success. Do it with care.
- Have clear responsibilities. Is there a dedicated QA person, or is it handled by some other person?
- Commitment to the team <3
2. Experience matters
Session musicians who do hundreds of gigs per year don’t need much time to rehearse. They don’t even need sheet music for all the songs. They can jump into any band and sound great. Less experienced players need more sheets, more time and better communication.
It’s more fun to play when most of the musicians are on the same level. However, it’s also rewarding to nourish new talent. It’s easier for both parties if there is only one person with less experience.
Prep for people with less experience! Juniors on the team means:
- More time is needed from PM for communication
- More guides, best practices and review is needed from tech lead
3. Long-term ensembles
People who have played together for years develop their own ways of communicating on stage. A quick look at the drummer can mean: Take us into the bridge. Not only is communication easier, but they sound better too.
If the band needs a new bass player, they will make it work. But if they simultaneously replace their drummer, it will start to sound different. Musicians who play together on a regular basis do better!
After some concerts, the band will make mistakes and learn. They will also learn from their successes. That’s the beauty of long-running teams.
- Long running teams perform better
- The same team can work on multiple projects (one after another)
- Replacing one team member is better than putting together a brand new team
- When all team members have participated in a failure, they learn collectively
4 A band needs a leader to be self organized
Most bands or orchestras have a leader. The top person in charge might be a producer or a conductor – but even so, there is usually a leader among the musicians as well. Like the leader of the first violin section, the concertmaster.
- It’s useful to have a leader among the “performing artists” in the group
- It can be a PM or a scrum master/tech lead
- The leader should be able to talk to all parties, internal and external
5 Chemistry between members
Musicians might do what they love, but it’s more rewarding to do it with people you care about. If you’re in a band where the chemistry is bad, the motivation is not likely to last. However, there are cases where some friction is a good thing (if it stems from differences in opinion or personality, not abrasiveness). Properly directed it might lead to interesting and creative solutions.
- Build teams where the chemistry feels good
- If a team member has a bad feeling regarding the team composition, s/he should talk to the leader
- Once in a while, friction is good.
6 It’s easier to book a band than many individuals
If you want to make money renting out musicians for celebrity weddings or TV on a regular basis, you get tired of putting together a new orchestra for each session. You want all the players to commit to a group, and simply allocate the band as a whole. That gives stability for the team members and an easy to manage “package” to sell to clients.
The band can always add a solo artist here and there when needed. Not all instrumentalists can be a full time team member (looking at you, cowbell man!).
If the band needs to do two gigs at the same time, say no. If it happens often, you can always start another band.
- Team members who work together consistently is a win for all parties
- It’s easier to allocate teams than people. And the clients love it.
- Team members might get some idle time by committing to one team only, but it encourages bigger retainers and better customer satisfaction
Teams thrive when we approach them as bands. Happy gigging!