As the bandleader, it’s your job to help define the vision and guidelines for the group and lead the band in fulfilling that vision. How you do this is done through a wide variety of ways, and each band has its own style. But it all starts with people.

I’m going to mainly focus on the logistics of putting together and organizing a roster. I will not discuss talent, auditions, repertoire, group social dynamics, etc. At BookLive, we believe that ALL musicians deserve to do more of what they love doing, and make a living through performing. Every group handles those issues differently, and that’s part of what makes live music such an exciting part of being human!

Who are your regulars?

Most musicians operate their groups in what I call “fixed-member” fashion. What this means is that it’s (nearly) always the same people playing at each performance. Think of the Beatles (instruments simplified for this example).

  • John Lennon – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
  • Paul McCartney – Bass Guitar
  • George Harrison – Lead Guitar
  • Ringo Star – Drumset

One of the most fun things about being in a group is that you get to hang out with your friends AND make awesome music together!

There are several fixed-member bands such as The 5 Card Studs using BookLive to manage their group.

Some bands will only play if ALL the regulars are available. But what if someone gets sick? Or what if someone can’t get off of work to play that amazing once-in-a-lifetime gig?

Call in the substitutes!

No matter the situation, it’s always great to have a backup plan. XLR cable acting up? Use a backup. Broke a string? Good thing you brought extras.

What about people? This is why it’s so important to have a list of substitutes that can fill in when they’re needed. Most fixed-member bands have a substitute list (and BookLive can help you find and manage your substitutes) that can be tapped in. Plan ahead, and build your list for each position in your band. If the Beatles had a sub list, it might look something like this (yes, this is a ridiculous example!):


  • Tony Sheridan
  • Jackie Lomax
  • Keith Richards

Lead Guitar

  • Tony Sheridan
  • Eric Clapton

Rhythm Guitar

  • Tony Sheridan
  • Eric Clapton

Bass Guitar

  • Chas Newby
  • Stuart Sutcliffe


  • Jimmie Nicol
  • Pete Best

Having a substitute list means you don’t have to worry about canceling a gig if something were to happen.

Did the Beatles Exist? (The Fixed-Instrument Group)

There are some crazy conspiracy theories that claim that the Beatles didn’t exist. While we don’t necessarily believe them, could this, in fact, be possible? What if there was a way for a group to exist in multiple places at one time?

This is, in fact, a common occurrence. Here is an easily graspable example: the Blue Man Group (a show revolving around 3 percussion-playing bald characters with blue paint) currently has shows going on in multiple cities across the world at the same time. They’ve identified the attributes that make their show special and cast a large roster of Blue Men so they can be in several places at one time.

In the gigging music world, groups do this pretty frequently. You might even have organized such a group yourself or been part of one without even realizing it was a thing! It’s more common for wedding-focused groups that focus more on instrumental music to operate in this fashion.

BookLive makes it easy to operate as a Fixed-Instrument group by allowing bandleaders to treat their group as a large list of subs. You can have it check your group’s availability by going down your list in the order you choose, or you can have it handle it first-come-first-serve.

Make Live Music Work For You

Being a bandleader is tough – there are so many responsibilities to take on, and no handbook to tell you what to do. That’s why the BookLive crew is so passionate about making the job of the bandleader easy through our blog posts, Facebook Group Discussions, in-person events and features in our app.

Feel free to join the discussion and ask questions, we love to help! May all your performances be spectacular.

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