I've been playing in bands for over 20 years. I've been in bands in which all decisions were democratically executed. I've been in bands where I was a side man, following directions. I've also been the bandleader. When you're in a band you notice things that work and things that don't work. Here are some of the main difficulties I've encountered along the way:
1. No Structure- Most bands just kinda fall together through mutual friends or they start a project because they keep running into each other at shows. These are great ways to get together but often, because "we're all friends," making decisions (musical or otherwise) becomes incredibly difficult and eventually impossible. I've been in tons of bands like this. I'm not saying consensus-based leadership is bound to fail but it usually does. Orchestras have conductors. Films have Directors. For some reason, the world of non-classical music (I.E. most bands out there) bristles at the idea of leadership. Bandleaders are often seen as ego-fueled dicks.
Why is this so taboo? I think leadership often emerges over time. You've done some recordings with your band. You've played some gigs. Things are becoming clearer. If you, or someone else in your band makes suggestions on how things should be done it is often seen by the others as a kind of "fuck you." I think this happens because most of us don't like change and are suspicious of bandmates who appear to be taking over the band.
Consider the alternative. You form or join a band with a structure. You actually have something written down that everyone signs. Like it or not, this is a contract. Contracts built America. As long as everyone agrees to it, a contract can solve many problems and help a band to stay focused. Band contracts can sort out everything that goes on in a band and answer some of the following questions:
What happens if someone is always late to rehearsal and gigs?
Who is considered the songwriter in the band?
Who handles the PR?
Who books shows?
What happens if, heaven forbid, we actually start making money?