Where are all the startup Bassists and Drummers?


Like I said, EVERYONE wants to be a Rockstar.

Last week I talked about the real “Biz Guy” is, today I wanna talk about another invaluable type of startuper – one who carries the rhythm, the backup, and the soul of the startups.

Everyone wants to be a Rockstar…

When we’re growing up, we always picture ourselves as the lead singers, lead guitarists, and the showmen of a band – My mother will tell you that the long hair I had form age 14 until 21 was due to my desire to imitate Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain (she may be right). In the startup scene, it’s exactly the same: everyone wants to be the Frontman – much like a band, the Front Man can perform a variety of duties, but ultimately, his characteristics are the same: his ego shows that he takes more than his fair share of credit for the overall product, and the press gives him credit for just that. Sometimes this is a “biz guy” or a CEO, sometimes it’s a developer who thinks he’s invaluable.

The Rockstars ARE necessary.

Just like a band needs a frontman, a startup needs theirs as well. He’s the guy who can elevator pitch on demand, not from memory, but from passion. He’s the guy who’s network is bigger than his mouth, who can cold call a business angel into a 25,000 euro investment – he IS a Rockstar. But he relies on the ‘rhythm’ provided by his product team, the ‘backbeat’ provided by his development team, and all the roadies, techies, sound guys, and stage grew you can imagine.

When Rockstars go solo…

The only thing worse than a Rockstar without his band is a band full of Rockstars – just look that Them Crooked Vultures. The two worst things for a Rockstar are an attempt at a solo career, and an attempt at SuperGroup – the two are equally risky in different ways. In a startup, Frontmen cannot run the company alone, and 5 frontmen cannot share the responsibilities, because they all secretely want to be the sole frontman.

This is a Call….

I said awhile ago that France has too many startups – I think what I’d rather say is France has too many Frontmen. I get it: no one wants to be a bassist and provide backing vocals (except my roommate), but you know what: the backing vocalist gets paid. Well. And the backing vocalist gets asked to appear on other albums, because he “fits in the pocket” as my roommate would say. The Frontmen often can’t handle the fame, and spiral out of control in a variety of ways.
I think if more people stood up and said “I am a Bassist.” &  “I am a Drummer,” we would have some pretty wicked sounding bands in the French startup scene. So: any bassists reading this article, just know: all those frontmen want to play music with you. And all you Frontmen out there, just know: all the solo’s and showboating in the world won’t produce a good record.
Are you a startup drummer or a bassist? Lets us know below! Also, check out the T-Shirt contest we’ve got going on right now!

6 Responses

  1. John Best (@redrookdigital)

    I agree. People need to realise it’s not just the front man that makes the music. I also think its one of the keys to building a successful founding team – a diversity of skills and experiences. Pitching off the cuff is fine, but if you can’t deliver, you’ll soon find your next pitch falls on deaf ears.
    I completely concur that one of the key skills *for* the CEO/front man is building a team not entirely made of other soloists. At the same time, the front man should take care to remain humble. They may be the public face, but it’s the business that’s the rockstar.

  2. dan (@phrawzty)

    Dude, please figure out your strategy for the CapiTalizing of Words, and stick witH it.
    Also, there are lots of drummers and bassists out there that want to jam – the problem is that the frontmen are too busy writing their blogs and going to LeStartupWebWeekend all the friggen time.
    Much love,
    Your goddamned drummer.

    • Liam Boogar

      Man – I gotta get some Google Analytics on how often people comment about grammar/spelling/symantic changes in my posts.. or maybe i should just reread my posts before posting them… meh.
      PS: There’s no rule against jam sessions at Startup Weekend.

  3. ziad salloum

    Actually I grew up wanting to become football player similar to Maradona :):):):) Don’t care about being a rockstar ::)
    Now to get serious, I don’t like to be a CEO! Except the prestigious title, it is a shitty position: You have to endure nagging people from all around (employees, customers, bankers, investors…)
    While on the other hand if I want to offer myself some senior position I would choose the CSA that once Bill Gates created for himself…

  4. Pierre 'catwell' Chapuis

    I love this article. Those who follow me on Twitter or know me in real life know that I’ve been arguing about this for a while (eg. https://twitter.com/#!/pchapuis/statuses/132040791060250624).
    Being an employee at a startup may look hard. You work more than at a big company, you are paid less and you get less recognition. But look at it the other way: you *are* paid to build something cool. What you do has impact on the product and the company. And you’re learning a lot, too, in case you want to have your own thing someday.
    Especially if you’re thinking about being a technical co-founder, think again. Even if you’re very good, you will make critical mistakes. You write scalable code for products that will have a few hundred users at max, and batteries of tests for code that will never ship. You will spend most of your time on things that do not matter and neglect those that do.
    It’s called experience. The harder the field, the more it matters. And startups are hard.
    Now let’s be clear: it’s much harder to be hired at a good startup than at most large companies. It’s also much harder than going to a Startup Weekend, joining a team and saying you have a startup. Your degrees don’t matter much, and you will probably have to prove what you can do as an intern first. But I think it’s worth it.
    Shameless plug: in case you’re up for it, and especially if you are a talented mobile developer / designer, the startup I work for (http://www.moodstocks.com/) is hiring 😉

  5. Chris

    As an (actual) bassist and a (French start up) bassist, I only have one gripe with this post: The early days of ELP seemed to work out really well! Super Group FTW! (Granted I’d rather listen to King Crimson 9 times out of 10).
    But, in all seriousness, there’s absolutely no way to overstate the importance of balance within a small working environment. Clashing “frontman” personas are recipes for instant disaster if there are too many. I find that a balanced approach, where I can say, “Fine, let’s let the company leadership/rockstar do what they need to do and do it well,” works SO LONG AS that leadership recognizes and reciprocates to the drummer, bassist, rhythm guitarist, etc. After all, rock group or not, no one likes a front man whose head inflates too much, and history would show us that these scenarios never work out well, with the well known Steven P Jobs exception.

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