Every band goes through a rough patch from time to time. However, it can be difficult to decide if you should give things a second chance or start looking for a more-suitable option. Here are five clear signs you should quit your band:
1. Your Goals Are Different From Everyone Else’s
In my experience, a band is most-productive when all members are striving towards a shared goal. Whilst it’s normal to occasionally disagree over the project’s direction, having fundamentally different goals from the rest of your bandmates is a sure-fire sign to start looking for something more-suitable.
When your goals are different from everyone else’s, it’s extremely unlikely that things will work out. If you are more committed and/or ambitious than the rest of the band, you’ll only be holding yourself back by staying with them. If your bandmates are more committed and/or ambitious than you, you’ll feel pressured into making the band more of a commitment than you’re able to. Either way, one party will be held back whilst the other will experience unnecessary pressure.
How to prevent it from happening again: When you first join or form a band, make your musical intentions explicitly clear. If you find your goals aren’t aligned, do not take them on. It’s better to spend a few extra weeks looking for the right people rather than spending months or years playing with the wrong people.
2. You Can’t Express Yourself Creatively
For most musicians, performing and writing music serves as both a creative and emotional outlet. Therefore, being unable to express yourself creatively may lead to frustration and discontent over your band.
If you feel you can’t express yourself creatively, it’s probably for one (or both) of the following reasons:
- You don’t like the music: Whilst it might sound like an obvious point, you’d be surprised at how often it occurs. If creative expression is a top priority, keep in mind it that it can be difficult when playing music you don’t like
- One (or several) of the other members won’t allow you to: Whilst I’m a huge advocate of playing the song instead the instrument, you should feel you can tailor your parts to put an original spin on the material. Similarly, you may wish to express yourself through the band’s branding, artwork and social media content. If one (or several) of the other members actively oppose your need for creative expression, it’s definitely time to start looking for another project.
How to prevent it from happening again: Once again, this can be prevented by making your musical intentions clear upon forming or joining a project. When meeting potential bandmates, mention that creative expression is one of your primary motives for playing in a band.
3. You’re Being Taken Advantage Of
When a project becomes a core aspect of a musician’s identity, they’re likely to invest as much time and money into it as they possibly can. Whilst this is a great trait to have, it can also be something that unscrupulous bandmates will take advantage of.
Here are a few common signs that you’re being taken advantage of:
- You aren’t being credited for music you’ve written or other work you’ve done
- You often fulfil roles that have been delegated to other members
- You’re investing significantly more time and money into the band than anyone else
That being said, having bandmates take advantage of you can sometimes happen unintentionally. If you naturally take charge and willingly throw excessive amounts of time and money at the band, it can be easy to fall into a routine where you find yourself doing everything. As a result, it’s important to bring it to the attention of your bandmates as soon as you realize it happening. When raising your concerns, make sure you remain calm and work towards an agreement on what can be done to resolve the situation. If you’ve had a conversation with your bandmates and they’re still taking advantage of you, it’s time to move on.
How to prevent it from happening again: When forming or joining a new band, make sure you create a band agreement which outlines ownership of intellectual property, division of income and member expectations. I’d also recommend delegating clear roles amongst band members. Role delegation ensures everyone has a clear idea of what’s expected of them, which prevents one member from having to do all the work.
4. You’ve Become Disengaged
Disengagement often creeps up on you. However, once it happens, immediate action must be taken. Here are a few common symptoms of disengagement:
- Lack of interest: You might find yourself ‘going through the motions’ with band-related activities. Whilst certain tasks might’ve once fired you up, they now feel like a chore.
- Lack of motivation: You might’ve noticed that you aren’t willing to work on the band in your own time (posting on social media, learning new material etc.) In addition, you may not look forward to meeting up with your bandmates as much as you used to.
- Loss of connection with your bandmates: You may have noticed you aren’t connecting with your bandmates in the same way that you used to (both musically and personally).
There are several reasons why disengagement happens:
- Your needs aren’t being fulfilled by the project: If you can’t express yourself creatively or work towards your goals, disengagement can quickly set in.
- The environment is toxic: A toxic environment can quickly suck the creativity and enthusiasm out of someone, leading to severe disengagement. Toxic environments are usually caused by manipulative band members, excessive drama and a significant lack of communication.
- Stress: If the band is going through a stressful period, you may experience disengagement as a natural response. Additionally, if you’re experiencing stress in other areas of your life (such as work or school), it can lead to disengagement from the band.
If you feel your disengagement is the result of a toxic environment or stress, it needs to be taken very seriously. Disengagement may be a symptom of a mental health problem, meaning you should seek immediate medical attention. Regardless of the cause, disengagement is a definite sign to take a step back from the project.
How to prevent it from happening again: The best way to prevent disengagement is to ensure a project is aligned with your personal needs and to leave at the first signs of toxicity. However, disengagement can rarely be prevented when caused by stress. Once again, if you feel your disengagement is a result of stress or any other mental health problem, it’s imperative to seek medical attention.
5. You’ve Found A More-Suitable Option
A successful band is usually the result of passionate members investing every ounce of their spare time into the project. If you’re serious about making headway in the music industry, you’ll have to go with whichever project fires you up the most. If you try and hedge your bets by playing in two committed bands, it’s likely your results will be mediocre across the board.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that suitable projects do not present themselves very often. If you pass up the opportunity to join or form a more-suitable project, there’s no telling when another one might come along. Whilst it’s understandable that you may want to remain loyal to your original project, refusing to move on or trying to play in two bands is detrimental for both yourself and your bandmates.
How To Quit Your Band
Here’s a quick guide on how to actually quit your band:
- Voice your concerns first: Before quitting your band, make sure you’ve voiced your concerns to the other members. In many cases, members will be happy to adapt to your concerns after being made aware of them. If you’ve already voiced your concerns, but haven’t seen an improvement, it’s time to quit.
- Do it in person: Meeting face-to-face conveys professionalism and ensures everyone’s on the same page. In addition, it can discourage the other members from attempting to contact you over your departure. Hold a band meeting with the entire band present so you can formally leave the band.
- Keep calm: Whilst you might have a valid reason to be angry or upset towards the other members, losing your temper will only make things worse than they need to be. Remaining calm also conveys the fact that your decision is well-planned. If you’re worried about a heated argument breaking out, make sure you set the band meeting in a public place.
- Keep it as short as possible: There’s no doubt that leaving a band is an uncomfortable experience for all parties. As a result, don’t let it go on any longer than it needs to.
- Be thorough and allow the other members to respond: When explaining your reasons for leaving the band, be as thorough as possible and allow the other members to ask any questions they have. This ensures that there’s no unanswered questions and once again discourages the other members from contacting you over the departure.
- Tie up all loose ends: If you created a band agreement, make sure you consult it and receive what’s rightfully yours. If not, you should discuss what material you can use going forward and what other assets (such as invested capital) you feel you’re owed.
- Why do bands break up? In most cases, bands break up due to personal or creative differences. Occasionally, bands will also break up when a non-replaceable member (such as the frontperson) leaves.
- How should I handle a controlling band member?: Firstly, speak to your other bandmates and see if they share your concerns. Following this, hold a band meeting and convey your concerns to the controlling member in a calm and professional manner. Make sure you provide reasons to back up your accusations, whilst also enforcing what you’d like to change.
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