Being a good band member requires hard work, empathy and in some cases, a little self-adjustment. Here’s our top 16 rules for being a good bandmate:
1. Keep Your Ego In Check
By nature, us musicians have a tendency to let our egos get the better of us. However, this can be immensely detrimental to the relationships you have with your bandmates. In short, having an inflated ego:
- Clouds your judgement: An inflated ego can make it much harder to see the bigger picture and judge situations fairly.
- Makes you more likely to blame others for your own mistakes: An inflated ego can make you feel as if you can do no wrong. This makes you much-more-likely to blame other band members for mistakes you’ve made, which could seriously ruffle their feathers.
- Leads to a sense of entitlement: An inflated ego can generally make you feel as if you’re owed something for your talents. As a result, you’ll be less-likely to put the necessary work into improving and promoting the band. The fact is that being a talented musician does not entitle you to anything upfront.
Here are a couple of pointers on keeping your ego in check:
- Acknowledge your reliance on others: Being in a band is very much a team effort. Each member will use a unique set of strengths and abilities in order to make the band the best it can be. In addition, it’s likely you’ll have friends, family and fans who are willing to support you. In other words, your successes would not have happened if it wasn’t for other people.
- Understand you are no more important than any of the other members: Even if you’re the founding member and pinpoint person, it does not make you any more important than anyone else.
- Keep track of your shortcomings: When something goes well, it’s all-too-easy to get caught up in the success. However, no matter how successful something is, there will always be something that could’ve been done better. Keeping track of your shortcomings will prevent you from becoming totally blinded by your successes.
2. Put The Interests Of The Band Before Your Personal Interests
This is essential if you’re looking to make headway in the industry and maintain positive relationships with your bandmates. Here are a couple of pointers on putting the interests of the band before your personal interests:
- Be willing to sacrifice: This might mean giving up your Saturday night out to hold band practice or your Sunday morning lie in to learn new material.
- Be willing to compromise: When you have a small team of people working on a creative project, there are inevitably going to be disagreements. As a result, you must be willing to compromise in order to meet the band’s best interests.
3. Be Punctual
Turning up late to band-related events without a valid excuse can severely hinder your productivity and ruffle the feathers of your bandmates. Whilst consistently turning up ten minutes late to your two hour weekly rehearsal might not seem like a big deal, it costs you four rehearsal’s worth of time over the course of a year. Furthermore, turning up late to shows without a valid excuse is extremely unprofessional and can damage your relationships with other industry operators. This in turn can create a lot of tension between the band members themselves.
Here are a few tips for being punctual:
- Overestimate your travel time (in order to account for delays)
- Examine how long your daily tasks actually take
- Surround yourself with timepieces and check the time regularly
4. Be Prepared
Failing to prepare in advance for band-related activities will hinder productivity and irritate your bandmates. Here are a couple of pointers on being prepared:
- Learn new material in advance of rehearsal: Rehearsal is for tightening up pre-learned material, not for learning material from scratch. Make sure you find time each week to learn material in advance.
- Bring the right gear: Make sure you bring all necessary bits of gear to your rehearsals and shows. In addition, make sure you have backups and spares of everything in case something breaks or gets lost. If you’d like more information on essential gear for a band, check out our ultimate equipment checklist.
5. Be Positive
A negative attitude can be incredibly draining on the wellbeing and productivity of your fellow bandmates. In addition, having a positive attitude can significantly enhance both your group sensitivity & creativity.
My biggest tip for being positive is to leave unrelated personal problems at the door when working with the band. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with confiding in your bandmates, there’s no need to let work or family-related problems ruin a show or a rehearsal.
6. Communicate Your Enthusiasm
If there’s one thing that really gets a band firing on all cylinders, it’s a set of enthusiastic personalities. Showcasing your enthusiasm towards all aspects of the project can significantly motivate your fellow bandmates by giving them something to feed off of. In addition, industry operators (such as promoters, A&R reps and other bands) will be much-more-likely to take you seriously if you’re showing enthusiasm.
7. Focus On Solutions Instead Of Problems
As previously mentioned, you’re inevitably going to run into problems and disagreements with other bandmates from time to time. When problems or disagreements occur, you’ll want them to be resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible. One sure-fire way of doing this is to become solution-minded instead of problem-minded.
Here’s a quick guide for using a solution-based approach to resolve a problem:
- Stay calm: When something goes wrong, it’s all-too-easy to lose your temper and lash out at others or dwell on the problem. However, this is totally counter-productive and will only make things worse.
- Accept & acknowledge the problem: Once you’ve accepted & acknowledged the problem’s existence, you’ll consequently stop fuelling it with complaints or arguments.
- Break the problem down into manageable steps: If it’s a more complex problem, break it down into manageable steps so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Make sure you learn from the problem: A problem is often a fantastic opportunity to learn something that’ll vastly improve the band’s relationships or logistics. Always make sure you learn a lesson from the problem in order to prevent it from recurring in the future.
8. Know Your Role
Indie Panda is a huge advocate of delegating individual roles amongst band members. Role delegation evenly distributes the workload and allows each member to play to their strengths. Here are a few examples of effective roles in a band:
- Pinpoint person: The pinpoint person essentially oversees the entire operation, making sure everything is on-track. Additionally, they usually act as the main representative for the band when dealing with industry operators.
- Social media operator: The social media operator devises the overall content strategy and manages the band’s social media channels. This role can also include photo and video editing.
- Administrator/copywriter: This role generally involves booking rehearsals, sorting out travel and hiring backline. In addition, it often involves writing copy for press releases or biographies.
Once you have a clear understanding of your role, make sure you fulfil it to the best of your abilities and avoid overstepping your boundaries. In addition, don’t agree to take on a role you don’t feel suited to. Make sure you’re fulfilling a manageable role that allows you to play to your strengths.
9. Pull Your Weight
There’s no doubt that being in a band is a huge amount of work that requires all hands on deck. One of the best ways to make headway with the band is to work hard and help out wherever possible. Here are some examples of things you should be doing:
- Learning material in advance of rehearsal
- Loading gear in and out of a venue
- Offering to drive the band to shows/rehearsals
- Helping out with promotion
- Contributing creative ideas
In short, don’t be the guy who hangs around at the bar after a show whilst the rest of the band loads gear into the van.
10. Communicate Openly & Effectively
Open & effective communication is key to maintaining strong relationships with your bandmates. Here are a couple of tips for being an open & effective communicator:
- Listen: When another member is making a suggestion or raising a concern, it’s important to listen to them and think things through before responding.
- Question: Questioning can both express interest and help you understand a situation.
- Raise concerns: If you notice a problem or have a concern, the worst thing you could possibly do is refuse to raise it. This will only cause the problem to grow and intensify. It’s imperative that you raise and deal with concerns as soon as you notice them.
- Manners: Manners cost nothing, but display a significant amount of respect and professionalism to your bandmates.
11. Be Open To Criticism
When receiving criticism, it’s all-too-easy to become defensive or anxious. This is especially true when the criticism is geared towards something you’re passionate about or emotionally invested in (such as the band). However, you should always be open to criticism and take the time to evaluate it properly. Here’s a quick guide on how to effectively handle criticism:
- Don’t react immediately: Upon receiving criticism, your initial response will likely be a defensive one. This could potentially damage the relationships you have with your bandmates as they won’t feel you’re taking the criticism on-board. It’s imperative to wait until the emotion has worn off before you attempt to respond to the criticism.
- Decide if the criticism is constructive or destructive: Constructive criticism is designed to help you leverage your talents and abilities in the best interests of the band. Destructive criticism is simply designed to hurt your feelings.
- Learn & grow: Whether the criticism is constructive or destructive, there’s a lesson to be learned for future success.
12. Know Your Boundaries
Just like your bandmates, it’s likely that you’ll have commitments outside of the band. Whilst you should endeavour to make the band a priority wherever possible, there are likely going to be times where you’re simply unable to fulfil commitments. As a result it’s imperative you make your boundaries clear as soon as possible. Doing so will prevent you from placing yourself in a position where you’re unable to meet both band commitments and personal commitments. For example, it might be unreasonable on both your partner and the band if you to agree to rehearse four evenings a week when you’ve just had a child.
13. Socialize With Your Bandmates
Whilst you don’t necessarily have to be the closest of friends with your bandmates, it definitely helps if you get along and enjoy spending time with one another. This could be as simple as going for drinks with each other after band practice each week. Socializing with your bandmates has two key advantages:
- Improves group sensitivity: If you gel well together, I’ve found it almost-always comes across in both your music and stage presence.
- Keeps things in perspective: When you’re part of a committed project, it can be all-too-easy to become bogged down in the business side of things. However, taking time to socialize with your bandmates can serve as a reminder to have fun and enjoy what you’re doing.
14. Don’t Be Stingy
Being in a band will almost-certainly members to chip in financially for things such as:
- Rehearsal space
- Studio time
There’s nothing worse than the entire band being held back by someone’s stinginess. Whilst you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible, trying to get out of spending money altogether is very unfair on your bandmates. If you’re serious about making headway with the band, consider working a few extra hours or selling some stuff in your garage to make ends meet.
15. Reflect & Review On A Regular Basis
With everything you do as a band, it’s important to regularly reflect on what’s going well (and why) as well as what could be improved (and why). This includes your relationships with your bandmates as well as your own contributions to the project. Don’t be afraid to take shortcomings on the chin and see them as an opportunity for future betterment and success.
16. Enjoy Yourself!
As previously mentioned, one of the main reasons you probably joined the band in the first place is because it’s fun. Enjoying your time in the project will rarely go amiss with your bandmates.