How To Get Rid Of A Band Member [FULL GUIDE]

drummer performing at live concert

 

Playing in a band for an extended period of time will inevitably see tensions and disagreements arise between members. Whilst these can often be resolved, you may find yourself in a situation where one member is severely limiting the potential of the project or the wellbeing of the other members. In short, you should get rid of a band member in a calm and professional manner, being sure to tie up all loose ends in the process. 

 

Keep reading find out: 

  • When you should get rid of a band member
  • How to get rid of a band member
  • Tips for auditioning a replacement

WHEN SHOULD YOU GET RID OF A BAND MEMBER?

It’s worth mentioning that before you get rid of a band member, you should’ve previously expressed your concerns and given them a chance to rectify things. Many times, a member won’t actually be aware that they’re holding the project back and will happily rectify their shortcomings. However, if you’ve given them fair warning and they’ve refused or failed to rectify things, it’s time to get rid of them. Here are a few valid reasons for getting rid of a band member: 

1. Creative Differences

Creative differences refer to differences in the vision and direction of the project. Occasionally, one member might strongly disagree with the direction that the rest of the band wish to take the project in. If you’ve tried and failed to reach a compromise with the member, it might be time to look for someone who shares a similar creative vision.

 

2. Personal Differences

Personal differences refer to differences in personality, behaviour or ways of thinking between two or more people. Whilst I don’t necessarily believe band members need to be incredibly close to make a project work, they should at least have a positive and professional relationship with one another. If one member’s behaviour or way of thinking is negatively impacting both the band’s progress and the wellbeing of other members, it might be time to let them go. 

3. Differing Commitment Levels

Differing commitment levels are broken down into two cases:

  • Failing to meet commitments: If a member is repeatedly falling short of their delegated tasks without a valid excuse, it’s time to let them go.
  • Wanting to exceed the desired commitment level: If your band is a more casual or non-serious project, you might have a member who is taking things too seriously. If this is the case, you’d be doing this member a huge favour by letting them go and allowing them to find a project which requires a higher level of commitment.

 

4. Differing Musical Abilities

Much like the above point, differing technical abilities are broken down into two cases:

  • Inferior technical abilities: A member might be holding the rest of the band back by failing to keep up, generate suitable ideas or execute necessary techniques on their instrument. If the member-in-question’s abilities just aren’t on par with the rest of the band, it’s time to let them go. 
  • Superior technical abilities: This is a rarer case and will often fall under creative differences. However, if a member’s talent far-exceeds that of the other members, it’s likely they’ll have unrealistic expectations from the other members. Again, you’d be doing them a favour by letting them go. 

 

5. Controlling, Toxic Or Dangerous Behaviour

If a member is being overly-controlling, toxic or dangerous towards other members, there’s no question that they should be removed from the project immediately. No one deserves to feel endangered, ashamed or manipulated.

 

singer motioning to crowd at concert

STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE GETTING RID OF A BAND MEMBER

1. Make Sure It’s The Right Thing To Do

As previously mentioned, make sure you’ve previously expressed your concerns to the member and given them a chance to rectify things. If they’ve failed or refused to meet the expectations you’ve previously agreed to, only then should you let them go. 

2. Make Sure Everyone’s On The Same Page

Make sure the rest of the band have had an open discussion about the member’s shortcomings and that everyone’s comfortable with the decision to let them go. In addition, make a list of each member’s reasons so you can begin to formulate what to say when it comes to actually ‘pulling the trigger’. In addition, it’s important to decide if you wish to continue a relationship with the member following the dismissal (and if so, what form of relationship).

 

3. Consider Any Upcoming Commitments

Once you’ve let a member go, it would be unreasonable to expect them to fulfil any further commitments the band has. If you’ve have upcoming commitments (such as shows) that you can’t cancel or re-arrange, make sure you wait until they’ve been fulfilled or arrange a stand-in before you let the member go. 

 

4. Plan What To Say

When formally letting a band member go, I’d thoroughly recommend planning what to say in advance. This achieves the following:

  • Ensures everything is covered: You’ll want to make sure the member has a full understanding of why they’re being let go. Additionally, it’s important to make sure all loose ends are tied up to ensure that no further communication will be required. 
  • Keeps it brief: There’s no way around the fact that letting a bandmate go is an unpleasant experience for both parties. Planning what to say helps keep the meeting as brief as possible.
  • Avoids emotional influence: It’s much better to stick to a pre-prepared script rather than starting a an argument or letting your emotions control things. 

 

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently to being let go. The member may be confused, angry or upset. Make sure you plan how you’d react to each situation in advance so it doesn’t catch you off-guard. 

5. Consult Your Band Contract/Agreement

If you have a written agreement in place, make sure you consult it to review the agreed commitments and to tie up any financial loose-ends (such as invested capital or publishing royalties). If you don’t have a written agreement in place, I’d recommend implementing one as soon as possible. Having a written agreement between the members:

  • Makes logistics & expectations clear: A comprehensive band agreement outlines the band’s strategy as well as the roles and commitments of each member. Additionally, it should outline the consequences of failing to meet commitments.
  • Divides & directs assets: Assets include original music, income, invested capital and the rights to the band name. If you’re writing original material, this classifies as intellectual property and is subject to a set of rights that could generate income for many years. In addition, you’ll almost certainly invest and/or earn money at some point during your career. It’s vital to decide how your income and songwriting credits are split as this can prevent a legal dispute in the future.
  • Outlines what happens in the event of a break up or a member leaving: The last thing you want is a former member suing you for a share of your assets. If you didn’t have a written agreement in place, they could try and claim for assets that they didn’t own or work they didn’t do. 

 

Blurred photo of audience at rock concert

HOW TO GET RID OF A BAND MEMBER

1. Do It In Person

I’d thoroughly recommend the whole band meet in person when it comes to informing the member of their dismissal. Meeting face-to-face with the entire band will ensure everyone’s on the same page and discourages the dismissed member from trying to contact individual band members after their dismissal. The only time you shouldn’t do this is if there’s a threat of the member harming you or themselves. In this case, an email should suffice and, if necessary, relevant authorities should be contacted.

 

Make sure you set up a dedicated meeting to break the news to the member, such as a coffee meeting. Doing it during rehearsal or after a show will often come off as brash and confusing for the member-in-question. Additionally, make sure you meet in a public place to limit the chances of anybody losing their temper.

 

2. Remain Calm & Professional

Remember that being dismissed is a highly uncomfortable and embarrassing experience. Being demeaning or aggressive towards the member will only make the experience worse than it needs to be. Additionally, remaining calm and professional will help convey the fact that your decision is thought-out and professional. Losing your temper or being unnecessarily demeaning may lead the member to think the dismissal is based solely on short-term emotion. 

 

3. Keep It Brief

As previously mentioned, being dismissed is both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Furthermore, it almost certainly won’t be a pleasant experience for the rest of the band. Don’t let it drag out for any longer than it needs to.

 

4. Allow Them To Respond & Ask Questions

It’s important that the member has a full understanding of why they’re being dismissed as well as what they’re entitled (or not entitled) to as per the terms of your agreement. Make sure you offer them a chance to ask any questions they may have and provide further clarification if needed. 

 

5. Tie Up Any Loose Ends

‘Loose ends’ may consist of the following:

  • Invested capital: If the member has invested money into a band fund, they may need to be reimbursed depending on the terms of your agreement.
  • Income: If the member is owed income, they’ll need to be paid.
  • Intellectual property rights: If the member owns any of the band’s intellectual property (such as original music), future payments may have to be arranged and it should be confirmed if the band is allowed to continue using the property. 
  • Passwords: If the member has access to the band’s social media or bank accounts, passwords will have to be changed. 

 

 

guitar player in black and white

TIPS FOR AUDITIONING A REPLACEMENT

Following the dismissal, you’ll likely want to avoid a repeat of the situation. Here are a few pointers on auditioning a suitable replacement:

1. Take Adequate Time To Find The Right Person

I can’t stress enough how important it is to take the time to find the right fit. It’s much better to spend an extra six weeks searching for the right person rather than spending six months being held back by the wrong person. 

 

2. Make Their Expectations Clear

It’s important to make sure the newly-inducted member has a full understanding of what would be  required from them before they join. This should avoid any misunderstanding and ensure you’ve found the right person.

 

3. Draw Up A New Contract/Agreement

When a new member joins, you’ll have to draw up a new agreement. When drawing up a new agreement, it may be worth making adjustments to certain terms that caused problems when dismissing the previous member.

 

I founded Indie Panda in mid-2018 to help independent musicians organically grow and develop their projects. I specialize in branding, identity, audience/industry engagement and project logistics.

I have a wealth of experience in both classical and popular music. After taking piano and violin lessons as a child, I went on to play first violin in philharmonic, symphonic and chamber orchestras throughout my adolescence. I began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 13 and have played in a wide range of bands ever since. At the age of 18, my music received airplay for 30 consecutive days on BBC Radio, which led to an 'in-session' event where I performed live on the radio. I went on to earn a Music/Popular Music BA from the University of Liverpool, where I specialized in popular music performance.

I'm passionate about helping other artists realize the full potential of their talents and abilities through a strong work ethic, coherent project identity and a strong logistical foundation.

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