Fairly recently here on the Interactive Music Teacher, one specific article discussed resolving or avoiding fights or “drama” with fellow band members. The article gave some excellent general advice about dealing with inevitable conflict among your band mates, but here I will delve a bit deeper into two common band problems—creative differences and financial struggles.
Dealing with personal or professional problems among band members is never easy. For one, if you are really close like family members, then you may make no bones about letting each other have it. But since you aren’t actually family, you have the option of breaking up and never speaking to each other again. On the other hand, if you aren’t particularly close on a personal level, you may feel uncomfortable expressing creative or financial issues, in which case resentments build up and eventually explode.
If your band is on the rocks, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Every single band I’ve been in broke up, got back together, and broke up again, so it’s a very natural thing, and it happens to even the most iconic, talented of bands, as evidenced in Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Band Breakups.” Of course, the Beatles topped the list, and, contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t Yoko. It was the result of the very same problems that plague all bands—bad financial decisions, creative differences, and competitive egos.
David Jackel, a professional singer, addresses the most common problem when talented minds get together—fighting over the music, also known popularly as “creative differences”—in a short but enlightening YouTube video. Perhaps the most salient point that Jackel makes in the video is that nothing is more important–no fight over which song should be played or how it should be played– than the ultimate harmony of the band. Of course, there will be some battles that you will want to pick, but always aim for compromise over “winning.” If you are fighting to keep a verse in a song, and another band member wants to get rid of it, ask for alternatives. Involve everyone in all creative decisions. After all, there is a reason you’re a band—you have enough in common creatively that you decided to come together and make music. Don’t let small arguments ruin everything.
Financial issues are another major cause for concern when your band is beginning to have problems. Of course, when you are just beginning, you probably don’t have enough resources to hire a separate manager. If you do, it makes things infinitely easier to have a financially-savvy person, preferably an accountant, who has no ax to grind in terms of money. In other words, it’s best to have someone separate who can look at your band money situation objectively without being colored by emotion or an agenda. On the other hand, if you do not have the resources for a dedicated person to handle your finances, it’s best to establish agreements beforehand, and write them down. Have one band member handle all the accounting, but meet often to discuss all financial decisions. The person who handles money should also keep meticulous records so that you know precisely how much money you are making and how it is being used. When it comes to finances, transparency is most important.
Perhaps the best way to think of a band is to think of it as a polygamous marriage of creative and equal minds. Studies have shown that the healthiest of marriages are the ones who put dedication above all else. In other words, the marriages that last longest are the ones in which the focus is on the continuation of the marriage, and not on other factors like “love” or “children.” In the same way, make up your mind from the beginning that you will stick together no matter what, that you are committed to each other. Work with band members who know how to compromise. Learn from past mistakes. And most importantly, remind yourself constantly why you got together in the first place.
This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes on the topics of online university. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.