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Six Reasons Why Your Band is Destined to Fail

Six Reasons Why Your Band is Destined to Fail
Jena Ardell

Being in a band is like dating a handful of chicks at the same time: If you want your polygamous relationship to work, each member needs to receive equal amounts of attention, recognition and respect. Here are six reasons why your band is destined to fail and advice for keeping it together, because if you can't manage these internal conflicts, you're screwed.

Commitment Discrepancies:
Everyone wants to be in a band, but most people like the idea of being in a band more than they like providing the dedication and time required to be in a successful band. As in any relationship, being in a band requires balance. If one member takes his position more seriously and/or puts forth much greater effort than any other member is willing to provide, that balance is lost. Everyone in the band needs to feel they are in a symbiotic relationship. This will only happen if everyone can and is willing to take their commitment to the band seriously. If you and your guitarist are willing to quit your day jobs and put every penny you have into finding a label (not entirely recommended), while your drummer has two kids and works a full-time job and views being in a band as a fun hobby, you might want to replace him with someone who is more eager to take your band to the next level.

Egos:
Sure, your lead singer may need an occasional ego-check, but cut him some slack. If your singer does not play an instrument, he must rely on stage presence alone to keep your audience entertained. This requies confidence and usually accompanies a large ego. An intervention is only needed when your lead singer's ego outweighs his talent. The same applies to every band member. Confidence is a necessary virtue everyone should possess, but when one person feels more entitled to success than the rest of his bandmates, tensions rise. We suggest keeping a Humble Bucket nearby. Periodically write embarrassing moments each member has experienced on-stage (or off) on scraps of paper. Fold the paper in half and write the subject's name on the outside. Whenever someone's diva-like tendencies flare up, reach into the bucket and pull a scrap of paper with his name on it to remind him to not take himself so seriously. He should feel more grounded after he is reminded of the time his guitar strap came loose and his bass came crashing to the floor mid-song.

 

Lack of Legitimate Management:
Hiring your BFF (who knows nothing about managing a band) to be your manager may seem like a good idea, but it's not. Managers are the band's first point of contact and speak for the entire band. You want to select someone who is experienced, articulate and personable. Managers usually have access to industry contacts you cannot obtain on your own. Some management tasks are fun (ie: managing the band's social media pages, selling merch, promoting the band, etc.); while other duties are not-so-fun (balancing budgets, scheduling, resolving conflicts, negotiating contracts, etc.). This position requires someone who wants to work for the band--not just party with the band--so select your manager wisely.

Drugs:
Where there is music, there are drugs (unless you are a straight edge Christian rock group). You may think your guitarist is fun when he gets loaded after a show, but you will not find him as amusing when he's skipping practices, causing conflicts within the band, asking for gas money and showing up late to shows. One bad apple can spoil the reputation of the entire band. Venues have hoards of acts eager to snatch your time slot, so why jeopardize your reputation by appearing difficult to work with and unreliable? Address possible addiction or substance abuse problems immediately. Hard drug use should not be tolerated if you plan on building a future for your band because there is no worse cause for a band breakup than an accidental overdose.

 

Creative Differences:
This is the classic diagnosis for why most bands fall apart. Creative differences happen. Not everyone in the band is going to want to transition into electronica with you, sorry. Being in a band requires artistic compromise. Your audience can identify when your keyboardist is bored and would rather quit his current folk band in order to join a rock band; so allow him to explore his craft. If your bandmate's vision isn't feasible or is the opposite of your vision, let him go find a more appropriate band. Seek mutual agreement for the direction and sound of your band with the creation of each album--unless you signed with a large record label--then you have no say.

Relationships:
Being in a band was all fun and games until your bandmates found girlfriends. Now your guitarist can't come to practice this week because his girlfriend is dragging him to wine country. Our advice: deal with it. If you want to keep your bandmates happy, let them live their lives. Outside relationships and commitments will change your band's dynamics over time. You were all destined grow up sometime; most of your bandmates are going to wind up married with kids. Try to be understanding and work around everyone's schedules, but don't allow the child-card to be used to get out of every band commitment. Hopefully you will never have to remind your bandmates that making original music and booking shows is what supports their families.

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