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How to Effectively Handle a Flaky Band Member


You give your 150% to the band- you book the shows, you handle the social media and blogs, you plan the tour and the merch and the next band practice. It doesn’t bother you so much that you are doing most of the work because you really love the band. But when one band member starts to back out on gigs one too many times, that’s when you go “woah” and start counting your efforts. It’s just not fair, is it? Of course it never will be but you don’t expect them to have this kind of disregard to the band. Sure he has a day job, a girlfriend, a life outside the band… but you’re expecting that your band would at least be on the top three of his priority list. And it should be the number one on his list when he AGREED to play on certain dates. It’s certainly a no-no to say no one or two days before the gig. Not only is this bad for your morale, it is also bad for your record- or the bar owner’s record (aka blacklist) to be precise.

So you get into an argument with him. You tell him you just can’t back-out right now. But he gives a huge reason- something that would make you feel bad if you push him further. You know you just can’t win. You get tired, you part ways, you go home and sulk.

“ Sorry man, I just can’t”

These words ring in your ear. He’s not only your drummer, he’s your best bud and you’ve been working hard to be where you are right now as a band and now “Sorry man, I just can’t.” Plain and simple. And the way he said it, it just escaped his mouth like it’s something he wasn’t scared of saying.

Are you angry? Not really. Frustrated is the more fitting word. SO DAMN FRUSTRATED!!!

But…but, you have to carry on. Before you do that, time to assess what you can do to save the band in this kind of situation.

  1. Look for a sub. Fast! Tell the flaker he can’t back out unless he supplies a substitute. Post on your groups. Do whatever you can!
  2. Let him go to a recording studio and record his parts (the hassle and the expenses of going to a studio might just convince them to change his mind and stick to the agreement).
  3. If everything else fails and you still haven’t found a sub, just go ahead call the organizers. Say sorry. Or better yet, let the flaker do the explaining for you. Don’t expect them to book you again though.

Now that you’re done dealing with the predicament that the flaker caused, it’s time to ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do you really want this band?
  2. Do you think you’re democratic or are being bossy and controlling?
  3. Did you set the gigs at least two weeks in advance? Did you inform the band ahead?
  4. Did the flaker say YES and not maybe? Did he agree to have this gig 100%?
  5. If this happens twenty more times, do you think you can stand it?
  6. Is this his first time? Do you think you’re being too hard on him?

Okay, enough with thy self. It’s time to deal with the flakers.

  1. Have a one-on-one talk. It’s advisable you don’t do it while the iron is still hot. Do it after a week, when all of you have let out a steam.
  2. Let them record their parts for the songs on a recording software like DAW, then make WAVE files of his performances onto CD.
  3. Tell them if they don’t want this to happen in the future, they can line up some replacements. That should be their responsibility. That is if they still care for the band.

Renew your vows and make new vows because that’s what you should do. Don’t let your temper get ahead of you. Give them a chance but make sure they follow the new rules. If after a year, they’re still flaking like before, maybe it’s time to ditch them and look for musicians who are as driven as you. But remember…

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