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Indie Musicians: 10 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Band

Quitting your band is one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make. You’ve devoted time, money, and your heart and soul in to this group. Every band sees some trouble from time to time, and you don’t want to be a weenie and quit just because someone used your guitar pick to clean their teeth.  But there may be a time when you have to seriously consider if being in your band is still in line with your personal goals.

Here’s a list of things that may serve as red flags.

1.    You don’t feel inspired any more.

Music is art.  If you don’t have the inspiration to keep making more—or if you feel like you’re just going through the motions in your practice or performance, it’s time to re-evaluate whether or not your band is the right vehicle for you to express yourself.  There are a lot of reasons why “the thrill is gone”:  personal changes, artistic growth, or the discovery of something new and more exciting in your life.  Whatever the cause, you can’t “fake” inspiration, and you’ll resent your band the more you try.

2.    Practice sessions are unproductive.

So, one of the guys is late…again.  Another one brings his girlfriend to practice and they spend twenty minutes making out on the sofa.  The drummer’s cell phone rings three times and he insists he can’t turn it off because he’s waiting for his roommate to call him with the game score.  It is pretty clear that no one is taking things seriously.

When people don’t take practice seriously, it is a clear indication that the creative energy is low, or worse, non-existent.  If your efforts to keep things on track are met with continued lackadaisical attitudes by the other members—it’s probably time to find another home
for your talent.

3.    There is regular conflict between two or more members.

Everyone’s been here:  egos clash, opinions are aired.  It’s actually healthy to have some disagreement and dialog in the creative process. But if there is regular conflict between members of the band, the negative energy is only going to stifle the creative process.  Not to mention it’s a pain in the ass for everyone else to have to set aside practice time only to have it turn into a bad reality television show.  If the conflicted members are not interested in resolving their issues, there is only so far you’ll ever be able to go as a band.

4.    Creativity has come to a standstill.

You may have had a good couple years.  Maybe you’ve recorded a disc and played a series of shows with success.  You’ve built your name in the community and have a following.  But now, there’s nothing new and you feel like you’re rehashing the same old same old stuff during practice.  There needs to be a serious discussion in the band about new material.  If you’re not constantly creating new music, you might as well be a cover band.  If it’s not happening here, then you might want to find another outlet.

5.    You feel that your contributions are being ignored—or resented.

A band is not a dictatorship.  Everyone has a role to play, and everyone’s contribution is important.  That’s not to say that your
drummer can come in to practice one day and decide he wants to play lead guitar; but it is important that every member feels comfortable making a contribution and that everyone is able to push themselves in new, exciting directions keeping them stimulated and creative.  If you feel that your band mates are trying to keep you in a creative “box” and resent your efforts to expand your contribution, then you need to decide how long you’re willing to do that before it’s time to move on.

6.    You have an opportunity to further your career somewhere else.

When you’re in a band, you are part of a team.  So when something else comes along, you don’t just run off and leave your buddies high and dry.  But the bottom line is that your career is your own.  If you have an opportunity to do something that will change you life, it is worth considering.  There’s no right or wrong answer—only you can tell if it’s worth taking the risk of leaving your band for another opportunity.  Don’t automatically discount an offer for something big just because you’re already in a band.  Weigh the decision carefully, and if you decide it’s worth it, make your choice and stand behind it.

7.    Members have started flaking on practice and rehearsal.

Unless you’re independently wealthy, chances are that you’re not only in a band, but you are working to pay your bills; and you have family commitments, relationships, and other responsibilities that are all vying for your time.  A band is not meant to be a cult where you shun everything else in your life: members need to be sensitive to one another and not make unrealistic demands on time.  However, if someone can’t carve out regular quality time to practice with your band, they need to admit it.  You can’t just show up once a month and play a gig without regular practice.

8.    One or more of the members has a serious problem with drugs or booze.

Musicians are famous for their partying, and there’s no reason to expect your band mates to be Quakers.  But when someone crosses the line and their drug-use or drinking affects their relationships, their commitments, and their performance—it’s time to take action.  If you’re dealing with an addict, you need to talk to a professional about how to approach them.  Confronting someone about their addiction is painful for both sides, and the bottom line is that you care about the person—but you can’t let them continue to destroy themselves and take advantage of you and your time.  If the band doesn’t want to have this conversation with the member who has the problem and doesn’t think it’s important to address, you are wasting your time.  Additionally, if the whole band seems to spend more time partying than practicing; it’s time to move on.

9.    There’s not an equal commitment or contribution by all members.

An independent band requires its members to play more than one role. Often you are responsible for your own management, public relations, and marketing.  You need everyone to cooperate if you’re going to make it.  It’s unfair to expect one or two people to handle all the ‘grunt’ work.  There’s no room for a prima donna in a band.  If people are slacking and you can’t seem to motivate them, you have three choices: continue to put up with it and hope your band magically achieves success; try to convince them to step it up; or leave the band.

10.    You can’t keep up your end of the bargain.

You’re the only person who can make this call.  If you’re over-extended in your time and energy, or if your energy is being used up by your wedding, a new baby, a job, your PhD or the Boston Marathon—then you need to admit it to yourself and your band mates.  Being in a band isn’t supposed to be juts another obligation in your day planner.  If that’s what it has become, then you need to seriously reconsider whether or not you should be doing it.

Reposted from Music Marketing

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