How To Part Ways With Other Musicians

In a perfect world, the musicians we choose to work with will be thoughtful, helpful, and encouraging when it comes to the music we’re making. But like any relationship, the interpersonal connections between musicians in bands and other musical projects can often be as complex and dramatic as music itself. Sometimes the answer is to dig in, find common ground, and to do the hard work of maintaining these relationships to keep them healthy. But when relationships between musicians become damaged past the point of salvageability, there needs to be a major change.

How to know it’s time to for a change

Tons of things have the potential to come between you and the musicians you work with, so there is no catch-all way to know when it’s time to stop working together. But as a general rule, if you find yourself unable to create or perform music with the musicians you surround yourself with, it’s time to make some serious changes.

Making music over the long-term––and by “long-term,” I mean longer than a year or two––can be incredibly taxing and thankless. Add in complications like finances, creative struggles, and an industry that’s harder to succeed in by the day, and you get pressing challenges that even bands and projects with healthy musician relationships struggle to contend with.

It’s time to end the musical relationship you’ve formed with bandmates and other musicians when you feel like there’s not a path forward toward reaching your musical goals, but getting to that point is different for everyone and it’s not usually an easy or simple conclusion to come to. But once you know for sure that you need to make a change, you’ll have to figure out the best way to move forward.

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Tips for parting ways with musicians

Respect is the biggest thing to keep in mind when thinking about how to make a change when it comes to working with musicians. A respectful person wouldn’t announce the decision to leave a band over an email or text message. Meet in person, speak honestly, and do your best to be kind.

The reactions to your decision could range anywhere from relief to complete shock, so keep that in mind before you talk. With serious egos, money and hopes pinned on so many musical projects, the musicians you sever ties with might be deeply upset with you no matter how you break the news, so be prepared.

You might be the problem

Sometimes bands need to break up in order for each of its members to move on in a positive way. But if you find yourself running into the same problems over and over again no matter who you work with, then the problems you’re trying to get away from probably have to do with you and not the musicians you’ve been working with. It can be easy to point out mistakes and problems in other people, but sometimes the best way to reach our goals is to look inward at the flaws and shortcoming in ourselves.

Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

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  • crash - January 11, 2018 reply

    hi I own the studio and all the gear. Should I feel guilty about chrging each memeber 10$ / rehearsal? up to maximum of 80/month?
    It bugs me because 1 member feels he doesnt have to pay……thx

    James Carbonaro - January 11, 2018 reply

    Crash: You have to decide whether you are a member of the band, or the manager of a recording studio? Is this an asset you are bringing to the rest of the group, or is this what you do for a living?

  • chrisdbeats - January 11, 2018 reply

    It depend’s with the person you are charging,some people have the ability but they do not have money but if he/she does have money they can pay for hat they love

  • guitarlizard - January 11, 2018 reply

    Well Crash, you are inviting your fellow bandmates into your studio. Charging a rehearsal fee is B.S.. When does it stop? Is it equipment that you are making money with? ( Not just you making money off your mates.) Moving, setting up, tearing down, storing and maintaining? I also own the equipment for the band. It is equipment that is updated or replaced every year. Up front I tell my band mates that the equipment is a part of the band and gets paid the same as a performer. I’ve been doing it this way for several years with no complaints. The issue here is, how long will the members pay to rehearse? Its as bad as paying to play.

  • Beth Crystal - January 11, 2018 reply

    This is advise on how to quit a band. What tips do you have on how to fire a band member?

  • James Carbonaro - January 11, 2018 reply

    What it all boils down to is this: Does everyone involved share the same vision? Covers vs. Original material – Electric vs. Acoustic – Multiple small venues vs. Limited large events. Even if the answer is yes, then the next question is: Are your collective abilities up to your shared ambition. If one half of the group wants to take the act on the road, but the other half has too many responsibilities at home to take off for a few months, then the answer is no.

  • Nelson - January 29, 2018 reply

    For those of you who believe that he should not charge, have never run a business. Who do you think paid for the equipment, electric bill, insurance, rent, and on and on?

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