Music is one of the world’s most beloved and widely consumed art forms. It can do things like help us sleep, cope with a breakup, and give us the boost energy we need to focus while working at a boring job. But as vital as music is, most non-musicians ever consider how incredibly hard it is to create––especially when multiple musicians are involved. There’s countless books and movies about bands because there’s an inherent drama involved with a small group of people trying to take on the world and make meaningful art together.
While the drama surrounding bands can be entertaining from the outside, relationship complications paired with a growing list of challenges brought on by the current state of the music industry can be hell to navigate if you happen to be in one. Great bands break up all the time seemingly out of nowhere, but there’s always a hidden story behind what groups of musicians face and why they can’t play music together anymore.
There’s a lot to be excited about in the music industry right now, but most bands continue to struggle financially. We’re living in an age where your band could be racking up millions of plays across major streaming platforms and still be thousands of dollars in debt. Bands with decent followings still have the ability to make money touring, but being on the road for long stretches of time isn’t possible for many musicians. It takes thousands of dollars to write, record, release, and promote a record, and in 2018, earning enough money to break even is something lots of bands aren’t able to do. Like so many otherwise healthy marriages bogged down by the strain of arguments and concerns over money, a countless number of bands have called it quits over the years due to the same reasons.
Lack of success
Another band-killer is an inability to find an audience. Music has always been competitive, but with the amount of incredible music being produced and released today, things are on another level. Most bands go through that awkward stage of making music for a year or two that never gets heard before developing into something special, but some break up before they’re able to get there. It can take years of sacrifice and frustration to find any success in music, and some bands simply aren’t able to stay together long enough to make it happen.
Arguments, lack of communication, and competition between musicians have the ability to tear apart even the most successful of bands. The band dynamic is so difficult to navigate because it’s unlike any other relationship we experience in life. Bands are usually equal parts marriage, friendship, and business, which is why they’re so complicated. When fights and petty jealousies go unchecked in a band, it usually means that the end is near. If relationship problems in your band are getting in the way of writing music or performing, then the project isn’t sustainable.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.