How To Move On After Your Band Breaks Up

Even under the best of circumstances, moving on after the breakup of a band can be an emotionally devastating experience. And while extreme emotions can sometimes prove to be prime territory for making music in, that’s not always the case. After serious bands part ways, some musicians find a way to move on and keep making music, but others opt to throw in the towel in an effort to wash their hands of the experience altogether.

What went wrong?

If you’re intent on making music after the breakup of your band, the first and most important thing you should do is to look backwards rather before making plans to go it alone or start again with a new band. As much as you might like to think that you weren’t to blame for things going wrong in your previous band, your bandmates might disagree with you. Take some time to find out what went wrong, why, and how you can avoid similar pitfalls in the future.

No two bands are the same and either are the reasons for what causes their demise. Reasons for bands calling it quits range from huge dramatic fights inspired by inner unresolved conflicts and arguments about things like money to quieter collective agreements that it’s just not worth it to keep going any longer. Taking an honest look at why your band didn’t make it is the first step towards moving on and making music again in the future.

Coping with the loss of your band

Whether you see it this way or not, a serious band is an intimate relationship and there’s a profound loss that’s often felt when it ends. Falling somewhere between a marriage and a business partnership, the connections you form with your bandmates and the larger idea of your band itself can be incredibly strong and meaningful if the project was serious and one you were invested in for years. Keeping this in mind, don’t expect to seamlessly move on to making music again after the breakup of your band. If your band was a major part of your life, take some space to fully acknowledge that before launching into another musical project. Like you would during the end of a romantic relationship, look back at the positive and negative aspects of the partnership you formed with your band. Be grateful for the good it brought you and do your best to learn as much as you can from the bad.

Making music again after the breakup of your band

If you’ve been used to making music in the context of your old band for years, working on something new might bring up feelings of uncertainty or even thoughts of betrayal in some musicians. Whatever you’re feeling, do your best to acknowledge where you’re at and keep going. If making music is something you deeply care about, then try to see what you’re doing as necessary for your fulfillment and well being. There’s no easy way to move on after the breakup of a band that’s been a major part of your life for years, but the best thing you can do is to recognize however you’re feeling as being valid before trying to move on.

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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Join the conversation
  • Ihannibal Barca - December 6, 2017 reply

    Creativity comes from within and inspiration comes from external sources. If you were a creative force before you joined a band, then it should be no problem to continue. Your music juices may stall a bit if you were a really close band in friendship, taste, expectations, and goals, but this is normal. Music connects people so get out and reconnect!

  • Pete - December 6, 2017 reply

    Bands are destined to implode. And as much work as a one on one relationship takes, a band involves different personalities, visions, goals, significant others and egos. Conflict is guaranteed.

  • Bobby Quigley - December 6, 2017 reply

    Egos..thats The underlying reason…

  • Ken - December 6, 2017 reply

    Pretty good advice from the reflection standpoint. When a band breaks up of a member leaves in most instances everyone should see it coming . On a quarterly or semi annual basis, a lot to do with how far out you book gigs, the band should have a sit down to discuss if things are moving in the direction that generally everyone is shooting for. No one gets 100% of what they want BUT if everyone is getting 75% or better you have a pretty good group that is working together well. With a sit down every now and then you have the chance to address why someone may feel they are getting less than the 75% and if it is warranted and the rest of the band agrees, makes effort to address this members concern. At the same time if the concern is I don’t want to play country music and you are a country band, you have the wrong person… A band is simply put should be meeting the objectives of each member, while fostering growth, able to expand to new markets, play different tunes, entice creativity and artistic expression and be challenging to each other to bring out the best of their abilities at the frequency and pace everyone can keep up with and agrees with. I have been doing this for 35 years and this is the model that keeps bands together for decades while having a good time and keeping up your chops. Rock on!

  • Richard Harding - December 7, 2017 reply

    Very helpful. The death of a band comes with mourning just like the death of a loved one . A band really does have its own personality just like a song has its own voice. I’m not alone, thanks …

  • Durka Durka - December 7, 2017 reply

    Why did you publish this? It’s like you got your headline and didn’t follow up with an actual article. “How to move on… it’s not easy but hey” – this is hardly advice.

  • Chuck Hughes - December 7, 2017 reply

    Book the shows and own a band vehicle. When someone quits replace them. Put your set list up as a Spotify playlist and chord charts for your song in Dropbox.

  • Kenny - December 7, 2017 reply

    45 years and twice that many bands. Don’t sweat it if it doesn’t work. Move on to the next project. Musicians who give you a hard time, aren’t the ones you should be playing with. Don’t waste your time, they aren’t the right ones.

  • Dominic Burns - December 7, 2017 reply

    I have faith in you no problem bigger better bands. Dats The Ol BBB AND It is Not the better Bussiness Bureau

  • Big Heart - December 7, 2017 reply

    If you always keep the Music first then you help the changes help it grow… nothing personal

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