Playing music is emotional whether you’re a serious career musician or a couple of suburban step-dads who get together and jam on covers on the weekends. Emotion in music isn’t just an asset, it’s essential for forming connections between musicians and listeners. The problem comes when musicians let this heightened emotional state follow them off the studio or stage and into other aspects of their career. Arguments, jealousies, anger, rash decisions—these are all major problems brought on when a musician lets their emotions get the best of them. But while emotional flare-ups can be harmful, holding grudges can seriously damage a musician’s music career.
Grudges distract you from your goals
Things like being bitter over another band in your scene being successful or harboring hidden resentment against a bandmate for something they said are just a few examples of the many grudges you’ll find in music. Some grudges are rooted in a musician’s petty insecurities but others are intertwined with valid feelings of anger, broken trust, and even fear in some cases. But no matter what the grudge is, the main thing musicians who experience them should be asking themselves is how holding one helps them and their musical goals.
Grudges are distractions that keep your thoughts off of your own goals in music. Let’s say you’re in a band that’s jealous of another local band’s success. Rather than giving into that bitterness, you should be getting to work! Write more music. Hone in your live set. Write out a list of short-term goals and work towards checking them off your list one-by-one. Soon, you’ll find you’re too busy to be jealous over that other band’s success. The truth is that it’s much easier to complain than it is to build something meaningful in music.
Grudges keep you isolated
Grudges are the enemy of collaboration, community, and friendship. Whether it’s not completely trusting a bandmate on stage or refusing to work with another band in your scene, grudges are uniquely damaging in the way they can isolate a musician. Trying to build a career in music is hard even when you do have plenty of friendships and connections. Entertaining grudges in music makes things harder than they have to be, especially when it comes to the relationships you rely on most. You can hide bitter feelings and resentment temporarily, but if a grudge is directed towards someone in your band, the truth will eventually come out, and it won’t be pretty.
How to kill a grudge
Acceptance and open communication are the only ways to address a grudge. No, this doesn’t mean you need to tell another band in your scene that you don’t like them, but instead that you should be honest with yourself about why you feel the way you do. If you’ve got beef with someone in your own band, then addressing your issues with them clearly and out in the open is the best way to get back on track. The irony here is that so many musicians are comfortable pouring their hearts out on stage, but are terrified of having honest conversations with their bandmates. It might be awkward and hard to do, but addressing your issues honestly and openly will save you a lot of trouble and despair later down the road.
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.