A band is simultaneously a friendship, a collaborative partnership
and a business. Although it might be less personal and intimate
than a romantic relationship, it is quite possibly more complicated.
That's because there are usually more than two people involved,
and everyone has an opinion. We are artists after all, so
being sensitive and having opinions come with the territory
of creating things.
It goes without saying that it can be challenging to keep balance within the
group dynamic. In order to keep things smooth, fun, purposeful and positive,
it's best to have a clear direction and communicate openly as a group. It's
also important to make sure that you're personally doing your part to help the
band be the best it can be. Here are a few guidelines you should follow to optimize
the experience for yourself and everyone else involved.
1. Practice your music
Know your parts inside and out before
group rehearsals. That way the band can actually focus on
the finer details or the big picture together and have more
fun in the process. If you don’t understand a section
of a song, talk about it and make sure to smooth out the kinks
sooner rather than later. You don’t want those doubts
to linger until it's too late to ask or you get on stage and
the nerves kick in.
2. Know your role in the band
If you don't know your role, talk about
it. Are you a support musician? Are you a band leader? Do
you have a say in the creation and selection of the material?
Or are you supposed to just learn your parts from a chart
and do what you're instructed to do? Once you know this, you'll
be able to make sure that you're not stepping on any toes,
and you'll also feel more free within your defined role.
3. Help out
Whether it's carrying equipment or promoting
the band, always help when it's needed. Depending on your
forte and interests outside of music, find a way to contribute
to the management of the band. Maybe you're a good driver
and can get the band to gigs, or you love to design and can
make the T-shirts and posters. Maybe you have a big social
network, and naturally will be the promoter. Or maybe you
host the rehearsals. What ever your part is, make sure you
share the legwork, because it's way too much for one person.
4. Place equal value on each musician
Even if someone is not the lead musician,
they are of essential value – everyone contributes to
the band's unique sound. Each instrument has its own details
and complexities on which to focus, and each individual deserves
respect. Every member should be included in band discussions
and practices, and everyone should feel welcome to weigh in
with suggestions when appropriate. This gives ownership and
5. Be on time
The band members depend on each other
to make “it” happen, so be respectful of each
other’s time. Don’t be the one to hold everyone
up when people are already making sacrifices to make time
for the band between their jobs, families and possibly other
musical projects. if you're too flaky, you might just lose
your seat in the group.
6. Plan in advance
Schedule rehearsals and gigs in advance.
If a show is booked and you've committed to it, don’t
miss it unless it's a true emergency. It reflects badly on
the whole band if they have to cancel or cannot produce what's
expected. Also, give a heads up if you're going out of town
so that your bandmates know when to book practices and shows,
or have ample time to get a sub for you if needed.
7. Do social things together
Hanging out together is inevitable if
you practice a lot or go on tour together. Whether or not
you're friends outside of the band, try to find times after
rehearsal to get food or drinks, or go to a show together
for inspiration. Being social creates a bond. A real friendship
and understanding of each other shines through in the music.
Building a relationship as friends places importance on the
art rather than the business side of things and keeps things
in perspective. Also, the more you know each other, the more
you can read each other and mend mistakes on the fly during
8. Discuss style
Details make a band unique and stand
out. This includes fashion! It's embarrassing to witness a
band where everyone is dressed up except for that one person
who rolled out of bed and looks downright slovenly. If you're
going for the “I don’t care” or “grungy”
look, that's fine – just be on the same page as everyone
else. Prepare and discuss it in advance – maybe you
want matching outfits, or you just want to be casual, or maybe
dressy. These details matter. Your shows are a presentation
of your art, sound and appearance all together. Paying attention
to all of these aspects shows that you care about your presentation
and your audience.
9. Work on your stage presence
Being a musician usually means that you're
also a performer. This requires stage presence. Enjoy it,
and give a little love to the audience. This can be as simple
as smiling, or thanking the audience for coming, or even creating
choreography. Just make sure that you and your bandmates work
together to always give good energy to the audience. This
will increase your fan loyalty and it will also enhance the
Part of being a good bandmate involves
putting effort into not only the music, but also the promotion
of it. You've done so much work to get to this point, so now
it’s time to share it. Invite your friends to shows
and put up posters (in appropriate locations). If you're playing
a lot of shows, just send out one list of upcoming gigs so
that your friends don’t get overwhelmed.
11. Be transparent
I'm talking about money. If you're performing
together as a band, there is money involved. The group as
a whole should be open about it. Ideally, the group should
decide together what to do with the funds. It could be small
enough that you all go out for dinner together, or you pay
a member back for the time they bought gas. If it's large
you can divide it up, or put into a band fund, or towards
your next album, etc. Also, unless someone has signed up to
be a sponsor for the band, always pay them back if they fronted
12. Speak up
When things that matter are bothering
you, it's important to voice your concerns as soon as possible.
Certain things will blow over, but if you have any nagging
thoughts that continue to bring you down, that means it's
time to talk about it – no matter how small of an issue
it seems. Nothing is too small to talk about if it feels important
to you. For big issues, like who owns royalties, and what
to do if a member quits, it's a good idea to create a band
agreement to straighten out any kinks that might need clarification
early on. Don’t be afraid to be the one to suggest that
these conversations be had.
Be willing to learn from mistakes. After
a rehearsal or performance, talk about what worked and what
didn’t. Be open to feedback and chime in with your thoughts.
Music (and life for that matter) is an endless learning process.
14. Have fun!
You probably chose music because you
love it. Don’t lose sight of that passion, and be glad
that you have bandmates to share it with. It's an honorable
role to be an entertainer, so spread the love and have fun