There's a million stereotypes associated with bands & musicians but the one that holds true is that of the flaky band member.
Just about every band has one, maybe even two or maybe it's you?! The flake, lager, however you want to phrase it, this person will break up a band in no time if you don't deal with them right away!
The allure of playing in a band, performing to an attentive crowd is too strong to resist. So much so that even the most intermediate musician will start a band as soon as they master the power chord. Sure, anyone would love to be in a band as their primary source of income, playing shows across the country, traveling, it's living the proverbial dream. For some, that dream is a tangible goal & they'll work their ass off to achieve it! For others, it's a fantasy best lived out in the rehearsal room or local bars on the weekend. What separates the weekend warriors from the hard core musicians is where they decide to place the band on the priority list of life. Of course, we all have responsibilities & obligations to our jobs & relationships on a day to day basis but the dedicated musician will find a way to include the band as one of their top priorities.
When a band forms there's always a conversation that occurs, usually within the first week, "Why do you want to be in a band? What is your long-term goal?". Some people just want to be better musicians, and of course, playing with other people is one of the best ways to do that. Other musicians are only looking to play local shows to showcase their talents for friends & family. However, a handful of driven musicians are looking to take it all the way; hit the road & make it big or at the very least, find a way to play music full time. It's when the combination of these different mindsets clash within a band do we start to have problems.
When you start or join a band there's should always be a clear direction as to what the goals are & what is expected from each member.
If the goals include playing shows, recording an album & possibly touring then you better all be in agreement from the start & if the plan changes at any point there needs to be a conversation about it so everyone is always on the same page.
Sure, your guitar player is bad ass but what if he really doesn't care about making it big, what if he just wants to rock out on the weekends? Maybe if you play a few shows & get some buzz going around he'll change his mind & be more dedicated to the band? Not likely! If you have someone like this in your band you really can’t be too upset with they eventually flake out on you. You should already know that the band isn't a priority for them, it’s a hobby, and you need to deal with that.
Sure, your singer is really good at marketing, books all the shows & does all the work for the band but what if he can't sing? Do you stick it out in hope he magically gets better? No! You need to be honest and tell them that they're better at managing than singing. It's nothing personal, it's for the good of the band. What good is all that work if the exposure you receive is met with a poor performance?
Having a flaky band member doesn't just mean that person is late or fails to show up to rehearsal, at the end of the day it really means that they let the band down in some way.
If any one person starts to slack off & puts little to no effort then it will bring down the band morale. Likewise, If any one person starts to put in more effort than the other, that person will start to feel like the rest of the band doesn't care. Resentment among band members will start to fester & the tension will build so much so that it becomes impossible to create music anymore.
Be aware of these shifts in the band morale, there will be clear indicators that something is not right:
Is everyone doing their part?
Do you look forward to band rehearsal?
Are you happy in this bad?
If you answered no to any of these questions then you have a problem. You need to Identify the weak link in the band early on, have a conversation & try to turn things around. If you can't come to terms then it may be time to part ways with that band member. Try your best to catch these problems sooner than later before they break up your band. If you work as a team to improve on your weaknesses, the band will grow tighter as a unit & success will follow.
In my experience it’s best to try & run your band as professional as possible. I’m sure that sounds like an oxymoron to most but it’s true!
A leader of the pack will typically stand out & take the reigns when it comes to the administrative work & band management but that doesn't mean everyone else can screw off. There’s needs to be order, there needs to be commitment but most importantly there needs to be balance. So this means identifying & delegating responsibilities among the band. Being in a diy garageband means everyone should pull their own weight & if there someone who isn't then you need to have a meeting then do something about it.
Everyone needs to be working towards the same goals in a band, every decision should be made knowing how it will affect the band in the long term. If anyone fails to keep up with the standards you've set as a band, you need to approach them with maturity, and do what needs to be done, even if that means firing your most talented musician.
I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below on how you've dealt with flakey band members.
Talk to you soon! - Drew @diygarageband