The Young Performers Club receives calls from bands all over the country regarding band challenges that get in the way of band success. It is difficult to escape band drama completely, so there needs to be a system in place for managing it. Allowing discord to get out of control will most definitely take the fun out of the process and ultimately could result in the band members parting ways.
Below are some of the issues that can ignite band drama along with some suggested solutions.
- Lack of commitment by all band members. When one band member is not serious and shows up late, and misses gigs and other important events, it impacts the whole band.
- Parents exercising control over every move the band makes. It is difficult to get a consensus when you have 15 or so individuals involved. We recommend that the bands work out as much of the decisions on their own. This is great for social development and negotiating skills
- Disagreement over song choices. Everyone wants their song choices to make the set list, but the set list is always evolving and with patience everyone will see their chosen songs performed live and make it on the set list. We suggest making a master set list and listing all the songs under consideration, along with a timeline for when they will be tested out with the band.
- Lack of agreement on the practice schedule. If you have no consistent practice plan, you will see little progress made in the band’s development, so it is advisable the band establish a schedule for at least three months, so everyone understands the overall commitment and can plan their calendars accordingly.
- Differences of opinion over performing covers versus originals, and how the time will be allocated to each. This is typically be a hot issue will all band members and it determines the type of band you want to be. Having a discussion on these plans before the band begins to practice is a good idea.
- Jealousy when some band members get more stage time or attention than others. Sometimes this is driven by the specific role the band member has in the band. It is best to select songs that allow each band members to have the spotlight on specific songs.
- Band members outside commitments. Many young musicians are in multiple bands so they need to prioritize their commitments. If a band member misses a gig due to having another gig with another band that will not be easily accepted by the bandmates. Knowing about these commitments early on will help, and having a backup plan in place is strongly recommended.
- Parents being overly aggressive and booking events without discussing it with the band and parents who invite specific band members to do other music events without letting all band members know. This can cause major unrest and havoc within the band. Feeling left out can result in challenging relationship issues and uneasy emotions. When these cases evolve, the parents need to have a parent meeting so there are no lingering hard feelings.
- Not being on the same page on gigs, financial commitments, training, song choices, recording, etc. Managing a band is similar to managing a corporation so you need an infrastructure in place for managing the process.
Having been in the management/development process with bands for over fourteen years, our number one recommendation has always been to address issues as they happen, and be consistent with parent meetings. Coda Sky has been managed for five years, and our newest band, Catching Arrows, has been together for seven months. These two bands have a great group of parents and the performers and parents all respect each other. Both bands operate by a detailed Communications Agreement which addresses day to day band management and future decision making processes.
The band members know when there is band drama, even if the parents try to keep it quiet. This causes silent stress and can get to the point where the band members don’t want to continue with the band. All it takes is for one parent or band member to make a comment about another member, and have it get back to the band. This creates trust issues, causes major insecurities and overall paranoia. Bands need to focus on the positives and let that energy drive the band forward.
Parent meetings and band member only meetings are critical to the band’s success. It provides a great forum for discussing the band’s progress and addressing any issues that could cause unneeded band drama.
It is about having fun, getting recognition, celebrating success and establishing powerful relationships. Band drama eats away at progress and stalls the band’s success. Avoiding drama will be challenging, and it requires focus and open communications every step of the way.