This problem sucks! Nobody wants to be in a band where the one guy doesn’t pull his own weight. It’s an uncomfortable feeling and unfair when the leader constantly needs to pacify every situation in order to keep the peace. So what do you do? How do you deal with Johnny Appleseed when his own ego and personal agenda keep him from being loyal to the band, and taking care of business with everyone else. Well, if you haven’t encountered this problem yet, we suggest reading Starting a Band? Here Are a Few Things You Should Do. But if you’re already in the middle of this mess or know someone who is, read on!
1. Assess the Situation
First, before you go making a stink, make sure you know what’s really up. Is Johnny missing in action because he just had a new kid 2 weeks ago? Or is he skipping out because hes at the bar having drinks. Are there some other personal life things that have complicated his time, or a work issue that has made life incredibly stressful for the last month? Maybe the issue isn’t a non-compliant bandmate. Maybe it’s just an over-committed person who needs 2 months to get back on track and hopes you’ll understand by getting someone to sub in for a few gigs. Sometimes understanding the problem and getting everyone on the same page is all you really need to resolve an issue.
2. Talk it Out
After you’ve assessed the problem and truly know whats up, talk it out with your bandmate. Explain that in order for you all to be the best you can be, everyone needs to play their part. That could mean showing up for practice (or giving advance notice when you can’t), helping with booking and promo, learning the music, or arriving at the venue with proper gear, among many other things. These sound like no brainers…and for the average person, they are. But some people are slow and need things spelled out.
Ask your bandmate if he/she really wants to be in the band. Might be a stupid question but what if they’re really not as excited about it anymore and didn’t know how to tell the rest of the group? Just talk it out. Genuine conversations can make a world of a difference and will kill a fire before it starts. If this conversation needs to happen again (and again) down the line, then you have to consider how much you’re willing to put up with and what the non-negotiables are.
3. Get the Others Involved
It might not be advantageous to bring all your band members into the conversation from the very beginning. A person can easily feel attacked and bullied when its 3 against one. But if problems persists and your bandmate hasn’t taken your advice or chipped in their part, that’s when you’ll want to get the others on board. Having everyone present can really help the odd guy out understand the gravity of how his/her actions are affecting the band.
It might also be helpful to talk things out with your other bandmates in advance in order to be unified in your conversation with the ”lone ranger”.
4. Call it Quits
If your bandmate’s diva tendencies are holding back the band, and your attempts to reason with him/her just aren’t working, it’s time to call it a day. Say goodbye, wash your hands of the situation, and start looking for a replacement. It’s a sucky feeling having to fire someone who is an integral part of the music, but there is better. Trust me. The best thing you can do to prepare for this is start looking for a replacement long before you actually need one. Having a Plan B and C in your back pocket will always come in handy in emergencies like this.
Some Important Questions to Ask
Ultimately, when you’re getting rid of a bandmate, you wanna make sure you’ve done everything in your power to give that person a chance without sacrificing your band’s professionalism and quality of performance. Here are some vital questions to help you work through a difficult band member situation.
- Is Lazy Lucy slacking because she’s not doing something shes good at? In other words, if she doesn’t like booking, can you give her show promo responsibilities instead?
- How big is the problem? Is it something the band can ignore, or is it a problem that will foreseeably grow?
- How serious is the band? Are you here just to have fun or are youtrying to make this a legit career?
- Is Charlie’s ego bigger than his commitment to the band? Does it have the potential to get bigger and bigger and ruin your group’s reputation?
- Are you the jerk in the band? What things do you do that really annoy your bandmates and hurt your group’s success?
Do you have a difficult band member? Have you ever had this problem? We would love to know how you have handled it.