How To Keep Your Band Together

Have you had trouble keeping your band together? Are you sick of a rotating door of musicians that come and go and rob you of momentum? Does it seem like just when you're poised to start performing a slew of shows you lose a band member and have to put everything on hold to start recruiting again?

It's a major pain in the ass isn't it?

I performed in a band for the better part of 16 years with the same individuals - one of which was my twin brother and the other was a childhood friend. We were lucky in the sense that we all had the same music influences and goals and got along well.

During a brief break from that band, my brother and I attempted to form another band and had a heck of a time finding a singer (we found two talented guitarists easily enough), so I know how you feel.

I know talented musicians that seem to have so much potential, but they seem to be plagued by a lack of consistent and quality band members. I don't envy their situation, it sucks.

I wasn't quite sure what to do about it either - I just lucked out with my first band. However, the solution comes down to asking a key question: WHY.

Why are you making music? Why are you releasing this music? Why are you performing the music? Why would anyone want to be in your band?

On the other side - why is the potential member a musician? Why do they want to write/record/perform music? Why do they want to be in your band?

The musicians that I've met who end up starting bands generally do so because they have a vision of the music that they want to create. The problem seems to be in translating that vision, the reason WHY they are creating music to their potential band members to ensure a good fit. They also need to care enough about the WHY of the potential member to make sure there is a good fit for all concerned.

Most bands don't do this, they look for a 'drummer', a 'singer' or a 'bassist' and not someone who shares their vision. They audition a band member to assess if they have the right talent, the right look and if they're easy to get along with, but they rarely get down to the WHY questions.

This is why so many bands have a hard time gelling.

Avoid the temptation to just pass this advice off, this is serious stuff and it gets to the root of the problem that bands and businesses have putting together a winning team.

Simon Sinek Why How What Circle
Image by centralasian via Flickr
  • If the only incentive you give a band member is money, then they'll leave if the money stops or if they can get more money elsewhere or even the same money for less effort.
  • If the only incentive you give a band member is a chance to perform live, they'll leave at the first chance to perform live music that is more meaningful for them.
  • If the main reason you're in a band is to stroke your own ego, be a control freak and veto any and all creative ideas then having band members that thrive on contributing creatively isn't going to work.

It sounds obvious, but most band leaders are so passionate about what they do and why they're doing it that they don't consider the motivations of those around them.

Here's a great video about leadership that I feel directly applies to this topic. While I highly recommend watching the whole 18+ minutes, I realize you have other things to do - so skipĀ  to watch from 7:34 to 11:04 of the video to get right into the thick of it.

Two of the main take-aways for me that Simon Sinek mentions in the video:

"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."

"If you talk about what you believe, you'll attract those who believe what you believe."

Want to put together a solid band that is united and passionate about the music it makes? Watch this video and start asking some of those "why" questions. I'm betting that you'll be that much closer to forming a solid band that will stick togetherĀ  longer with far greater motivation.

If you're already in a band that is hitting a rough patch, getting down to the reason why is the only way to solve the problem. It may be too late to keep a particular band member, but you'll at least know a better way going forward!

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