So you wanna be in a rock band?: Music and friends don't mix
First and foremost, I'm sure all of you at some point have heard the old adage, “Don't mix business with pleasure.” I said it last week and I'll say it again, as much as musical purists, such as myself, would like to believe that the music industry is actually about music, at the end of the day, it is a business; therefore, professionalism is essential.
When I formed my very first band, back when I was 15, I was psyched to be pursuing my dream of becoming a rockstar with my three best friends alongside.
To make a long story short, I will never a) be in an all girl band again or b) work with people with whom I've established long-term friendships. My reasoning behind both decisions; to much drama.
As with any successful business venture, one person within the group must have a take-charge attitude that naturally places them within the leadership role. Most often in bands, I've found that the leaders (those in charge of management, bookings, promotion, scheduling) are usually the front person of the group as they have a naturally inclination to direct others. As well, when taking on the leadership role, one must realize that along with the good comes the bad. You will be the center of attention, but you will also be the one at that will take all the criticism. It is not an easy role, and I do not recommend it for those who are thin-skinned. The reason as to why this kind of setup is in conflict with having friends in your band is fairly self-explanatory.
Although there is respect among friends, it is difficult to think of someone within your clique as being “the boss” as people form friendships with those whom they feel are at the same level as them. As well, friendships are usually quite casual, and easygoing in terms of interaction, whereas business settings demand an authoritative leader/compliant worker-type relationship in order to function most productively. I'm sure you can understand then why conflicts easily arise in this scenario, and why I don't recommend it.
So now you're probably thinking, forming a band with complete strangers, that's going to be odd and uncomfortable as musical expression is a very intimate personal thing?
I agree. Initially, things will be a little sketchy until everyone gets a feel for each other. Ground rules will need to be established, a leader must be elected, and you will need to figure out everyone's capabilities and how each member works the best. However, once you get past the initial stage of awkwardness, working together will be a breeze.
I'm sure your next question is, “How do I find the right people?” With the advent of the Internet, there are tons of valuable resources for musicians such as www.overhear.com, which allow free classified ad posting for that very purpose.
For those of you who do not have regular access to the Internet, posting ads in local music stores remains a popular means of networking, along with mingling at concerts. On the same note, with the popularity of our very own program Music Industry Arts, finding musicians in this city is easier than you can imagine. This does not necessarily mean you will find the right man or woman for the job right away, however, London is buzzing with local talent, you just need to look in the right places; Fanshawe I believe is a great place to start.
So what do you look for in a potential band member? Most importantly, your goals need to be in check. Everyone in your band needs to be on the same page, at similar talent levels and willing to make a huge commitment.
Another quality, which is often overlooked, is image. You need to have a look, a style, something that will work for you as a trademark in terms of marketing your act, but I will get into that more at another time.
Lastly, I recommend that finding people at the same age and maturity level would be in your best interest. Younger musicians tend to have more extracurricular activities in their lives, and often their parents are not thrilled about the idea of them forming a band. Also, in the future, when you are ready to book shows, having an underager in your act could pose some problems.
Working with musicians that have ten years on you, has its downsides as well. Older “seasoned” musicians usually expect monetary compensation for their time, have little tolerance for bands that are still trying to get their act together, and from my experience, seem to have a preference for playing in cover/tribute bands.
I believe the key to success in this industry is finding the right people that you can work well with. There are tons of musicians out there, but not a lot of good ones (and by good I am not referring to musical abilities). It cannot be debated that every band definitely requires a strong leader. However, even with a strong leader, if the other members are not just as focused, and determined to make it, it's not going to happen. Respect, professionalism, and teamwork are essential, and if you can achieve this kind of relationship among your best friends, all the power to you, but remember this, money changes everything. The moment your band obtains even the slightest degree of success, your friendships will be put to their greatest test.