[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Mason Hoberg. Mason is a freelance writer who covers music-related topics and is a regular contributor to Equipboard.]
It happens to every band eventually. A bandmate might have an overinflated ego, or become unreliable, or even just lose interest in the project. Regardless of the underlying reason, eventually you’re going to find yourself needing to remove a bandmate from a project.
In addition to being emotionally stressful, kicking out a band member can be a pretty difficult process in general. It requires a lot of tact and forethought, and if you don’t go about it in a careful and measured way there will be consequences.
So if you’ve come to the point where you need to remove a negative influence from your band or musical project, check out the tips below. They’ll help you gauge the best solution to the problem, and hopefully end the dispute in a way that ends up being positive for everyone involved.
How To Identify A Bad Band Mate
Believe it or not, this is actually a major stumbling block for a lot of people. They either have an issue recognizing that a bandmate is a negative influence on the project, or they mistakenly believe that their bandmate doesn’t contribute when in reality their a key component in the groups sound and/or creative process.
The key to recognizing a bad band member is that they put someone or something ahead of the band in almost every situation in a way that’s inappropriate and detrimental to the group. The key here is that their behavior has to be willful and a detriment to the group. There’s nothing wrong with a person having to reschedule the occasional practice because they have to work, that’s just a fact of life. However, if a person willfully ditches a practice to do a non-essential activity that’s a problem.
Emotional or substance abuse issues that causes a person to be unreliable or volatile is also a huge problem, and one that should be addressed as quickly as possible. You never know when your chance is going to come, so you want every one of your band mates to be as reliable and professional as possible.
Attempt To Reach An Understanding
Before you take any drastic actions you should attempt to resolve things. While the impact of a person’s behavior might be obvious to those around them, it’s possible that your bandmate might just not realize how his/her behavior is effecting the people around them.
The key here is to be as direct as possible, even if you come off as confrontational. Make sure that every member of the group is in agreement before the confrontation, and make sure that the person is aware of the consequences they’ll face if they continue their actions. If they work to correct their behavior it’s a good sign, but make sure that the positive change continues. Stay firm and reasonable, but don’t ignore it if they start to slip back into old habits.
Find Potential Replacements Beforehand
A mistake a lot of bands make is that they remove a band member before they find a replacement. This slows the band’s career momentum to a crawl, and in the worst case scenario it can actually result in the band splitting up.
The best way to avoid this situation is to line up a list of potential replacements before you remove your bandmate from the project. Ideally, you shouldn’t do this in a way that results in your bandmate hearing about the change. Don’t publicize it if you can help it, and tell as few people about it if you can. If anything, check around your local music venues to try and meet musicians. If you have even a hint of a music scene in your town odds are you’re going to be able to find a suitable replacement if you put yourself out there a bit.
Be As Kind As Possible
While your musical abilities are important, a band lives or dies based on their reputation. Believe it or not, word is going to get around about how you treat your fans, the owners of venues where you play, and even your own bandmates. No one is going to hire you to play if you don’t have a solid reputation, because it’s a sign that you’re unreliable.
To kick out a band member while maintaining your reputation you’re going to have to be as kind as possible, regardless of how you feel about the person. You’re also going to have to maintain professionalism.
The best way to do this is to remain calm during the confrontation, and explain yourself as clearly as possible. It’s also important to not badmouth the former bandmate in public, as this reeks of immaturity. If anyone asks about the situation, just say that your former bandmate experienced creative differences with the group. Even if your bandmate starts to spread rumors about the band as a whole or individual members, never respond in kind. If you stay calm and reasonable through the whole situation it’s going to reflect well on the members of your band, which in turn is going to make you appear more reliable to prospective employers.
While kicking out a band member can be difficult, so long as you remember to be kind and calm the end result should be positive for the remaining members of your band. Also, remember to keep in mind that this doesn’t make you a bad friend or person. If someone isn’t pulling their weight in a project you have a right to find someone who will perform better, and even though it may hurt their feelings it doesn’t mean that you’re being callous. You can’t control other peoples’ behavior, but you can control the effect it has on you. You don’t have to sacrifice your career for anyone if you don’t want to, and if they don’t recognize the effect of their actions that’s on them.