Band Mates: Friends or Employees?
Being in a musical group with other people requires a great deal of hard work, dedication, and creativity. Bands come together for a plethora of reasons, and they all have one main goal in mind: to make good music. The type of relationship that the band members share can greatly affect the productivity and work ethic of the band itself. Whether the band mates see each other more as friends or employees/coworkers, it can change the dynamic of the creative process.
For the most part, bands form because a few musically inclined friends have come together to generate some music. They feel comfortable meeting up at each other’s houses, working on covers, and writing songs. As we have seen, there are definite advantages and drawbacks from creating a band with longtime friends.
The pros are rather obvious. There is already a close bond and a high level of comfort between the band mates. Each member feels safe sharing their own ideas because they are among trusted companions, so creating together will feel natural. Everyone probably lives close to each other, so it will be easier to organize practice sessions together. There is typically not an issue of egos because everyone is most likely on an equal level of skill. Also, because the personalities of the friends would be known, the band would probably avoid working with people who wanted to make it some sort of unfriendly competition. Lastly, live performances will be even more satisfying whilst performing with good friends because everyone can effortlessly sense and work off each other’s vibes.
Conversely, there are quite a few downsides to working with people who have deep connections with one another. The most obvious issue is that any kind of drama that occurs within the band can leak into the friendships. Cutting out someone’s solo, shooting down someone’s ideas, and especially kicking someone out of the band could damage personal relationships and the friend group dynamic. It is heavily advised to not work with family for similar reasons; you may keep them around for the sake of the relationship and not the band, which in the end helps no one.
Professionalism may not necessarily be a priority to the band members. They could be texting every two minutes, getting distracted and going off on irrelevant tangents, or breaking off into separate conversations. Because everyone is friends, they may not be used to pursuing serious endeavors together. Although having fun may be a nice add-on to the whole band experience, that is not the primary focus. Likewise, your work ethics may not line up very well. Some members may prefer the “work a little, rest a little” method, while others may prefer the “work consistently until we are done” method of practicing. It proves incredibly difficult to work alongside someone that does not operate the same way you do.
In addition, the band may not want to discuss the more legal matters such as copyright and ownership to songs because that can be uncomfortable and uncharacteristically serious. These topics need to be discussed early in the band’s career so they know how the potential royalties will be dispersed. Will they be equally divided among band members regardless of actual contribution, or will they be only be divided among the members who actually wrote the songs?
Bands can also form on a purely professional basis. Members could be brought together by an ad on Facebook or Craigslist, or they could just be fellow classmates/acquaintances who happen to play instruments and/or sing. Practice sessions are often organized more like appointments, and each member is more like an employee to a company rather than a group of friends convening in a garage.
The benefits of this setup may not be as clear as that of a friend band, but they are present and equally as valid. For example, each member will most likely take the band more seriously because their willingness to collaborate with virtual strangers shows how much they really want to be in a band. They will show up to practices on time, put in as much work as possible, and then finish within a reasonable time frame because this is a job to them.
Additionally, removing members from the band will be from a business standpoint. The members in question were not effectively adding to the productivity of the group, so they had to leave. Once that person is out of the band, no long term friendships will be shattered or severely altered. This makes it easier to replace them because their main asset to the group was their skills, and that can be found elsewhere.
Giving constructive criticism will not be as awkward because everything is much more objective. Hurt feelings are secondary to producing a quality song. To increase efficiency, every member will know their role, level of authority, and how much of the band and its songs they own very early within the band’s inception.
On the other hand, some disadvantages are that the band mates do not know each other very well, so they could end up being really irritating, egotistical, control freaks who are really talented but detract from the band instead of adding to it. There needs to be an appropriate screening process before committing to being in a band together. Moreover, these employee bands do not have that deep bond with one another, so anything that comes along with strong partnerships is not really present in the practices and performances.
Overall, neither way of forming a band is better than the other. It really is all circumstantial how one comes to creating a musical group with others, and whatever works for them is what they will do. Friend bands usually have a greater attachment to one another, and their performances can be just that much more rewarding and exciting since they are alongside close companions. However, the casual nature of a friendship often times bleed into the professional setting of working in a band together, and that can cause problems for the success of the group. “Employee” bands tend to be more goal oriented and less likely to dawdle, but they lack the warmth of a friend-based band. In the end, however, making music with other like-minded individuals is always a thrilling and fulfilling adventure no matter what the pros and cons may be.
By, Taylor Turner