It's fairly common to see bands who have worked together for years break up due to differing long-term goals or personal issues. Whether a band member leaves or the whole group disassembles, it can be tough to recover and recapture the chemistry of the past.
As hard as it may be to put your emotions aside, it's important to think practically and logically about how to move forward in a way that’s best for everybody. If you’re currently going through a band breakup (or think one is looming in the near future), here's how to overcome it and get back on track.
1. Re-evaluate the direction of the group
If one of your band members leaves and there are only a few members left, the first thing to do is re-evaluate the direction of the group.
Every band has different dynamics, but most have certain members who are the "glue" of the group and play a strong leadership role. If one of these people decides to leave, it becomes more difficult to carry on as a team. However, if someone who just recently joined the band departs because he or she wasn’t a good fit, it's much easier to adjust and ensure the progress of the group continues as planned.
Ultimately, no matter who leaves your band, it's essential to make sure everyone is on the same page and know that individual goals are aligned with the mission of the band as a whole.
2. Understand how the music will be affected
Once everyone’s concerns are dealt with and settled, the next step of overcoming a band breakup is realizing how the music is going to be affected.
Depending on who leaves your band, there has to be an honest self-assessment of how live shows will be affected and what urgency there is in replacing this person. Even if everyone is ready to bounce back from the adversity of losing a band member, the musical logistics need to be taken care of in the short term in order to see any sort of long-term success.
3. Make sure all of your business is in order
When all band members are on the same page, the business side of things is less likely to go awry. However, a band breakup greatly increases the chances of complicating all kinds of issues that were once taken for granted.
Ideally, your group has some sort of written band agreement in place, which acts as a contract to ensure all members are fully aligned on important issues. This lessens the chances of awkward conversations taking place in the midst a breakup (which is already awkward enough!). But if your group never created a band agreement, important questions you'll now need to answer include: who has the right to use the band name, how future royalties are going to be handled, and what's going to happen to previously recorded music. These all need to be addressed when a band member leaves or the whole group splits up.
This might not be the easiest conversation to have, but it's better to resolve all business and financial disputes immediately because the longer you wait, the more stress you open yourself up to. People can get extra emotional when money is at stake, so make sure all parties involved are treated fairly in order to save yourself from unwanted legal disputes down the line.
4. Take the time to rebrand
Any time there's a major change within your band, going through the process of rebranding is worth considering, and it may add a spark to the group. From updated merchandise to a new live show experience, there are several ways to successfully rebrand if a band member leaves. But whatever great idea you come up with, it's essential not to rush into it.
Taking enough time to get over the loss of a band member (especially if it was a messy breakup) is necessary in order to execute future plans to the best of your ability. Recharge, reboot, and naturally return to the stage by being patient with your transition and putting revitalized energy into your group.
5. Don't feel bad if going solo is the right decision
We don’t want to end on a somber note, but sometimes the loss of one band member can lead to the entire group parting ways. As tough of a decision as this may be, sometimes going solo is the right choice for your career when this unfortunate circumstance happens. If your band is struggling to revive itself after losing a key member, and the collaborative spirit that once existed is no longer there, it makes no sense to force it.
The last thing any artist wants to do is release lower quality music just for the sake of keeping the band together, and it’s even worse if no one is having fun while doing so. If everyone is honest with each other and recognize that the best choice is to go your separate ways, the careers of each band member will benefit in the long run. And who knows – maybe after some time off, your group can reunite in the future and be better than ever before!
Eric Bernsen is a marketing/public relations professional and music journalist who specializes in the genre of hip-hop. You can find more of his work at HITPmusic.com (where he is an editor/writer) as well as HipHop-N-More.com, where he contributes album reviews. Follow Eric on Twitter @ebernsen.