Being in more than one band is a feat many musicians attempt to take on. Being in multiple groups opens new doors and keeps musicians busy and creative, but also makes time management difficult. There are bands that require an "all-or-nothing" approach where they need a full-time commitment to fulfill their goals, and there are other bands that are more laid-back and don't mind you skipping practice two weeks in a row.
It's about prioritizing, using your time wisely, and weighing the pros and cons. The obvious pros are that you have the opportunity to express yourself through a variety of musical instruments and styles, you have the potential for additional revenue streams, and you'll definitely expand your musical network. On the other hand, you may find that you're losing sleep, having a hard time working out scheduling conflicts, and over-commiting yourself beyond your limit. You might even drop your plate because it's too full! But if you're confident you can handle it, here are the top four most important things to keep in mind.
1. Manage your time wisely
This is the toughest part of being in multiple bands. To truly make it in the music industry, you're going to need to live, breathe, and sleep the music you're making. It takes unwavering dedication to be successful, so if you want to try to make it work with more than one band, you need to master your schedule. Coordinate with each band when you can gig, record, and practice. Lock in a day that each band can practice every week. Gigs do happen spontaneously at times, but it's important that you're planning and scheduling accordingly.
2. Be transparent
Be open and upfront with each band about what you can realistically commit to. As you keep track of your calendar, let each band know in advance when and where you're allocating your time for practice, gigging, recording, press, etc. Don't drag others along because you "want to do it all." If you find yourself drowning, speak up. Your bandmates will be there for you. Maybe one group is going on tour while the other is recording. See if you can record from the road. Don't wait for them to call you into the studio only to find out you're 500 miles away. Give as much notice as possible.
3. Consider what you'll do if one band starts gaining tractionYou might be the only musician in your band that's in another band. When all of the other members are looking to practice more, gig more, and put more time and effort into the group, you're the only one who can't commit. This can be taken very personally, and you'll risk your place in the band. If one of your projects is taking off, you'll need to quickly decide whether you want to adjust your priorities and give it your all, or watch it go off without you.
4. Don't take on more than you can handle
A common issue with juggling multiple bands is the risk of spreading yourself too thin and burning out. Suddenly, you're no longer having fun playing music, and you're exhausted from working overtime. You want to be dedicated to all of your projects, but there are only so many hours in a day. If you're struggling to keep yourself afloat, showing up unrehearsed or with the wrong gear, you might need to reconsider how many different commitments you can truly keep simultaneously. Go with your gut – be honest with yourself about what's most important to you right now, and cut out anything that's not making you happy, helping you grow, or providing a real benefit to you.
Many musicians are already balancing day jobs with their music careers, so adding on yet another project just eats up more time in the day to focus on growing your fanbase, craft, and material. Prioritize your time and your dedication according to what's best for your goals as a musician.
Sam Friedman is an electronic music producer and singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, NY. His music blends experimental ambience with indie-driven dance music. In addition to pursuing his own music, he is a New Music Editor for Unrecorded and is passionate about music journalism. Check out his music and follow him on Twitter @nerveleak.