12 Reasons to Fire Your Bandmate…

You're NOT with the band (anymore)...
  • Save

(1) Drug Addiction.

Your band is not a rehab center, and this isn’t the 60s.  In 2015, your chances of success are lower than ever, and you need everyone gunning and participating as strongly as possible towards success.   You don’t need someone that flakes out constantly, needs hours of babysitting, lies constantly, and steals money (often your money).

If you can’t get this person to clean up, they need to get out of the band to take care of the problem immediately.  Especially if the band is enabling that person.

(2) Childish behavior.

Crafting warring factions and being passive aggressive are childish behaviors that will bring a group down.  If you want to build a long-term, sustainable career, you need mature people who can deal with real problems in realtime.  Fire anyone that refuses to grow up.

(3) Problems Practicing (i.e., no Work Ethic).

Amazing bands practice constantly.  And they spend lots of time recording, collaborating, and experimenting.  Anyone that isn’t willing to work relentlessly to deliver amazing shows, recordings, and other experiences should not be in the group.  

(4) Scheduling Problems.

Being pre-med is great, except if that’s your bandmate.  If you can’t coordinate time to practice and tour, even local weekend mini-tours, it’s just not gonna work.  Discuss the issue, and decide if this person’s schedule is stunting your chances of success.

(5) Inferior musical chops.

If they suck, they’re out.  Because inferior musicians not only drag the other members, they tend to limit the creative potential of a group.

(6) Major differences in attitude and goals.

Everyone should (basically) want the same thing.

If all of you are having fun playing covers on the weekends, then you’re perfectly aligned.  If one of you wants to tour 350 days a year while everyone works day jobs, then it isn’t a match.  Fire the odd man out, or quit if your goals are misaligned.

(7) Can’t logically discuss and weigh options for achieving success.

He’s a fun guy, and such an amazing bass player!  But can he work through the endless options and challenges a band will face, like whether to sign with a label, who should be the manager (or if you need one at this stage), how royalties should be split on publishing, who should handle digital distribution, etc., etc., etc.?

If you can’t have serious discussions about these important topics, or at least get some understanding and buy-in, you are likely to fail.  Fire this person.

(8) Ginormous ego issues/Crushing insecurities

An ego is healthy.  A big ego can actually work wonders against the constant barrage of ‘NO’ a young band faces.  A ginormous, out-of-control, unhealthy ego is often a symptom of serious insecurities, and usually leads to constant clashes with other band members, not to mention club owners, sound guys, lawyers, family members, girlfriends, etc.

Fire this person!

(9)  ‘Creative differences’

She likes reggae.  You like EDM.  No, this isn’t a romantic comedy, it’s a recipe for either (a) great musical fusion, or (b) certain musical death.  If you aren’t solidly in the super-creative (a) space, end it.

(10) Complete lack of realism.

Most bands need to play smaller gigs, and suffer financially for long periods of time before achieving any level of success.  That’s reality, and if one of your bandmates can’t handle that, they usually fire themselves.  Replace the person with someone more realistic and hardworking.

(11) You just don’t like the guy.

It happens.  Not everyone was born to collaborate within a super-intense, small group of creative individuals.  Some people are assholes.  That’s the way it goes, but don’t keep someone on board if you can’t stand them.  This will not end well!

(12) Just not a superstar!

If your bandmate isn’t a complete and total superstar, on-stage and off, then what’s the point?  You should only want to work with the greatest musicians, the most creative minds, the most innovative and business-savvy people imaginable.  The superstar bandmate brings energy – tons of energy – to every situation, and is constantly generating new ideas, making things happen, and having fun.

If you have that person in your group, try not to let them fire you!


Image by a2gemma, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

33 Responses

  1. Name2

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure this could have gone out as a tweet.

  2. Anonymous

    correct, it is no longer the 60’s…

    it has officially become a VANITY hobby/job and for those not rich or well off, making it a job or career is mostly a shot of luck… It has become extremely extremely corporate and mostly a money dump…

    If Patrick Dempsey, a famous celebrity, can put his team on the podium and still not get much traction in funding and sponsorship, for a very similar type VANITY hobby/career, then seriously, what hope do most artists and musicians have to ever turn it into a tangible livelihood?

    It seems the play from the industry et all, is to sell the dream to people in hopes that once they figure out the reality of the whole thing, that they are just too far along and have no choice but to just get stuck in and ride it out…

    It is now a corporate driven industry where mostly the only ones actually making a good go at it are on major corps and still is the only shot at success, and the further it becomes like that, the less artsy and edgy and ballsy the music will get, and the more they will just chase stats and hits and require more corporate type things from the super stars…

    I also fear that while its similar to racing, its just not similar in regards to who makes it, which is fine, its just the way it is…

    • Musician

      I respectfully disagree. I have been making a decent living off music now for the better part of three years. What most people don’t understand is that it’s not really about the music. You’re really working for the liquor industry. Most musicians that make a living for themselves don’t have fame or grandeur and are not looking for it. To be honest, you have a better chance at longevity by staying under the radar, playing small gigs, and recording and selling your material by yourself. As a musician, you are the owner of your own business, and you can make money just like any other business – by finding a niche in the market and exploiting it. There are still and will always be middle class musicians out there, you just have to pay attention long enough to notice.

      • Anonymous

        you can disagree but that doesnt make you right…

        i get it, the truth hurts doesnt it?

        • Musicians

          Haha I don’t really care if you believe me or not, I understand it’s just something people that aren’t in the industry don’t see a lot and you were raised to believe it’s not a viable career option, I just thought you’d find it interesting how the real music industry looks like today. There’s no profit in instrument sales anymore because the big stores like Guitar Center have ruined that market, and no one likes to sign with record labels anymore because it plunges you into a lot of debt and you can record and promote by yourself much cheaper with the recent tech advancements that have been made. Sure, you can’t buy giant billboards for yourself or a hundred tv ads, but there’s still a very large thriving culture of surviving artists who have taken their business into their own hands. You just can’t see what you’re not looking for.

          • Anonymous


            I don’t think thou understand, Its.not about believing you, I am letting thou know thou are incorrect… I wasnt looking for info based on what someone else has told me about the industry, I was telling you how it is, based on experience and research and some other thgings… it applies to all levels but more so then ever in the largest most widespread and big wheel areas of the industry, not some cottage side show where a few pennies are made by taking fees from bars to make some noise to help sell a few pints….

            your replyu only goes to show thou have very limited understanding and knowledge of the business

          • Scott

            I find it funny that someone posting as “Anonymous” is going to tell us “how it is” based on “research and some other thgings”. It has always taken a combination of luck and HARD work to succeed in the music industry, or any industry, regardless of how you define success. The only thing you will find in common about any artist who has made it to the biggest levels is a drive and willingness to make it whatever it took. And some of us are happy to just write and play music for fun. No need to try and spread your anonymous, misinformation.

          • Scott

            “i never said bud was wrong or that there was anything” Actually you did say he was wrong, twice.
            “you can disagree but that doesnt make you right”. “I am letting thou know thou are incorrect…”
            When you claim that the music industry has become completely corporate and they are only chasing hit records that is misinformation, the big money in the music business has Always been corporate and chasing hit records. You r comment about the corporate money making music less edgy and artistic is misinformation, corporate music has never been about edgy or artistic.
            The point is that the music “industry” doesn’t define music, and I believe the point the other guy was making is that you can make a “tangible living” in music with out the support of the majors and their money if your smart about your own business.
            And no offense meant but comparing the music business to racing is misinformation, other than it takes big money to compete against big money.

          • Anonymous

            you were raised to believe it’s not a viable career option

            actually i was raised to dream and that i can achieve anything, my old bandmate was raised that it wasnt a viable option, but i never was… the industry never told me it wasnt an option, but some people were real and honest with me about it and gave a lot of straight up real world info, which all helped…

            i know it can still be a viable career option, but theres a lot of different ways to get it done, and ultimately im not really a musician, so for me and what i do and who i am, its a different ball game…

            Please dont assume what i think and know and what has happened to me, just ask me man…

        • Lynx

          @anonymous well @musician for exactly 3 years and…….. so yes the truth must is terribly painful for you.

      • Vocalist

        Sorry. What you’re talking about is what is referred to as “get by” musicians. Yes, there may be plenty of work for that category of players; however, even the “liquor” industry knows when the crowd stays longer and grows larger: When the band is exceptional and entertaining. To play in a group that plays all the old standards of the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, etc. etc. and not bother to make the effort to do something better, is to just “get by” with what you know. Never improve, never experiment, never take risks, never demand better of yourself and/or your band mates. That’s called “just gettin’ by” and making a living. There are literally millions of people in the world that fit that description. If you really believed in yourself and had some fire somewhere to make some changes and take some risks; you might discover one of two things: You have more talent than you thought…or you have less talent than you thought. If it’s the 2nd one, maybe a regular day job would be a better choice.
        I know what I’m talking about, because I’ve been where you are multiple times in over 50 years of singing professionally. Self realization is what needs to happen, honestly, and realistically if you want something better.
        -Former lead singer for The Human Beinz-

        • Musician

          When did this become about just “getting by”? I’m not taking about weekend warriors, I’m talking about touring professionsals that work with several different groups at a time (standards or originals), and put on an excellent show for their fans and the customers that are watching them. We do a little more than just “get by”, and there are people who resent that because they don’t have enough business sense to make it their career. Any of those musicians you see backing up major artists started small, and took the right opportunities to get them to where they are. By the way, any musician that’s worth his weight knows how to pour his soul into those standards you’re so quick to disparage just as much as his own original music. Maybe you’re a little jaded?

          • Garrett

            There are definitely jaded egos in these comments. I know multiple people who also make good money by doing nothing more than regional “touring” as “bar bands.” They are talented and hard working enough to make money at what they do. It’s almost like being a studio musician. You’re good enough to pretty much play anything you set your mind to,and play it well, and you use that talent 3 or 4 nights a week, or whatever, to make money. Sure, they aren’t buying ridiculous mansions in L.A. but they make enough to pay the bills and do what they love for a living. It’s all about what you want to achieve as a band, that is what defines a successful band. I bet a lot of the people making inflammatory comments on here would be/have been fired for more than a few of the reasons listed in this article.

        • Lynx

          Love the The Human Beinz….. totally agree with you and @musician I keep telling my ex peers (I fired them along with my band) that it’s a business and you have to be available, on time etc….

      • PuppiesNkitties

        “….making a living off music..” Haha! That’s a good one!
        I’m a Unicorn Farmer!

  3. Chris H


    While this is great on paper, you realize every last one of those rules successful, iconic bands have broken in the extreme? Long Term Unions? No musical group is thinking “in Twenty Years/Do I like the Guy” ever. The biggest bands ever have historically only lasted roughly 7 years of creative output and the outliers have needed an army of therapists, lawyers and hangers on.

    I understand what you are driving at, but it ignores the only thing that is really important.

    Just make good music with whoever gets the best out of you, the rest takes care of itself.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Chris, there’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying. Some of the most successful bands are outrageously dysfunctional, and internal fighting is a given. Lifespans of successful artists are usually a few years. That said, I’m not sure that is an argument against getting your shit together. After all, do you want a successful band for 3 years, or 30+ years?

      • Chris H

        How much money are we going to make in those 3 years Paul? I’d work 3 years of my life with an asshole if it meant, spending the next 30 years “Solo” and doing what I like. I’m just having fun, your points are taken.

  4. Amo

    Ya Left Out The ENTIRE Section On The ” GF-BF ” Effect. …. THAT Will Destroy A Band ALMOST As Quickly As A MAJOR Drinking-Drug Problem – Sometimes FASTER ! ! ! !

    • thomas mitchell

      I approach many of these problems or realities in my book “Music (for the Not so Rich and Famous)”
      Most of us “little” people will play for penuts and are glad to get a good paying gig every-now-and-then.

      As for the article above some is good and some is dome. It all depends on what kind of band you have.
      You may have a lead guitar player that is not that great, but is rock steddy, practices, and has bood backup vocals. More likely you may have a drummer that misses practice, shows up late at showtime, stoned, and never misses a beat.
      I guess when you say “Band” it can have different meanings to different people.

  5. lee

    reckon this is correct i reckon there is one guy that doesnt deserve the spotlight not going to mention his name or maybe i will his name is billy and does this also go for promoters

  6. musicismylsd

    This list encompasses every musician of every band I’ve been in! Scary!

    I need a fire button!

  7. Dan Sheehan

    I don’t disagree with any of these points. HOWEVER, if you fire everyone who has any of these failings, you might not be able to get any kind of band going in the first place. I think sometimes you have to temporarily put up with some of these things, like non-ideal schedules or people who aren’t as big dreamers as you are, and when things get to the point where that ain’t cuttin’ it any more, hopefully by then you’re in a better place to attract people who are. It is rare you find people with open schedules ready to make the investment required to get a band going from the ground up. If anyone has a band filled with people who don’t violate any of the 12 things mentioned in this article, do everything you can to hold onto those people because you have struck a goldmine! Also if you yourself don’t suffer from any of these traits, join my band! Dan Sheehan

  8. James

    Start your own one man band. LOLOLOL then you only have to look at yourself.

  9. whatever

    don’t fire nobody – let them quit. some people do better work on drugs….sometimes the biggest asshole- has the only talent in the fn group…or thelead singer with the mediocore voice is the only person a customer will pay to see…..or you don’t agree with the fill in the blanks keyboard player – but hes is a virtuous/prodigy. ANd remember this – JImi Hendrix was in Lil’ Richards band and the Isley Brothers……Lil’ richard states – Jimi was too flamboyant and he had to let him go……imagine that.

    • Dusty

      you can be talented to the hilt, but if you can not be a team member with your band, fired!
      and good business is just that. good business or you can play in a garage or the street…
      band is a family too, but it’s also a business if you are a working band.

      and one should never put up with a thief. ever.

  10. Anonymous

    hmm, … yah well, 10 out of 12 really has me, lol sigh,
    but us girls have been babysitting for so long, LOL , … sheesh,
    boo – we won’t know – what – to – do !!! blah. :P
    lol dang, i’d had really hoped it was like more 50/50 hahaha !!!

  11. Farmer Jon

    Dear Musician,
    Thank you for writing this, there is a mirror quality. I fired myself from the opening band for Jefferson Starship due to my entire bands shooting up. Nothing against those boys, I just didn’t want to go in that direction. This was thirty years ago, but still seems relevant.
    -Farmer Jon.

    • Bernie

      I run a business and have been an off/on working musician for the past 28 years. I devised a system for musicians I choose to work with and called it a TRACC record.
      Talent, Reliability, Attitude, Conduct, Commitment
      This is not in any order of importance.

  12. Izzie

    Hi all, 20+years in the music industry (all levels, genres, disciplines considered – except major label); 15 years professional in marketing, media, advertising, audio background. etc. I’m curious why there are so many arguments in the comments instead of better suggestions, business practices, musicianship and networking? I think that people who are seeking how to solve problems (a tough-one, like letting go of a band-mate, especially if there are a lot of personal dynamics) are actually looking to seasoned musicians to give solid advice which can stem from what the author intended or expand on as appropriate. I’m thinking that giving our fellow musicians a leg up and benefit of the doubt while sharing insight is a far more valuable, generous and productive use of one’s time. All considered – there is enough against us in the world and often the music business without throwing each other into the mixer- and under the bus I suppose…
    Keep on, keepin on.