Mar 14

Band Breakup? No Worries, Just Go Solo.

We have all been there. A grant runs out, and so therefore does your program position. The company calls that “All Hands” meeting just so that they can tell you that the firm is about to “right-size” – and you’re apparently not the right size at all. Or your business partner starts whining to you, “This is too hard to deal with, and the communication is so tough, and the blah blah blah… ” and decides to give up the initiative.

Hell, we’ve all laughed at the “It’s not you…it’s me.” BS line, but really… it’s super NOT-funny when it’s being said to you in a semi-serious conversation.

We’ve ALL been there.  If you’re nodding “yes” right now, I’ve got your back. If you shaking your head “naw, no not me” …well, The Nile’s not just a river in Egypt my friend. (I wait a sec to let that sink in……)

So what’s a rockstar to do when his/her band breaks up for “musical differences?”

Recapture your musical muse…and go solo (metaphorically).

beatles-for-saleToo often we now throw around the “rockstar” moniker (Me? Super Guilty of This.) and we sometimes don’t give it its just due as more than a way to call someone “outstanding.”  A rockstar also knows the pains of break up, rejection, denial (there’s that river again, kids), a change in musical tastes, trends, and going it on their own, trailblazing a new path of what’s what.  Bands break up. Hell, The Beatles didn’t last but a decade. But the inner rockstar has some tips that might help you cope with what just kicked you in the teeth.

1.  Absorb and Contemplate – You hear about the “go find yourself” thing in those self-help books/paperweights. But I’m not talking about contemplating what you are and why you’re here. No. Absorb what happened. Absorb that this did indeed happened, and things are about to change. Then,  take time out for yourself to celebrate you and what you accomplished. Unless you set fire to the office break room or were found at an “illicit after hours meeting” with a bottle of Jack, your supervisor, a bull whip and some whipped cream … you need to contemplate what you did, how successful you were, and what lessons learned will come from this experience. Not all breakups are problems or issues. Some are good timing. Some are mutual. Some are at first traumatic. Like Semisonic said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Look at the ending from a long view perspective, and see the goods and bads of that entire experience. Learn from both. Absorb all into the “new you” and contemplate this collectively…take the time you need/can afford to give to this, then…

courtesy of jagoadvisor.com

courtesy of jagoadvisor.com

2. Make an Enemy’s List – (oops sorry, wrong list) Well not exactly an “enemy’s” list, but rather a “target list.” Right  about here is when you hear the cry to “network” and “go market yourself.” Slow down, Seabiscuit.  Before you run out into the world saying “My asshat partner stiffed me with a whole lotta nothing, so now I’m looking for someone else to run with” – let’s consider what is what first. List the targeted areas of things you’ll LOVED about doing…right up until the point HR gave you that pink slip or your client emailed the “we no longer require your more-than-admirable services.”  What are you looking for? What differences would you like to see in your next gig? What similarities? Don’t wait into someone says they have a lead for you, only to find you that your macro call-to-arms was answer by that one pal who does that one job that you used to always say, “I can’t believe anyone would get up each day and do THAT.” List may not be your thing, but neither was the ending of this thing of yours. Get your head right by channeling all that absorption and contemplation and get a rundown of what you feel might be next for you.  Musicians list those songs they cherished and those they would rather never play again. Some are in bands and realize they need to test the spotlight on a solo style… others realize that part (the on stage side) isn’t where their passion lies; it’s behind the scene, in the control room of the studio, or writing for others. So…

3. Check your Craft – Musicians create their own unique sound or flavor with their music. If I say “The Ramones” (and you weren’t born after, say, 1990) you think of leather-clad dudes yelling “1–2–3–4!!” then play a short, 3 chord set of noises… the Ramones’ sound. Eddie Van Halen “sounds” like him and him only. There’s a distinct voice in a musician.  You need to check yours. Be sure it is still heard, in need of a tune up, maybe replace those old worn strings on that sturdy old guitar you sling.. not change the YOU, but check to be sure there’s an audience for that YOU.. and to find where it is.  How are your skills to venture back into the working world. Maybe a class or two would help you establish yourself as a candidate for a position. Take a look at that resume you wrote in your senior year of college… it probably needs an overhaul. You NOT on social media?!? Might want to get those accounts up and running.  Your craft (the YOU instrument) needs maintains, a cleaning, and perhaps a new valve or string. While that’s a-happening…

writing_song_guitar_lyricbook4. Write those New Songs – Musicians take some time for themselves, then get back to writing and performing. You gotta gig, gig, gig. Take on a some projects, perhaps check out an internship. You have to find some venues and clubs to test you revised sound and material. Hone that craft that you called your “skill set” by putting it to the test in other venues. This is where your network comes in. Past clients, friends, family (aka club owners, booking agents, and fellow musicians) will look at your collaboration as a help to you, and also a way for THEM to network (i.e. gig, gig, gig)… win win.


5.  Assemble that new Band – You figured your list of targets, you have checked your equipment and sound, you even gigged a couple times around town and are feeling that next stage at the ready. Time to assemble some tribesmen to join you on that journey. Now this doesn’t mean exclusively starting your own business; what it means is you are ready to sign on the line that is dotted with a new band – a new company, a new client base, a new business of your own.  Sounds daunting. It is. And it isn’t. After leaving Genesis, Peter Gabriel started his successful solo career.  Upon the announcement of David Lee Roth leaving Van Halen, they came back with Sammy Hagar and carried on (then with Gary Cherone for an album, then again for a second with Diamond Dave, then back to Sammy, then Dave, now who knows where they are)… and your split with you company/business/clients/partner will blossom into a great new band.

6 Connect with Your Fans – Colleagues, family and friends (whether they know the full story or the rumor mill) will be generally worried about you and concerned for you. Keep them up to date on how you are. Back in the day, B.I. (Before the Internet), bands had fan clubs to keep the super fan up to date with all that was happening with their favorite acts in between albums or tours.  Let you fans know how you are, and you’ll see them soon during your “Back for the Ashes” World Tour.

Now if you would excuse me, you know the only way to get to Carnegie Hall… Practice, practice, practice.


1 ping

  1. Collaboration…and Dancing. » Doug Knight

    […] The fear lies in the potential for failure. Biting off too much. Gaining a one-side collaboration that yields more work than if alone on a project. Not getting along and breaking up the band. […]

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