How To Settle Band Disputes

DDisputes within bands are something that all musicians will have to deal with if they play in a group. Sometimes disputes can make or break a band, but without them positive change can be difficult, so the art of compromise and democratic decisions is key in settling band disputes.


Image credit:

Money is often top of the list when it comes to arguments between bands. If one person is responsible for providing the PA system being used, they can often have a lot of leverage in band disputes, so it really is up to the other band members to try and make this person as democratic as possible. If arguments end with, “well I own the PA so if you don’t agree you lot aren’t using it anymore,” you’ve probably got a budding dictator on your hands. Avoid these types of people unless you don’t mind them running the show.

Musicians and money problems go hand in hand, and often one band member has got more then another. The worst scenario is when member of the band begin relying on one member to pay for everything, whether it’s gas to get to a gig, time in a studio, or just being sent off to buy new guitar strings. If this is you, say something now and explain how you feel. Most people are understanding and won’t make you feel bad, but if they do, best find another band to join.


Arguments about songs and how each member should play are usually decided through a vote. Well, they should be. But if you have a band leader, or a stubborn member that disagrees with almost everything a member does, eventually someone is going to say enough is enough. This is all part of how bands evolve and get better, so disputes over creativity should not be avoided. But what should be avoided is unnecessarily offending somebody or letting someone have their own way.

Test songs, ask for other people’s opinions, and discuss exactly what sounds right and what sounds wrong. The whole point of a band is to play music together, so if everyone is not happy it is not working. If one person thinks a song is bad but the others don’t, it’s down to that person to play the song for the other members, no matter what he or she thinks. Compromise plays a big part in disputes about creativity.


Now this shouldn’t really ever be a big issue if you are a likeminded band and know exactly what style of music and associated image you want to produce. But saying that, there is the problem of one person being the black sheep. If one person doesn’t want to fit into the image of the band, then it totally depends on what the other band members think. Perhaps someone is too metal for an indie band, or vice versa. Everyone has the right to dress the way they want and act the way they want, so this type of thing really tests how tolerant your band is.

Most of the time this type of problem is apparent soon and can be brought up before it really gets awkward. But sometime people attitudes and style change over time, and before you know it you’ve have a vocalist in all black screaming down the mic at an acoustic gig. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but band image can count for a lot further down the line. The main thing is to try and get everything smoothed out as near to the beginning as possible, and this rules goes for a lot of problems that effect bands.


Image credit:

This can be a tricky one, because everyone has different commitments and schedules, so finding a time when everyone can practice can often be harder than you think. Band members turning up hungover and unable to play, or missing practice altogether, causes problem for everyone. One way to try and stop this from happening is to have a forfeit system, where the offending member has to do something because they missed practice. This can be a lot of fun, and the forfeits are best left down to your own imagination.

At the other spectrum there might be a member that is super committed and wants everyone else in the band to have the same dream of making it to the big time as him or her. There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but if they make you feel bad because you don’t have the same inflated dreams as them, say something about it. Chances are the person will see sense, or on the other hand they might want you out of the band. Either way, it’s better to let people know how you feel.

After all is said and done…

The main thing about settling band disputes is to not let things go too far. As soon as a problem is recognised, address it and move on. If the dispute can’t be solved, then the band isn’t working and it’s probably best that you go your separate ways. That’s not to say that you should give up at the first hurdle. Perseverance in a band is important, but bad feelings between members will be the death of the group, so get things sorted and try again until nothing more can be done.

Olivia Lennox is a singer and musician who has worked with and been part of numerous bands. These days, she balances her time writing and gigging with cruise lines like Fred Olsen, MSC and Disney.