Should I quit my band?

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Quitting a band can feel very similar to breaking up with someone you have a romantic relationship with. And as most of us probably know, that’s never easy. Are you sure you want to quit the band? Are the red flags you are seeing even a valid reason to quit? And once you are sure that you want or need to quit, how do you go about it? I’m sure this article will shed some new light on the situation and help you make a calibrated decision.

What can you expect from a band?

Most of the times people start a band because they, in some way, have a connection. For example, they share the same musical interests or vision, or are just good friends who would love to make music together.

When you start a band it’s important to talk about everyone’s ambitions. It’s easy to prevent friction by speaking about expectations before you naturally discover they are (not) aligned. Some things you want to know when joining/forming a band are:

  • What is the ambition of the band? Are we working towards gigging/creating an album, or are we just going to come together once a week and play in the rehearsal room?
    • If it’s a gigging band, how many gigs will we play a year? Just one at the annual neighborhood barbecue, or are we going to conquer the world?
  • Do we have a weekly/monthly rehearsal or are we just going to take it one rehearsal at a time? And is it okay to cancel rehearsals? What is an okay reason to cancel and what isn’t?
  • Is the band a priority? And how high is the priority? If you are in a cover band that plays 100+ shows a year it will probably be frowned upon if you won’t be available during the holidays.

During the life span of a band it happens that these ambitions no longer align. For most people this is the first spark in considering to quit their band. There are however also other reasons to want to quit your band. But what is it, that you can specifically expect to get out of a band?

What should you get out of a band?

There is a saying in the music business that there are three good reasons to join a band in the first place:

  • It fulfills you musically,
  • It fulfills you socially,
  • The money is good.

The saying states that you need at least two of the three components to make a band worthwhile to join. For example, if you really love the music, don’t really connect with your band members on a deeper level but do get to bring home good cash at the end of the night, it might be enough.

Another example: You might love the music and be in a group that consists of great friends but the pay is usually poor. If you can go without the money or are able to invest until the band brings home the desired cash, you have two great reasons to stay.

Of course it also really depends on external factors. If you are a hobbyist, money will probably not be a goal. If you are a session player however, you sometimes need the cash and just play a tour because you need to pay the bills. To make a calibrated decision whether you should or shouldn’t leave your band, it’s good to write down what you think being in a band should bring you.

Weighing the negatives and the positives

Now you know what you want out of a band. Subsequently write down where your band is doing a good job and where it’s lacking. Is it a great musical experience? Do you feel socially energized every time you are in a room with your band mates? Also write down what other reasons there are that made you consider quitting in the first place.

Probably you have written down something about the musical component of the band (the guitarist won’t stop soloing during the vocal parts), the social part (the drummer keeps drinking all the beer) or the money part (we can’t replace the beer the drummer drank because we are broke).

Can you fix the things you have written down? You probably can’t fix a drummer who has bad timing, but you can try to change the rehearsal dates so there are less cancellations.

Peer review

If the problem seems fixable, call in a band meeting to talk about your feelings and inform them what you are struggling with. Just like any other relationship, it’s very healthy to talk about what is bothering you to the other person(s). It will also give your band members a chance to fix stuff and give their opinion about/vision on the situation. You might even learn some things about yourself or get a different perspective on the situation.

According to how the conversation goes, you can then decide on a strategy with your band mates to fix it, re-evaluate ambitions or decide it is better to part ways.

How do you quit a band?

When the problem doesn’t seem fixable however, you should ask yourself if organizing a band meeting and confronting your band members is such a good idea. You can either decide to call them out on it and have a confrontation, or decide to be political about it.

If you feel the band is a safe environment where you can speak your mind, and the reason you want to quit the band hasn’t to do with any reason that would hurt the band members on a personal level, I highly advice to call in a meeting, speak your mind and quit the band.

Calling in a band meeting and confronting people face to face, is probably also how you would want to be treated. Give your band members the same courtesy.

Leaving on good terms

When the reason for quitting the band might rub people the wrong way (the other band members just don’t cut it, the singer and the guitar player are constantly fighting), confronting people head on might not result in a good ending.

If you are a professional player you don’t want to make too many “enemies”, especially if you have a small local scene. In these situations you should consider leaving on good terms. You can do that by making it less about your band members and more about you.

You could for example say you are looking for a new musical challenge. Or that you aren’t into the music as much as you were before. Another reason would be that you need to invest time in projects that have better monetary terms or that align more with your current ambitions.

Always try to say something that is true. When you want to leave a group because you hate everyone’s guts, you could also phrase is as that you want you to focus on other projects that give you more fulfillment. You could even say that you are looking for a band where you would feel more socially comfortable. If you tell your band members you want to quit because you are too busy and join a new band the next week it’s pretty apparent you were not truthful.

Some closing words

I hope this article gave you some insights and some tools to determine whether you should quit your band and how you should go about doing it.

Even though I dedicated the biggest part of this article to giving you tools for making a rationalized decision whether to quit or not to quit your band, I also want to emphasize how much I believe in following your gut feeling. I strongly believe that intuition is a powerful thing, and if it tells you to do something (and you are not under the influence of any substance) you’d be wise to follow this gut feeling. Most people are very capable to determine where their boundaries are and should trust their inner voice.

As humans we possess the absurd possibility of ignoring our hearts. That is how people burn out from their jobs or sometimes even spend their entire lives focusing on pleasing others. Since you know yourself better than everyone else, every reason you deem valid IS a valid reason to quit your band.

I hope you found this article helpful! Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are and if you have any questions or suggestions.


  1. Thanks for the article. Been a little heavy hearted as the duo that I joined a few years back are the nicest people you could ever work with. He is bass and sound, she acoustic and vocals. I play drums and sing. We have had a revolving door of guitarists over the three years. I’m a mid level player, good timing (so I’m told) some lead and backing vocals. As bands have we have many small differences/issues but the bottom line is just not the feeling anymore. Well I know what needs to be done. Thanks.

  2. Band Meeting? They always end badly. If your calling a band meeting, your getting ready to kick someone out or quit. 95 percent of people aren’t perfect, and then there are the rest of us.

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