9 Steps to Deal with Conflict in your Band

Let’s talk about a key skill to learn when it comes to working with people, and that is how to deal with uncomfortable situations and conflicts within your band. In all of the bands I’ve played in, there has been some sort of disagreement between members, and the success of your band lies within solving it.

The main solution is to set up a mutual agreement where all the members have a chance to give input. There are always two sides to a situation and this gives all members a fair chance to speak up and lay their wishes down in a respected environment with the best interest of the band at the center.

Here are the 9 steps that I recommend to set up a band mutual agreement:

Sometimes, dealing with conflict can be a long and lonely road when not solved or dealt with correctly.

Make an appointment with all the band members

The best is to have the meeting outside of the band practice room. This helps to see things from a different perspective. Someone’s house, a cafe, or any central space that suits everyone will do. Another suggestion is to do this without alcohol since you are dealing with an emotional topic.

Perhaps after feelings have cooled down if an incident took place. This would provide some time for reflection and mental preparation.

Also, try to make the appointment when everyone is still fresh. People coming from a tough day at work might not be as cooperative as you need them to be.

Start with small talk to settle nerves or vibes

This will start the meeting in a relaxed manner and break the ice. The members will arrive nervous and they will not know what exactly to expect. People feed off of good vibes and being cheerful and positive helps to relax the intensity of hard feelings.

You can also hand each of your band members something small like a sweet or a card to make them feel valued. Order something to drink and move on to the next step.

Appoint someone to write down the agreements

Setting up the general agreement means change and respect. Any member can write down the list of agreements, as long as it can be printed and signed by each member.

To start, write the name of the band in the middle of the paper so that all members can continuously reflect and think about what the best agreements or solutions could look like for the benefit of the band.

Also, check out the article I wrote on Band Rehearsal Etiquette We All Agree On. This might add some guidance and provide tips to solve your conflict.

Name the issues one member at a time

Allow each member to speak up and say what bothers them. While one person is speaking, the others should listen and not react immediately. This will lead to further arguments which we are trying to spare. It is important that each member feels respected and valued during this process. Try to continuously show empathy and understanding.

Perhaps you might have an object like a ball, and only allow the member holding the ball to be able to speak. This gives the speaker the authority to decide when they are done. Then only it can be handed to the next member to come to word. It is a little technique also therapists use once they realize that individuals are struggling to set their points.

After each problem has been named, agree to summarise a short sentence for the agreement list for this problem. The agreement should be a sign of mutual respect and setting boundaries for each other.

Solving band conflict is a crucial skill to learn

Address the root of a problem

Mostly what upsets us is the wrong we see, and not what we can do to make it better. For example: “I have a problem that you are always late.” What can we do to make this better? What is the reason for this? Can we make practice a few minutes later, or find a practice venue closer to the latecomer’s location? This will always take sacrifice on both sides. Try to find a solution together.

Ask for any other wishes

Once you have a list of about 6-10 agreements, ask your members if they have any other wishes or expectations to add on. All members should feel free and relieved after this and offering an extra chance to get anything off of their shoulders will increase this objective.

All members must sign the agreement

Ask all the members to sign the general agreement and shake hands to recognize the dawning of a new era. This document should be visible in the band room where the members can hold each other accountable for the agreements.

Talk about ideas and things to look forward to

All the solutions have been found and now the focus should return to getting back to business again. Talk about upcoming gigs, new songs, or fun things you all might be looking forward to. I would also say that it’s safe to order the beer now 😉

Bonding is a key aspect when we engage in a team activity. Don’t miss the article I wrote about 4 Ways To Build Chemistry With Your Bandmates.

Reflect back to the agreement regularly

To keep the agreements in place and to make sure everyone is still doing well, reflect back on your agreements on a quarter-half-year basis. There might also be new issues developing in the meantime that will need attention. Keep the boat sailing by having these check-ins from time to time and revise what is needed or if there should be add-ons.

Keep in mind what is best for the band. Only together you can make this work.

After this is done, mountains will lift off the shoulders of all your members and they will be ready to get back to jamming again. Once you are ready to optimize your time in your band room, go ahead and read my article 7 Tips For Productive Band Practices and make sure that you get the most out of your time together.

Good luck with your journey and Rock On!

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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