The Pros and Cons of Playing in a Band

As a musician, you will get to the point where you feel the need to either add extra live instruments to your performance or you might decide to go solo and perform by yourself.

Both sides have pros and cons to it and we are going to look at a few aspects to create a better perspective for your needs going forward.

I have seen the rise and the fall of musicians changing to both categories which makes these decisions vital for your career.

As humans, we are social creatures. We like having others around, even if it’s just a few trusted individuals.

The Pros of Playing in a Band

  • The brotherhood (or sisterhood) makes it worth it.
    • Having a side hustle where you spend time with your best mates is almost all one could ask for in a hobby.
    • It becomes hard when you don’t see each other and you bond on a whole different level.
  • You perform with a holistic musical production.
    • Your songs will have a variety of instruments and interesting sounds.
    • Each member brings new inspiration and style to create a unique sound to your set.
  • There are more resources when you work with more people.
    • Think about venues for practice, shooting music videos, and possible gigs, people are resourceful.
  • One feels more confident on stage.
    • Why not? You rehearsed together and psyche each other up beforehand.
    • You also don’t feel as exposed when you make a mistake as you would when you are solo.
    • I published a useful article 13 Tips to Build Confidence for a Musical Performance that will surely help you.
  • More members bring more fans.
    • Each band member has their own circle of friends that they bring with them as support.
    • In this manner, your following or fan base grows much quicker than if you were to be solo.
  • Job sharing makes life easier.
    • When each member has a job and responsibility, it makes the work light.
    • This might be things like social media, branding, managing, leading, songwriting, and sound engineering.
  • You grow into becoming a better musician.
    • Learning from your band members is like having a music lesson each practice. Looking back a few years later, you will be surprised by the amount of growth and progress you made.
    • As a beginner, it is absolutely crucial to progress faster and stay motivated. Don’t miss the post I wrote about At Which Ability Level You Should Be Joining a Band for extra motivation.
  • You develop management skills.
    • During your journey of playing in bands, you get to work with plenty of different people and personalities, also outside of the band room.
    • Building contacts and networking are key parts of becoming successful.
  • The most criticism you get is from a trusted environment.
    • Receiving criticism is never nice, but in a trusted environment, it is better to receive from than in public.
    • You also learn to deal with it much better as your journey continues together.

The joy and pride that a band can bring you are endless. Also decades after performing, you still reconnect with your bandmates and talk about the good old days.

The Cons of Playing in a Band

This post was written and posted by De Wet from on 13.05.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

Being organized as a band is a job in itself. It mainly comes down to sharing responsibilities and respect.
  • Less flexibility within the group for practices and gigs.
    • When you have radio interviews and invitations to awards, taking turns or having only some members attend is completely in order.
    • My tip: Flexibility above skill ability.
    • Make sure that you can play and perform also on short notice.
  • Less cash in your pocket.
    • If money is the sole reason for you making music, then playing in a band is probably not going to bring in enough cash in the beginning.
    • When you split up the door fees, a part normally also goes to the venue or sound engineer too.
  • You have more gear to travel around with.
    • When you think of the whole band, taking a trailer around is not a bad idea.
    • The bigger stages normally also have the skeleton stage prepared for you which reduces the amount of equipment needed per gig.
  • Spacial awareness for gigs or practice.
    • With every extra member, more space is required.
    • Most band rooms and stages can accommodate four members comfortably and a fifth person squeezing in tightly.
    • By the way, I wrote an article about 7 Tips for Productive Band Practices, which can solve this problem for you.
  • Politics within the group can complicate things.
    • This means conflict and relationships should be managed carefully. A few ground rules never did anyone any harm.
    • My suggested solution for this can be found in my published article 9 Steps to Deal with Conflict in Your Band.
  • When you have too many chiefs and no villagers.
    • Having experienced band members is great, but if everyone knows better or you constantly have divided opinions, it can be challenging to mostly ending up only giving.
  • Recordings can be complicated.
    • Not all musicians are session musos. Some are made for performance and others are all-rounders.
    • Recording music is a great learning school for a musician on any level, but since time is money, you would like to get the job done as soon as possible without stepping on anyone’s toes.
    • Find a way how this could be done by having one-on-one discussions and learning from recording to recording.
    • Recording your music is crucial, especially having the ability to market yourself independently. I have some valuable info for you about that in my article Self-Market Your Music.
  • You can’t always control the image of the band.
    • Each member has a piece of the pie and you will need to give and take little. Especially when something silly is being said over the mic to the crowd.
    • Reflect after the show and try to guide each other.
    • Have a few sentences or stories where crowds reacted well, and change the things that people didn’t like.
    • Remember, they are there for the music anyway. 😉
    • Your image as a band is an important reason for people to follow you. If you are still finding your band image, my article about Your Image As an Artist will help you to find an image that you are comfortable with.
  • You need backup musicians for certain instruments.
    • We are working with people that can cancel at any time. This is just the reality.
    • Sickness and family emergencies happen regularly. If nothing is too serious, the band would still like to perform their gig.
    • This is only possible if you have a wildcard musician or a session muso that knows all the instruments.

It will also be helpful for you to scan through the article I wrote about 9 Things to Know Before Starting a Band since I have addressed many realities about being in a band. It’s good to see the whole picture.

Don’t Quit your Day Job

It is something all musicians ask themselves every day. When will I be able to do this full-time? The brutal truth is that 1 out of 20 musicians are able to earn a full-time income from music, and they still feel the need to teach lessons or work at a bar part-time to be satisfied.

My advice is to take it gig by gig and be patient with the process. Keep reminding yourself that it is still a hobby and that the only things that will pull it through for you are patience, flexibility, positivity, hard work, and dedication.

When you start making music, start with friends. Make a band, learn and grow together. Once you are experienced and confident plus you’ve made key contacts along the way, and you feel comfortable performing on your own, this might be the start of your new career.

Of course, there are various paths to follow in order to make music your career. I have written a very useful guide to your first paid performance. You can find the Steps to Reach your First Paid Gig – From Zero to Hero right here.

Good luck with finding the right guys! Perform to your best ability and optimize your time as well as you can.

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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