How To Start Over When Your Band Breaks Up

Dealing with a breakup of any relationship is hard.  But when that relationship involves 5 other people who once held your hopes and dreams in their hands, it can be uniquely difficult!

For many musicians in my circle, the break up of a band they’ve invested a lot of time, money and energy into has ultimately led them to quit music altogether.  As someone who invested 6 years in my previous band, I get it. The thought of starting all over again fucking SUCKS.

But despite feeling the urge to throw in the towel about a million times, I’ve also picked myself back up again and moved forward in my career. Here’s how I did it:

Forgive, but don’t forget what you learned

The first step is to forgive your bandmates for any shit that went down when the band was together!  Trust me, if you hold onto negative vibes you’re just going to bring them into the next band and be super touchy about random things.  Besides, who wants to hold onto that kind of baggage anyway. A new band should be a clean slate so do what you have to do to let go and move on.

Equally as important is to forgive yourself for ‘failing.’  Dude, stop beating yourself up! They say there are no failures, only lessons and I truly believe in this philosophy.  My old band did so many things right but so many things I would now consider in this day and age to be ‘wrong!’ But these are the lessons I take with me into my new project and to my coaching sessions with clients.  I’m actually glad I made these so-called mistakes now!

Take a break

Particularly if we’ve committed years of our lives into a project that’s ended, sometimes we just need a break.  I took a break of about a year between bands. I was looking for band members the whole time but in hindsight, I just wasn’t ready to commit to another project for a good portion of that time.  

Musicians don’t live a ‘normal’ life.  We love creating but often put things on hold, make sacrifices, our money goes to recording rather than holidays or new clothes etc. so don’t be afraid to take this time to yourself.  Enjoy your afternoons without needing to rush to rehearsals. Enjoy the fact that your money can be used to take that holiday you’ve been putting off. Live a normal life for a while!

Work on your Craft

When a band breaks up we can lose confidence in ourselves and our ability.  Once you’ve made a conscious effort to forgive the past, it’s a good idea to build that confidence back up by getting the best at our craft we ever have been.  This means actually practicing every day, writing, enjoying music for what it is without the pressure of writing for an upcoming release or show. This not only helps you be more confident moving forward but obviously in the scheme of things it’ll improve your skills to increase the chances of finding a new band.

Get good at the business side

Take this opportunity between projects to get good at the business side of being in a band.  In particular, I’d suggest learning more about social media and marketing. You can do this by studying what other bands are doing (if you think they’re doing it well of course) or by taking a social media course.

This means when you eventually launch something new you won’t feel like you’re starting from scratch because you’ll be savvier and be able to utilise your time more efficiently.  I’ve seen bands do more in 6 months than many do in 6 years, all through using social media and marketing themselves properly. So this is something to take extremely seriously, especially if you feel like time is getting away from you.

*cough* I have a short online course called Social Media Shredder which is designed specifically for heavy bands *cough.*

Put yourself out there

Once you feel refreshed and your drive is back with a vengeance, it’s time to put yourself out there again.  You can check out my blog post all about How To Find Bandmates for info on how to do this.  One of the key points I mention in the article is to make sure you have a very good idea about how serious you want the next project to be, the approximate genre and the kinds of people you want to work with (so you can avoid any personality clashes that may have been an issue in your old band).

Be patient when looking for a new band as the last thing you want is to fall into a new project with people who aren’t on your level musically or don’t want to achieve the same goals you do.  In the meantime work on all of the above and when the time is right, you’ll come across the right opportunity.

As I mentioned this whole process took me around a year or more but it’s different for everybody.  Stay focused because the only guaranteed way to fail is to give up.