How to Quit A Band Without Upsetting The Other Members

Quitting a band is no easy task. Depending on how long you’ve been with the band and your relationship with other members, it could be breezy, or it could be similar to a nasty divorce. Regardless of why you are quitting the band, it’s best to leave on good terms.

There are many reasons to quit a band. If you find yourself in the position that you need to move on, stick to the plan below to quit the band and leave the other members feeling amicable about the split. 

Evaluate Your Reasons For Quitting the Band

When you start to think about quitting a band, it is essential to feel firm in your reason(s) for leaving. These reasons will be crucial for you and the other members. Having flimsy excuses can make it challenging for you to stick to your motivation and follow-through, and it can also really upset other members who may not feel like you presented a good reason. 

Now there are tons of good reasons to quit a band. Consider making a list of reasons you want to leave. Write it down somewhere. Humans tend to absorb things better when we see them written down, which can help firm up any loose convictions lingering in your reasons.

Below is a list of possible reasons you may want to quit your band. Some of them may resonate more strongly with you than others.

Top Reasons Why People Quit Their Band

  • Feeling Burnt Out: You keep finding yourself unmotivated to make music and are adverse to the idea of spending more time working on it. Maybe you just need a break.
  • Personal Differences: Maybe there is one band member you just can’t get along with. Consider trying to talk it out with them first before quitting.
  • New Opportunity: This could be anything. Perhaps you got a touring gig with another group or a new job that will have you move to a new state. Sometimes this is only a temporary break.
  • Feeling Underappreciated: We all thrive on validation and it can be tough to keep working in an environment where you feel underappreciated for your contributions. 
  • Different Visions: Musicians evolve and styles change. If you and your bandmates can’t agree on a vision for the band’s future, it will be tough to sustain.
  • Solo Career: Not everyone is a great team player. Maybe you feel you would thrive as a solo artist and want to take a stab at that. 
  • Stagnation: The band isn’t gaining momentum or making meaningful upward movement and you feel that you have a better chance at that elsewhere.
  • Money: Music can be an expensive hobby and a tough career. If you are consistently spending more money than you are making, it may not be sustainable for long. 

Any combination of those reasons or any others is more than enough reason to quit a band. 

It is also totally possible that once you’ve evaluated your reasons, you discover that all you need is a temporary break, not a permanent one. Maybe you’re just going on tour for the summer, and you’ll join back in the fall. Quitting doesn’t have to be forever. 

Temporary or permanent break aside, telling your band members can be nerve-wracking. A visual list builds up resolve. Remain firm in your conviction and committed to those reasons as you move on to the next step in quitting the band.

How To Tell Your Bandmates You’re Quitting

Once you’ve made a list of reasons, you should ask yourself if you think you could resolve them without quitting the band. It’s possible that having a conversation with the band could resolve your issues. If you aren’t feeling appreciated, then voice that concern and give things a chance to change.

If you choose to voice your concerns to the band, clarify that you will be quitting if you don’t feel these things change within a specific timeframe. Without particular guidelines to changes, you may find yourself in a loop of complaining, being promised change, then seeing no difference, and so on.

What To Do if Your Band Isn’t Meeting Your Needs

Let’s say you voice your concerns, and after the predetermined time frame passes, you still don’t notice the changes your band promised you. At that time, you should commit to quitting your band. You want to think of this carefully and professionally. Avoid leaving in a heated emotional moment that could result in some harsh words. 

  • Set a date in mind and plan to tell the whole band together in person. In the modern age, it is tempting to just drop everyone an email and avoid the potentially uncomfortable face to face interaction of quitting, but an in person conversation will go a long way in making sure everyone feels good about the split. 
  • Keep a calm level head and keep your departure short and specific. You may have reasons for leaving that upset you, but keeping things cool and professional will help to make the transition less painful. Use your specific reasons that you documented earlier and articulate them for the band so that your reasons for leaving are abundantly clear. 
  • Once you’ve said your piece and made it clear that you’ll be leaving, it is important to give the other members space to respond

They may have questions to understand your departure, or they may need to express how this affects them. Giving them space to respond and allowing them to feel heard softens the blow. 

Here is a video with some more tips:

Wrap Up Business and Any Loose Ends

Depending on your band’s popularity, there may be varying degrees of outstanding business that needs tending. In the best settings, your crew will have some existing member agreement document with terms outlining the departure of a member. If your band does have this agreement, then honor the terms of the previously signed agreement and move on. 

However, many smaller bands and hobbyists will find themselves without written agreements and existing terms. It will be up to you and the other members to personally work out any outstanding business regarding upcoming gigs, songwriting credits, recording credits, and any possible monetary gain or losses the band was handling.

In the business world, two weeks’ notice is relatively standard for leaving a job. This may apply to your band, but it may not be depending on what you have coming up. Look ahead to any scheduled gigs and either commit to playing them or finding a suitable replacement. Leaving your band members in the lurch with a gig coming up puts them in a tight spot. 

What if I Have Written Music for the Band?

If you’ve contributed to writing some of the band’s songs, clear up any details there. Decide if and how the band will credit you in the future. Song credits are also where some of the stickier monetary situations come to light. 

If the songs are unrecorded, you might decide if you can get a writer credit or take the piece with you.

When discussing financials, it is best to be upfront and honest about it to avoid hurt feelings. Money is a touchy subject. If you feel you are entitled to any particular monetary gain from songs, recordings, or merch, you should get it worked out now and in writing. Perhaps a song you co-wrote will be recorded and released later.

How Do You Handle Shared Band Debt During a Breakup?

The flip side of monetary gains is the outstanding debt. Smaller bands tend to spend more money than they make early on. This could be on rehearsal space, recording studio time, equipment, etc. Be clear about any debt you feel you will still be responsible for and what you don’t feel you should be accountable for. 

Handling those nasty little business details at the split will save a lot of time and potential conflict later on. It is also just good business. Maybe that song you co-wrote goes big, but you didn’t work out the details of being credited or the finances. When you approach the band about it, it will drag up a lot of resentment and hurt feelings. Best to settle it all before. 

To avoid debt issues going forward, it is best to have everything in a written agreement.

Keep It Brief and Move On

Nobody likes long, drawn-out goodbyes. In times of leaving, it is always best to keep things short and sweet. Once you’ve quit and wrapped up your loose ends, get going. Move on to that other project that was calling your name or whatever took you away from the band. It will help you push past the grieving period and validate your choice of leaving. 

If you and your band members had friendships or relationships beyond just playing music together, then definitely sustain those relationships so long as they still feel good. If you’re quitting because those relationships have soured, then there’s no reason to keep up appearances. But if you all are good friends and bandmates, then keep the friendships alive.

Assuming you didn’t leave on bad terms, then you can continue to support your old band members by going to their shows and checking out their new releases. Ongoing support can ease any existing tension between you and your former bandmates. 

Or if it feels too challenging to do that, think of it like a band-aid and make a clean break. Whichever feels right for you. 

If you want to quit music altogether, check out these tips:

How To Handle A Band Member Quitting Your Band

Let’s take a look at this from the other side of the conversation. Not only is it valuable to consider the perspective of your band leader and other band members when quitting, but maybe you’ll one day find yourself responding to a band member using the tactics above to quit. It could be a surprise or a rough shake-up to things, and an intelligent response will go a long way.

Let’s assume that the band member is quitting using the model we outlined above, and you are the band leader. The band member approaches you with some concerns and says they would like certain things to change in the next month or two. 

As the band leader, you should listen closely to these concerns and consider if you have observed or felt them as well.

It could very well be that you don’t feel that this band member is valid in their concerns and that you think the band would be better off without them. In which case, you could suggest that you and the member leaving is best for everyone involved and make a clean break right there. 

Validate Your Band’s Concerns

However, if you value this member and feel their concern is valid, you should make a serious effort to rectify those issues. Make changes to the rehearsals or gigs such that the band member feels like you listened and are making an effort to change. You might not be able to make everything they want to happen, but the effort of trying goes a long way.

Let’s then say that the time is up and the band member still feels they need to quit. They approach the band and make it clear they are leaving and why. As the band leader, the other members will look to you to guide their reactions. Try to keep a calm and professional head. Respond as positively as possible, setting a solid example for the other members. 

What Happens If Someone Leaves on Bad Terms?

If there is bad blood, try and keep that to a low level to avoid any serious conflict. You can rally the other band members to be excited for this new chapter of the quitting member’s life/career in the best of circumstances. Consider yourself a bit of the moderator in the conversation between the quitting member and the other band members. 

Next, turn your attention to the business of the band. Be firm in what commitments you expect the quitting member to honor. Be respectful of the quitting member’s contributions to the band’s catalog. Try to reach agreeable terms in writing for any outstanding crediting or financial realities. 

What To Do After The Band Member Is Out

Once that band member is out, it’ll be up to you to make the next move. Try to keep your head up and consider that the band member’s departure isn’t a personal indictment on your leadership. It may have just been not the best fit for them. And you can’t dwell on it too long. You need to decide if you will be replacing the member or not. 

If you are going to be finding a replacement, start searching. Maybe the outgoing member recommended a replacement. That’s great, and you should make time to consider this person. But also take time and search for the best replacement. Talk to other musicians, browse YouTube and social media for local musicians. It isn’t every day you get to add someone to the band.

Most importantly, keep your vision on the band’s future. Musicians come and go from bands all the time. Small garage bands and international superstars have all had to deal with it at some point. Keep a clear vision of your band’s future and how you can best steer the ship in that direction. Dwelling on the past won’t help your crew get to the destination. 

Look out for the upside. Your band member quitting might seem like a real bummer, but there is always a silver lining. Maybe this creates a new creative opportunity for the band or the discovery of a new incredible musician to join you. Whatever it is, focusing on it eases the big transition.

Quitting Your Band On Good Terms is Good Business

The music industry, like any industry, is one built on connections. You never know how one person leads you to the next and how that person leads to a job, and so on. Taking time and effort to quit your band on good terms is good business. There’s no reason to go burning bridges on the way out

That’s not to say that the only reason to quit amicably is to ride their coattails later. People talk. You want to maintain a good reputation in the industry so that when your name comes up, people talk about what a good person and band member you are. The last thing you need is people talking about how you quit in a mad rush and abandoned the band before an important gig. 
Reliability and professionalism are highly desirable traits. Quitting carefully and methodically will protect your reputation as a reliable and professional person. So, if you have found yourself itching to move on, do it with grace. List strong reasons, tie up loose ends, and do it all with a cool head.

Eli Smith

I'm the managing editor for this website. I like being a dad, writing, and listening to angry music. Thanks for visiting.

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