Enough Is Enough, Damn It!
Yes, there will be times when you will not have a replacement band member waiting on the sidelines
By David Knight, Music Talk Sessions [11-12-2009]
As I've written in previous articles, I'm working on a production project with my son. It's been a long road, but just when I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, another situation has presented it self. Spotty attendance.
His group consists of two members, himself and a friend from school. All had been going great for a while. I write, produce and engineer the project and they write the lyrics and are the artist. I wish I had it as good when I was a teen! Since about January of this year, his band mate has been unreliable in making sessions. Because I've been down this path before, I started to watch the band mate. Each week he had a new reason for not attending a session. Excuses like, "I had to go food shopping with my mom", "my aunt needed help painting", "my big toe hurts", "I have to scratch my head!" became the norm.
I did not want to get too involved because I want my son to learn how to resolve his own problems. And as many of us know, when you're a band leader, attendance can be an ongoing problem. Each week my son would call me and say "hey dad, he's coming to the session this week", I'd say "ok", knowing he was not going to show up. This process continued on for weeks. Weeks turned into months. I began telling my son (months ago) to remove this person from the group. The project had slowed down to a crawl and stopped completely over the summer. I explained to him that part of being a band leader, manager etc. is having to let people go! "But this is my friend, my 'boy'" he proclaimed. "He can still be that," I said. "Just not in the band!" My son never moved forward in getting this resolved. He'd talk with me about it all of the time. I gave him several examples of what I had to do when I was his age and I had put my first group together. I had to let musicians go, left and right.
Until recently, my son could not see the value of replacing this member. Though I explained it many, many times. I told him, for his project to move forward, he had to let him go. You can not put something new in your hand if you're still holding on to something old! Then he met a young lady at work. Told her about his project and invited her to a session. She's a singer. My son's original concept of the group was rap. He asked her to come down to the session to put some vocal tracks on one of the songs. I loved the idea. She came in and dropped some really good tracks. For my production head, it took the sound of the music and the concept of the group in a new, "fresh" direction. I explained this to my son and he agreed.
Without telling him, I began to reinvent the look, sound and brand of the group. My son and I discussed that we will give his friend, the other band member one more chance (my sons idea) to make the next session. If he did not show, he'd be told, he was out! As expected, he did not show up. The young lady is now the new member of the group. My son and her make a great team! They are both on the same page. She's a hard worker and the entire energy of the project has shifted!
My point here is there are going to be many situations that we as band leaders, business owners, or as project managers are going to have to deal with. Many of those situations will force us to "fire" people. It's not something anyone looks forward to doing. But you'll know right away when a person needs to be let go. Don't wait, let them go! Do them, you and your business a favor! Nothing will grow except stress, anger and bad feelings. It's best for everyone involved.
Yes, there will be times when you will not have a replacement band member waiting on the sidelines. But, if a project is not growing and nothing is really getting done by this person, what's the difference? You still have a void to fill. There is no difference! You might as well remove the person, continue to deal with the void, but without all the stress. You'll think clearer,and faster on filling the void once you've removed the non-productive band member. If this is someone you are paying, you will be saving money until you find a replacement. That's a plus!
In my own situation, I had to replace a family member who just could not keep up with my fast growing band at the time. It was not easy to do. But, once I did it, a new person showed up. Eventually, I had to move that new person to a background singer position, that was not pleasant as well. However, as soon as I did that, the "real" lead singer for the band appeared!
Dragging out firing someone is the last thing you should do because the situation will only get worse. If you wait too long, you can bet the project will be destroyed! The key here is to access the problem, make your decision, and take action.
Move ahead no matter how painful it feels! In addition, when the time comes you have to let someone go, make sure you use as much sugar and spice as possible. Explain your reasons, back it up with facts, be firm in your decision and don't change your mind. Even if the breakup is on bad terms, be gentle in your delivery. Trust me, it will only serve you well in the future!
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