personal ‘feelings’ vs business sense


I am a professional musician and for the past 10 years my life has been dedicated to performing with a 5-piece band. I love my job and my bandmates are like siblings to me.

The problem is with the ‘business’ of the relationship. I have always been a highly driven, motivated person, and am definitely a perfectionist, for better or worse. My bandmates are not at all similar, and as a result I end up having to do all of the leg-work for the group – all the logistics, management, dealing with agents, venues etc, as well as financing all the upfront tour costs as none of them have any money as they spend everything they make. I am more than happy to do the majority of the work as I know I can do it well, but the problem is, that no matter how much I try to delegate work, it often doesn’t get done, and no-one else takes the initiative to do anything without being directly asked, nor offers to help. This also extends to practising – unless I call a rehearsal, it never happens. We have had a number of meetings over the years where I have raised this, and how unhappy I am with the situation, but nothing ever changes. I just feel like I end up constantly nagging them which feels horrible, or having to do 100% of the work on my own, when it should be split evenly 5 ways.

I have been feeling really frustrated by this situation for a long time now – although the band is moderately successful, I am certain it could be more so if everyone was working at it. I would like to be having practises on a daily basis, working with performance coaches, making monthly videos, putting out regular new material, etc which would help grow the business but my bandmates just don’t seem to share any of my drive to make any of this happen, and as a result I now find myself putting my energy into other areas e.g. doing my PhD, organising other events, festivals etc.

I am trying to be respectful of them, and realise that it is not their nature to be ‘driven’ and that they have no desire to change, so all I can do is change myself and how I feel about it, but I’m torn between personal ‘feelings’ and business feelings, good and bad for both.

I am torn about whether to quit or not. Reasons against are that I really love the group, I love the lifestyle and I have put 10 years of my life into building it up, so to walk away seems crazy when I know we have a good product that sells well. Also, what breaks my heart is the knowledge that If I leave the band will just end because no-one else will take on the work, so all that work is wasted. Also, they are probably my best friends in the world, and if I leave they will be so hurt and it will ruin our relationship, as well as take away all their income.

On the other hand, it feels like an unequal partnership, and I’m not interested in being part of a business that my partners don’t take seriously. I could use my motivation and drive to make things happen in other areas with other people much more easily at this point. I don’t want to be in a musical project where the people would rather drink than play, and it’s frustrating to me every night to go on stage with a product that I know can be better than it is.

Obviously in another field it would be easy to simply say ‘well take more money for the extra work you do’, but the wages are already incredibly low (not exactly a fortune in folk music), and also money really isn’t the driving issue for me. It’s about the love of the music and wanting to be the best band we can be, so extra income wouldn’t really affect my feelings about it.

I definitely realise that I can’t control how they act, and only can control my own thoughts/feelings about it. What I’m stuck on, however, is at what point I stop trying to make myself feel better about the situation and take my motivation to other projects.