Haulix Advice: How To Deal With The Fact Your Band Is Breaking Up

Hello again! We are in the midst of a completely unplanned ‘Advice Week,’ and so far the feedback from our readers has been overwhelming. We hope to continue helping guide you through the ins and outs of the music industry in the months ahead, but today we’re going to talk about the end of your career and how you can ease the pain of saying goodbye. If you have a suggestion for a future installment of this column, or if you have a question you’d like us to tackle in the weeks ahead, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. You can also find us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

It is a hard fact to face, but just like everything else in life your group’s career in music will most likely one day come to an end. You could perform solo until you die (if that interests you, familiarize yourself with the life of Levon Helm), but it’s relatively safe to say your band will be calling it quits long before your AARP card arrives in the mail. When that happens you need to be prepared to share that decision with fans and others who are emotionally (or financially) attached to your efforts, and today we’re going to highlight a few essential steps that need to be taken in order to smoothly transition from band back to individuals who share a common bond in music.

Before we dive in it’s important to remember that every break up is different. Just like romantic entanglements that eventually fizzle, the inner-workings of groups are complex, and when it comes time to for that entity dissolve there are guaranteed to be broken heats along the way. You cannot please everyone or possibly hope to make it okay with diehard followers, but by following the three steps below you can ease the pain enough to bow out with your integrity in tact.

1. Always make an official announcement.

The responsibility of sharing your decision to quit playing music with your fellow band mates is entirely on you (the band). The only thing worse than a band break up on fans is living in fear the band they love may have fallen apart without even thinking to give notice to those who supported them throughout their career. Sit down with everyone who is still on good terms and craft an original, heartfelt message to announce the end of your time together. People need closure, and in order to have that they first need information. Give it to them.

2. Be honest, and do whatever you can to explain your decision to part ways without playing the blame game.

We all know of a band or two who parted ways on less than admirable terms, but whenever stories like that make headlines it tarnishes all the successes the group shared while together. People will always remember the way you said goodbye, so it’s important to make your announcement as informative and positive as possible. Sharing your news with fans should not be a time for finger-pointing, but rather a reflection on everything you have experienced together and a reveal as to what you each plan to do in the future. Through your musical endeavors together you have forged countless relationships the world over with people who believe in the emotions expressed through your art to such a degree they almost consider you friends, and as such they feel invested in your lives. They want to know everyone is better off for the change, and it’s your responsibility to help them feel at peace with the news. You, or at least your art, has potentially become a staple in their daily routine. Leaving things on an argumentative or otherwise sour note will spoil that connection for many who once felt close to your music.

3. Say thank you. A lot.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together a month or a decade, go out gracefully. There are many bands in the world, but for the time you existed people chose to give you their time (and money), and it’s important that you let them know their dedication was appreciated. Your creativity may have given you a dream to chase, but it’s because of their support that you were able to accomplish anything in this business at all. Your dreams were realized because of them. It may be over now and sure, there may be some hurt feelings, but for a fraction of their lives and yours you were connected. Don’t take that for granted.

(This column was made possible thanks to creative input from Jen Appel, founder of The Catalyst Publicity Group.)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.