How to respond to repetitive requests for change

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by PauFerro, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I see this come up in different situations. Fortunately, it's not been me whose had to deal with it, at least not within the last 8 years or so. But I've seen it happen to other people.

    Someone in the band gets it in their head there is a need for another member to change some way. I won't give a specific example so we don't go discussing that, rather than the point of the thread.

    The person, the target, indicates whey they aren't going to make that change. So, the person requesting the change, keeps asking for the change, over and over and over. The target indicates why they won't be changing. And then it gets more polarized, with the target getting more and more assertive. But the guy requesting the change won't quit. He keeps bringing it up, over and over again.

    To make matters more interesting, it's not a band-wide call for change, just one person's request that the target person make the change.

    How should the target respond to this situation? How would you respond to this situation if you were the band leader, looking on, if you think a response is due at all from you as BL?
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    As BL, if the change is a valid suggestion that would make the band better, tell them to make the change. If it isn't then tell the other person to shut up about it.
  3. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    These situations are quite often complicated as there are multiple dynamics at play. I also think that every situation is different and ultimately needs to be analyzed individually. In general, however:

    On one hand you've got a situation that is causing psychological discomfort to at least two or maybe more band members. This is a repellent force that can potentially result in people leaving or other negative consequences. On the other hand, there is whatever is bringing the band together in the first place - great music, a profitable enterprise, a great hang, etc., or usually multiple of these factors.

    How much tension is the situation causing? Is it tolerable or not? Each musician in the band needs to ask that question. If it's a minor annoyance and/or the cause of some bemusement among third parties, and maybe even the target, then I say just let it be. If the answer will result in something that affects a more important dynamic, i. e. a musician who brings something essential to the sound of the band may leave as a result, or if the majority of the band is struggling with the dynamic of the group as a result of the conflict, or if it stifles potential growth opportunities for the band, etc. then the issue needs to be resolved. By the way, this begs the question, what dynamics are important to you relative to the conflict at hand?

    This resolution could be in the form of telling the complainer to stop complaining and learn to deal, or telling the person with the problem that they need to change if they want to stay in the band. Again, it's really difficult to know what to do in a given situation, because every single one is different:

    Example 1: Musician A is annoyed by Musician B's lack of work ethic and the time wasted (in Musician A's opinion) in getting Musician B up to speed on songs. Musician B, who eventually learns the parts during rehearsals, won't change, and doesn't want to practice or play outside of rehearsals and gigs. No one else in the band seems to mind despite being on top of their own parts themselves.

    Example 2: Musician A hates the color red. Red is musician B's favorite color and she loves wearing her red shirt to gigs, in no way whatsoever desiring to annoy musician A. Musician B loves the color red so much that she is unwilling to change despite Musician A's complaints. The rest of the band, who don't really wear red themselves, don't seem to mind.

    Example 3: Musician A is an ex-smoker and doesn't like to be around smoke. Musician B, who happens to also be the songwriter for the group, likes to smoke, and regularly lights up at rehearsals. Despite Musician A's pleads to wait until breaks and keep it outside, Musician B doesn't care and lights up anyway. The rest of the band is ambivalent about Musician B's smoking.

    and we could all list a hundred more...

    Now, imagine what you would do in each situation as Musician A or the BL if the only people affected were Musician A and B. However, what would you do differently if most or all of the band were annoyed by Musician B for the same behavior? It might or might not be the same for each situation depending on what scenarios may have resonated with you.

    If said person is that annoyed, yet refuses to leave the group, something more important is keeping them there. What is it?
  4. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    If a band leader tolerates this type of situation, that person is a BL in title only.

    If the issue is an actual problem, that needs to be corrected; however if the person requesting the change is just being a persistent jerk - that needs to be corrected.

    There's a reason Leader is in the job description.
    red_rhino and SLO Surfer like this.
  5. It really is BL's job to say to the fly ''Bruce already said they weren't going to XYZ because DEF and I and the rest of us are happy with that so you're going to have to live with it'' in a big BL voice.
  6. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    As band leader? I'd nip that in the bud, and quick. "If you have a problem with another player, bring it to ME, and I'll do what's appropriate for the good of the band". Period. And if the "target" came to me with a gripe about being harassed, I'd handle that pretty quickly too. A leader's got to lead. It's not a popularity contest. Don't over think it.
    mrcbass and DirtDog like this.
  7. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    What about the situation where there is no BL -- it's a peer based would you handle it then?
  8. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    My first post was probably too long winded. :D

    What is the thing that the person won't change? You may disagree with me but I think this matters a lot.

    How do your bandmates respond, if at at all, to your bandmate's complaints?
  9. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    It's hypothetical -- something I've noticed in a variety of contexts. If you want examples, we had one guy that was constantly at another guy to not use his music stand on stage. The target argued that at $35 a night, and multiple bands and commitments, it wasn't worth learning 35 songs from memory to appease the complainer's desire for no music stands. Rest of the band didn't care. Saw the target actually tell the guy to take the hint -- if you've asked/told someone to do something 4 times and each time they refused, it's time to recognize the person isn't willing to change -- why doesn't he give it up?

    If you want an example. I remember that from years ago. I nodded my head as the target asserted himself, as it was getting annoying to me to listen to the complainer to be constantly harassing the target over it. There was no real leader in that band.
  10. ''You ain't the boss of me''.
    electracoyote and catcauphonic like this.
  11. jchrisk1

    jchrisk1 Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Yeah. Your not my real dad.
    BurnOut and catcauphonic like this.
  12. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Are you my Dad?

  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Unless it is the BL, where BL controls the situation, I would nicely remind everyone that it is a group. If someone has a suggestion, bring it up to the band to discuss. Band members should be comfortable discussing anything band related in a respectful manner.
    mrcbass likes this.
  14. mikewalker


    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Fire the drummer! Then fire everyone else. Then rage quit! Bands without BL(s) are a one way express highway to nowhere... :)
    QweziRider and hrodbert696 like this.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Suspended

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    It depends on what the change is. Drummer asks bass player to play with a pick; STFU. Drummer asks the bass player to simplify a part on one song; try it, make a decision, move on.

    The BL needs to take control of the situation. Constantly discussing the same thing over and over is just going to cause hard feelings.
    mrcbass likes this.
  16. sqlb3rn


    Apr 6, 2016
    Have a conversation and talk about it. Embrace compromise and listen with an open mind. Use logical arguments to make your point. What else can you do?
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  17. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    Is this the Eagles? Or is it the Allman Brothers Band? Everyone involved is VERY important...sorry, brain cancer is not being cured here...
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  18. darwin-bass

    darwin-bass Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    BL or Band Dictator?
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  19. darwin-bass

    darwin-bass Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    So many variables. Have the people in the band decided that the quality of the music / performance is important enough for all to submit to that? So, if my part isn't working for the song the expectation is that I would change to make the final product better?

    Or is it mostly about the hang? Being together and enjoying playing music in our own way?

    One thing is for sure, continuing to do the same thing over and over won't get different results. Someone has to change something. If nobody else is bugged by it the complainer needs to get past it so the band can get on with things.
  20. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    A lot of this has to do with how things are presented. I don't mind being asked to try a different part, or told by the songwriter that he wants certain notes played. That's all part of working as a team. And I'm open to the idea that someone else in the band might have something to share that will make me a better player, but for heaven's sake don't present that to me by saying that I "should" do this or "ought to" do that when what I'm already doing is perfectly fine.

    Tell me instead that you have something to show me that might be useful, and then show me what that is, and let me decide if I want to incorporate that into my bag of tricks. Because I'm self-taught, sometimes things that I do are unorthodox but the sum total serves the song just fine. Telling me, for example, to use a different fingering position can really muck up my positioning for the next set of changes and will cause me to have to relearn how I play an entire song. Unless the song is suffering, there's no point to it.

    But if you want to show me how you would play the lick in a different way, just to show me something useful, I will probably take that home and work with it and maybe bring it back to the next rehearsal that way.
    phishaholik likes this.
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