Many successful business people will tell you that it's not always a good idea to go into business with a friend or a family member. It just muddies the water—complicates things. I've often wondered how to maintain that cold, professional-only relationship. Being in a band is very much like running a business. Your bandmates are not just your coworkers; they are co-owners. But unlike coworkers or regular co-owners, you don't just lock the door at the end of the work-day and go home. When you're in a band your "work" follows you everywhere.
Barely a day goes by where I don't talk to at least one of my bandmates (usually Sara H, for those interested). When I first joined the band nearly five years ago I spent a lot of time chatting with Sara H. on instant messenger and by text. Five years later we've become best friends.
And there's the red flag.
We've become friends. This type of friendship isn't like the typical work-friend relationship, though. We don't leave rehearsals and stop talking to each other until the next "work" event. We talk for hours every day about everything from funny web comics to band business, shopping, and politics. I know most of her secrets and she knows mine. It's not always a great thing but we have developed a terrific relationship that has been beneficial during songwriting. We can talk about anything. There are pretty much no limits and we haven't quite run into the problem of feeling unable to speak our minds. Since we talk about everything we inevitably always go back to the same topic: the band—our business.
Bandmates break the typical rule of not going into business with your friends. Admittedly, the members of She Eats Planets did not become friends until we all joined the band—we didn't even know each other for the most part (Sara H. and Dan are our exceptions. They went to high school together and knew of each other but did not know each other). The problem with being friends is that it's not always fun and games. Behind the exotic veneer of being in a band, playing shows, and jamming out on a Sunday afternoon for five hours there is an awful lot of business to take care of.
Musicians tend to be a fragile bunch. Many have giant egos; some are demanding and controlling. We've all heard the stories about ridiculous demands from entertainers. Those stories aren't just stories about very famous people. They tend to come from all kinds of creative people. Now put all of those fragile, egocentric, controlling, demanding personalities into a group of several people. You can imagine what might happen and it might help you understand why so many bands break up. That's not to say that the members of SEP fall into those categories but I think it's safe to say that we're all mildly opinionated and somewhat sensitive—discussions, if not handled correctly, can end up as arguments or with someone feeling slighted.
How do you handle important business decisions when you're trying to make the decision with your best friend? How do you tell your co-owner that their idea might not work without taking a swipe at a friendship? How do you reject a co-worker's ideas? I don't know. Somehow the two of us have managed to hang on and make it work. That's not to say that we haven't had fights and gotten mad at each other. It's a confusing business relationship. But it's working for us.
For more info, visit sheeatsplanets.com.