As humans move into the twentieth century, we are confronted with a huge number of problems that we must work together to resolve. Thus, in the past few decades, a massive amount of emphasis has been placed on the simple act of communication. While we will face problems regarding fossil fuels, climate change and human rights in coming years, we also need art and music to inspire us and make us feel as though life is worth living.
In corporate culture, something that has evolved is a sense that candid communication and a devotion to accountability is crucial in terms of profitability, but also to conducting business in a manner that will hold up to public scrutiny. In order to achieve this strategy, employees and managers must set aside their egos, communicate clearly and operate in harmony – as a team.
In music, individuals that make up a band often bring an egotistical presence to the rehearsal space or the studio. Instead of striving to achieve a common goal and create a cool song, musicians will often get into petty fights because they over-identify with their personal ideas and downplay the work of their peers. Anyone who has seen the documentary Some Kind of Monster featuring the band Metallica, knows that repressed anger can build up over time leading to total dysfunction and intense resentment.
With the advent of management and communication philosophy, and the idea that honesty, kindness and criticism are not mutually exclusive qualities, many bands should be able to find a better way to communicate and work together to make the best music possible and provide the public with a much needed escape from their difficult daily lives. If you yourself are looking to start a rock band or collaborative musical project, you might do well to establish some rules for communicating and sharing ideas.
Unlike a company, there are no rules in the jam space, and no guidelines for how people and their creative ideas are treated. However, as with any successful company, if some guidelines are not developed, the endeavour with either implode, or careen forward on a faulty foundation, in danger of collapsing at any moment.
If you are taking the time to rehearse and pay for a space, it is only respectful to the individuals involved to spend that time in a way that moves the project forwards. The drummer and bassist should be able to criticize the vocal melody and the guitars, and the lead singer should be able to criticize the groove. One reason that bands consisting of talented musicians never makes it to stage or studio is merely a lack of communication. There is always the option to go it alone and try and pursue a solo career, but wouldn’t you rather make music with friends? Furthermore, even if you proceed as a solo artist, you’ll still have to work with producers and collaborators inevitably, so you might as well learn how to communicate honestly without being rude, and how to check your ego in instances where you are over-identifying with your personal ideas.
You may have thought that being in a rock band is just about turning up and rocking out, but if you want to make it, you need to learn communication skills as well.