Whether you’re playing in a group of 7 or making music alone, musical relationships are crucial. From access to opportunities and resources to another person to talk to, who knows what it’s like to be a serious musician, we need musical relationships that help us in our career. But as important as they are, they often collapse dramatically.
Maintaining strong musical relationships can be a challenge
Musical relationships are like nothing else, which makes it difficult to understand them. For example, a group is equal parts friendship, business partnership and creative collaboration. Everyone knows the challenges of maintaining a strong and healthy friendship, but in a group setting things can get complicated in a hurry. Of course, you may like your friends, but do you really want to spend two months in a smelly van with them? Do you want to get into debt with them on a creative effort that has no guarantee of success? The more you think about it, the weirder the gang relationships are. Relationships can also be difficult for solo artists, whether for fear of connecting, because they constantly work alone or go on tour and record with other musicians.
Musicians need each other
Musicians must be with other musicians to be healthy, challenged and imaginative. There are the obvious benefits of having access to the resources and opportunities that local music communities have to offer, but it goes much further. Making music seriously can be ungrateful, isolating and frustrating. You may have the largest spouse, a group of friends or colleagues in the world, but if you are not in your place, you will not fully understand what you are going through. We have to be careful with each other, because doing what we do is so unique and difficult. Support and mutual support keep us healthy, engaged and challenged in our work.
And then there are the creative advantages of collaboration to consider. No one, even the most talented music creators, contains the whole picture of what good music is and how to create it. We all have unique and different perspectives to share, and it’s incredibly powerful. If you are close to other musicians, you have the opportunity to get feedback about your work and develop new ideas that you could not have met yourself. Not all musicians need to work together, but we can all benefit from trusted friends who maul our demos, mixes and performances. You and your music are not perfect, so enjoy that other musicians help you to be the best.
Like going on a long tour or an album, keeping the friendships you have with other musicians requires hard work. Maybe you swallow your pride again and again and you are the first to call or write, but it’s worth it. If you commit to being a serious musician, you will not be able to do it without support.