Not all musical ties are meant to last. On the contrary. Musicians should regularly evaluate if the collaborations they upkeep are built on solid, healthy ground. If they provide value, in an emotionally nourishing way.
Sometimes, probably even oftentimes, pressure and expectations can get in the way of a much-needed departure. But cutting musical ties shouldn’t be experienced as a primarily negative notion.
Other creative industries live off of project-based endeavors. More so – they strive by means of a constant flow and exchange of knowledge. Think of movies, or Netflix shows. Some of the best work is created by formations that are young, fresh, that have infused all of their past knowledge into this new project.
With music, that dynamic works similarly.
Embrace the flow
Synergy can’t be forced. And just because something might have worked, maybe still is, doesn’t mean that it’s destined to do so in the near future. Fear of losing, or missing out, of diving into the next – maybe complicated – collaboration should not hinder creators from daring the move.
And you never know. Some creative relationships, just like other types of close encounters, burn out wildly, just to regain their old strength after the dust has settled. But space and distance are almost always necessary factors in mending a broken connection.
The way musicians cut ties is also a HUGELY important factor in how they continue, maybe pick up where they left later on. Burning bridges in an ecosystem such as digital music is not something creators should go for. Reps can be seriously damaged in a tweet, you know.
Ask yourself these three questions
Even if feelings run hot, or collabs crash and burn, the emergency break should always be pulled prior to the ill-fated departure. Here are some things to check before you cut ties:
- Has everything been verbalized? Meaning – are you or is the other side sitting on some unchecked aggression or criticism? If so, always try to have an evaluative talk.
- Has everything been cleared structurally? Meaning – will the musical product or parts be released? If so, always clear the fronts on that part. Even if you don’t plan to release it, clear this factor. Make sure copyright is negotiated and greenlit on both sides. Also the financial aspect. If money was promised, if the outcome doesn’t live up to the deal – how will you handle it? Think Business over battles.
- Have you identified the true conflict? Meaning – is it out and in the open, WHY a 0collaboration is turning sour or just dissipating in the sand? Try to learn from every encounter, especially the harsh ones.
You design yourself
Cutting musical ties can be exceptionally complicated, if a full-blown creative codependency has developed. Always remind yourself that you design yourself. That’s right. Your creative journey can, no should, flourish within new settings. But it should also be able to grow and mature on its
own. Everything’s there, you know.
Accept the fact that you might have phases of working as a lone wolf. Times will come when you meet up with the herd again, don’t be anxious, roaming the music sphere alone.
Things will work out, if you take the wheel and drive. (Yeah, that’s an Incubus quote. Here’s to you, Brandon)