Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her – confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame. em>
Dear Fan Landers,
I'm a musician living in Mexico City. I have a band and we have been playing together for almost three years. We have spent a year and a half making an album and we are finally finishing. We spent all of our money, energy and soul on that album. I think the result is pretty awesome and I'm sure something good is going to happen when the album is out.
But recently I've been admitted to one of the best conservatories in the US, which would mean I would have to leave behind all we've worked for and go live to Boston. Obviously this was a big shock for my bandmates, who say it's useless to try to move on with the band if I go to another country. On the other hand, I don't see a big future for the kind of music we do in Mexico. I'd like to think that we can continue to play together during the summer and winter vacations, but my bandmates don't think that would work.
I hope you can help me,
It's obvious from your letter that music is your life. Spending all your time, energy and money to make an album shows a ton of commitment. Reading your letter, it is obvious what you want to do – go to Boston. It's a really good school and an incredible opportunity. You do not know what is ahead, what could change in your time there, who you may have a chance to make music with, or connect with. Your worst case scenario is coming back to the life you have, maybe to the band – which doesn't sound like a bad deal.
You don't have to sell your band's prospects short in order to justify going, though maybe that's a way to detach from the heartache of having to leave a project you have given so much to. Plenty of bands get put on hold while the members pursue other things. Don't make any promises to anyone, to return or to do tours on break or anything – see what time and space you have for the band once you are in school.
Maybe you can continue making songs over email. Plenty of bands do that. But leave yourself open to whatever possibilities arise from school – and maybe even what you can bring back to your band in Mexico City. It does not have to be an either/or choice. It's all going to change and you do not know how until you go for it. Don't let your band hold you back from your dreams and bigger challenges. To paraphrase the Hold Steady, there's always other bands.