A few months ago I had to quit the band I was in. I was newest member of a 4 piece cover band that wanted to make originals and I was there for a year. It's a long story, but came down the band was asking for a lot and I wasn't happy. It took me 3 months to quit the band and it was a long and painful experience for me. I tried to give plenty of notice and tried to let every member know what was happening because it was a small band.

I know everyone will have differing options about how to quit a band, but is there a general etiquette to quitting a small rock original/cover band? Like the two weeks notice for quitting a job?

  • 5
    I hope this doesn't get closed. Some answers will be opinion based - and should be, but wouldn't it be good if we produce something useful in practice for both sides of the coin. There's also the problems associated with having to sack/lose a band member. Made doubly difficult when he's 'the drummer's mate'.
    – Tim
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:48
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    I don't understand what you felt your obligations were. I.e. why you couldn't just say "I'm leaving" then don't turn up? If you can't be all 'Rock'n'Roll' when leaving a band, when can you be?! Commented May 13, 2014 at 17:04
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    @LeeKowalkowski because I've lead bands before and a member leaving killed two separate bands. I don't wish the same for other bands even though they may make me unhappy. Also as a side note you can be as rock and roll as you want, if no one wants to deal with you then you are stuck all alone. Also it is good to keep contacts for the future
    – Dom
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 18:19
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    It's worth noting that any kind of resignation, if it's important enough to do right, is important enough to do in person, or at the very least over the phone. I wouldn't rely on any sort of electronic text medium, especially instagram, teh facebookz, or any other social network; it's not the right tool. Commented May 13, 2014 at 21:43
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    Is this a question or a rant? The first 90% of this question could be deleted without changing the question. Commented May 14, 2014 at 4:45

7 Answers 7


When you quit a band, you should treat it as any other professional job. This means let them know in advance, and follow through on any commitments where not following through would leave them in a serious bind.

So if you quit a week or two before a show, be willing to do the one last show if they can’t find a quick replacement. If you’ve got a written contract with a section on leaving, follow the contract. The challenge is that quitting a small band is both quitting a job, and quitting a small social group. If all people are willing to treat you leaving as a professional decision, rather than a social rejection, it is easier to maintain good relations afterwards.

In this case, it sounds like the band is not a particularly professional outfit, if the members haven’t practiced in weeks. This makes quitting professionally a little harder, since there’s no expectation of professional behavior, and if other members are treating you quitting the band as you quitting their group of friends, it is hard to persuade them that really, it’s just the music that you can’t handle, and your decision to quit really is non-negotiable. There is nothing you can do about their reactions, so just continue to make it clear there’s nothing personal in your choice.

You started out well, with telling the leader why you wanted to leave. When he suggested that you stay, and things would change in a month or two and you agreed to stick around, you should have pushed for something definite. So if your biggest grievance was that rehearsals were unproductive (for example), you would give him 2 rehearsals to start improving things, and if he didn’t, you should have told him that things still weren’t working out, and given the date you would quit.

If the leader gets angry, and wants you out NOW instead of the date you suggested, you have no obligation to do that final show with him, even if he comes back begging because he can’t find your replacement in time.

Highlighting the reasons for leaving is a gray area. It is potentially useful to know why someone left, but for a group like a small band, your reasons for leaving are going to come across as personal, even if it really isn’t. If you’ve been unhappy for three months, with no rehearsals in weeks, it’s safe to assume that the other band members know what’s wrong with their group. You can limit your reasons to a simple “This isn’t working out for me anymore. Been nice working with you, good luck in the future.” You’re gone. The chance that your parting words are the catalyst they need to turn their whole act around is very remote, and wouldn’t benefit you in any case. If they specifically ask for your input, give it, but otherwise, keep your opinions to yourself once you’ve left.

  • I recently left a similar band after a similar amount of time - we all got on great and most of the time were quite professional and hard working. I couldn't handle the busy schedule with my other committments, and the band didn't want to slow down. I treated the situation much as @Karen has said, and thankfully the others were bummed but they didn't take it personally. I gave them plenty notice and filled in recently for their replacement and it was just like old times. However as Karen also said, it's down to how professional the others can be.
    – jammypeach
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 10:55
  • you can only control your own professionalism, and so long as you handle yourself ethically you can leave with a clear conciense nomatter how others react - you can't control that.
    – jammypeach
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 10:57

The best advice I've seen for rejection was in the context of dating, but I think it applies equally well to the kind of social and professional rejection involved in leaving a band.

The ABC’s of pulling off a pain-free rejection:

Admiration. Sounds crazy, I know, but it is absolutely essential that you find something, anything to admire about the [person you’re rejecting]. This should be sincere, not patronizing or sarcastic. . . .

Brief statement of disinterest. The key here is clarity and simplicity. Don’t beat around the bush [and] DON’T list off your reasons, unless asked directly. That can only hurt/insult, serve as an imagined invitation to change your mind, or come off as a bullshit excuse. Keep it short, straightforward, and honest.

Close off quickly and decisively. A friendly “Have fun” or “Good luck” followed by a turned back or walk-off is usually quite effective.

This also matches some of the good advice offered in the other answers: Be upbeat, friendly, and direct, but avoid constructive criticism at this stage in your relationship with the other band members. If you manage to maintain friendship with your former bandmates, and they ask you for advice, then offer it – it’ll come off less like griping that way.

  • Great answer. One small aspect that this answer didn't touch on is the mode of communication. In person? Phone? Text? Internal Facebook, as Dom did it? Individual messages? Bradd's "Close off quickly" paragraph seems to imply in person which I would find better than electronic messages. (Also phone seems better than electronic.) Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 1:15
  • Don’t infer too much from the quoted material, as it’s advice intended for a very different scenario – rejecting somebody you have just met at a bar or a party – and so some of the finer details may not apply. But the general approach is good advice for other kinds of rejection, in my experience. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 1:51
  • So, what's your recommendation for mode of communication when quitting a band? Tell us, don't leave us to infer! (Good answer, otherwise!) Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 2:22
  • As with any other breakup, it depends on the situation and the people involved. Some situations are toxic, some are impersonal, some are friendly. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 2:26
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    Okeydoke, I'll do some inferring. I think you're saying that if the relationship has turned toxic, or if it's already rather impersonal, then electronic is okay. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 3:15

A bunch of people have said a lot of right-on stuff. I want to hammer one point home.

The moment you give notice? It is no longer your job to give constructive criticism. The constructive criticism stage is the "if you don't start fixing this stuff, I'm gonna have to get a new band" stage. Once you've decided that the fixin' ain't happening, and you're taking your leave, that's the end of the feedback beyond, "You know, it's just not working out, so I'm movin' on." All the explanation you "owed" your fellow band members was due -- and best I can tell from your story was paid in full -- long before you walked. When it's time to go, you go. Don't monologue like a TV villain -- not unless your intention really is to burn the bridge. It will not be appreciated in the generous spirit you would like it to be construed as coming from.


So long as you give some notice, and don't quit half-an-hour before a gig, you're doing it right :-) . Personally I don't think it helps to vent your exact list of grievances and perceived shortcomings of the other members, if for no other reason than you might want to join a different group some day and you don't need a bad rep in the community for any reason.


A thorny situation. I've been in bands where the mode of quitting was simply not turning up for the next gig. Or, the member saying "I'll stay until you have a replacement for me". Trouble is, not everyone is a gentleman. At the beginning, there are rarely any basic rules, and by the time the situation arises, there are no guidelines. In an amicable situation, there won't be problems, but in others, stalemate is the condition.Basic ground rules need to be stated.If one says one will do a gig, that should be what happens. But - what's worse than having a sour-faced band member (soon to be ex-) on the stand next to you ?

In Dom's situation, he did the right thing, but the rest of the members should have cleared the air, way before. It sounds like there was one leader, so the conflict would have been one to one, and should have been easier to resolve.

A strange one happened recently to me, in that I was asked to do a gig, and two months later, knowing the gig was still on, had no contact from the artiste. I nearly turned up for the gig, for fun, but somehow realised that I wasn't going to be on it.Never found out why the guy couldn't do the right thing and tell me what the situation really was...


Interesting question. If there is a formal contract in place, as per a band with a deal or large turnover, I would assume that this would be covered in that contract.

It sounds like there are major problems within this band and whoever deleted your post probably wanted to stop it from damaging morale. I disagree with this course of action, if they are to move along successfully they will have to face up to the problems that drove you to leave before the entire group dissolves.

I believe that you acted fairly, you tried to talk about the problems with the founding member and when nothing positive happened you left. That is how I would have handled things in my day job.


I agree with most of what people have said already. I'm a bandleader. When someone quits from the band, I prefer them to be friendly and professional and to fulfill the commitments they've already made if we can't find a replacement in time unless we can do without them.

I really prefer an amicable breakup. I prefer to remain friends with the people in my band, even after they leave. That way we can throw gigs each other's way if there are schedule conflicts.

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