8 ways to resolve songwriting conflict

conflict resolution
conflict resolution

Conflict resolution: try and encourage the consensus decision-making process, mediation, nonviolent communication and other such tools. Photo: Pexels

‘Staying Sane In The Music Game’ author Brett Leboff outlines a number of ways to handle creative differences and disagreements

There is always conflict in bands. In my work, I often deal with conflict resolution. I enjoy this work, ultimately because I have seen enough conflicts, bands messed up, artists choosing the wrong path etc. So now I can generally help solve most issues, though if there is a stubborn member this can lead to destruction.

I would try and encourage the consensus decision-making process, mediation, nonviolent communication (NVC) and other such tools. It is also useful having someone that is not in the band – a non-judgemental figure, who is experienced in band dynamics and can see the problems, almost instantly, after a brief explanation about the issues involved. Or, at least, someone who knows exactly which questions to ask to uncover the necessary information, to help everyone see the issues clearly, or even start understanding the solutions.


If conflict is arising in the space where you are playing music, make an agreement you need to book a space away from your instruments and creations to address the issues.


Try and use consensus decision-making (look it up on Wikipedia, it is an amazing tool.)


Don’t be passive-aggressive. Speak your truth and be honest, making sure you respect that we all have different life experiences and the reason why you have a promising or successful project is partly due to this!


If you know you have messed up, just admit it! We all do and it is so refreshing when someone can hold their hands up and just take it on the chin.


Try and look outside of yourself and empathise deeply with the opposite viewpoint and why they may be thinking/feeling the way they are.


When we play music we connect on such a deep level. If you are in the creative space when the conflict arises and you have agreed on point one, then do you very best to connect as deeply as possible to the music and what you do best. You can get a lot of bad energy out and realise your deep connection with those in your project, knowing you have arranged a separate space to address the issues.


Always try and see and validate the other person’s argument – ‘I completely understand why you think that and if I was in your position I may think the same’. If you can then compliment that person or persons for what they are doing right, then you can help drop their defences.


Don’t be scared and fearful of conflict! It will always come up. The best relationships break and mend. That is a real relationship and if you are respectful and can work through the conflict you will all become stronger and more connected as a result!

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Brett Leboff is the Head of Artist Development at Diplomats Of Sound and has been in the music industry for over 20 years, formerly as a professional session drummer. Find free resources, including audiobook chapters, videos and podcasts at stayingsane.org
Read more tips features like this, along with artist interviews, news, reviews and gear in Songwriting Magazine Winter 2019

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