Rules For Dating A Musician

You Flirt With Fans To Sell Merch; Should I Flirt With My Boss To Get A Promotion?

Date: March 1, 2014
By: Nicole Sunshine

Recently an anonymous comment was sent to my blog asking me to write about relationships – what works and what doesn’t. I thought the request was a little bit odd, given that I’ve never really spoken about my relationship to great depths in public. Now, giving that I love to write, and like most people my age, I feel like what I have to say is valid, I figured I’d respond to a certain viral picture that has been all over my social networks lately.

A lot of my friends are professional musicians, or are at least trying to be. And ever since this photo started circulating online, many of them have shared it. However, there hasn’t been a lot of response from the people that these “rules” are being flouted towards. Well, I work in the industry, my boyfriend is in a band, and I have seen multiple relationships flourish and flounder among my peers.

Do these rules really help or apply? What about a set of rules for musicians in relationships, or is it assumed that they should be able to do what they want – you know, since they are “the talent”?

Rule 1: Don’t Try To Be The Band Manager, Stay Out Of the Business Side Of Things. This is a double-edged sword, cliché or not. On one hand, you should never shit where you eat right? And if your opinion hasn’t been asked for, you shouldn’t be flinging it like free candy. But it also implies that the musician’s significant other (“SO”) is trying to dictate how a band operates or what they do. Secondly, it assumes that the SO’s opinion is not warranted or important. In any other career choice, would you not ask your partner what they thought about pending decisions to be made? Why is being a musician any different?

“Now this isn’t to say that as the partner of a musician, one has the right to simply “walk into” a rehearsal and start demanding “x, y, and z”, but if you are in a committed relationship, and you are about to make a super important career decision, shouldn’t you be asking for your partner’s input? Your choices will affect them as well, whether you like it or not.”

2. Don’t Ask Bandmates For Relationship Advice.  Really? I mean in my situation, I’ve actually known certain band members of my boyfriend’s band for longer than he has. And, I am fairly certain that if I wanted to speak to one of them about something, they’d be willing to have my back. Am I going to start blabbing about the intimate details of my relationship to them? Probably not, but that’s out of respect for my boyfriend and our relationship; and because I expect the same courtesy from him.

On the other hand, if you aren’t close with any of the band mates, should you really be speaking to them about personal stuff? Would you call up a co-worker of your significant other to ask them what they think about your partner’s recent actions? Probably not.

All I am saying, is this rule isn’t as clear as it looks. 

3. It Is Not Mandatory That You Are At Every Gig.  It better not be. I am happy to have my own life, thank you very much. Besides, loving and supporting someone’s dream does not mean that you have to be a literal cheerleader at the sideline of every public event. Chances are, if you are dating a musician, like in every relationship, you do everything you can to show your partner how much their goals matter to you in a variety of ways.

4. Do Not Complain When Your Special Day Gets Cancelled Because A Gig Has Been Booked.  How special is this day? Are you about to have this guy’s baby, and he’s booked a gig on the due date? Maybe it’s the “game changing” gig, maybe it could get them signed – but honestly, if it’s something that is really important to you, and those feelings aren’t being taken into consideration because of a local or small scale show, then you have the right to be miffed. On the other hand, if you have just planned a “special-wine-candles-maybe get lucky” kind of night, and they book a tour, you should probably be willing to compromise. HOWEVER, you are in a PARTNERSHIP, which means compromises need to be made on both ends. If something is REALLY important, and you don’t want them to miss it, they need to take that into consideration. A relationship is about give and take, about meeting in the middle. And if you are dating someone, who isn’t willing to at least RESCHEDULE the special night, because they need to play a gig – both of you should examine how important the relationship you are having is.

An example of re-scheduling: my boyfriend’s birthday was in June. I wanted to make it a really special event for him. So I began about 6 weeks before the scheduled party, to plan and invite folks. We were buying a huge group gift, and it was a surprise party -something that isn’t typically easy to keep secret, even in the best of situations. He was then given an opportunity to go on a small tour with another musician, on the same weekend that this party was scheduled to happen. I made things work, the party got bumped a couple of weeks up, certain people weren’t able to attend any longer but Adamm got the best of both worlds. A sweet birthday and a tour!

On the flip side, when discussing with his band when potential tour dates would happen for earlier this summer came up, my boyfriend was very adamant about not missing our anniversary because he understood it was something that was extremely important to both of us, and pushing back the first POTENTIAL date of a small scale tour wasn’t going to greatly change the course of the band’s career in the long run.

Rule 5: Do Not Get Jealous When Your BF/GF Talks To Groupies. They Are The Ones Buying The Merch, And Paying To Get In The Door. Let Them Have Their Moment.  Obviously. But again, this implies that the band member is simply chatting up a fan, in which case if you are getting pissy about it, you need to really think about your trust issues. However, what’s written between the lines here is that as the partner of a musician, we are expected to feel entirely chill about our SO’s potentially crossing lines that would NEVER be acceptable in other circumstances.

“Yes, as a musician it is important to make your fans feel special. Should you give out your phone number so they can text you? Well…that depends, if you met a member of the opposite sex while at a bar in any other situation and you were in a committed relationship, would you still give out your number? Probably not? Hmm…”

And please don’t try to argue with me by saying that a fan is different because they support the band. Yes, they do in fact – but they are supporting the music, the art of what is being created. I mean I could be wrong, but the last time I went to a show or bought an album, it was because I was in love with the music, not the actual musician.

Also, just because your partner is in a band, this does not give them the right to talk to their fans as if they themselves were single men or women, online or in real life. If there is a fan that is talking to them about a lap dance, and they say they would gladly take it; they aren’t “giving the fan the moment”, they are using the fact that they are in a band as an excuse to act like a scumbag. It’s as easy as that.

“Long Story Short: Don’t be a jealous psycho, but don’t let your partner think it’s okay to cross boundaries, simply because they are in a band.”

Rule 6: Babies Don’t Make Guys Quit Bands.  Okay – so now this “rule guide” has clearly stated that only women dating musicians get a little out of hand. Also, when has having a baby to try and save a relationship ever worked? Oh, what? We are in the 21st century, most women don’t think they need to lie about taking birth control and get knocked up so they can have someone take care of them financially anymore? Shit, we all seemed to have forgotten that while creating this list.

Rule 7:  Don’t Go On Tour With The Band. It Is Hard Enough To Fund A Tour, And You Will Just Be Another Person To Feed For The Night.  This is assuming that the SO is a) relying on the band to take care of them financially while they go on tour and b) the SO isn’t doing anything to earn their keep. If A and B are both true, then DEFINITELY don’t even ask to go on tour. In fact, don’t ask to go on tour unless you are invited. Plenty of musicians invite their partners to meet them along the road at special gigs, or where they have a couple of nights off in a row. That makes more sense in the long run, and the last time I checked, it was perfectly acceptable to also have your own life even when in a relationship.

Rule 8: Don’t Follow Him/Her Around At A Show While He/She Is Taking Care Of Business/Networking.  Don’t be a stage 5 clinger, but it shouldn’t be expected that you hide in a corner like a wallflower and pretend that you aren’t part of their life. Are you proud to be with them? Are they proud to be with you? Then if they’ve invited you to the specific event they are going to be networking at, they should have the courtesy to at least introduce you to these “VIP’s”. Never once have I met a musician or industry person that actually loved their partner yet treated said partner as if they were an unimportant part of their life.

That being said; if your partner is up on the photo wall with their band, label rep, other musician etc., don’t be offended if you aren’t pulled into the photo or interview.

Rule 9: Do Not Show Up At Practice (Unless Invited).  Agreed.

Rule 10: Do Not Assume Everyone Loves Your BF/GF’s Band. Agreed. Don’t even assume that everyone knows their band.

Rule 11: Don’t Make Out With Other Band Members GF’s At the Bar. Save It For The After Party.  {Thank you “Rules” list, for again being pointedly chauvinistic and outdated.} …Or, simply show some respect for yourself and don’t act like a groupie.

Rule 12: Don’t Turn Yourself Into A Walking Billboard. The Shirt Is Fine, But The Hat, Hoodie And Stickers On Your Ass Are A Bit Much.  Agreed. 

Rule 13: If Your BF/GF Calls While On The Road, Don’t Complain About When They Are Coming Home.  Agreed… but you should feel free to tell them that you love and miss them.

Rule 14: Never Start A Fight Before Show Time; Any Problems Can Be Dealt With The Next Day.  For starters, I’d like to point out that this viral picture has a spelling error in it, and if I had the power to change that, I would. “delt” does not equal “dealt” I agree with this, in the same way I don’t think any couple should go to bed angry or fight in public.

Rule 15: If The Band Has An Out Of Town Gig, Do Not Come Along To Have “Alone Time”. This Is Work, Not A Vacation.  Didn’t the rules already state that a girlfriend or boyfriend should never go on tour to begin with? Is this final rule just an attempt to make the point REALLY clear? It’s true though, don’t accompany your partner to an out of town show and expect them to have a romantic evening with you. On the flip side, you could always meet them for the out of town gig, enjoy their show and the two of you can kick back for a few extra days if you really are looking for alone time, and if the band isn’t about to head out back on tour the next morning.

What I am getting to is: these rules, although occasionally funny, make it extremely easy to turn the “non-musician” in the relationship, into a scapegoat for anything that may cause an argument related to the music scene. And that is unacceptable. Also, nothing is cut and paste… This is my own personal response to the “rules” and other people may totally disagree with me. In fact, I welcome it…. What do you think?


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