So you have a live setlist down, maybe even an album out? Now it’s time to put together a band. A band isn’t for everyone and some like to trigger tracks from Maschine and have one live instrument, or simply play solo and acoustic. If you are wanting a band though, pick people who are good at their craft. What do we mean? Choose a bass player who can play the bass well. Get a drummer who keeps tempo and understand rhythm. A bunch of beginner musicians together is similar to a primary school recital – and your music deserves much better.
Here are some handy tips on ways to find people to form a band with:
1. Ask friends and musicians you know.
Send messages out to your friends asking if they know anyone. You never know what will come up. Sometimes a friend can introduce you to a great musician, and simply didn’t do so before as you were yet to ask! Us humans have a tendency to forget to share things unless asked.
Ask all musicians you know – they may already be in bands but, they may know others who are looking.
2. Attend and play open mics
This is a great strategy for finding people to play with. Find open mics that are ‘musician heavy’, meaning most sign ups play or record regularly and use the open mic for practice and networking. Have a tight 2-3 tracks ready that you can play like a magnificent wizard! Once you are off the stage, zero in on the musicians you have listened to and liked. Go over and chat. It doesn’t have to be a formal conversation. Just swap Instagram handles or emails, say you want to check out more of their stuff and are looking for band mates.
3. Put an advert online
‘Advert’ can be a Facebook post and ask your friends to share it. Or find a Facebook book group for musicians in your city and post on there. It can also be a post on gumtree. Yes, gumtree can be tricky to navigate with the fake profiles but it can and does work. Be very specific on what you are looking for. Exactly the number of people you need and what instruments they must play. We are assuming you are the front person in this scenario, so maintain that position. Weed out anyone wanting to sing lead vocals because who they really want to be is the front person (deep down inside) and they won’t settle well into a support role in a band long term.
4. Drop into small studios
Find music studios in your area and one suburb over (if you’re serious about a band, go to studios in big cities). Give them a shout before turning up and chat with the producer or engineer who runs the place. They see musicians all day every day and can spread the word for you in the studio. Best idea here is to book a couple of hours – and really utilise those two hours for your music, so you build a relationship with the engineer or producer (these are often the same person) and they can see you are serious.
They can also then vouch for you. It may seem a lot to book studio time just to find band members, but, what you’re doing here is building relationships. That producer down the line may be the one to make your debut album sparkle. Of course, you don’t have to book studio time – exhaust the first three options and see where you are.
Now, what to do once you find epic band mates?
Get in a practice space (a lounge will do) and hunker down. Go about learning a setlist until you all can play it in your sleep.. During this time, it will become apparent what is not working and who is not blending into the band. It may be a personality clash (if so, NEXT! Get someone else), or a player issue (meaning a musician not playing tight, or not bouncing off another musician and things sound rigid and slightly off). It can happen.
You can put wonderful talented musicians in a room and some will play great together, and some will find it hard to communicate with sound. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with that musician, it is simply a compatibility problem. Find out quickly who is not compatible and replace them. You may even have to choose randomly who goes if the bass player and drummer don’t connect, but they are individually great musicians. These two players hold the groove of a track and some say, are fundamental to a band’s listenability.
Don’t be afraid to cull players otherwise you could burn yourself out. This is your band and you want your songs to sound good right? Perfect.
Band members wax and wane, especially if you’re not yet highly paid and touring, and that’s ok (annoying but, ok!). Get others to fill in when a band member is away or decides to leave. One thing in life that we have seen to be true in many circumstances is, that everyone has an exit strategy. This can be applied to a job, relationship, a band, company shares….You have an exit strategy in your mind with something in your life right now (That’s natural survival and very healthy).
If one day comes and you’re not feeling it anymore, you have the freedom to walk away. Grant others on the journey with you the same curtesy and life will be grande.
That does sound flippant – and you do need to take into account commitment required to make things work and to progress in the music industry. What we’re saying is allow yourself and others some breathing room, loosen your grip and people will, more often than not, show up for you. So relax. Find talented band members that are compatible musically and emotionally and get that setlist sorted! And if you get something laid down on a track, send it our way by uploading it on Spinnup.
’Til next time gang.