You pick up your guitar every day, know how to write riffs and songs, your chord transitions are smooth and you’re ready to go! What’s the next step? Start a band! Whether you want to make a cover band and play some local breweries, or you want to start an original band and hit some local stages, the other band members are going to make or break it. Let’s find out how to find other band members and what to look for in a great partner in crime.
Finding Band Members
When you’re first looking for band members, there are a couple of different places you can look to see what’s out there.
The first place I would recommend that is near and dear to my heart is trusty ‘ol Craigslist. Sure you’re going to find a couple of crazies but to be honest, sometimes those are the best band members to have! Peruse the musicians sections and even make an ad of your own to explain what you’re looking for. Make sure to add specifics in what kind of music you want to play, what kind of instruments you’re looking for and whether or not you’re down with alcohol and 420.
Another great place to find band members is Bandmix. Bandmix is a good spot to do the exact same thing as Craigslist. Find members or post an ad and see what’s out there. Again, I would encourage you to be specific! If you’re looking for older musicians to join in with, say so. If you want to move into a band house together and do nothing but play music, say so!
What Makes Someone a Good Band Mate?
This is some wisdom that was given to me by a great music producer, Joshua Olsen over at Third & James Records. He told me, “when you’re looking to find band mates or you’re looking to jump into an established band, it’s all about the hang.”
“It’s all about the hang?! What does that mean?” I asked him. He went on to explain that as far as band mates go, it’s much better to be creating and playing music with someone who is fun and entertaining than it is to be working with musical geniuses you can’t get along with.
I thought about it for awhile and I looked at my past bands and band mates. It made a lot of sense! I always wanted to play with others who were as good, if not better than me, but looking back… I really see the merit in what he told me.
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time together with your band mates and you’re going to be creating music together, you definitely want good vibes.
If you dislike each other at all, these feelings will affect decisions or suggestions that are brought to the group. It will be easier to hastily shut someone’s idea down instead of giving it a try which can lead to resentment and even more of a rift!
Remind me to take my own advice next time I start/join a band!
This is another one of those tricky things that will get tougher the more members you have. I’ve been in groups ranging from 2-7 members and it should be obvious that the fewer members you have, the easier it will be to schedule and run practices.
Keep this in mind when you’re looking at or making posts on the websites mentioned above. If you’re trying to find band members but can only make practice happen on Thursdays, make that known! Don’t recruit people that can’t practice on your preferred day and then try to make them commit. It’s tough!
Another thing you really need to think about is where you’re going to be practicing. If you’re throwing in a drum kit, you need to make sure that you’ve got a space that can accommodate that.
Band Practice Space
When you’re looking for band practice space, make sure that you take the following things into consideration:
- How much space you need
- How loud you want to be
- When the space is available
- Cost of the space (if you can’t find a free space)
My favorite spaces have always been a basement of a house where you know your neighbors and can jam out for a couple hours once or twice a week without annoying them. If you’re trying to fit a 5 piece band into a tiny apartment, prepare for never-ending noise violations and complaints.
Should you not be able to find a free space among your band members, I would recommend checking out this blog from Sonicbids about alternative spaces to look into. If those don’t work out, you can always look for paid practice spaces online.
Once you find a practice space, let’s check out the best ways to use your time.
Organizing Band Practice
Just like you organize your personal practice time (and if you don’t, you should check out my Guide to Better Practice right here), organizing your band practice will really help. Set an agenda for what you want to accomplish in your time frame and try to stick to it the best you can.
Some examples of this would be:
- Run all of your songs one by one and if you hit any snags, stop and address that section of the song. Once you get it addressed, move on to the next song. Rinse and repeat.
- If you’re still creating new material, stick something out there and jam on it for several minutes and see what you can flesh out. Some of the best stuff is written spontaneously and that’s really when the creative juices get flowing. Make sure to get recordings of it! I can’t stress enough that if you tell yourself, “I’ll remember that” chances are you won’t!
- If you have a show coming up, time your set and play straight through even if you make mistakes to get an idea of how long your set is and see how much extra time you’ll have or if you need to cut a song.
The underlying idea here is that if you have a clear idea of what the band should accomplished when you practice, you’ll get a lot more done.
If you want to be a one man band (or one woman band!), then all you need to do is make it a full sound! This could be from you playing percussive instruments at the same time, adding in harmonica, playing rhythm and melody at the same time or singing over your guitar playing!
If you want to learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time, I would recommend checking out this free lesson right here which will teach you to do just that.
No matter what kind of band you want to put together, make sure that you have goals set for whatever you want to accomplish. Whether that’s playing your local coffee shop, writing some great music for you to look back at fondly down the road or setting a goal to top the charts, make sure you find the right people to help you do that.
As always, keep rockn’!