How to Find Musicians for Your Band
Being a band leader isn’t easy. You must book shows, schedule tours, get merch, arrange recording sessions, handle social media, and more. And just when you think it’s all running smoothly- boom, one of your bandmates decides they want to leave the band.
Finding bandmates is challenging. You must find someone who fits well in your band musically and aesthetically. The person must be responsible and easy to get along with.
Anyone who has been in a band is familiar with how difficult it is to keep a band together and how hard it is to find the right members. But after a few times (and yes, it will happen more often than you would like), you will find effective methods for finding and maintaining members.
This article will discuss how to find musicians for your band so you can keep pushing forward.
How to Find Musicians
There are various ways to find musicians for your band. Here are a few tried and true strategies.
Create a Flier
The first step is to create a flier letting people know you are looking for band members. You can post the flier on social media, in music stores, coffee houses, and other prime locations. Here are a few things to include on your flier:
Your Band Name: If you are in a somewhat established band, your band name could be a selling point to attract musicians. If you are just starting, think of what you have to offer.
For example, an experienced musician may have connections that make you more attractive. And even if you are a beginner, you should never feel like you don’t have much to offer. You are taking the initiative to gather people and do something new and creative.
The Type of Instrumentalist You're Looking For: You’ll need to state the type of instrumentalist you require. Is it a bass player? A keyboard player? A guitar player? Are you looking for a multi-instrumentalist? Or someone who does backups? This information must be on your flier.
Experience Level: It’s essential to find a musician with an experience level on par with your own. If your music is complex, you will need to find advanced players. If your material is simple, you can widen the playing field.
Age: Today, musicians of all ages are on the scene. Some musicians may not be bothered by playing with people that are a lot older or younger than they are. But others will want to play with people close in age to maintain an image and ensure they are working with people they are on a level with.
Age can be critical if you think your band may attract younger musicians. Remember, musicians that are under 21 can’t play in certain clubs.
Location: It’s essential to include your neighborhood and where you rehearse on your flier. This information will help musicians decide if they can commute to your area to jam.
Availability: Let musicians know how often you rehearse and play and whether you plan to tour.
Other Factors: There may be other factors that you want to specify on your flier. For example, my son’s metal band prefers players that play ‘extended range’ instruments like five-string basses and seven-string guitars.
You can specify that you are looking for players with black hair who like to spit blood on stage. But remember, the more specific you are, the more you disqualify possible candidates.
You can also mention things like ‘must have your equipment/transportation’ and ‘must be drug-free.’ But these things often go without saying. And they can always be worked with if you find the right person (except for the drugs).
With limited space on the flier, you want to eliminate the obvious. Just include what people need to know.
Contact: Don’t forget to add contact information so people know how to reach you. Don’t assume that writing your name will make people think they can look you up on Instagram or another social media platform.
Creating a flier is a necessary part of the musician scouting process. But I’ve had more success asking around.
Ask musician friends if they know people that will fit well with your band. You are more likely to get a personalized response. And if musicians find out about an opening through a friend, they may be more excited about jamming with you.
It’s advisable to ask fellow musicians about potential candidates. Those that have recently been through a band member search may refer people that weren’t right for them but would fit better with your band.
You can also ask at music schools. There may also be music headhunters that provide their services for a fee.
Additionally, there are many musician finder pages on Facebook. Search the right keywords to find pages and groups that connect you with local musicians.
Open Mic/Jam Nights
Attend open mic and jam nights to connect with musicians looking to form a band.
Research Before You Move Forward
So, you’ve posted your ad and are starting to get some responses. Before inviting them for an audition, do some research in advance. Fortunately, social media will help you do your homework.
You can use social media to check out videos of the person playing their instrument. The footage will give you some indication of their stage presence and skill level.
It will also give you an idea of their personality. You can tell if the person is a drama queen or king. You can find out if they have outspoken political viewpoints that may cause conflict in the band. You may even be able to determine if the person has issues with drugs and alcohol.
Social media can help you make up your mind in deciding if you want to move forward.
Conducting the Auditions
More popular bands may be overwhelmed with people wanting to audition. If that’s the case, you can set up a day or a few days and run through your auditions to determine who’s the best candidate for your band.
If you are a lesser-known band, you may get just one or two people to audition per session.
Either way, select a few songs you want the candidate to learn. You can choose your complex songs, easy songs, or the ones you play most often. Don’t overwhelm them. The idea is to determine their competency and whether they fit well in your band.
If you want to test their skills, you can ask them to do something unexpected during the audition. For example, you can ask them to improvise a solo on the spot.
You should also leave some time to interview the candidate during the audition. The Q&A will give you an idea of their availability, attitude, and experience.
What to Look For
There are several points to consider when auditioning members. These include:
Timeliness: Timeliness may not be crucial for every musician, but it is for me. A person who arrives at an audition late will cause future issues. Expect a lifetime of them not showing up on time for rehearsals, gigs, recordings, or more.
If a musician is just a few minutes late, or if they phone to say they are stuck in traffic or got lost on the freeway, that’s understandable. But if they breeze in a half hour after the audition was supposed to start, you may want to consider other options.
Preparation: Preparation is another important factor. The musician must be able to play the necessary songs. Additionally, they should show up with their instrument and whatever they need to play it (i.e., picks, cords, amps, etc.)
Communication: Communication skills will be apparent in the days leading up to the audition. You must communicate with the candidate to set up the audition, find out which songs you’ll be playing, and answer any questions.
It’s critical that the candidate gets back to you promptly and gives you the information you require. Otherwise, you can look at a future of not getting the answers you need when you need them.
Looks: Looks are essential to some musicians. If appearance is critical to you, you must consider factors like how the person dresses, their image, and maybe even their height, weight, and hairstyle.
Personality: You will need to work closely with your bandmate. You must be able to tolerate the people in your band. They don’t have to be your best friend. But if they annoy you, you may engage in band feuds. On the bright side, yours might be the next to hit the gossip mags.
Stage Presence: A person’s looks and personality will contribute to their stage presence. During a rehearsal, you can’t expect to get the full impact of a person’s stage presence, but you can determine factors such as how comfortable they look on their instrument and how well they move.
Availability: You likely wrote something about availability on your flier. But it’s advisable to grill the person face-to-face. Ask the candidate if they are available for gigs and rehearsals. Find out about their schedules to ensure smooth sailing moving forward.
Skill: The candidate must be able to play your songs. Beyond that, skill levels can vary. For example, you may not choose the most skilled person you audition. But you may pick them because you like their look and personality. Additionally, some people may need more help than others learning your songs. You may invest some time to get them up to speed. But if you think they will work out, it will be worthwhile.
Transportation: The right player should have a means of transportation. They must be able to get to and from shows and rehearsals. Giving them lifts will get old fast.
Gear: Gear is another must. The person you choose should have their instrument, amps, and whatever else they need to play live. You can offer to lend gear to the right person if you have it available, but this is another issue that will get more annoying to deal with as time goes on.
Other Bonuses: A musician may be ‘the one’ thanks to the skills they can bring to the table. For example, they may have knowledge or connections in the music industry that can take your band to the next level. They may have a lot of friends that will come to your show. These are just some bonuses to consider.
Red Flags to Look Out For
Several red flags will tell you a band member is not suited for your band. These include:
- Issues with drugs and alcohol
- Having political and moral viewpoints that conflict with other members of your band
- Legal issues that can affect the band
- Inability to deal with pressure or conflict
- Inability to travel or tour
- Financial problems that may interfere with their ability to pull their weight as a band member
Unfortunately, some of these problems may not surface until you welcome the members into your band and start playing with them for a while. However, you can do your best to feel them out early by interviewing them and checking their social media.
Introducing a New Band Member
Inducting a new band member can be a selling point for your band. Your audience will want to know all about them. There’s a good chance you will get people out for those first few gigs, for curiosity’s sake. And if they like the new lineup, they will keep coming back.
It’s advisable to start by introducing the new member on social media. You can post a picture or footage of them playing with a brief bio so people can learn a bit about them.
Get a band promo picture taken with your new member. This media is a great way to build excitement about the band and upcoming shows. Advertise what they will bring to the group to capture people’s interest.
How to Deal with Being Down a Band Member
Being down a band member can be challenging. Without certain band members, you can’t play live shows. And without gigs, you lose your visibility.
Additionally, your existing band members could wander off to find other active bands and leave you in the dust.
Fortunately, some strategies will help you keep your head above water while looking for bandmates. These include:
- Write Songs: Stay active by writing songs. Teach your new tunes to your band members at rehearsal to give them something to be excited about.
- Record: You may not be able to produce the sound of a live band at a show, but it’s easier to do it for a recording. A recording doesn’t require multiple players to play simultaneously. You may be able to play all the instruments on your recording yourself. Or you may be able to get guest musicians. Another option is to record electronically.
- Make a Video: Many bands make videos that don’t have all their band members in them. It’s a great project to take on when you are down a member.
- Promote: Promoting your band can be challenging if you don’t have any shows to advertise. But if you keep churning out recordings, videos, and songs, you’ll have plenty of content to promote.
- Borrow a Band Member: You may know someone willing to fill in for you until you find a permanent member. They will keep you playing live shows. They will make it easy for you to connect with musicians interested in joining.
Finding band members is not easy, but with the right strategies, you’ll be up and active before you know it. Use social media, fliers, and personal and professional connections to get headed in the right direction. Ensure you’ve found the right people by considering factors that show they will be in it for the long haul.
What do you do to attract musicians into your band?