Finding band members can be a daunting task. There are many ideas to consider when you get into this mode. Ideas like joining an existing band, know your playing experience, limits, and where to find musician is just the start.
Keep this in mind when reading… Your music creativity is limited when it’s just you writing the music. Finding band members is like finding a good job. Not everyone gets a gig by driving the band around.
Looking for band members is never an easy task. You may first want to ask yourself what exactly you’re looking for – whether it is to join an existing band or find individual members to start your own band. Obviously, both have their differences and this should be answered first before you start your grueling search.
Join an Existing Band
This is a great way for enthusiastic musicians to gain some playing experience right away, although it is sometimes harder to find these kinds of opportunities. These are established bands that are looking for single or multiple members for various reasons (their guitarist overdosed on cocaine, bass player got fired for drinking problems, etc).
This might go without saying, but make sure you really do like the type of music a band plays before deciding to join their group! There are many musicians I know that play in a band where they don’t even like the music they play, all just to “gain experience” to get their foot in the door and hopefully move on to greener pastures.
It can’t be stressed enough that if you don’t like the music you play, you’re going to do a half-assed job at it, so why bother?
Know Your Playing Experience and Limits
For example, if you’ve only started playing guitar learning all Green Day songs for a few months, don’t expect to join a thrash metal band that requires you to do sweep-picking, fast arpeggios, or any other insane guitar techniques. Make sure you choose a band where the technicality of the music they play is comfortable with your own skill level as a musician.
Advantages of Joining an Existing Bands
A huge advantage of joining an established band (maybe) is that most of the back-end stuff is already taken care of.
This includes tasks such as finding an agent/manager to book your gigs, song development, contracts with music labels, etc. All you have to do is show up for rehearsals and play shows as scheduled.
Where to Find the Opportunities
A good resource to start finding these bands in need is going to your local rehearsal studios where most of them lurk. These are places where any musician can pay for a room to rehearse. Best of all, all the musicians you find there are often in your local area.
Check out the bulletin boards where frequent bands post up classified ads that may go something like: “Looking to join a band that rocks?! We are in need of a guitar player with lots of experience! Our influences include: Megadeth, In Flames, Black Sabbath, and many more! If interested, please contact Todd at x.”
Or even better yet, post up your own classified ad on the bulletin board so bands can contact you instead. Local, independent music stores often have a bulletin board for classified ads as well. These are some of the best free ways to find band members in your area.
Disadvantages of Joining an Existing Band
First and foremost, you have to learn all their songs usually in a limited period of time.
The band might have a show coming up and you have to be able to play all their songs flawlessly note-for-note. Needless to say, this might be stressful for some musicians (except if their music is very straightforward and easy with pure 3 note power chords).
Another disadvantage is often your own music creativity is limited.
Most bands prefer their original tunes to be played and carried on without any radical change.
For example, if you just joined a band and replaced their old guitarist, the way the former guitarist played a particular solo, is the way the band wants it to be played by you. Often you must follow the same note structure of a music piece composed by another musician.
Organizing Your Own Band
This is where you try to find individual musicians to start a new band, usually with similar music skills and backgrounds.
Thinking of starting a band is the easy part, but the actual process of searching for the right people is harder than most people think. There are tons of musicians out there in the world but only a small percentage of those you may be compatible with.
In addition, ask yourself: are you going to play in a band just for fun, or are you trying to make a living out of it? This will influence where you are going to start looking.
Use the Internet
The internet is becoming a popular method for musicians to find other musicians. If you search “looking for musicians” in Google, you will easily find over 12,400,000 results – so how do you find what you’re looking for?
Many ads posted in classifieds sections and on popular music forums will vaguely have descriptions such as this: “Guitar player looking to form a band.” Well, that’s just great.
Try refining your search to keywords such as the area you are in, what position you are looking for, etc. Example: “Looking for bass players in Toronto”. The first search result is an ad posted on www.craigslist.org, which by the way is an excellent place to get started.
Try to only focus your attention on well-written ads that describe the musician, which includes how much playing experience he/she has, the types of music they are willing to play, and the intention of playing in a band.
Or you may also want to post your own ad in music community forums and add a link to your audio/video samples that will likely interest more candidates. Audio/video samples that show off your best work are often the most influential factor of candidates contacting you back.
Consistency Is the Key
Be consistent with this. Chances are you won’t find someone right away on your first few posts, so try to refresh your ads on a weekly basis (but don’t spam!).
Use Other Resources
The internet is a large resource but don’t just rely solely on it. You may find you have better luck looking in local magazine’s classifieds ads section where it’s more direct. Also, because musicians have to pay to get their ads published in magazines, it shows that they are more serious about organizing a band.
Explore in Other Areas
Don’t limit yourself to a location. If you are serious about starting a career as a musician, you don’t just search for bands or members only in your local area. Living in smaller towns and cities won’t give you very many options in choosing the right band or member for you. Expand yourself to larger urban cities where the potential to find band members is greater.
Finding band members is like finding a good job. Know exactly what you want before searching, always have a good portfolio ready, and be consistent in your pursuit.