How to Start A Band: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Whether you’ve set your sights on the next open jam night or the headlining slot at Coachella, taking the first steps toward starting a band is a daunting task.

Finding a tight-knit group of talented musicians who work in harmony toward a shared goal can be a lot harder than it sounds. Sometimes, it can even feel like the ultimate catch-22. You need good musicians to make good music, you need good music to attract good musicians.

So, where do you start?

Well, before you can dive into the nitty-gritty, determining your own personal goals, level of commitment, strengths, and weaknesses is essential. Before you can begin to bring other people into the picture, you have to have your bearings and expectations mapped out. Once you have that out of the way, then you can begin the process of forming a band.

Step 1: Establishing a rehearsal space

While this might seem like putting the cart before the horse, it is essential that you have a place for your band to practice.

If you have the means to rent a rehearsal space, you’re in luck. If not, it may be time to get creative.

Rehearsals can take place in basements, garages, churches, storage units, or community centers. In all of these cases, it’s likely that you will need some soundproofing equipment.

Once you’ve found the rehearsal space, keeping it becomes the next great challenge. Carpet, foam boards, and blankets are cheap ways to help keep noise down and deaden reverberation. This will help you hear yourself better and keep the neighbors at bay.

Another great option for a rehearsal space is to reach out to your local high schools, community colleges, or universities. These educational facilities likely have performing arts buildings equipped with designated practice spaces.

Step 2: Advertise for band members

Once you’ve found a rehearsal space, it’s time to find your people.

Don’t underestimate the power of advertising. Consider hanging flyers in music stores, clubs, universities, and other locations where musicians hang out.

Craigslist, Facebook groups, and social platforms geared for linking creatives together are great digital options for advertising as well.

Get honest about your skill level. Of course, you want to attract experienced musicians, but you’re likely to find quicker and longer-term success if your band members are of a similar skill level to you.

Like any good advertising campaign, your goal should be to speak directly to your potential band members. You want them to feel as though it was written for them.

Your ad should clearly communicate the type of musician you’re looking to attract. Level of experience, commitment level, and goals are all important things to include. You will also need to decide if you’re going to advertise for each position individually or all at the same time.

Auditioning musicians at the same time will give you more flexibility to see potential group dynamics. However, you might have a harder time attracting quality musicians who are interested in forming an entirely new band.

Step 3: Hosting auditions

Whichever way you decide to host auditions, it’s a good rule of thumb to look for a lead vocalist last. Bass players are also more difficult to find than guitarists, so consider looking for guitarists with some amount of versatility.

When it comes to finding potential band members, there is no “right” way to hold auditions and you might end up trying a few different ways of screening your band members before settling on what works best for you.

Get prepared for the first few responses to your ad by making a list of a few questions that will give you an idea of who your potential candidates are. You might also ask for recordings, pictures, videos, or a music resume.

Your ability to prescreen musicians will depend greatly on the skill level you are seeking. Naturally, more experienced individuals will have a greater portfolio of work to showcase.

Once you’ve determined which applicants are most promising, it’s time to set up an audition.

One way to go about this is by offering them a couple of songs to learn. Choose songs that you feel confident playing and that showcase your skills. Be wary of choosing music that might make you nervous to perform. Remember, they are auditioning you just as much as you are auditioning them.

If you’re looking for a less formal way to get familiar with potential band mates, block out some time to just play together.

Jam sessions are a great, laid-back way to see if a musician would be a good fit for your band. This works particularly well as you begin to solidify your members and want to see how a new auditionee might work with other, already established bandmates. If you’re a songwriter, jam sessions are also a great way to find collaborators.

Step 4: Beginning rehearsal

You don’t have to wait until you have all your members to begin rehearsal. The more time you and your band spend playing together, the more confident you will become and the better music you will make.

Make up for missing bandmates by playing along with pre-recorded tracks. For practicing covers, YouTube has a myriad of isolated instrumentals to play along with.

If you’re writing your own songs, talk to a local musician into being a stand-in for a needed part. Even if they’re not interested in joining the band, they might be happy for the extra playing time or at least be willing to pre-record something specific for you.

Once you have filled all of your positions, it’s a good idea to make a multi-track recording of every song. This way, if someone can’t make it to the rehearsal, you don’t have to play without their piece.

After Auditions

One of the biggest problems a band will face after auditions is members not showing up prepared for rehearsal or just not showing up at all. It’s a good idea to give everyone a jam track minus their instrument, that way you don’t have to rely on just a few hours a week to build confidence and chemistry.

If everyone knows their parts before they arrive for rehearsal, the band will progress faster.

Choosing a band name

Perhaps one of the most fun and most challenging first steps to starting a band is agreeing on a band name. Choose something that accurately reflects who you are as a band. Your name is your first impression on an audience, you don’t want to come off as a heavy metal band when you’re actually producing electro-pop music.

Dividing responsibilities

The next step is to divide various responsibilities among the group. This will help keep everyone on track without putting too much responsibility on one person. This will also help to create a feeling of equality, investment, and respect among band members.

Some roles you may want to assign are:

● Bandleader: This person oversees everything. They make sure every member is contributing and that the band is organized and on track to reaching their big goals.

● Marketer: This job requires an image conscious individual who manages stage appearance, merchandise, and the overall image of the band.

● Publicity: This person is splashing your carefully curated band image across all social media platforms. They are handling anything to do with print and press for the band. They make sure photos, bios, flyers, and press kits are all in order.

● Show Booker: Self-explanatory in name, this job is essential.

● Bookkeeper: Managing the group finances is no easy task, but someone has to do it. Keeping an accurate book can help establish credit should you ever need to take out a loan in the band’s name. This might come in handy if you ever want to tour.

Showcasing Your Band

So you’ve made it this far. You’ve found the perfect bandmates, everyone shows up prepared for rehearsal, you’re all fervently committed to your assigned roles, and you’re ready for your debut.

When preparing for your first gig, a good rule of thumb is to have around ten songs prepared. Even if you don’t play all of them, it’s good to have a few songs up your sleeve just in case. Being prepared also means being professional.

First impressions matter.

Whether you’re playing at a family barbeque or on an established stage, it’s important to be professional–your image is now the band’s image when you are in stage attire. Second chances are few and far between in the music industry, so you want to make sure you don’t need to ask for one.

For this reason, it might be a good idea to play a few gigs before finalizing the band name, that way you have some built-in leeway as you continue to figure out band dynamics and good showroom etiquette.

Making it Work in the Long Run

Like any good relationship, the keys to success greatly revolve around how well your band members are communicating. Depending on your bands mutual goals and commitment levels, your relationships, time spent together, and organizational levels may vary; but, no matter what, it’s important to consistently be checking in to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Organized and professional group meetings can help to keep the dialog about the bands interpersonal, short-term, and long-term goals at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This also gives all the band members a structured time to talk business.

Another important factor to long term success is having the band constantly learn new material. This helps to keep the band from falling into monotony and allows for bandmates to grow their skills together.

Of course, at the end of the day, the most important key to success is to have fun. As you play more gigs, travel further, and establish yourself as a band, it’s important not to lose sight of why you began making music together in the first place.

So, there you have it. Building a band, no matter what your goal, is no small task; but, the rewarding feeling of creating and performing captivating music is certainly worth the heavy lifting.

Once you start making music and you’re ready to upload it on major platforms such as Spotify, create a Novecore account and we’ll help you distribute your music on all major platforms and help you earn money from your work.

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