For many of our students who come in to learn how to sing or play guitar, bass, drums, or keyboards, their goal is to become proficient enough to sing or play in their own rock band. Here is some advice we frequently offer them.
Advertise for Band Members
If you already have your band members in place, great. This is not the case for most folks interested in starting a band, however, and when it comes to bands early on in their lifecycle, members frequently aren’t a fit and leave all the time. It’s highly likely that every band will have to plug new musicians into holes in their lineup at some point.
If you are young enough to still be in school, this is a great place to put up signs. Also, the newspaper or Craigslist are good places to post ads, as musicians will be looking there for bands to join. Music stores and local clubs are great, too.
Finding or Creating a Rehearsal Space
There are many places you can rehearse, you’ll just have to figure out how to keep noise to a minimum or you’ll get kicked out. Those who file noise complaints certainly will feel as if you are disrupting them, but keep in mind a noise complaint or eviction will disrupt your plans for your band: this is the space you have created to practice and to hold auditions for prospective band members.
You can try soundproofing your space by putting carpet on the walls — not only will this help stop sound from passing through the walls, but it will significantly deaden the reverberation and let you hear what people are playing more precisely.
Figure Out Your Band’s Identity
This will begin with writing songs, or if you are just going to play covers at first, selecting which songs you will play. Check in with everyone to make sure they are on the same page with what they want to do as part of the band. A band is a team effort; everyone must play a role. As far as playing instruments is concerned, these roles are fairly easy to define.
Often times, it is not nearly as easy to decide who should be the songwriter, if there should be more than one songwriter, or if songwriting credits should just be shared equally. Figure this part out as early in the songwriting process as possible — if the song becomes a hit, you’ll want the royalties to be properly attributed, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
Rehearse, Play Gigs, and Rehearse Some More
Many are hesitant to start a band or join one because they do not think they are good enough, when really they should feel the opposite — the less skilled you are as a musician, the more other musicians there are at your skill level! When you form a band, it’s best if everyone is at approximately the same skill level and grows together.
That being said, even the most successful bands need to rehearse extensively, and that goes double for newcomers. However, when starting out, it is also important to just get your sound out there. Start doing gigs. They won’t go perfectly, but they never did for any successful band when they started out, either. It’s important to keep practicing and furthering your craft.
Taking the Next Step
Once you prove you can be functional, then it’s a great time to further define your goals. Do you want a recording contract? Do you eventually want to tour the world and sell out stadiums? Not all musicians are on the same page when it comes to their ambitions, so it is important that you lock in with everyone in the group that the band’s goals are aligned with personal values.
If you are satisfied that everyone is on the same page, explore your options as far as building your band’s brand. Design a logo, build a website, get active on social media, etc. Record some demos so you can have something to show people if they ask to hear what your music sounds like. Go a step farther and record and release an EP if you feel good about the songs and feel like your following has grown to the point where the cost of booking studio time would be justified.
Do whatever it takes to get your music heard — the sheer volume of musical content uploaded onto the Internet today is massive. Keep moving forward — keep writing, recording, rehearsing, and performing. If your forward progress stalls and creative tensions arise, it may be time to move on to another band. The silver lining, of course, will be that you’ll be recruiting much better musicians into your new band this time, because of how much you grew with your first band.