How to Start a Band
Performing in a band is a rewarding experience, but it can also be very stressful. Before you start a band, make sure to research how others have succeeded and what it takes to stay committed to the endeavor. While life as a professional musician can be difficult, the experience can be truly exhilarating.
How to Start Your Band
- Find band members.
- Hone your chemistry and craft.
- Organise your first gig.
- Record your music.
- Build your brand.
Step 1: Find Band Members
Finding members can be one of the hardest parts of forming a band. There are many things to consider when looking for members such as: commitment, genre preference, skill level and personality.
Although skill level is important, being able to get on with your bandmates is key to being productive. You will spend a lot of time together, so getting along makes the experience more fun.
You can find band members through sites such as JoinMyBand or Bandmix. These sites can help you find members based on location and genre preference. There is, however, a downside to these sites as they do not allow you to get to know the personality of potential band members. Communication is a great way to get to know each other and what you expect from your band.
Once you think you have found potential members, organize a couple of songs that you could jam together, then organize a practice at a local practice studio. This will be a chance to talk in person and connect musically, you should be able to tell by the end of the practice session if you enjoyed it and want to pursue the band further.
If this does not work the first time around, either give it another chance with the same people or get in touch with more people online, don't expect to meet your ideal band on the first try!
Step 2: Hone Your Chemistry and Craft
Now that you've assembled your motley crew, it's time to hone your chemistry and craft. Organise a recurring time when you are all free and can meet (ideally weekly) to have a couple hours practice. Try to keep this time consistent and part of your schedule. Agree on some cover songs to add to your set and start writing original songs, if that's what you want to do.
Rules for a Successful Practice Session
- Learn the material at home: This saves valuable practice time as a band.
- Bring reliable equipment: Make sure you learn how to use it.
- Be on time: This shows professionalism, no one wants to wait around.
- No "noodling": Musicians have a tendency to always play. Don't.
Spend the time you need to get your set tight and make sure it is entertaining. Get to know each other and you will notice a psychic ability to be able to read what they will do next musically. This chemistry builds through consistent practice.
Step 3: Organise Your First Gig
You've been rehearsing covers, writing originals and can wait no longer—it's time to organise your first gig!
Find a small local venue that hosts live bands and ideally has their own equipment, contact them and let them know that you are just starting out and would love to host your first gig at their venue. The venue should be fine with you hosting a gig for free, organise a date and prepare yourself and your band in every possible way.
There Are a Few Things to Keep in Mind Before a Show
- Don't drink alcohol or get high before any show.
- Ensure all equipment is in working order and set levels before you're on stage.
- Don't be afraid of mistakes, everyone makes them, no one really notices them.
- Print setlists with very clear and readable writing in order.
- Invite some friends and family who will support you.
- Get up on stage and have some fun, try not to be too frigid, move to your music.
Whatever happens at your first gig, cherish it. It will be a memory to always look back on and will be the foundation of the musician you will become. No matter how experienced you are, you will learn from every single gig you do.
I’ve been imitated so well, I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.— Jimi Hendrix
Step 4: Record Your Music
You should have a decent amount of experience by this point, you know your band well and get along. Your first gig was memorable, but you can't wait to move forward with your venture.
The next step is to write and record your music. This is where teamwork and compromise will prevail. It is important to make sure everyone feels like their opinion is heard and considered. This can be a tricky area, because music is so subjective.
If you want to get your band studio ready, you first must have a realistic budget. Studios charge from £30 - £100 an hour, so you must have enough money to record as many songs as you have prepared. Before you step into the studio, each band member must know their parts really well, as well as the song's structure. If you go into a studio without your songs written and well rehearsed, your wallet will not be happy, neither will the studio engineer.
Write songs you are all proud of, there is no secret potion to writing good music, just experience and taste. Discuss common influences and try to take inspiration from some of your favourite bands. Have patience in this period as it can be frustrating and irritating, but it will yield results far greater than each individual member of the band.
Step 5: Build Your Brand
Marketing, for some, is a bore. In the modern age, there are fantastic and cheap opportunities to get your face and work recognised by genuinely interested people. When your music is finally recorded, after all those painstaking hours, it would be a tragic shame for no one, aside from the drummer's girlfriend, to appreciate your work.
Fortunately, with the internet, there are ways to get heard and noticed. Streaming services are the modern equivalent of mixtapes, except they're way cheaper than physical copies and everyone has access to it. This is great news for us, because it means we can easily share our music.
You can upload your music to streaming services like Spotify through services such as Distrokid and Routenote.
Now, your music is ready to be shared with the world! You need to make the world care. Start social media accounts and post regular and interesting content: record fun times you have with the band, photoshoots, show announcements, song teasers, etc. Engage with your audience, they will appreciate it and you will build a fanbase this way.
Find your identity as a band, how do you want to come across to your audience? Despite what some people may say, appearance does matter to your audience (and to any potential industry contacts). We all judge based on appearance, so if your Death metal band come to the stage clothed from head to toe in pony laden tracksuits, you may give mixed messages.
You can promote your music to blogs and radio stations through Submithub. They compile blogs that want to share your music (sometimes for a small price). Also, contact your local radio stations, magazines, and inform people on social media. You want as many people as possible to be anticipating your first release, make it a good one!
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