Starting or joining a band: Hacks for musicians, from beginner to advanced!
Have you dreamed of being in a band? Watching your favorite musicians live or online just makes it look so simple, and fun, and you want to experience that kind of excitement, jamming and playing together, perhaps even performing for a crowd one day! But where do you start? What instruments should you play? How do you find bandmates? What kind of music do you play?
We’re here to help. Follow our proven methods for starting or joining a music band and let the fun begin!
Choose an instrument!
First off, if you haven’t started playing an instrument, now’s the time to start! These days bands are made up of musicians who play all kinds of different instruments to bands that even make up their sounds from no instruments at all. The options are endless really. And you don’t even have to learn an instrument, you can use your body or your voice! That being said, here are a few tips to get you started. Think about the kind of music you like listening to. Is it made from classical instruments or is it electronic? Does it usually use a guitar, or perhaps a double bass? Narrow down your options from this, and think about what kind of instruments interest you. Once you have a better idea, do a little research and see if the instrument is the right kind for you. Perhaps you love rhythms, if this is the case, think about instruments that are used to create the backbone of the music, from drums, cajons, double bass, bass guitar to other forms of percussion, electronic keyboards or beat machines. Maybe you would like to play the saxophone, violin or sing. If you are still unsure, rent an instrument to try it out. Remember that not everything comes at once and it may take some time to get a feel for your instrument. Some instruments, like the ukulele may be easier to learn than the drums, so do a little research if you are an absolute beginner! If you are not phased by the rate at which you start a band, you might want to look at instruments that are necessary to a band (percussion usually) or unusual, this way you would be setting yourself up in a niche and perhaps, if you play well, there will be strong demand for you as a band member. Great bass players are often sought after key members of the band!
Learn to play!
You can learn on your own, but if you are in a hurry, it pays to visit a professional teacher, and do an intensive course. Be open about what you want to learn and why, and they can help fast track you ensuring you achieve your goals. Practice goes a long way to help, but you can also learn tricks and tips from teachers so that you can start your band early.
Find your bandmates!
Ask friends and family if they want to join your band. If they are not interested you can advertise. Think about the type of music you want to play, and make posters inviting people who have similar tastes to join with you. You can start off small, have a few jam sessions and slowly you will find the right bandmates. If you are in a music school, perhaps you can start a band with fellow students. If you are beginners, you can help each other and learn together. Musicianonamission.com notes, “Traditionally, you’ll need a drummer, a guitarist, a bassist, and a singer. But these days, your band can be made up of just about anything. The only two instruments you should definitely consider having are a drumset (acoustic or electronic) and something to hold down the low end. This could be a bass guitar, an upright bass, a piano, or a synthesizer.”
Create your sound
Once you have a group, get to know one another through music. Talk about your musical tastes together, find your common ground and go from there. Your sound should be something everyone in the band likes to listen to. And most importantly, should be something your singer can handle. You can start off by playing covers of your favorite bands. This way, you all get a feel for the music together. Have fun with changing the covers a bit, adjusting them to your specific sound, making the covers your own. This could just be through the instruments you have brought together, or perhaps the way your singer vocalizes. Play around and jam together, most importantly have fun.
Find a place where you can all come together to practice. Make your meetings a regular occurrence. The more often you are able to practice together, the more likely you are to be able to make a proper band. Choose a good place where you won’t be disturbing anyone, and where you are also not being interrupted. If you live in a city, with limited space for loud music, you could try meeting in a park, where jamming together wouldn’t pose such a problem. Of course playing in a park may not be logistical if you have a drummer, so you can also look for a practice room to rent. If you lack a budget, try asking at your local community center or school if you could use a room on the weekend or after hours.
What’s your Name?
Make a name for your band, if you plan on playing in front of people ever, they will need something to call you. If you can’t think of anything, you can find band name generators online that will give you random options, or you can all write down prompts and put them in a hat and shake out a combination. Once you have a few options, don’t forget to check online to see if they are taken or not. If you are really serious, once you have your name, claim it on social media networks and set up a website. Its a good idea to think of something that is easy to spell or write, so that later on your audience can find your online presence without too much trouble.
You don’t need to know how to read or write music to make a band or start making music, but it doesn’t hurt. Start by learning chords, this will help you all play together. Be creative, experiment, be silly, have fun. Once you have started to work out your methods, bear in mind that you need 12 songs to make an album. But remember that quality is better than quantity. Once you have a few great songs you can start booking gigs.
Play for your friends or families at home, for a start, and then start looking for jam sessions or open mics. These will all get you some experience. It will also help you perfect your craft. As you hone your skills, get more and more familiar with your instruments and set up, you can start to add more complicated songs, or playing styles. Start to interact with your audience. Often a great stage presence goes a long way. Remember to enjoy playing. You are not only making music as a band, but also entertaining your crowd. Don’t just stand around. Move your body, make eye contact. Smile, grimace, whatever it is you need to do. Chat with the audience, welcome them to your gig, introduce your members. Find that experience that defines your band. If you are not into chatting, perhaps your way of interacting with the crowd is through your clothing or stage antics. Make your band memorable and fun to watch.
The nitty gritty:
If you are a band that wants to get serious, perform for money and create a brand, you and your band members need to get serious too, about the business of the band. You need to define each member’s role in the band, create a contract or agreement together. This will more or less protect the band and its members. Nothing destroys a band more than disagreements between members, and it’s a great idea to make an agreement before you hit it big! Sort out things like finances. How do you fund the band, how do you split proceeds. How does the band make money? Will you be selling merch. You can find guides to this online, but our tip is to plan ahead and have everyone on board before you commit. Recording a demo, renting or buying equipment or even costumes can all cost money, so discuss this all ahead of time.
Going beyond the hobby!
If you have gotten this far, you have done well. And you should be well on your way to making an EPK or Electronic Press Kit. In every industry professionals create a CV of their work, and this will be yours. Your website can function as this, there are loads of free website options you can start on with templates where you can upload your bands biography, info about each member, what instruments you play, where you have performed, and why you play music. Try to keep your website easy to use, so that your audience has easy access to listening to your music, finding cool photos of your band or even seeing videos of you playing. You can then use this website as your calling card. Send it off to prospective agents or event spaces when you are searching for venues to play at. It also functions as a way for people to contact you, either to say hi, buy your merch or to book you for a gig! Don’t forget to check your emails! Record a demo of your songs and make your singles available on your website. Promote your band online, or even make posters and hang them around town. Stick stickers places, drop off flyers, make t-shirts and wear them, graffiti a wall with your band website, create a hype. If you book a gig, let the press know!
Utilize social media; tools like Tiktok, Youtube and Soundcloud can connect you with audiences further afield. Work with other professionals. Teaming up with other bands or photographers or videographers to work together means that you all benefit from sharing and celebrating each other’s work. Put in the effort if you want to make it big, but remember why you started to make the band in the first place. If it was just to make friends and have fun, don’t forget your band’s roots, and enjoy playing music together. The music industry can be a tough place, don’t give up, but don’t let it eat you alive either! Good luck!