How To Start a Band

Starting a band is the best way to hone your musical abilities, connect with fellow musicians, and express yourself creatively. A new band energizes your musical practice. When you’re in a rut, the best solution is to spark your creative juices. Instead of playing the same dusty tunes and reworking old covers yet again, consider forming a band. The pros include new music, new friends, and new gigs. 

  • Step 1: Find bandmates
    • Decide what type of instruments the band needs. Then, it’s time for auditions! Advertise for auditions with posters, on social media, and through mutual friends. Or, consider scanning sites, like MusicLift, for musicians in your area. Listen to samples, stalk profiles, and reach out when someone seems like the perfect fit. Though talent is important when seeking a band member, it isn’t the only thing that matters. Pay attention to whether a potential bandmate shows up on time, what type of attitude they bring, and if they have chemistry with the rest of the group. To a certain extent, getting along is more important than a perfect solo act.
  • Step 2: Lay the Groundwork
    • Decide who will be the group leader. Though this may seem unnecessary, with time, the organization and structure will prove useful. Consider making bandmate contracts (similar to how you would format a roommate agreement). The contracts should cover responsibilities, commitments, and basic finances. Figure out when and where you will be practicing. As well as how to cover any preliminary costs. The main goal in the early stages is to get ahead of any potential conflict.
    • After sorting out the nitty gritty details, determine what kind of sound your band wants. This is the fun part! Discuss influences, inspirations, and current favs. The band’s sound will likely evolve with time, but choosing a general direction in the beginning can add momentum and accountability.
      • If you’re stuck, ask about members’ prior experience. What kind of songs do they tend to write? Or, have an organic jam session. See what works and what doesn’t. Go from there!
  • Step 3: Choose a name
    • Now that the band has members and a sound, it’s time to find a name. Arguably, choosing a name can occur at any stage, though. There’s lots of techniques! Use a random word generator for inspiration. Get all your members together and toss ideas back and forth in a stream of consciousness style. Make all your band members put their favorite trees, foods, and weather into a hat. Pull out the pieces paper and use the funky combinations for brainstorming prompts. Anything that gets the creative juices flowing will be worthwhile.
    • Once you have a long list, discern which are the best. You should ideally have at least 10 good options. Then, narrow it down based on what is google-able. A name like The Oak won’t cut it. Imagine a fan trying to find you on the internet! The pictures of trees and rustic lodges would exhaust them until giving up. So, prioritize unique names which both match the band’s “vibes” and satisfy every member.
  • Step 4: Find a practice space
    • Work with what you have, first and foremost. Is there an open garage? A church basement? A venue before or after hours? A spacey storage unit? Get creative. Make sure it’s ok to jam there, though. Pesky noise complaints can really kill the mood.
  • Step 5: Write songs
    • Work with your band’s strengths. Let those who’ve written before take the lead. If it’s your first time, try not to get intimidated. There’s no pressure to be perfect on your first go. Plus, it’s ok to start by playing covers and work up to crafting the band’s own tunes.
  • Step 6: Get equipment
    • It’s important to have all the equipment in order so you can practice effectively and get hired profusely. Figure out how finances will work and pool money together to get what is needed. Figuring out expenses early on will prevent unexpected crises later.
    • Equipment gathering is a good chance to decide on other important money questions. How will each member get paid? Who will be in charge of managing finances? Being prepared for payday decreases the chances of arguments later on.
  • Step 7: Record a demo
    • Once you have a solid selection of original songs and a perfected group dynamic, record a demo. Having a quality demo signals professionalism to potential venues and agents. Try to head to a recording studio. If this isn’t in the budget, don’t worry. Turn your practice space into a studio by soundproofing it. Use sheets, insulation, and pillows to create a more absorptive space. If worse comes to worse, befriend a sound engineer and bribe them with snacks!
  • Step 8: Find gigs
    • All your ducks are in line. You have members, instruments, a sound, a few original songs, and a demo. Now, take your band out of the garage and to the public. Gig often, but make sure to spread out your appearances. Don’t play in the same place too often. Though this might mean more travel, but the mix of consistent fans and new audiences will ultimately be the most productive strategy.
    • Promote yourself with a website, as well as robust social media presence. Utilize your network. Expand your connections with a booking agent, if possible. Create a profile on websites like MusicLift, which connect musicians with venues and customers. All these self-promotion schemes can help spread the popularity of your band and get the ball rolling.

Enjoy these tips for forming a band. Take your band to the next level: find musicians and book live music gigs with MusicLift. What’s your best advice for starting a new band? Comment below.

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