You have almost everything it takes to join a band. You’re deeply driven, you thrive in energetic environments, and the stage is your ideal workplace. There’s just one small problem — you have no experience.
How do you join a band with no experience?
There are many bands filled with inexperienced members. New bands generally seek members looking to grow their careers, just like they are. Meanwhile, established bands tend to select the most talented recruits, regardless of their experience.
Nevertheless, joining a band can be an overwhelming prospect. We’ve researched the most common and effective methods for joining your first band. Read on to learn everything you need to know to ease your mind and get started.
Joining a Band: Experience vs. Skill
Everybody knows you need to start somewhere. Musicians currently in bands faced this exact dilemma at some point and can sympathize. So don’t fret because you haven’t done live shows before.
The average band is not an out-of-touch employer who expects ten years of experience and a graduate degree for an entry-level job. One of the big reasons people join bands is because the live music business tends to be very down-to-earth.
But what about skill? Do you need musical training to join a band?
Unlike gaining band experience, building musical skills is something you can do on your own. You don’t need to fill out an application to buy a guitar. Furthermore, if you bought an oboe and decided to use it as a pool noodle, nobody is (probably) going to stop you.
The point is that growing your musical talent is a non-restrictive process. Thus, it’s reasonable for bands to expect new members to have some ability to play an instrument, sing, or use DAW software. If you cannot strum a chord or keep a beat, you may want to focus on building your musical foundation before reaching out to bands.
Does this mean you need to be a phenomenal musician for a band to take you? Absolutely not. Being in a band is how many musicians soar to greatness. Ultimately, joining a band is a tried-and-true way to get good fast. Having other musicians around to partake in friendly competition is an unbeatable way to keep everyone accountable for the group’s success.
Steps to Joining a Band with No Experience
The fact that you Googled “how to join a band” or something similar suggests you have some know-how already. If you genuinely have zero experience, the steps we’ve outlined below will be completely new information.
Remember that the guide below is for complete newbies and begins at square zero. But because the obvious is often overlooked, we think it’s worth repeating some things you’ve probably heard.
Let’s get to it.
Step One: Figure out what kind of band you’d like to join
Here, we ask some tough questions (just kidding). Such questions include:
- What is your favorite genre?
- Which part of music gets to you the most? Are you moved more by a song’s beat, lyrics, melody, or rhythm?
- Do you play a particular instrument?
- Would you like to play a particular instrument?
Once you are confident in your musical tastes, you’ll be better equipped to find the right band. It’ll also help you narrow down your search tremendously. When you get a chance to speak with other musicians, you can talk about your favorite artists and other shared interests.
“But I don’t have a favorite genre. I listen to anything.”
First off, good on you for having a diverse palette! Secondly, you can listen to anything but still have preferences. Figuring out which genre you prefer just a bit more than others gives you a useful starting point to talk about your musical inspirations.
If you are still not convinced that you have a preference, consult your music library. Count the songs in one of your go-to playlists and note the style of each. You probably don’t need to tally all of them to uncover a trend.
Even if there’s a tie between two or three genres, that’s still a preference. Consider combining them and creating your own unique musical style. Musical diversity is key to originality. Many bands recognize this and are on the lookout for something fresh.
Step Two: Develop your skills
You don’t need to be incredibly skilled to join a band. However, it’s a wise idea to brush up on your talents so that you don’t slow anyone else down. Fortunately, the hardest part is getting started.
There are plenty of ways to build your skills so that you provide value to the band. Examples include:
- Teaching yourself how to sing decently (yes, it can be learned)
- Learning simple songs on your instrument
- Becoming a human metronome
- Using your social skills to become an exceptional crowd-pleaser
Do you need to do all these things? Of course not. Bands exist to combine individuals with diverse skills into a cohesive musical force. Focus on your strengths and specialize.
If you discover you aren’t a fantastic vocalist, that’s absolutely okay. You’ll get much more enjoyment in a role that you enjoy and are confident performing. Besides, once you’re part of a band, you can help your new music mates (sorry) find the perfect recruit to fill in the final gap.
Step Three: Let it be known that you want to be part of a band
Chances are you know someone or know someone who knows someone who has thought about joining a band. At the very least, someone in your circle probably likes music and has entertained the idea of performing.
Having many connections isn’t necessary, either. While it is true that many bands start as friendships, this is not as universal as it once was. Some may opt to join a band to meet people instead of the reverse.
How do you let people know you want to be part of a band? Mention it. We’re not saying to force it into a conversation about how long the lines are at Chick-Fil-A. But chances are high that the subject of music will crop up.
When it does, a casual mention of your admiration for your bands and your desire to be part of one might end up with a, “Well hey, I know someone.” Of course, you might not get this reply, but even a slim chance is worth it for something requiring minimal effort.
Step Four: Network
If you’re lucky enough to have someone hook you up in step three, that’s still networking – albeit on easy mode. For the rest of us, we will need to perform some purposeful outreach.
Thousands have used conventional online tools like Facebook and Instagram to form music groups. If you already use IG or FB regularly, there is no harm in making a post or two about your musical performance goals. Even Reddit is worth exploring.
But there’s no reason to stop with the social media apps you know. There are countless LinkedIn-type platforms to discover nearby bands looking for new members. Some of the top ones in 2022 include:
However, the best approach utilizes several outlets. Many of these sites have fewer than 100,000 members. You might have trouble finding someone in your area if you aren’t in a big city (although no big deal if you’re down for a virtual collab).
Thus, creating a profile on several platforms while using sites like Reddit and Instagram will increase your chances.
Also, don’t neglect traditional networking! Many bands might be “keeping an eye out” for someone like you without actively recruiting. Open mic nights, music stores, and bars remain excellent places to meet other musicians.
How to Audition For A Band
Joining a band is not just about your musical prowess; it’s also about your ability to gel with potential bandmates and present yourself professionally. The audition process can be a critical step in your musical career, and approaching it with the right preparation and mindset is vital. Let’s delve into the intricate world of band auditions.
Preparing for Band Auditions
Before you head to an audition, make sure you are well-prepared. Here’s how you can set yourself up for success:
- Research the Band: Know the band’s style, popular songs, and history. If possible, learn about the individual members and their musical backgrounds.
- Select Appropriate Pieces: Choose pieces that showcase your skills and are aligned with the band’s genre.
- Rehearse Extensively: Spend ample time rehearsing to ensure a polished and confident performance.
What to Expect During an Audition
An audition can be a nerve-wracking experience, but knowing what to expect can help alleviate your anxieties. Here is a glimpse of what an audition might entail:
- Warm Welcome: Most bands will welcome you warmly and may engage in a casual conversation to break the ice.
- Performance: You’ll be expected to perform the pieces you’ve prepared, and possibly some of the band’s original compositions.
- Jam Session: Be prepared for an impromptu jam session to test your compatibility with the band’s style and dynamic.
Do’s and Don’ts of Band Auditions
To make a lasting impression during your audition, keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind:
- Be punctual: Arrive on time to show your professionalism.
- Be respectful: Treat all members with respect and be open to feedback.
- Show enthusiasm: Demonstrate that you are eager and excited to be a part of the band.
- Overplay: Avoid overshadowing other members by playing too loud or adding unnecessary flourishes.
- Underprepare: Showing up without knowing your pieces well can be a deal-breaker.
- Be negative: Maintain a positive attitude, even if the audition is challenging
Should You Build A Portfolio Before Joining A Band?
Whether you are an aspiring musician or a seasoned performer looking to join a new band, building a robust portfolio can give you a competitive edge. Your portfolio should encapsulate your musical journey, showcasing your talents and achievements effectively. Let’s delve deeper into how you can go about building a portfolio that resonates with potential bandmates.
Creating a Music Resume
A well-crafted music resume can be your ticket to landing a spot in your desired band. Here’s how to create a resume that speaks volumes about your musical journey:
- Personal Details: Start with your basic details, including your name, contact information, and a brief bio that outlines your musical background.
- Education and Training: Detail your formal education, workshops, and training in music, if any.
- Experience: List your past experiences, including bands you’ve played with, performances, and recordings.
- Skills and Proficiencies: Highlight the instruments you are proficient in, along with other relevant skills such as music production or songwriting.
- References: Provide references from reputable individuals in the industry who can vouch for your skills and professionalism.
Recording a Demo or Showreel
A demo or showreel is a practical demonstration of your musical abilities. Here is how to go about it:
- Quality Over Quantity: Focus on recording a few pieces impeccably rather than many average quality tracks.
- Showcase Diversity: Select pieces that showcase your versatility and range as a musician.
- Professional Recording: If possible, opt for a professional recording studio to ensure top-notch audio quality.
Showcasing Your Past Performances
Compiling a selection of your past performances can be a testament to your experience on stage. Here’s how you can effectively showcase them:
- Video Footage: If available, compile high-quality video footage of your live performances.
- Photographs: Include photographs that capture the essence of your performances, showcasing your stage presence and interaction with the audience.
- Press and Reviews: Incorporate any positive press or reviews you’ve received over the years to lend credibility to your portfolio.
What To Know About Joining Your First Band
There’s a duality to joining a band for a lot of folks. The idea can be immensely exciting and strangely terrifying at the same time.
It’s exciting because it offers a chance to share and showcase your musical passions. On the flip side, joining a band often accompanies immense anxiety and self-doubt. To mitigate this, knowing what to expect can help you gather your composure in advance.
We cannot predict what every band on Earth is like. Each band is a unique cultural pocket. However, there are some general truths about the experience that are worth knowing.
Your bandmates may disagree with you more than you’d anticipated
Surely, if you’ve shown a band your skills and they swore you in, they must respect your talents. This is undoubtedly true, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t run into disputes. Statements like, “No, this doesn’t fit here” and “We’ve got work to do” are common.
It’s also possible that you might despise a piece of music a band mate came up with while everyone else thinks it’s brilliant. The truth is that a band where everybody agrees on everything all the time is rare enough to be considered a fantasy.
If you cannot stand conflict, being a solo artist is the only option. However, while conflict isn’t always pleasant, it is beneficial — to an extent. On average, the music of many brings greater diversity and novelty than the music of an individual.
Finally, a healthy level of disagreement brings perspective. A song that four or five people agree is “fire” is more likely to evoke a similar response in its listeners. Conversely, a solo artist can only judge if they like a song. Many songs have failed this way, while many potential hits have been trashed.
It’s not about the money
Perhaps Mick Jagger would disagree, but most bands are not in it to make millions. Many may begin hoping to rake in cash before realizing that gigging is not as lucrative as they thought. Those who didn’t stop playing music when they discovered the cold truth are the ones that still exist.
As you probably know, making money as a musician is an uphill battle. When you’re in a band, you must divide income among several members. For example, a bar may pay $300 for a three-hour performance. At first glance, $100 an hour is not bad at all.
But in a five-person band, this ends up being about $20 an hour. Furthermore, new bands may struggle to land many of these kinds of gigs. If you can only play two shows per weekend, this equals about $600 per week — for everyone to split.
This is unfortunately low. Fortunately, you can keep growing your income as your band gains experience. You’ll book more gigs and get higher rates.
But you will definitely work for it.
It May Not Last
Again, disagreements happen. In moderation, they push everybody to new creative heights and facilitate awesome music. In excess, they can lead to a breakup.
Online band-hunting is a lot like online dating. At first, you see overwhelming opportunities and options. As you explore each option, you realize that only a few are suitable for your tastes. Eventually, you will decide to give reach out to a particular band and cross your fingers that interest goes both ways.
Once you successfully join a band, a few things can happen:
- You discover the band does not meet your expectations
- The band decides that, after a couple of shows, you’re not a good fit
- You and the band hit it off and enjoy years of musical fulfillment
We all aspire to reach option three. However, this may not end up being the first band you join. Bands break up often as creative differences prove too strong to overcome.
Sometimes bands stay friends and root for one another to find something better. In messier break-ups, such as when personality conflicts occur, former bandmates distance may themselves while secretly competing against one another.
Pros and Cons of Joining a Band
You might be thinking, “Bands sound horrible! High conflict and low pay? Why do people bother?”
We won’t deny that being in a band isn’t often a struggle. However, there are several compelling reasons to be in a band despite challenges. Only you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa. First, let’s look at the pluses.
Pros of Being in a Band
Joining a band can be an amazing experience with many benefits. Some excellent reasons to consider being in one include:
- Forming quality friendships with band mates
- Meeting other musicians while gigging
- The euphoria of an audience applauding you
- Being able to exercise and showcase your creativity
- A chance of turning a passion into a career
Of course, these are not all the reasons in favor of joining a band. They are, however, immensely significant. Even just one of these pros is sufficient justification to be part of a live music group.
Indeed, music is a profoundly enriching hobby. Consequently, many dream of being able to devote their lives to it despite the difficulties in doing so. It is enjoyable for producers (the songwriters and performers) and consumers (the fans).
Cons of Being in a Band
We’ve already touched on some of the drawbacks of being in a band. To reiterate, reasons people may choose not to join a band include:
- Low pay for new bands
- Conflict and disagreement are prevalent
- Being in a band is a big commitment
- Playing late can be exhausting
- Depending on who you are, being on the road often can be heaven or hell.
Many people think they want to be in a band without taking the time to consider the sacrifices. This only leads to disappointment. It is vital to ensure that you really want the “I’m in a band” lifestyle before making any major decisions.
Treat it like having a kid. If it sounds like too much work right now, wait and see how you feel in the future. But if the many commitments and struggles do not hamper your motivation, it’s worth giving a shot.
FAQs for Aspiring Band Members
Joining a band can be an exciting yet challenging journey. Here we have compiled answers to some frequently asked questions to help you navigate this process with ease.
1. How do I find bands that are looking for members?
- Local music stores, online forums, social media groups, and websites like Craigslist often have listings for bands seeking new members. Networking within your local music scene can also be a great way to discover opportunities.
2. What skills are bands generally looking for in new members?
- Apart from musical proficiency, bands often look for individuals who are reliable, dedicated, and can bring a positive energy to the group. Good communication skills and a willingness to collaborate are also highly valued.
3. How should I prepare for an audition?
- Learn about the band’s music style and history. Practice the pieces you’ll perform meticulously and be ready to showcase your versatility as a musician during a possible jam session.
4. What should be included in a music resume?
- Your music resume should include personal details, educational background, musical experiences, skills and proficiencies, and references from people in the industry.
5. What is the importance of a demo or showreel?
- A demo or showreel helps in demonstrating your musical abilities succinctly. It gives the band a sense of your style, versatility, and proficiency, helping them assess if you’d be a good fit.
6. What should I do if I don’t get selected?
- If you don’t get selected, seek feedback to understand areas where you can improve. Continue building your skills and portfolio, and don’t be disheartened; there will be more opportunities in the future.
7. How do I protect my interests when joining a new band?
- When joining a new band, it’s wise to have clear agreements regarding roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing. It may also be beneficial to consult with a legal advisor to understand your rights and to protect your musical interests.
8. Can I join a band if I am a self-taught musician?
- Absolutely! Many successful musicians are self-taught. What matters most is your skill level, dedication, and how well you gel with the other band members.
Again, everyone needs to start somewhere. Bands recruiting members were (or still are) just as inexperienced as you are now. Do not fret because you’ve never played live music before.
You will meet people eager to help you grow confident on stage. Chances are those people had someone help them out, too.
Furthermore, new bands typically prefer inexperienced members who won’t try to take over. You see, it’s a journey for everyone. Realistically, you aren’t “joining” a band — instead, you are forming a band.
Ultimately, joining a band with no experience follows the same steps as joining a band, period. Nowadays, countless platforms make meeting other musicians a breeze. Instead, the real challenge is learning how to handle conflict. Once you join your first band, you need to be ready to embrace the inevitable creative disputes.
Being in a band isn’t easy. You will face rejection. But so long as you and your new band mates stick it out together, it’ll all be worth it.