Wake up dreamers! Lockdown is over
It might have been okay to stay in your room playing by yourself during the height of the pandemic, but it’s more or less over now, and there are gigs to be had. Enough of the woodshedding. You’ve honed your chops long enough. It’s time you formed a band.
Here are some tried and true ways to find prospective band members.
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Ask your friends, or workmates. They may well be budding musicians. If they’re already your mates, then they just have to be in your band to become bandmates. And as you’re already friends with them or at least able to work with them on a daily basis, this means you’re already half way there.
Speak to your Mum
Potentially even better than friends and workmates, and much closer to home, ask your family. Some of the most famous bands in the history of modern music have been related – The Kinks, Oasis, Biffy Clyro, Beach Boys, CCR, AC/DC, the Bee Gees, Jet. And who could forget The Partridge Family? (Hey, they were a real band… weren’t they?)
The good thing about having family members in your band is that you already know all their foibles, plus it gives you a great two-person power block to settle any band disputes – unless the other three people in your band are also siblings.
Of course, there is the potential for tension between siblings in bands, but that can, in the case of The Kinks and Oasis at least, be creatively beneficial.
Telephone poles have gotta be good for something these days. Stick an ad on them and your contact details and with any luck just the musicians you need will walk right into it while looking at their smartphone.
Also put up ads on community notice boards, in music shops, clubs, wherever you can find a place to stick them.
For minimal outlay you can put an ad in the local newspaper. On the more expensive side put up a billboard or hire a sky writer. Probably not the most practical solutions these ones but people can go outside now, they’ll see it! If you have that kind of cash though, maybe you don’t need a band?
Hang around places where musicians might er, hang around?
Places like gigs, studios, rehearsal places, music shops, Centrelink. Talk to them, find out what they’re into and whether they’re looking for a gig.
You could also stalk anyone you see carrying an instrument case. Not a great idea, but you never know.
Get out there and play anyway
Busk. Potential new bands members are often attracted to music, much like flies are to – well, you know. Set up on the street with full guitar, bass and drum rigs, then play your set list and hope that musically gifted passers-by might come along, like what you’re playing and sit in. You could form a band right on the spot.
Or go to jam sessions or open-mic nights and watch your future band members audition right there in front of you. You could even get up and play yourself so they’ll know what they’re getting themselves in for.
There’s an app for that
Finding compatible band members is like finding a life partner. As well as matching musical tastes you also have to find someone who you like and get on with if you’re looking for a long time musical relationship. If only there were an app for it like Tinder.
Well, it turns out there are a few of them – Bandmate, Vampr, Fuzz, and Jambro are all apps designed to help you find the exact musicians you need in your area. Find a player that rings your (musical) bell, and swipe right. At worst you could end up having a (literal) one-night-stand and at best a long-lasting fruitful relationship with the muso or musos of your dreams.
But just like actual dating apps, you have to be careful. Profile pictures can be deceptive. Sometimes that hot rock god turns out to be a balding middle-age dude. Then again if he plays like a rock god that may not matter. And don’t go just by looks alone. Sid Vicious totally looked the part for the Sex Pistols but he couldn’t play bass to save himself.
(One word of advice – if you are using a band app on your smartphone, watch out for that telephone pole I mentioned earlier).
Join a group music class
Music schools, adult education institutes, and even musical instrument stores often run classes for musicians of all levels. If you’re into the blues, join a blues guitar class. Into classic rock, join a class rock class. You can find classes for perhaps not all genres, but most of the main ones.
It’s a great way to meet like-minded people who share your passion for a particular type of music or instrument. There are even organisations like Big Music in Sydney, which apart from being a large musical instrument store, also has rehearsal and performance spaces, a recording studio, and runs band classes, where you can enrol to be in a punk band or a metal band or an Aussie rock covers band, etc. And then at the end of it your band get to perform a set in front of actual people.
After that you and your band members are ready to go out in the big bad world and make it big, or die trying.
Get on the internet
There are numerous reddit forums where you can post or search for the right band member in your area. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Tik-Tok to get your message out there. Put your music up on Soundcloud and see who bites. Put an ad on Gumtree, and look for a second-hand van while you’re there, ‘cos you’re gonna need one.
But probably the best online site for finding band members is Bandmix. Specifically designed for the purpose, Bandmix is the ultimate musician search engine. You can search for a vast range of musicians in your area, from accordion players, bagpipers, all the way up to violinists and vocalists and every instrument in between.
The advanced search features allow you to specify the age and gender of your prospect bandmates in the genre of your choice, as well as their experience and commitment level. Also, Bandmix subscribers can post an audio sample of their playing on their profile so you exactly what you’re getting.
Now that you know where to find them, you should be able to put together your band in no time at all. Of course, with all bands, members come and go, or some of the ones that you find might not work out and you’ll have to make the decision to replace them. But by then you’ll know exactly how to go about replacing them.
The most important thing is to get out of your bedroom, into a rehearsal room and then onto a stage. Because, as a wise bumper sticker once said, “If you’re not in a band you’re just playing with yourself.”