I’ve played in a lot of live bands over the years and I’ve answered my share of “Musician Wanted” ads as well. Finding auditions are always an interesting process and I’ve always learned something going through the band audition process. Today I’m going to give you a few tips for when you answer a Musician Wanted Ad before you set up an audition.
Let me start off with a little story. One time when I was about 18, my bass playing friend and I were at the local music store looking at musician wanted ads. We picked one out that said something to the effect of “Wanted, musicians to form rock band. Need guitar, keyboard and bass player.” So naturally we gave them a call. The guy on the phone said “bring all your equipment and come to our practice studio at this address.” We asked what constituted “all our equipment” and the guy said “microphones, amplifiers, mixer, speakers…whatever you have”. Luckily, we didn’t have much but we loaded up our beat-to-crap microphones along with our beginner guitars and amplifiers. We then set out to find the address of the practice studio.
The “practice studio” turned out to be an abandoned barn out in the middle of a field, well off the beaten path. The guys were a bunch of rough looking, middle-aged gentlemen in Levi’s and leather. There wasn’t a shred of equipment to be seen other than the stuff me and my buddy brought. Needless to say, it soon became apparent that these guys were looking for music equipment, not musicians. We never played a note while our equipment got closely scrutinized. It was obvious that we’d gotten more than we bargained for answering this “musician’s wanted” ad. Luckily a couple of our friends had tagged along and there were four of us that showed up so the numbers were about equal in terms of us vs. them.
Finally the guys looking over our equipment conferred together in a huddle and had a good hard laugh. They told us if that was all the equipment we had, then they’d have to keep looking for “musician’s” and that we were free to go. Let me tell you, we loaded up as fast as we could and sped on out of there. We knew these guys were looking to steal somebodies equipment and we were glad we didn’t have anything worth stealing that day. I learned a very valuable lesson from this experience.
Now, I’m going to give you a few simple tips when answering “Musician Wanted” ads. First and foremost, take the time to check out who you are going to meet up with and audition for. Be sure to get full names and a bio from the people you are meeting. Ask where they’ve played, how long they’ve played and where they plan to take the project you are auditioning for.
If you can get names of clubs that the other musician’s have played at, try to get some references you can call and check out. In todays world of social media it’s a good idea to check out MySpace or Facebook pages as well. The more you know about the people and live band you are auditioning for, the better you can prepare and the safer you’ll be. It’s also good to see if they have a clear idea of where they want to take the project as well. If they’re vague about their goals, that’s a warning flag for you.
It’s always a good idea to bring a friend or two along with you. It can be risky business meeting strangers alone especially if you have some expensive music equipment with you. Which brings me to another tip, don’t take your prized instruments with you when you audition. If you have a collectors Gibson Les Paul Custom, leave it home and take your trusty old Les Paul Studio guitar and a practice amp. Unless you’re answering an Ad seeking a musician with P.A. equpment, A serious band will already have micrphones and P.A. equipment for you to audition through.
Finally you’ll want to know in advance what songs they want you to play. If they say “just come over, and we’ll jam” then you can be sure that it will be a very short meeting. It may be that they don’t even know how to play any complete songs and that would definitely be a waste of your time. Try to agree on at least 3 songs that everyone will know how to play so that you can get a gauge on everyone’s talent level. Even if they’re planning to play original music, you should be able to play a few cover songs that everyone should know.
I wish you success in finding other musicians to play with. There’s nothing wrong at all with answering “musician wanted” ads and you may even find that band that you’ve always dreamed about being a part of. Just make sure and follow the simple tips in this article and you’ll have an even greater chance for success!