Band Members Must Have Common Goals

Every member of your live band should share some basic, common goals.

Matt Rushton and Tom Nedreberg
Matt and Tom Have A Goal Of Playing As Many Gigs As Possible

   One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my live band is getting a group of musicians together that all share the same goals. There are a lot of musicians out there but not all of them want to play in bars. Some musicians just want to jam and don’t want to play any live gigs at all, ever. If your band is going to succeed you really need to have common goals.

   The first thing you need to discuss before you even decide on what type of songs you want to play is where and when you will play gigs. This will determine your song selection as well as whether or not the individual band members are willing to commit to certain types of gigs. Too many bands dive right into learning songs which is always the first goal of any band. Let’s talk about that first goal of learning songs for minute.   Continue reading “Band Members Must Have Common Goals”

Tips For Answering “Musician Wanted For Live Band” Ads

When answering Musician Wanted ads, follow these simple tips to protect yourself and your equipment.

Frank With Drums
Frank Brought His Own Drums And Cords To The Audition

   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.    Continue reading “Tips For Answering “Musician Wanted For Live Band” Ads”

What To Do When One Of Your Band Members Won’t Practice

Having a band member that will only practice at band rehearsal is something that you can actually work around.

A Weak Bass Player Is No Problem At All For AC/DC
A Weak Bass Player Is No Problem At All For AC/DC

   What can you do when one member of your band will only play their instrument when the band gets together to practice? I get this question all the time from friends and colleagues that play in live bands. It’s actually a lot more common than you may think to have a band member only practice when the band gets together as a group to practice. It’s something that you may have to deal with in your live band so let’s discuss some of your options.

   It may seem like a no-brainer to just kick the offending member out of the band. That may seem like the easiest solution but let’s face it, this person may have other qualities that make them very hard to replace. For example, I was working with a young band that consisted of 3 brothers and it was a great marketing opportunity having 3 brothers in the same band. The problem is, one of the brothers would never practice his instrument unless it was band practice. It was very obvious that this brother was far behind the other two in terms of being prepared and also in his actual playing ability. But, it was crucial to keep this brother in the band.   Continue reading “What To Do When One Of Your Band Members Won’t Practice”

Is Your Live Band Feeling Stale? Bring In A Guest Musician

If your live band is feeling a little stale, try bringing in a guest musician to liven things up.

The Beatles With Guest Musician Billy Preston
The Beatles With Guest Musician Billy Preston

If you’ve been playing in with the same group of musicians in the same live band for a while it’s pretty common for things to become routine. A problem arises when the doing the same old routine every time you get together starts to get boring and stale. This happens to a lot of bands over the course of their career and it doesn’t matter what your bands routine is.

Your band may be playing the same 3 clubs over and over to the point of boredom. Or you may get together regularly to create music in the studio and make recordings but never play out. The Beatles became a recording studio band and guess what? It still got stale and boring even for The Beatles! So what did The Beatles do to get some fresh ideas and some new life in the band? They brought in guest musicians to play on their recordings.     Continue reading “Is Your Live Band Feeling Stale? Bring In A Guest Musician”

Developing A New Member Of Your Live Band

Developing new members for your live band can be challenging but very rewarding if done right.

Brian Johnson Developed Into A Perfect New Singer For AC/DC
Brian Johnson Developed Into A Perfect New Singer For AC/DC

   When you start a new live band it can be difficult to find an entire group of top level players. Sometimes you won’t be able to find the perfect player for your band. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t give up on the idea of getting your band off the ground. You can really help out an aspiring player as well as your band if you take the time to do some work and develop a player that shows good potential.

   The other day I wrote about holding auditions for new band members. One of the challenges you will face when adding a new member is developing their ability to blend with the rest of the band. Remember that everyone grows the more they play in a live band. If you find someone that is showing some good potential that you really like and seem to get along with, give them a chance. Even if they’re not the greatest player in the world you may find someone that will grow and become the best member of the band.    Continue reading “Developing A New Member Of Your Live Band”

Holding Auditions For New Band Members

Whenever you need to replace a band member, you will probably have to hold auditions.

Paul Rodgers Passed The Audition To Replace Freddie Mercury In Queen
Paul Rodgers Passed The Audition To Replace Freddie Mercury In Queen

   Every live band will go through personnel changes throughout the life span of the band. Members of the band will quit for all sorts of reasons from health issues to the ever popular “artistic differences” which is really just code for personality conflicts. Whatever the reason, if your live band is going to continue you will have to find a new member to replace the one who is leaving.

   Sometimes you’ll be lucky and know a musician that can step right in and replace the person who is leaving. Most of the time you’re going to have to do some asking around  and find a few musicians who would be interested in joining your band. Once you have a few names, it’s time to have an audition session and give the candidates a chance to show you what they can do.   Continue reading “Holding Auditions For New Band Members”

In A Live Band, Multiple Skills Will Increase Your Value

You can increase your value in your live band by bringing your mutiple skills and talents into the band.

Frank and Kyle Are Both Multi-Instrumentalists
Frank and Kyle Are Both Multi-Instrumentalists

 One thing I’ve noticed in my years of playing in a live band is how important members are that can do multiple things in the band. I was in a band where we had a lead guitar player that was a good lead guitar player, but that’s all he did. He didn’t sing lead or sing backup, he only brought his guitar and his amp and he didn’t book any of the gigs. Yes he would have the songs all learned and he played his parts perfectly but he just didn’t seem to contribute as much as the other members of the band.

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Your Live Band Must Have A Stable Core Group Of Musicians

Your live band must have a stable core of three musicians that can carry an entire gig alone.

The Core = Guitar, Bass and Drums
The Core = Guitar, Bass and Drums

Over the years I’ve played in a lot of various live band lineups. I’ve played in 3, 4, 5 and 6-piece rock bands as well as some 20 person Jazz bands. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is the bigger the band, the bigger the problems. I’m talking about scheduling problems, personality conflicts, incompatible work ethic, weak skill levels and mismatched goals for the band. It can be a real challenge in a band with a lot of people to keep it functioning. Fortunately there is an excellent solution to this problem. All you really have to do is have a compatible, stable group of core musicians.

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Getting Along Is More Important Than Musicianship

In Stereo Gets Along

   That’s right, getting along is more important than musicianship. This is band chemistry 101 for all you live musicians out there. I’ve played with some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever heard and I’ve also seen them not able to function in a band for more than a year. The musicians I play with now are all excellent. Maybe not the best in the world, but excellent players. My two bands have been together for 18 years and 14 years respectively. Let me tell you why we’ve been together for so long.

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Have Fun At Band Practice

Bill Says - I LOVE practice!

   When I was just starting to play in rock bands and learning how to be a good live musician, I absolutely loved band practice. Hanging out with the guys and learning how to play together as a band was such a great rush. We’d play and talk about music and pig out on junk food. It was great! Over the years though, band practice has become more and more of a burden. It’s not very convenient and once you play live in front of a live audience, practice just doesn’t compare for getting a rush.

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