How To Start Your Own Band
I began playing in bands at age 14, and am now age 51.
Some things have dramatically changed over the years, such
as music equipment, music styles, and other things like ways
of promoting your own band. However, many things still remain
consistent and will never change such as putting together a
group of talented guys who want to play music and setting goals
whether it be just for fun or to seek stardom on a professional
The valuable information I have learned over my many years as
a professional musician is priceless. And often knowone wants
to hear the truth.
However, as with everything in life, although you may not like
the answers you get or the information that you learn, it is
allways best to know exactly where you stand and what your faced
with and up against.
To share all of the priceless information I have learned in
more than 30 years as a professional musician, I would have to
write a 500 page book and combine it with all of the music industry
books that are available for todays uprising musician's.
Changes are made every day. New methods of learning songs, making
contacts, recording, promotion, working with personal managers,
booking agencies... the list goes on.
However, there are many simple basic rules that apply in order to
be successful. This article will give you a few tips and pointers
on what you can or should do to get your first band in order.
Three very important things would include:
1) Direction and 2) Organazation 3)Equipment
One of the biggest things that will save you time and stress
and alot of grief is to look for other musician's who have the
same interest and who like the same music styles.
For an example. If your a guitarist who likes Metal, and you find
a bassist who likes and plays Jazz and a drummer who's favorite music
is country, chances are you can all get together and have fun playing
a few things together, but over the course of time, due to everyone
having such different music taste, these situations rarely ever work.
Many of these tips are just common sense.
If you like Metal and want to start a Metal band of your own, then
"Find Musicians Who Like Metal".
If blues is your favorite music, then find musicians who like and play
The one thing you will all need to make things work is "Direction".
The next biggest thing is "organazation". Alot of work goes
into starting your own band. Below is a list of a few jobs that
you'll all need to divide responsibly between members to make sure
that things get done. Also, don't fool yourself.
If one of your members isn't doing their assigned jobs,let them go.
They will only slow you down. You may have to suffer without a drummer
or bassist for a while, but that does'nt mean that you can't keep moving
forward, learning new material or working on band promotional ideas.
Another thing to consider is that when you are in a band with other
members, you have basically developed a relationship. The two most
important tools of making any relationship work are
1) communication and 2) cooperation.
Just like any work enviornment, you need to be able to work with others
and do so politely and get along. You dont need anyone who constantly
insist on having their own way, who wont cooperate.
Unless your band has a trained professional "personal manager" who is
telling you all what to do, then you'll need to allways rely and count
on being able to work things out yourselves.
After you have all discussed what your goals and direction is
a List of some of the jobs you'll all need to divide are:
Choosing songs to play
Recording the songs you want to learn and giving each member a copy
to learn on their own so that they can show up at practice and
actually play through the songs you've choosen to learn.
Choosing a practice day and time
Once you've done this, now you have a band that consist of members
who all have the same goals, who can easily work together who are
well organized and have pre rehearsed so that you can all make the
most of your practice time and easily play through the songs you chose
Aside from each members own personal equipment (for example...
the guitar player owns his own amp and guitar and the drummer
owns his own drums), the one thing you'll need to get started
is a small P.A. System. Although some music stores do rent
P.A. systems, the cost is often expensive and until your
playing gigs and making money, you can actually save money
by purchasing a small beginner P.A. system.
Do the math. If your paying anywhere from $35.00 a day
to rent a P.A. system and your band has rehersal twice a week,
that totals $70 a week, or $280.00 monthly.
In the meantime, you can purchase beginner P.A. System's
offerd by SameDayMusic.com, often for $300.00 to $500.00
See Beginner P.A. Systems at Musician's Friend.com
This will get you started. You'd also be suprised to learn that
for many small gigs, that small P.A.'s like these will be more
than sufficient. You can double the volume of your amplifiers simply
by purchasing a couple of extra microphones and using them to mic
your guitar amp, bass amp and drums. Many times I have played in
bands and we made the mistake of renting bigger P.A. systems only to
be told by the club owner to "Turn Down The Volume".
Yet if you are sure that your band plans on sticking together for
a longterm working situation, you may also want to consider
getting a bigger system that you can use at bigger gigs.
When using a smaller system, it's impossible to "add more volume"
than what the system will actually put out.
Yet when using a bigger system, you can allways decrease or turn down
the volume to adjust to the gig your playing or the club owners needs.
For this you may actually be better off trying to rent a P.A. from
a local music dealership to custom fit each gig you play.
The reason why and something to take into consideration is the fact that
each room you play in will be a different size. Some will have acoustic
tiles and be designed for sound like a recording studio is soundproofed.
This majorly effects the overall sound, and your sound will dramatically
change from one gig to the next. That's why you should allways get to a
gig to set up as early as possible to get a good sound mix and sound
When choosing equipment like P.A. Gear, it's all simply a matter
of what's the most practical for you and your band.
A good overall choice for most bands who need a good P.A. System that
will work good for practice and also perform well at many average sized
clubs would be the Yamaha and JBL Powered PA System or something
The same theory applies here. Once you start playing gigs with
your band, you can rent lights from a music store. But if your paying
$50.00 a night to rent lights and playing clubs every weekend on Friday
and Saturday night, it would be a much wiser decision for your band to
purchase a basic rack of "par can" lights. You can purchase items like this
online for usually half the price that a local music dealer will charge you.
See Stage & Lighting Gear at Musician's Friend.com
Getting Gigs & Promotion
It's a requirement to have what's known and often referred to as a
"promo pack" for your band. Most basic promo packs consist of
band photos, a set list of the songs your band plays, and a bio
of each band member and cassette or CD recording of your band.
Booking agents and club owners use promo packs
to see what type of band they want to hire for which type of
occassion. See Learn Music Business
Most bands play gigs that consist of 4 sets of music, each
set being 45 minutes lone with a 15 to 20 minute break inbetween.
Most bands set list consist of 30 to 40 songs depending on the
length of each song.
Something you'll need to realize right away is that if you want
your band to be liked by the audiences that you play for, dont
plan on playing all of your own personal favorite songs.
When your hired to play a paying job, you are hired to play
what people want to hear.
Recording a Demo
Newbies be aware! Yes it is best to go to a professional recording
studio and have your bands demo recorded professionally. However many
recording studios prey upon new musician's and will take you for many
unecessary dollars that they claim they needed to remix your master
recording, charging you extra money for things you do not need.
Once again, that's where a basic contract can save you.
Get it writing.
Professional musicians who have been educated and are familiar with
how recording studios operate, allready know and are aware of this.
They rehearse the material they plan on recording, then schedule a time
slot and then go to the studio and record, and pay for their time and
Aside from recording studios, most bands chose to record using a small
porta studio like the one shown below. These are a great tool and can
be used not only to record your band to make your own demo, but can
also be taken to gigs to record your band when you play live.
The great thing about a porta studio is that if your a solo musician
or single guitarist, you can write an entire song by yourself with the
aid of a bass guitar and drum machine.
A portastudio allows you to record one instrument at a time and then
go back and play the other instruments along with the originally
recorded instrument, and then allows you to mix them together all as
one, making you sound like a full band.
See Porta Studios at Musician's Friend.com
There are many forms and methods used to get paying jobs for
bands. That would also depend on what type of jobs your attempting to
Many club owners will ask for a live audition, which means you may
have to play for free the first time in order to get the job.
Others will be kind enough to offer you a small fee to at least
help cover your expenses in hopes that you will perform well
before they consider hiring you back. But keep in mind, that if
they don't like you, they can ask you to leave at anytime.
Thats why if you decide to play music as a professional musician
who plays full time to make a living, you should go out of your way
to learn all you can about the music business and music business
To be blunt, yet truthful, the music business can be very rewarding
and a dream come true for many who take the time to learn, prepare
and educate themselves on the way things are done on a professional
level so that knowone can take advantage of you.
However, if your not careful, you may end up going out of your way, and
spending every dime you have to your name after being promised a golden
opportunity from an agent, agency, club owner, or studio, only to find
out that you'll be told to leave with no pay.
So if your going to work with clubs or other professional paying jobs,
learn what you need to know and protect yourself before it's too late.
Other Types Of Gigs
There are many other types of gigs that you can score for your band
that can be fun and profitable. Many bands will play whats referred to
as a band showcase (some you can play for free, other's you'll have to pay)
to display your bands talent in front of agents and producers.
There is also the option of playing private parties, wedddings, music
festivals, open mike nights and similar jobs. While some of these jobs
will pay well, others may not pay at all. But they will get your band
exposure in front of someone who may want to hire you for a full time
These are just the basics that should help provide you with some
insight on what you'll need to do to get started forming your own band.
Just remember. The more that you know, the easier it will be to be
succesful and make good money as a professional musician.
Take the time to study and learn. Invest in your carreer and learn how to
do things right from the start.
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