How To Start A Band - Booking Gigs
Article by Scott Morris

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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 level. 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 blues. 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 to play.


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, often for $300.00 to $500.00

See Beginner P.A. Systems at Musician's

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 check. 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 similar.

Stage Lighting

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

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 services. 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

Playing Clubs

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 get. 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 contracts. 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 paying gig! 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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