How to Start a Band – Form a ‘Rock’ Solid Band Properly

Updated on by Gavin Whitner

Creating an entire album on your own can be very demanding but also rewarding. That said, there’s nothing like the feeling of being part of a band. You can do so much more than just studio work, and you can exchange ideas with others to spark creativity.

Forming a band is a process, often a lengthy one, but the many advantages it brings are more than worth the effort. And, the beauty of this is that it won’t matter if you play an instrument, or if you’re a singer, etc. Anyone can start a band as long as they can find the right people. So, here’s how you can find them.

How to Find Band Members

You can’t form a band without meeting different musicians first. So, the first logical step is to either talk to people you already know who can sing or can play instruments. If that doesn’t pan out, here are some other things you can try.

Post Paper Ads

Posting paper ads, especially in the local newspaper, is a great way to let other musicians know about your plans. Although the internet is the dominant medium, there’s plenty of room for classifieds advertising in traditional papers and magazines.

Use Social Media Platforms

Always use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word of what you’re trying to do. Facebook is perhaps ideal in this case because you can join so many groups, local, international, national, and talk to other musicians directly.

Maybe you’re already a member of some groups. It doesn’t matter if they’re fan groups of bands and artists that you like or a musician’s corner for your instrument. If you are, you should start there, and with those you talk to most often.

If all your DM’s prove to be unfruitful, then post an ad on the group’s wall. Make sure to state what positions you need, and what your goal is.

Using Twitter to put a band together can be a bit trickier, but not impossible. Twitter is all about your followers. If you have many, then ask them to list their credentials and whether they’re interested in joining your project.

Or why not? Ask them to give you suggestions of people they know that can play and might be interested. They might even suggest people that are not among your followers.

Start Using Musician Forums

Where is it most likely to find apt musicians for your band? Places where musicians hang out. In the online world, specialty forums and certain Reddit communities (subreddits) will give you your best shot at finding people for your nascent band.

Then there are websites dedicated to bringing talented musicians together to complement each other. Of course, not all such sites are free to use. Some may require you to pay a subscription. But think about it this way.

If you find your ideal bandmates soon, you can always unsubscribe and get your money back from a few gigs later on.

Start Attending Local Shows

It’s not always easy to get people to come and audition for you no matter how appealing you present your idea. So, if you can’t get enough people to come to you, go to them.

You’ll always find musicians in pubs, bars, and clubs that host live music events. Whether it’s karaoke, jam sessions, a live cover band, or concerts, people that know how to play will hang out there

So, make your presence known more often. Socialize, interact with others, ask them about their experience. Tell them about your aspirations, and see if you click with someone.

People rely on the internet too often these days. Most forget that one on one human interaction is still the best way to meet people and earn their trust.

Besides, playing jam sessions will allow you also to showcase your skills. No one wants to join someone else’s band before they can see what the founder can do. That goes twice for the experienced musicians who have a fair share of offers on their plates.

Start a YouTube Channel

It’s always easier to start a band if you’re a known singer or experienced player. But if you don’t record a demo or play local pubs, it’s kind of hard to build a reputation as a musician.

The next best thing is creating your online profile and resume. And, there’s probably a no better way of doing that than starting a YouTube channel.

Upload your compositions or post covers of popular songs. Promote your channel, and watch the number of views grow. It is essential to also interact with people in the comment section.

Post videos about your dreams of starting a band and what you hope to achieve. Post a video detailing what you expect of your ideal bandmates. Having a YouTube channel is free, and it’s the closest thing to physically interacting with people in person.

Just don’t forget to leave some contact details so that those interested can reach you.

Pro Tip #1 – Not All Band Members Have to Be Local

A band’s success will be determined by how often everyone can get together, practice, and create. However, it’s not a requirement that all band members are neighbors or even living in the same city or country.

Due to the technological advances in communication and video technology, jamming with your bandmates online is very easy. It’s also relatively easy to use a DAW to record ideas and send them to everyone else in the band. That way, you can get feedback, or have other members add until one idea turns into a song.

Being able to be together physically to rehearse and play gigs is important, but not necessary. Not these days anyway.

Pick a Genre

One of the most important things you have to do is to settle on a genre. You should do it as early as possible. That will make it so much easier to find the ideal bandmates. For example, if you’re a guitarist and you want to start a blues band, you know what other instruments you need to accompany you. These include drums, bass, a second guitar (optional), and of course, a vocalist.

You can also add a harmonica, keyboards, and others. But, you can also try to find a singer that can also play an instrument.

Certain genres need specific instruments. Let’s say you’re into soul music or gospel. Chances are you won’t need a guitar as much as you would need a keyboard.

You may not even need actual drums in this case either. Many synthesizers and digital keyboards can give you all the drum sounds and bass lines you’ll ever need.

Of course, there’s no rule against using influences from different genres in your creative process. However, you should have a clear picture of the style you want to play in and the sound you’re trying to achieve.

That will make a big difference when searching for members. Both amateur and professional musicians will want to know what they’re signing up for. So, it’s essential to be very specific.

If you’re not sure yourself, there are two things you can do. First of all, you can take your time and not rush into starting a band. Take your time, think things over, figure out what you want, and then start looking for new band members.

Secondly, you can try to look for band members by pointing out your expertise and preferences. However, you can even say that you’re open to suggestions and that you want to experiment with more than one genre. Perhaps there are others out there that want to do more but are just unsure what.

Joining a Band vs Forming a Band

When you join an established band, you’re on the fast track to gigs, recordings, and improving your playing. You’re also more likely to connect with experienced musicians that can help you grow as well.

That said, getting together with bands that already have their connections in the music industry is not always the route you want to go. As a new member, your position may not be one of prominence.

For example, you may not receive a fair cut of the revenue from gigs, merch, and album sales. You might even receive less recognition from other band members and fans. It’s also possible that you won’t gel as well with bandmates that have a long history together.

It might take time for on-stage chemistry to develop or for you to adopt the band’s established creative process. These things often happen when you join a group with people you don’t know.

If you’re looking to exercise more creative control, set your percentages for who gets what, and make sure that you only play with the people you like, you might want to start your band instead.

As a founding member, you can pick bandmates not just based on talent and experience, but also their personality. There’s also the significant advantage of everyone starting together.

Even if there are some mismatches in terms of playing experience, growing the band together helps band members feel more like friends and family. It’s also easier to exercise more control over the genre, creative process, and even types of venues you play.

You’ll find it much more satisfying to start your band. That said, you should embrace patience during the process. It will take some time to find suitable partners, check them out, and find a place to practice.

Pro Tip #2 – Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same Page

Even if you want to experiment with different styles of music, everyone should be on the same page. Sure, playing experience matters too. But things won’t go well for your band if your bandmates don’t have the same aspirations as you.

Keep in mind that many bands, even the legendary ones, sometimes break up. Members leave, get fired, and eventually replaced. Making sure that you all want the same things is going to make things run smoother. No one likes to have to audition for replacements after getting used to a specific lineup for a long time.

Consider Writing up a Contract

Not nearly enough bands even think about contracts unless they’re ready to sign with a label. It’s not required by law to have band members sign one before they can start rehearsing, playing live, and recording demos.

That said, a contract may have many benefits, even if it’s just between the band members. You can use one to assert yourself as the founder and leader of the band. That way, if your band members decide they don’t want to play with you anymore, they won’t be able to kick you out. They also won’t be able to use songs you’ve created together, or use the band’s name and future contacts.

You can also use a contract to add various clauses on how the band splits revenue. Moreover, you can define how the creative process should go and what styles you want to avoid. Consider this as getting a guarantee from all members that they will do things the right way.

Now, consulting other members about specific contract clauses is entirely up to you. On the one hand, if you write the contract and put it in front of them, it may make you look a bit aggressive. But, if the deal is fair to everyone, you may not have to worry.

On the other hand, if you get input from all members, then you have better chances of making everyone happy. Just remember to get the contract verified and make it legally binding. You might want to consult a lawyer who specializes in such stuff.

How Good Do You Have to Be to Start a Band?

Here’s a bit of good news for you. You don’t have to be an expert in any instrument, nor do you need a voice that can guarantee you first prize at a talent show. You can start your band at any age, regardless of the experience, as long as you find likeminded people.

Most bands start together at a very amateur level. But this is not a bad thing. It’s more likely that a bunch of amateurs getting together is going to progress and hone their skills faster than people practicing alone.

Why? Because there’s a lot more motivation and drive behind every practice session. Bandmates will continuously try to one-up each other to see who’s better. There’s also the drive to get people’s attention, develop a following, and book more gigs.

That makes people practice harder and more often. And, it will also help form stronger partnerships, improve the creative process, and willingness to succeed.

When you get a bunch of well-established musicians together, even though they’re all looking to create the same style of music, many things can go wrong. People that have been playing for a long time tend to be conservative and unwilling to change.

It can be a long time before your band develops a flow in terms of songwriting, performance choreography, and so on. When everyone is starting from a similar level and lack of experience, everyone is learning together, and mutual habits develop.

It’s also not uncommon for professional and experienced musicians to start a band with less qualified players. Why? Because it’s an excellent opportunity to teach others in your ways and ensure that they’ll end up playing as you want them to.

And, this will also help you establish yourself as a leader much sooner. It all depends on how fast you want to succeed and how quickly you want to fill up all the positions in your band. If you wish to start a band right away, then settling for less experience is the way to go.

If you’re more interested in starting with a full band, then it’s probably best to take your time and find the perfect musicians for every instrument you need.

Pro Tip #3 – Be Very Specific

Even if you don’t want to come across as bossy and aggressive in your ads and audition invites, you still have to be specific. Remember that it’s all about finding the right people, not necessarily people that will agree with you 100%. You need people that have the skills and characteristics you need for certain positions.

Explain what kind of experience you’re looking for, for every instrument. It would be wise to be even more detailed if you’re looking for a singer or even backup singers.

Let people know just how committed you are and what you expect of them. If you want to play with the band only once a week, say so. Some people may be looking for more frequent rehearsals while others may be looking for a weekend escape.

Tell everyone the urgency of getting the project off the ground. If you have connections in the music industry and you know you can book gigs and record demos, tell potential bandmates that that’s the case.

What to Work on Once You Have Your Band

As you can see, most of the things required for starting your band are pretty much common sense principles. There aren’t any tricks or shortcuts you can take unless you’re famous and everyone already wants to play with you.

But, even then, you may still have a hard time finding the right bandmates. You’ll have to go through so many more auditions, demo recordings, and interviews.

Now that you know how to start a band, it is time to talk about what you should do after you make everything official, and you’ve filled out all positions. It’s time to discuss setting the right tone for success.

Establish a Rehearsal and Songwriting Schedule

To be successful with any band, in any genre, you have to start writing. Never stop writing. You never know what song is going to be a hit, and anyone that tells you otherwise is lying.

So, no idea should be left off the table. Urge your bandmates to come up with song ideas as often as they can. The more songs you make, the more chances you have of one of them being good enough to launch your careers.

Discuss Live Performances

Apart from discussing what the ideal venues for your band are, also talk about your stage presence.

Stage presence is half the battle during a live show. You can wear shocking costumes, be wildly energetic, dress elegant, and sit still but stoic. You never really know what works until you try a couple of things.

You can try things during rehearsals and invite a couple of friends over to test out different ideas. You can even try different things during your first few shows to get the audience’s reaction.

Settle on a Band Name

Although band names sometimes change, this only usually happens if the band has a rough start and wants to start with a clean slate. In other cases, a change in genre and style may also prompt a name change.

But, if you want to build a reputation fast, it’s best to come up with a name and stick with it in the long run. You should also really consider if you want to use your name or not. Is your band going to be defined by you or by all its members?

It may not seem like much to think about, but it’s something that can make or break a band further down the line. Make sure everyone agrees.

Start Young, Persevere and Take Over the World

No matter what genre you adopt, reaching a certain level of fame makes you a rockstar, as well as everyone else in your band. Remember that playing with others can help you improve faster and opens up more avenues when it comes to songwriting.

Whether you want to be the center of attention or you want everyone in your newly formed family to enjoy the same level of success, it’s up to you. It’s your band, and you can pretty much do as you please. Just keep in mind that how you behave as a leader will reflect on everyone else in the band too.

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner
     

    A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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    Rachelle MacDonald - May 27, 2020

    Thank you for all the great advice. It is much appreciated.

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