While there’s nothing more impressive than an epic solo, the camaraderie and creativity that follows being in a band can’t be beaten. Plenty of the most iconic groups of our time started because their members answered an ad in the paper, so if you’re wondering if you should join a band, the answer is YES. You’re just one “muso wanted” ad away from bringing the E Street to Bruce Springsteen’s band.
Having the support of your fellow band members can bring unquantified growth to your confidence and skills, and gives you the extra push forward into new opportunities. If you know where to look, there is a whole network of wannabe Metallicas out there with Lars Ulrich just waiting in the wind for James Hetfield to call (true story, he was one of only two people who answered his ad).
If you’re unsure where to start and didn’t know that newspapers even had a section for job ads, try some of these ideas out.
1. Join online classifieds for musicians
There are classifieds for everything, and band gigs are no exception. Exclusive sites like Bandmix get straight to the point, or global skillshare sites such as Fiverr and Meetup are excellent places to start. But you can also jump on a popular site in your area like Melband if you’re in Melbourne which has plenty of dedicated forums to ask for something more specific. Put up an ad or browse the many listings for session artists, music producers, and even casual jam sessions.
2. Put up a cute poster in your record store
If you hang out at record stores then it’s safe to say that your new best friend gang hangs out there too. Harness the power of the artful gig poster and win hearts with a refreshing take on the classic band meet-cute.
In this digital world, it’s quite a rush to come across an authentic gig poster. Put a twist on your ‘band members wanted’ ad by incorporating your badass drawing/graphic design skills and you’re sure to grab the attention of like-minded musicians who reciprocate your vibe.
Stick some fliers in your favourite coffee shops, plant stores, and similar haunts (with permission of course), hell, even hit the telephone poles, let’s paint the city!
3. Ask around
Word of mouth is the fastest way to get anywhere, and you never know what you’ll learn just by opening up a dialogue, sometimes with the most unsuspecting candidate. Bartenders and hospitality staff generally know what’s up with the local music scene but check out less obvious spots such as community centres and the library. You are bound to come across fellow musicians on a night out who may be looking for their next side project but remember that some real hidden gems are low key homebodies that you’ll only hear about if you spread the word.
Someone might know someone from their knitting group who is the perfect fit for you, and it might be time for them to put down the yarn! Make that six degrees of separation work!
4. Check out recording studios and rehearsal spaces
If there’s one place you’re sure to find a gang that’s deep in the music game, it’s in the spaces where the magic happens. Lucky for you, these tight-knit professional spaces have community noticeboards to encourage collaboration. Studios may also have an online directory or community group with more musicians who participate but may currently be between recordings, so hit those up too.
5. Facebook groups
There’s a Facebook group for everything, including opportunities to join a band or find members for your own. It’s not too difficult to search for a community page local to your area by creating an ad post or starting a discussion thread. If one doesn’t exist and you have enough interest, you may even be able to help other musos out by jumpstarting your own initiative.
Using a Facebook discussion thread is great because you can have a casual conversation before you get too far into a commitment. And remember, you don’t just have to hit the music groups, the gardening gang or online poetry troupe should all be considered hotspots for your talent search!
6. Check out local showcases
Where would be a better place to find budding talent than at a talent show or open mic? I mean if Simon Cowell can put together One Direction based on Harry Styles’s X-Factor audition then the sky’s the limit, right? Sign up for a spot and support some up-and-comers while putting yourself out there. You’ll be able to network and make some friends and meet heaps of fresh faces looking to expand their sound or join a band too.
7. Put the right info in your ad
Any candidates responding to the ad to join your band will only be as strong as the information you give them. The Killers wrote that they were looking for any “lovers of Oasis,” and the very first song they wrote together with their new singer Brandon Flowers was “Mr. Brightside,” the rest is history.
Include your most prominent muses, inject a bit of personality and maybe add one or two obscure references if you’re really edging for a particular sound. Mention skill level, keep an open mind, and remember that the Pixies’ bassist had never played the bass guitar when he first tried out for the band, so potential is everything.
8. Advertise while you’re out there playing
Don’t be shy to let people know you’re in search of a band while you’re out there playing music. Put up a cute sign for inquiries while you’re busking or put a note in your bio on Instagram. Whether you print an ad on your tee or update your Facebook status, it really doesn’t matter as long as you’re out in the world gigging, living it, and talking about it. You never know when the universe will strike to bring you all together.
9. Look no further than the fam
Look no further than your bros and sisters or your extended family. I’ll bet there are a few who secretly aspire to thrash a drum kit (my money’s on dad) and this could be the perfect opportunity for them to get out there by joining your band. If it’s good enough for the BeeGees, AC/DC, and the Kinks, it’s good enough for us.
10. In the meantime, don’t miss out
There are plenty of alternative options available to us these days. From lessons to electronic production or booking online solo session artists to record track elements for you. Whether you’re working with a sound engineer or the clerk helping you pick a drum machine at the music store, branching out on your skill base may lead you to find your next bandmate while getting it done solo.
It’s an exciting time to put yourself out there and join a band, especially with all the budding musicians emerging from the last shadows of COVID lockdowns! The coolest thing about music is the endless room for creative excellence, coming from the unlikeliest and most surprising spots, so whether you’re new or a seasoned vet, your chances are looking good. Remember that Lane’s teen band Hep Alien from Gilmore Girls only came together after they said yes to Gil: a cool dad in his late 30s who owned a sandwich shop? And to put his excellence into perspective was played by frontman Sebastian Bach of Skidrow. – Bless.