There’s nothing quite like playing songs in front of an inebriated crowd and being called back for an encore. But how do you get there? This is what you need to know to go from playing guitar around your house in your underwear, to playing on a stage in front of an audience (hopefully clothed).
Be Ready Yourself
If you want to be in a band, let’s start at the beginning. You need to know how to play an instrument or sing. That something can be anything that is marketable, and you get to decide what that is. If you have a vision for a band and you have a skill set to show off, go for it! In my case, I sang and played the guitar. You don’t need to be the greatest player, you just need to know the basics.
Being ready means more than just being able to play an instrument however. You also need to be ready to put in some time. I believe for most bands starting out, the amount of practice time is directly correlated to success. Our band practiced 3 times a week for several hours each in preparation for our upcoming performance. So make sure you have enough time in your life to devote to this experience.
Also be ready with more than just your talent. Most of a band’s time together is not on stage. It’s spent rehearsing, joking around and drinking beer. So be ready with a 6-pack and an entertaining story. Personality matters more than you would think.
Know Other Talent
You can play shows all by yourself; I have, and those are rewarding as well, but if you want to be in a full blown band you need to have other people to play with. This can be tricky if you are just starting out but you probably know at least someone. If not, that’s okay, you just have to meet a few people.
Ask Friends! Ask if they play an instrument or if they know someone who plays. Inform them you are starting a band and need players. If you show you are dedicated, someone will know someone. These things tend to have a way of working themselves out.
Open Mics! Every city has venues that allow local artists to show their stuff for quick sets. These may be at the coffee house or the pub down the street but this is where the artists are.
Ask a Band! When we were starting out we knew people who played in shows around our town. We asked them if they knew a drummer, and sure enough that is how we found one for our band.
These suggestions work really well if you follow this next piece of advice:
Put the Cart Before the Horse
People want to play in a live band, and there is nothing that gets people motivated than the prospect of playing in front of a crowd. So maybe do what I did, and book the show before you have a band.
This may sound insane, and granted, it’s not for everyone. But I had a desire to play in front of people, so when a friend of mine was playing in a band and needed an opening act for a show coming up in a month, I told him my band would open for him.
Did I have a band? No. But I had something going with a friend of mine who also played guitar, and because there was a gig coming up, it was incredibly easy to find members of the band. We had two guitars on day one, a few days later we had added a bass player, a drummer and a fiddler.
Finally, and most importantly:
Practice, and Have Fun
Jam together with the band as often as possible. Pick a fun set-list and rock out. Don’t forget the beer. You have a band now, enjoy these moments as they are always fleeting. Our band only stayed together for a summer, but there is always another time and another place. When it is time for you and your band to do your thing, relax and have fun because that’s really what this is all about.