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Music Director

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Audio Engineer

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Music Producer

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Mastering Engineer

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Record Producer

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Opera Singer

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Personal Manager

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Music Teacher

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Director of A&R

Starting a new band is at its heart a creative endeavor.

After all, the goal is to make amazingly good music with a tight-knit group of players working harmoniously in tandem towards success. Even if the goal is to get famous, it must always start with the music. And keep in mind that a band is a business, too. The business of music is still business.

It’s like the classic Catch-22: you need gigs to attract good musicians, and you need musicians to rehearse a set and get some gigs. In the beginning, you need four things to come together: people, songs, rehearsal space, and gigs. Having gigs is important since it gives a band a solid goal–to learn the music together and put on a show.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Start a Band

Is it hard to start a band?

Tom Stein

Like anything worth doing, starting a band is not easy. Think about it like riding a bicycle uphill: the first few pushes on the pedals require a lot of effort, but once you gain momentum it becomes much easier.

How do you find people to start a band?

Tom Stein

Depending on where you live, if there are many musicians around you could post flyers looking for musicians, or visit places where musicians congregate and network, passing out your cards and talking to people to get the word out. If you are in school, talk to all your classmates to find out who are the best musicians, and then approach them directly. Using social media could also be a way to connect with other like-minded musicians.

How do bands get famous?

Tom Stein

Typically, there’s a lot of small breaks that in hindsight look like big breaks. A chance meeting with a record company executive, signing a publishing deal, having a viral video or a hit song; there’s certainly an element of luck involved with the fame that leads to success. But it’s not all luck, as there’s invariably a lot of hard work that goes into making the most of the luck one has.

Writing great songs, making sublime recordings, putting on an exciting live show, creating a stellar EPK (electronic promo kit), finding the right management, getting booked into the right venues–all this will increase the likelihood of getting famous.

Getting Started with Your Band

Following are some items to pay close attention to. They are presented in a logical order, but don’t have to be done in this exact order.

Find a Rehearsal Space

You will need a place you can get together and play. It needs to be big enough to accommodate the instrumentation for your group, and it needs to be accessible, clean, heated (or cooled), dry, and soundproofed to avoid getting noise complaints from neighbors. Some plusses are if you can leave your equipment there in between rehearsals, and if it has a separate area such as a lounge with a couch and small kitchen where you can retreat for breaks or just to chill out.

In big cities, you will find rehearsal complexes that rent rooms by the day, week, or month. Sometimes multiple bands share a space to lower costs. Other places for improvised rehearsal spaces might include commercial buildings after hours, warehouses, garages, barns, or any place that gets the job done.

Finding rehearsal space can be a challenge but it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle. Major acts rent or own fully equipped rehearsal complexes that include a sound stage where they can also record sound and video.

Find Other Band Members

You could post notices on bulletin boards in school or around the neighborhood. It helps if you live in a place where there are a lot of musicians around, but you can get creative with your search no matter where you live.

Use online platforms such as Facebook groups, Music Linkup, and LinkedIn. You can also post notices on social media such as TikTok, Twitter, or Instagram. Consider where the musicians you are seeking hang out online. If you know where the musicians are, it’s easier to find them.

You could even place a classified ad; this has worked for many bands previously. Be sure to mention the genre(s) of music you want to play, some of the goals for the band (recording, playing shows), and what you are looking for in the way of preparedness or ability level for the musicians.

Do your research. Talk to people you know about your plans and ask if they know anyone. Sometimes Teachers can be a big help, since they know lots of other music students and may have ideas about who would fit well with your project. Visit open-mics and attend gigs of other bands and musicians. Talk to the musicians in the bands at the shows you attend. Network at parties and industry events.

"Starting a band is a major project. Treat the components as you would any project: set some specific goals, come up with some strategies, create a timeline for progress, and then evaluate your progress as you go."

Meet and Audition Players

How you screen and audition your bandmates will depend to some extent on your musical and personal style. You might first ask for some recordings, pictures, video, and an artist bio or music resume. Not all musicians will have a full EPK but getting some materials in advance should give you an idea of how they sound, their experience, and their abilities. Try to keep an open mind when you are checking out their materials, as you would hope others will do with you.

If you like what you see and hear, and you think there might be a possibility of working together, you could informally block out some time to get together and play in a jam session or rehearsal room. Some people prefer more formal audition setups since it also gives some idea of how well the musicians perform under pressure. Sometimes you might already be aware of each other’s playing but just haven’t played together. The goal at this stage is to see how it feels and if it might be workable or fun to play together.

If you are a Songwriter and can write with other people, this could also be a strategy for finding and auditioning musical collaborators. Keep in mind that the audition goes in both direction; you might be auditioning them, but they are also auditioning you. Ultimately, you want to find people who understand and appreciate what you do, and vice-versa.

Work on Music as You Find Members

Good songs are at the heart of success for every band. Without truly great songs, you won’t have much going. Whether you write your own material or play covers, building a solid repertoire and getting the band rehearsed for performance is crucial when starting a band.

In fact, deciding what music you will play, and readying arrangements need to be a priority at every stage of band development. Your repertoire and show setlists will require constant updating and tweaking to keep the music fresh for you and your audiences. Choosing songs to play can be a collaborative process, with every band member having a say, or it can be dictated by a Bandleader or Music Director.

If you are planning to sign to a label, the A&R Representative may also have a say about repertoire and the setlist. Getting the right music together as a band can be a laborious work of love, inspiring teamwork and cooperation, or it could be a point of contention. If you find yourselves having arguments about what to play, it could be a sign that you aren’t with the right band members. A change could be needed. Therefore, you need to be working on the music right from the start, even as you are seeking and auditioning new people to be involved.

Here’s a list of some other points to consider, and steps to take as you are forming a band and getting ready to launch:

  • Decide who’s responsible for what: Bandleader, Show Booker, marketing, publicity, gear, etc.
  • Set expectations for rehearsals (show up on time, is alcohol ok or not, what you want to get done, how often you’ll rehearse and for how long)
  • Write songs and choose your best (for your online sites, EP, live shows)–how many songs do you need?
  • Choose a band name that’s available
  • Create a Bandcamp/website/socials/EPK
  • Agree on goals and action plan
  • Network with other local types of scenes
  • Book your first gigs
  • Make rules for money earned and spent
  • Get the word out
  • Look for Managers, Publicists, Booking Agents when the time is right

Aim High

Every successful band and artist starts out with a dream, however big or small. Decide for yourself what it means to you to “make it” in the music business. Will you be happy to just be recognized for your talent among your peers, or do you aspire to playing stadiums and selling millions? It’s okay to aim high but understand that perseverance and hard work are needed to get to the top, along with some amazingly good luck.

Don’t make the mistake of aiming too low either; playing clubs and industry events might be a lot of fun for a while, but you might eventually tire of it and want to get to the next level. Playing music is fun, but it’s also a hard-nosed business that can turn on a dime. Most bands go through numerous iterations, name changes, and stages of development to finally find their niche and the audience who loves and appreciates them.

Part of success is failure, and our mistakes are necessary to teach us what doesn’t work. If you start your band with an open mind, willingness to work hard, acquire an understanding and working knowledge of how the music business works (contracts, touring, publishing, licensing, etc.), and can remain flexible while maintaining a positive attitude, your chances for success will be hugely increased.

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