I have been in bands most of my life and there are few things that bring my as much joy and excitement as that. Being in a band is like being in my own tribe or gang that goes from venue to venue making people happy with the sounds we make.
Every new song and venue is a new adventure and sometimes a challenge. What’s even better is the feeling I get when a packed venue is singing my songs along with the band and the whole crowd is bouncing in unison to the beat we are providing.
Right now you are thinking, “Yes! I want in!” Well, first you need to ask yourself these six questions to decide if you are up for the not so glamorous side of being in a band.
1. Do you have the time?
Just as you have to make time to practice your instrument, a band needs time to rehearse.
Instead of taking an hour out of your own schedule, the one you control, you’re now dealing with the competing schedules of several people, and it’s likely that each of those people has activities that compete for his or her time.
2. Do you have the place?
If the issue of time is solved, there’s still the issue of space.
Bands make noise. Some bands make a lot of noise.
Even if you’re planning to form a garage band in the most literal sense, people in the vicinity of that garage may object. There’s always rehearsal space for rent, but the issue of space needs to be dealt with early in the process. A band without a place to rehearse is only a band in theory.
3. Do you have the right people?
Being in a band is very much maintaining a relationship with at least three people involved. Each member that you add to the group makes it even more complicated.
Does everyone in the band have compatible personalities? I hope so. You want to spend your time creating great music - not drama.
Does everyone in the band agree on the level of commitment you choose to bring? If you want to rehearse daily and gig every week, you will get frustrated quickly if your bassist only wants to rehearse once a week and a gig once a month. Be sure to have this conversation before you start.
How good are the players in your band?
You’ll need people who are all capable of keeping up with the rest of the band. They don’t all have to be masters, and their skill levels don’t have to be equal, but playing in a group requires some minimal proficiency of everyone.
4. Do you have the patience?
Since a band is made of people, it won’t always be smooth sailing. Conflicts will arise. Compromise will be necessary.
Not everyone will have the same commitment to the band. Not everyone will want to work as hard.
Can you deal with the very human elements that come into play in any group, musical or otherwise?
Musicians aren’t always the easiest people to deal with, and a band won’t survive unless everyone has at least a minimal commitment to getting along.
5. Is it for love or for money?
If you aren’t doing it for love, don’t do it.
I don’t know of one successful musician who didn’t enter into the field for the love of music first. Money can be made but it takes work and dedication. It takes the kind of dedication from someone who loves what they are doing, because for a long time you won’t make money.
I encourage you to make money doing something you love no matter what that is.
There will be jobs other than making music that you will have to do before you will be able to hire professionals to do them for you. You will need to book your own gigs, manage the band’s bank account, managing publicity and lots more.
These things can be tedious, but loving what you do will make it so much easier.
You need decide if you love being in a band enough to get the business tasks done each week. To put it kindly, musicians aren’t always the best businessmen. You should give careful consideration to this side of the operation early on. Otherwise, rude awakenings are a virtual certainty.
6. Are you ready for the grind?
Playing in a band can be a great pleasure, but there are other things to consider.
Are you prepared to constantly work on your set list? To keep your show fresh you will need to change your list of songs and add to that list often. So, if you are in a cover band that means you will have to search out new songs and the whole band needs to learn them.
If you are an original band it is even harder. You will have to constantly be writing new material and arranging the songs with the band. That takes a great deal of effort and time.
Money may come down the road, but be prepared to spend some time playing gigs that pay little or nothing. As an unknown band, your band may not get paying gigs immediately.
Get out in public anyway.
A FREE OFFER FROM ME
If you are starting a band, want to put together a band, or are in a band already. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have and I'll be happy to answer them for you. If you need advice on either the music side or the business side, I can help you.
I've been helping people like you in amateur and professional bands for many years. I've worked with GRAMMY award winning production teams developing bands to shop to the major labels and I can help you. Just send me an email and I'll answer any questions you have - free of charge.