In a perfect world, you and all your best friends could form the perfect band with perfect synergy and everything would be amazing.
Unfortunately, that is hardly ever the case. Once you weed out the friends that lack the desire to play an instrument, chances are the remaining friends will fall under one of the following categories:
- Lack of ambition
- Lack of music skill
- Insufficient funds (even for a beginning band)
- Completely different musical taste
So should you set your guitar or drumstick down and move on to a new hobby or interest?
You just need to expand your comfort zone a little and find like-minded musicians like yourself.
So where do you begin?
1. Ask around
Even if your friend doesn't have time for music or has a different musical taste than you, they may still point you in the right direction.
Ask anyone who is currently looking for a job or has recently found a great job. Obviously, skill-level and experience are essential (same goes for bandmates), but networking is absolutely key.
Your friends may know musicians, even at the acquaintance level, that will open a door for you that you never imagined. Especially if your friend can vouch for their musical abilities and your own.
Just the simple phrase, "Hey, I know this girl, you should check out her demo" could go a long way.
2. Post fliers
Fliers are excellent if you're a busy person, but you still want to get the word out.
They may be a little "old school," but as long as you have a fair idea of where musicians congregate than it can be beneficial. For instance, putting a flier in the nearest college's music building makes more sense than the bathroom in your local mall.
Some things you'll want to consider when designing your flier are:
- Be specific. Unless you are so desperate you don't care, give your style of music, age range, level of experience, and instrument you are looking for. This may eliminate some potential musicians, but they wouldn't be the ones you want contacting you anyway.
- Use email. This is more of a privacy concern. Use discretion whether or not to include your personal phone number, but you have no idea who will be viewing your flier. Therefore, your email address is a good way of getting ahold of you without quite bursting your private bubble.
- Catch your viewers eye. You could put up the most informative, well-written flier but if its all text and no color or images, there is a good chance no one will notice. Not that your flier should be bright orange and have pictures with nothing to do with music, but consider thought out, relevant options. If you need a keyboard player, maybe add a photo of a keyboard.
If you want some extra advice on creating a music-style DIY flier, click here.
3. Attend Local Open Mics
Open mics are great opportunities to connect and network other musicians. The best part is you don't have to worry about:
- Organizing an event
- Finding the ambitious musicians
It's the business's responsibility to promote open mics, all you have to do is show up. And the artists that attend and perform are more likely to be outgoing and forward with you about possibly joining or creating a band.
It's important to understand there is nothing wrong with not choosing to attend an open mic if you're not comfortable performing yet. Developing your skill and waiting for that comfort to grow is a perfectly okay.
Not only are open mics great for you to scout potential bandmates based on their talent, musical style, and personality, but it is also a fantastic opportunity to showcase yourself.
If you're looking for new bandmates, think of an open mic as an audition.
Of course, you will find the open mics where people consistently talk through every set and the ones where musicians only stay until they play, then leave when they are done. Open mics like that will happen.
Just try to find one that suits your schedule and music taste and start striking up some conversations.
4. Social Media
Social media is a beast this day and age. Chances are you can count on just one hand all your friends that have chosen not to engage in social media. And that includes any platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Whether or not our society's attachment to social media is positive or negative is a discussion for another day, but at any rate, no one can argue our attention isn't worshipping our smart devices.
So why not take advantage of that?
The goal here is to raise awareness and sell yourself.
"Sell yourself" may sound a little too business-like, that's fair. But you need to consider how you're coming across.
Compare, "Looking for a bass player" to "Hey, I'm looking to form an alternative-rock band and really could use a bassist. My influences are.... and here is a clip of something I'm working on now. Thanks."
Similar to asking around, sending out generality will, in turn, bring you generality. Make sure you define exactly what kind of player and music style you are looking for. Even if you don't care so much about the style, say that. That is still useful information for anyone reading your post.
If you don't have any music to attach to your post that is okay. And it is better not to attach anything than to rush something together for the sole purpose of this post. But if you have something you've been working on and really digging, why not add it?
Let prospects know you are serious and have already put an effort in.
You can also make a post asking if your friends know anyone that may be interested in joining your band, and to tag them in your post.
Again, networking is crucial.
Social media sites like Facebook have "communities" as well. Unfortunately, some can be set as private or invite only, but it doesn't hurt to check.
Search "musicians in (your city)" or "open mics in (your city)." You may be lucky enough to find something along those lines, which would be an efficient way to connect with other musicians.
5. Specific Websites
Outside of social media, there are other online choices you have to track down your next bandmate.
Some options are better than others, but sometimes you have to exercise all your options. Let's start with the less than stellar options.
1. Classified Ads Websites
These are sites like Craigslist.
No, we're not trying to kill you.
While Craigslist may deserve the negative connotation that surrounds
The first option is to search musicians and see if any artist has put themselves out there that appeal to you.
Be as picky as you feel necessary and judge posts the same way you judge your own. If there is a lack of important information or a ton of typos, it is better to move on to the next post.
The second option is to make a post yourself.
Now, given the nature of the anonymity of the site, the key is to give enough information without giving too much. Like with the flier, explain your music taste, what sort of musician you are looking for, and some of your influences.
Leave out your name, address, phone number, etc. Be informative, but be smart.
If you are contacted by someone, you can still be excited yet cautious. You'll want to be sure that:
- They actually do match what you are looking for
- They are okay with meeting in a public place where you both could each bring a friend as well
- They don't immediately ask you for personal information
If you handle the situation well, it is certainly possible for classified ads sites to be beneficial for you. Some people even find their jobs and careers on these sites. Another plus is it is free.
It is imperative you keep your head on a swivel though. Stay informative, not personal.
2. Specific Musician Searching Sites
You still have to be cautious, but the overall feel is much safer.
In our experience, and in the United States, the most successful site is Bandmix.
The positives of Bandmix is:
- You can specifically search your location and range of search, the instrument you are looking for, and include smaller factors like experience and age
- Bands can post as well. So, you can search for musicians to add to your group, or you can also look for bands looking for someone like you.
- Searches include musicians and bands styles and photos. So if you're looking for an older R&B musician, you can skip over a young, folk players quickly.
- You can completely design your musician/band page within their template. This includes photos, location, age, years of experience, music style, musical influences, what gear you own, and more. You can even add music and videos to your page.
The main negative of Bandmix is that if you want to be able to receive messages from other musicians, it is not free.
The monthly subscription is relatively low, and you'll be able to contact other musicians and receive messages. Bandmix will even send you emails letting you know what musicians have been checking out your page.
Important note: If you're currently a little tight on cash, many musicians will be upfront and say they cannot message on the site, however, they include their own personal email on the page so any intrigued musicians can still reach them.
The Choice is Yours
To recap, the most important points going forward to maximize your chances of finding the perfect bandmate are:
- Network, network, network
- Be specific
- Don't be afraid to "sell yourself"
- Be informative, but not initially personal
Figure out which tactic works best for you and go strong and be persistent. The best things in life don't come quickly, anyway.
Another fantastic way to find other like-minded intermediate musicians if you're interested in pushing your skills to new heights is by attending a music school.
Click the link below if you'd like to learn more and reach your musical potential.