Some aspiring musicians prefer to work with a team of people who share common passion and goals. This often means forming a band of their own.
But doing this entails a great deal of work, from establishing the band identity to recruiting the members to actually producing songs, and everything else in between!
This is why some musicians opt to join a band that has already been founded or established. Going this route means that a considerable chunk of work has already been sorted by the band’s founding members.
Now, all that’s needed to be done is to pass their assessment. Easy-peasy, right?
Well, not really. There are crucial factors to consider before joining an ensemble.
If you are thinking of teaming up with like-minded musicians, this handy guide might help.
10 Things to Know Before You Join a Band
Before you commit yourself to a band, remember that it entails sacrifices and adjustments on your part —time, energy, money, and even mental and emotional aspects.
To understand what’s in store for you once you finally become a bona fide band member, have a look at these pointers. Are you ready to go onboard considering these variables?
1. There will be situations where you have to compromise —tons of it.
Each member will have to be willing to compromise if they are serious about their goals as a band. Being able to compromise contributes to smooth sailing towards progress.
Compromising means making all the necessary adjustments to your priorities and changes to your lifestyle. For example, you must be willing to forgo your usual Friday afternoon cycling in the park to make time for band practice. You must also be willing to make financial adjustments to acquire new gear.
Compromising means accepting personal inconveniences for the band’s and audience’s convenience. If there is an important gig coming up and your band agrees to rehearse on Saturday night, and it’s on the same night you’re supposed to take someone out on a date, then you might have to reschedule the date.
Alternatively, maybe you can take your date to the rehearsal and see what fun it can be to have your date there, and perhaps there’d still be time for dinner after the rehearsal.
And if during the gig you’re told that your band will play second to the last —and let’s say that would be around 1 AM— then you must be willing to adjust to the lineup and the audience.
Understand that compromise also means conformity —you will have to put your personal identity to meld with the group’s identity. If you like to play music in a certain way that says you, but didn’t fit with the band’s identity, then you must be willing to go along with what the band requires for consistency’s sake.
Compromising means giving everyone the chance to be heard and understood. So in the face of a dilemma, everyone’s idea will be given due consideration before the group arrives at a decision.
You might find yourself in many other circumstances not described here, but you get the idea; you need to be willing to compromise. Yes, we did say there will be tons of such situations.
2. You may not earn as much as you’re expecting.
This is especially true during the band’s infancy when it’s yet to make a name in the music scene. In fact, you might find yourself taking money out of your own pocket to contribute to the expenses. All the members of the band will have to divide the cost of creating an album among them.
If you are in a 5-member band, you will shoulder a fifth of the total cost of the album recording, post-production, promotions, marketing, and other overhead and miscellaneous expenses. When the profits come, you get only the fifth. A fifth of the profit may not seem significant, considering how much you’ve taken out to help make the album happen.
3. There will be a time when you will have to perform without an audience.
And when this happens, don’t be disheartened; know that some of the best bands in the world experienced the same when they were just starting! But at least, the bar staff are there and somehow, they are audience, too. Right? So the room is not exactly empty. Many bands like looking at this situation as a dress rehearsal.
4. Opportunities may not happen soon; you must learn to create one instead.
Opportunities can be really elusive. Some people waited and waited for it, but it never came. And then, some people get caught off guard when it suddenly falls on them and they are not ready.
As a band, the right attitude for when opportunities don’t seem to smile at you is to create one. Don’t get caught in the cycle of playing small gigs, hoping that one day, a great chance to hit it big comes.
They say good things come to those who wait, but you know what? Better things come to those who take action!
So, make that opportunity happen by booking your own tours, for example. Boost your band’s online presence so you can have a wider reach. There are many ways to break through; if you truly want it, there will always be a way.
5. Your ideas may not always be welcome.
Remember that you are in a group, and some of them may not always agree with you. This may make you feel all kinds of negative emotions, but the real trick to taking control of your ego is to keep it in check. Try to put your pride aside and be as objective as you possibly can. Keep things in perspective and resist taking things too personally to prevent problems from blowing out of proportion.
6. You will share responsibilities, but be ready to deal with occasional slackers.
Responsibilities are usually given to whoever is good at the specific task. As everyone gets their share of responsibilities, it is essential that all working parts must move. If so much as one member slacks off, it can throw off the whole process and everyone gets affected.
But laziness and lack of motivation can happen; yes, even to the best of us. But the key here is to keep pushing and giving positive reinforcement to each one.
7. The risk of breaking up anytime is very real.
Of course, this is not the kind of thought you’d like to entertain when you are in the process of joining a band. It’s akin to thinking of your divorce on your wedding day!
But this is reality, and this is a risk, and the risk can be very real. Band breakups usually happen due to personality and/or creative differences, personal arguments, and problems.
Again, learn to compromise.
8. Success may take a while to happen.
For every yes you receive, you get three no’s.
Your band has two albums that flopped. And you’ve only had two albums so far.
The first time your band performed, there were only five members of the audience. They were the two waitresses and one cashier working in the small café, and two kids who were on their phones the whole time.
And while standing there, playing your guitar, you start thinking, “It doesn’t look like we’re succeeding; it looks like we’re failing.”
But in every failure is a lesson. Look at failures as feedback on how your group is faring and what can be done to reverse the situation. Success doesn’t just happen overnight; it can take a while. Allow room for improvement, be consistent, be realistic, but remain optimistic.
9. You’re just a part of the whole; you are not the band.
Make the band’s interest the main priority. Again, it has something to do with making adjustments and compromises.
10. Consistency takes a lot of work, but it is the master key!
Consistency is the secret sauce for your band’s success.
Consistency guarantees steady growth.
Consistency helps your band retain its supporters.
To do this, your group must put in work —constantly create new music, engage with your supporters on social media and keep them posted, deliver what you promise, educate yourself about the ins and outs of the industry… keep hustling!
Why Join a Band?
Unless you are incredibly talented, you most likely will find that you have specific strengths and weaknesses as a musician. For example, you might find yourself quite skilled in writing songs and playing the bass guitar. But when it comes to the other parts of the music creation process, like editing or mixing, you realize that you are more of an amateur. Sure, you have an idea how it is done, but you know that this job is best left in the hands of someone with actual experience.
If this situation rings true, you will benefit more from teaming up with a group. One’s weakness is another’s strength and vice versa. You just thrive better with a team. Also, you can’t always summon inspiration and creativity to make the entire process of songwriting and arrangement easier.
I’m Ready to Join a Band; Where Should I Look?
When you have decided to join a band, you can try checking out your local music scene. Oftentimes in small towns, there is a bustling underground music community where you can look around, establish connections, and eventually, join. People within this music culture are mostly welcoming, as they evolve through camaraderie with like-minded people.
School and colleges are also great places to look. Of course, it’s a lot easier to start here if you are still attending school, as they mostly have music org or society.
Or maybe, you can start looking up right here, right now (but after reading this guide, though), in just a few seconds using your device. There are plenty of Facebook groups where you can search for local bands that might be looking to add members. Craigslist and Reddit are not bad, either. You can also try sites like Musician’s Contact, Join-A-Band, BandMix, and many others.
Become the Best Band Member You Can Be
Once you become a part of a band, understand that the real work is just getting started! Be prepared to set aside time, money, and energy for practices, gigs, recordings, and other regular band activities.
Honor the band for picking you out of all the others who are also talented, but unfortunately did not make it in the cut. You got in because they saw something in you; a great potential.
You can do it by working on your awesomeness factor —be warm and personable, be open to different ideas, cultivate that can-do attitude, and be willing to compromise.
Enjoy the journey!