You’ve obtained your first guitar, mastered the scales and chords, and even played in front of friends for the first time. Now what?
If you want to take your journey to the next level, it’s time to start a band! Playing in a band will help build your confidence with your instrument, challenge you as a musician, and it will be a lot of fun.
Here’s how to get started.
Find your bandmates.
Most bands feature at minimum a guitarist, bassist, and drummer, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that structure. It’s helpful to have someone to hold down the rhythm section with low end and percussion, but maybe you know a keyboardist who can hold the bassline down on keys, or a talented synth player who can produce a beat electronically.
Ask musicians that you know to have a jam session to see if you mesh musically. Open mic nights are another place to meet like-minded artists. You can also post in your area’s musician community groups on Facebook – if your area doesn’t have one, feel free to start one!
Determine what your sound is.
Do you want to play strictly covers or original music? Are you a grunge band or will you play experimental dream pop?
Have a talk with your new bandmates about your musical influences and favorite song. Decide what kind of music you want to make. If you’re an original act, create an “elevator pitch” to describe what your band’s sound is in a sentence or two – i.e. “we play alternative pop that sounds like David Bowie joined Florence + The Machine”.
Another important discussion to have is your vision for the band. Figure out if you want to strictly practice in the garage, play out locally four times a month, or try to make it big. Make sure that all of your bandmates are on board.
Get some songs
If you’re going to be an original band, get started writing some songs! You can check out this blog post for ideas on how to get started.
If you’re going to play covers, start out with ten songs that match your band’s vibe – but don’t feel trapped in one genre. A punk-rock version of a Taylor Swift song could end up being a crowd favorite.
Pick a name
A crucial part of starting a band is finding the right name. A good band name will stand out in the audience’s minds and hopefully have them following you on social media and streaming platforms.
Get together with your bandmates and brainstorm possible names. Some jumping-off points include references to favorite songs or movies, allusions to how you met, or inside jokes within the band – but get as creative as you can!
A couple of things to keep in mind –
- A band name that contains an expletive or just sound gross might be funny, but could block some venues from booking you in the future.
- If you’re going to play original music, consider how your band name will show up in search engines. A name that’s too common or simple could get lost.
- If you’re serious about the project, make sure your chosen band name isn’t already trademarked. It will save you a huge headache in the future.
Love it or hate it, social media is essential to promoting your band. Create a logo for the group and snap a band picture. You don’t have to splurge on professional photos right away, but get someone to take a good shot of the full band. Try to post regularly and keep followers in the loop about gigs, new music coming out, and anything that helps showcase your personality. Make sure that your social media pages contain contact info so potential bookers can reach you.
Again, playing local open mic nights with your band or posting in community musician groups can be very helpful for landing your first gig. Make connections with other local musicians and bands, and take opportunities to open for them. Reach out to booking agents at local bars and music venues with samples of your music and a short description of your style. Putting together an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is also a great idea.
Record your music
Once you have some songs ready to go, it’s time to record them! Recording in a studio can provide great results, but it can be expensive. If someone in your band has the equipment and know-how to record, you can take your time and really get your sound the way you want it. Check out this course for setting up your home studio for help.