Let me tell you a secret that’s not much of a secret. Musicians are really flakey. It’s tough to get them to come to practice, and even if they happen to come to practice, it’s harder still to find the right group of musicians that are worth your time and energy. These are a few things you can do to get others to join your band.
1. Book shows – Is this putting the cart in front of the horse? Yes… but it also does a few things that really help us get moving. We have our deadline now, we must act! Musicians love to play music, duh, this helps to get others motivated to play. It’s not fun to be in a band that never plays, and if you are always waiting to get the perfect group together before playing, well, you might never play! Book shows in smaller venues, plan to play open mics with a full group. Email coffee shops. Stop waiting for the group to play shows. Fire up the old engine and get moving son.
2. Go to an open mic and local shows just to watch – Sometimes when we go to an open mic we get all worked up about performing, we are so focused on ourselves and our act that we miss out on all the other talent out there. Go to an open mic and pay attention to the artist playing. After they have played their short set, ask them to collaborate. That’s right, just walk right up to them and tell them you think they’re great and would love to jam sometime.
3. Utilize grassroots music website – Websites like Bandcamp and ReverbNation can be a place to find a lot of great, untapped music. It might seem strange to try to tap a band for some dissenting members. But these guys love to play! If you notice that you really dig the beats or drums in one album, go through the band page, find out who the bassist is, find out who plays keys, find that guitarist or singer. Then either message them and ask to collaborate or find the musician through social media. Many regions/states/cities have classifieds where you can find musicians who are looking for groups. It’s a mad grab, but not a bad idea. I just think you will save yourself a lot of time if you specifically are on the offensive in finding the musicians you respect. If you post on Facebook that you’re looking for band members, it is a nice step, but don’t fool yourself, you are really not doing anything, and you will probably get a lot of duds that way.
4. Do the things you can and should be doing now – An active musician gets attention – Once you get all the members in the same room, you will talk with them about naming the band and all that fun stuff. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start coming up with names, creating web pages, EPK, recording, writing music, write a draft of a bio. Do these things with the knowledge that it’s going to change. These things will evolve and become better. Ask yourself what you would be doing if you had a band, start doing those things now! You don’t have to have the others around to start doing things. I think you’ll be surprised to see that once you start doing these things that others will want to join you. Your motivation will inspire others to join you. The trick is to make sure others can see what you’re doing, and then to tell them that you still are willing to change some things in the name of true collaboration.
5. Step in as a role player for a while – Sometimes you have to work for a while before you can start your own group. Maybe another group is searching for a guitarist, and you happen to play guitar. Step up and play with them for a few months. Find these groups by searching open mic nights and local venues, and through those grassroots sites, I listed this earlier on the list. Be honest with them, tell them where you’re headed and what the plan is. I have played with a wide array of musicians, some of the best I have found were in other groups while role-playing as a guitarist. It doesn’t have to be forever, set yourself a time limit with the group, maybe you and another musician from the group really hit it off, and you both decide to break off and do your own thing, these things happen every day.
A few things to remember. Everyone loves their own ideas if you’re looking to collaborate, be willing to give a little. The important thing is, to be honest with each other. If you or anyone else is holding back, the self-censorship or affiliative constraints (fear of speaking up and being rejected) and pressure toward uniformity (agreeing just to agree) makes for a poor creative space. What every band has is pecking order, but that doesn’t mean you should get a bunch of yesmen… unless that’s what you’re looking for. Which might make it harder for you to find members.
Pitch yourself to these members as if you were pitching to a venue owner or a record label. Ok, maybe a little more personal than that. But take it seriously, if you seem well-prepared people will be impressed and want to join you. Be honest with what you’re looking for. If you want someone serious about music, willing to dedicate multiple days a week. You have to be doing that by yourself right now. If you’re playing with more of a casual thing going on, tell them that’s what you’re looking for. You might find a few musicians that will play a show or two with you. This is ok and is to be expected. Musicians are flakey, no two ways around it. Artists are notorious for wishing they had A, B, and C. But never doing anything about it. If you want to start a band, you have to be proactive. Start today, make mistakes, get terrible members, you can kick them out. This is not a lifetime commitment. I really want you to succeed! To succeed, you have to make things happen for you. Remember that, in this industry, no one is going to hand you what you want. You have to go out and ask for it. I know you can do it! Time is not a bad guy, it just wants to help remind you of your dreams, that’s why you’re feeling a little anxious.