How to Form a Band.
Before you can play keyboards in a band you must first learn a little about how to form a band.
If you are already in a band and want to learn more about what to play you may want to check out my article on playing keyboards in a band.
A Little History..
I learned to start bands by a lot of hard earned practical experience. Over the last 40 years or so I have personally started dozens of working, profitable bands and for many years I was able to make a decent living, and have tons of fun doing it.
My intention in this article is to give you some things to think about before you start that may very well save you some headaches before you invest a lot of time , energy and money.
Why start a band?
When I was thirteen years old I wanted nothing more than to play in a band. Why? Because it was way cool!!.
45 years later I still play in a band mostly on weekends. Why? Because after all that time it is still way cool!!
Another big reason that I still play in a band is that it can be a decent way to make some extra money as well.
You would do well to ask your self this question before you start. That way you will be able to judge your success based on you own expectations.
Just for fun?
Playing in a band can and should be fun. When I first started that was really all I expected.
At age 13 although I did love pop music my main motivation was to have fun with my musical friends and get out in front of friends and family because let's face it, people who play in bands are cool!
The fact that we made a little extra money was secondary to the fun I had playing with and for my friends.
If you are starting a band just for fun, a lot of what you read here may or may not be relevant.
Getting together to make music with like minded musicians once a week in the practice room may be all you need to have fun.
If you are going to make a profitable business out of your band however you will want to read on and carefully consider a few key points and procedures.
How to form a band
Starting a band for income.
The market for live music has shrunk considerably over the last 20 years due to the popularity of DJ's and Karaoke.
Let's face it, a lot of venues find hiring one person with a sound system a lot less expensive and a lot less hassle than paying for 4 or 5 musicians.
Another advantage to the entertainment buyer with the DJ model is that they can choose what music they want with unlimited variety.
Having said that, the ability to make money as a working band is still possible and there are still lots of buyers who prefer the originality, spontaneity, and energy of a live band.
Who is your market?
If you are going to make some money with a live band a lot will depend on your geographical location and how many entertainment buying venues there are in that location.
Ask your self questions like " Are there other working live bands in my area?" Where do they play?. What kind of music do they do?
Perhaps there is a market for weddings and other private functions. If you get creative and do a little hunting you will find the opportunities in you area.
What Kind of music will you play?
This is perhaps the single most important question to answer and the answer to this question will help determine where you will be playing and how much money you will make locally.
If you are going to play original music and that is your only goal you would do better to spend time in the studio and try and sell your songs than to try and get local work.
Unless you have a following and local venues that support original music you will have to get creative and look for concert opportunities.
I am currently involved with a Country Rock Songwriter who won a Local Texaco Country Music competition. While his focus is on his original music we do cover other country rock artists.
Problem is with this band is that there are few if any County Music venues in our immediate area.
If your interested check out the video of Dixie Road at the NY state Texaco Country Music Showdown
Having a following expands your chances of playing in clubs because you
can guarantee the owner a certain number of paying customers will follow
Todays social media is a great tool for developing a following. Check out face book and check to see what other bands are doing to develope a following.
The best bet for bands with original music is to play cover music that compliments your style and intersperse your original music. One or two of your best per set while you are building a following.
The reason for this approach is VARIETY SELLS!
That deserves repeating.. Variety Sells!!
The more styles of popular music you cover the more people you will please and the more money you will make.
It is just that simple. If you are worried about "selling out" then at least in the beginning you wont do as much "selling".
How To Form A Band
Finding the right musicians.
Once you have a handle on your market and what sells you will want to think about the musicians
If you already have willing and able musicians to work with they will help determine what kind of music you will be able to play.
If not, you will want to find musicians that can perform the music you have selected as your focus.
You may already know some musicians and already have key members ready and willing to start playing.
There are some key things to consider regarding band personnel. First of all I have been in bands that were more or less a democracy and bands that had a leader.
There were good and bad points to both structures but for the most part things went a lot smoother when there was a leader who could make decisions and keep things moving forward.
Often the leader is the one who starts the band.
Other times the leader may be the one with access to the nuts and bolts that make a band run. i.e transportation, PA system, Rehearsal space etc.
A good leader will be able to deal effectively with potential buyers and also negotiate and otherwise make peace when there are internal issues and differences between members.
Believe me. Bands are like families and there will be times when there are disagreements over issues like repertoire and other often small but divisive issues.
Having a good leader can defuse lots of these situations and break voting ties in bands with even numbers of members.
A band is a Team. Many members one sound.
When adding new members to your band musical ability is not the only thing you should consider.
There have been more than a few talented musicians in bands that I was involved that were nearly impossible to work with for a variety of reasons.
One of the major things that comes to mind is trying to play louder and faster than anyone else and not listening to the overall sound.
Watch the movie Drum line. It is a great example of the "one sound" concept.
When considering how to form a band you would do well do remember that an average player with a good team attitude and "one sound" ear is often better than a virtuoso that thinks he or she is the chief Rock Star form the largest planet!
How to Form a Band
Finding practice space.
All of the bands that I was involved with has some place to practice. Very often it was someones cellar or garage.
So many bands end up starting in garages that the term "garage band" has come to define a band that only practices and never plays out professionally.
Unless you can afford to rent practice space you will most likley end up using someones cellar or garadge. Of course you will want to keep in mind who will be listening to the rehearsals especially if they are going to be loud.
No sense messing with other wise good neighbors.
The one thing I will say about practice space is make sure you invest in some way to record your rehearsals.
Digital Recording equuipment has gone down in price so much over the past few years that there is really no excuse to not record you sessions.
It will help you progress as a band and with a little recording experience you should be able to make your own demos to give to prospective entertainment buyers.
How to Form a Band
For the most part each band member will be and should be responsible for their own personal gear. It is their personal cost of doing business as a musician.
In most cases Guitarists and Keyboard players should own and maintain their instruments as well as stage amps they may require.
For drummers the same with Drums, hardware and cymbals.
The PA system is the thing that bands need for vocals and can be quite expensive.
In some cases one of the members may own a PA system but generally in new bands getting a PA can be a challenge.
Having it be a shared expense is one way around getting a decent system. Often times band members will chip in and get paid back from future bookings.
There are some inherent problems that can arise in this situation.
For instance what happens if a vested band member leaves the band?
Will they get his share refunded? How much
How are repairs paid for?
In my experience a shared PA system usually ends up in some sort of dispute unless these issues are dealt with and everyone is aware of the conditions before investing.
How to Form a Band.
There are really two ways to avoid these kind of headaches. One is to own your
own system and charge the band an agreed upon rental for gigs . Or find a sound
technician that is available for hire.
The second option, finding a sound person, is by far the best if you cand find someone reasonable. Very often they may work for an even cut and they take care of repairs and such.
because it is their business they may have better than average gear and may provide lighting and other effects.
Perhaps the biggest benefit is that they can generally set up out in fornt of the stage to make sure that everything sounds good out front where it matters.
Any good sound guy will have a monitor system as well. This will help you get a good sound on stage as well as in front.
So you have all the musicians together with their instruments, a place to practice and a decent sound system, Whats next????
Practice, Practice, Practice, and more practice until you have enough good material to play for at least three hours. By then you should be ready for the next step and that is finding work.
How to Form a Band
So you have a few sets of good marketable music. You have all your equipment ducks in a row and some way to move it all and you are now ready to play out.
Having started working bands all over the US I have found that your opportunities will vary geographically.
If you are in a resort area there will be more chances for work than in a sparcely populated rural area but if you get creative you will find places to play.
IN the beginning while you have no track record you may want to consider playing for a discounted price or do an audition.
Any time you get in fornt of people in the early stages there is great value evne if there is no money.
One: you get to sharpen you stage show. Trust me playing in front of people is totally different from the practice room. Early gigs are the time and place to get the hang of interacting with you audience. Getting people on and off the dance floor and perhaps most importantly to make contact with your fans and develope a following.
HINT: Get e mail addresses and invite people to your bands Face book page or contact them to keep them up on band news.
A strong following will ensure that you will continue to find great chances to play and make money. If you have enough people that will come out to hear you play you can even rent your own space and charge a cover to get in.
What if you could turn your computer into a complete practicing machine?
What if you could pull a real-sounding band out your “back pocket?” (…so to speak).
Sounds crazy but with the power of technology, I’m going to show you how to finally make practicing fun, productive, and effective.
Here’s what it does:
* It gives you access to over 350 real-sounding backing tracks.
* Practice and live performance files are played in all 12 keys.
* You can choose between multiple speeds: slow, medium, and fast.
* 3 different sections, 9 styles of music, & drums-only option.
* Instant streaming playback and automatic downloading to your system for burning to cd, transfer to ipod, and editing.
* And much more… This will take your playing to another level and not hurt your pocket book!! Check out Back Pocket Band!!!
Best Home Study for "Ear Players"
After checking out dozens of home study courses that teach you to play by ear and focus on chord progressions I am convinced that the folks at Hear and Play have the best, most well rounded program available for just about all styles of music from Gospel to Jazz. Read my review or visit Hear and Play for more information.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future lessons feel free to Contact Me.