Trying to form a new band can be challenging at times. Especially given the fact that none of us really knows how to find band members without a bit of guidance. It’s not really something everyone can just guess their way through.
You want your future band members to appreciate your musical vision. To possess a similar level of talent and share the same amount of ambition. But figuring out how to find band members who match all of that criteria? Yeah … that’s the hard part. So let’s take some time to examine this question of how to find band members in your area specifically, how to ensure you’re finding the right bandmates, and what red flags to keep an eye out for along the way.
What does your band really need?
First things first, let’s figure out who your band needs in order to complete the sound you’re going for. Because the real question here isn’t simply how to find band members, but rather, how to find band members that fit into the music and who appreciate what you’re going for.
We all know the traditional layout of most rock bands, right? Drums, bass, a guitar, and a singer—that’s pretty much the standard. Some bands compliment their sound with more guitars, keyboards, etc. But when it comes to instrumentation, the sky is the limit. For instance, local Binghamton music scene legends Yolk incorporated horns into their sound, as does the modern Binghamton band Tom Jolu. Another local band, Buttercup Chins, features a talented violinist.
What instruments does your band need? Which instruments are considered standard in your genre? Are there any instruments you think could fit into the sound in clever, creative ways? Take some time thinking about the sound you want, so you can then focus on figuring out how to find band members that will suit that sound specifically.
How to find band members in your area
Having figured out what you want this band to sound like, it’s time to answer that big question this article is named after, and learn how to find band members in your area specifically.
It’s usually a good idea to begin with word of mouth. Ask friends and family if they play instruments or if they know any musicians. If you’re friends with people in other bands, be sure to ask them too. Musicians tend to network and get to know each other. There’s a good chance they’ll have some useful leads for you!
Use the internet, too. It’s an incredibly powerful tool when you’re trying to figure out how to find band members in your area or anywhere else. Post on social media that you’re starting a band and looking for people. Post about it in your town’s local subreddit. Many cities and towns have Facebook groups focused on the local music scene too, so join those and post there as well. Craigslist can also have decent results. And there are websites dedicated to helping find bandmates too, such as Bandfinder and Hendrix.
Last but certainly not least, you should hang up flyers. Tried and true, this old-school method of finding bandmates still works as well today as it ever has. Create a simple flyer explaining the sound you’re going after, what instrument(s) you play, and how people can contact you. Hang them up in music stores, coffee shops, bars, etc. If you’re a student, hang some up at your school and enlist friends at other schools in your area to do the same.
Hold auditions (and be mindful of red flags)
Once you’ve started getting responses, you’ll want to set up auditions. Schedule some time with each potential new band member and jam for a while. Here’s generally what you’re looking for:
- Is there musical chemistry? Can you jam together naturally and easily?
- Do they have adequate equipment? Are their instruments gig-worthy and studio-worthy (if that matters)? Do they maintain their instruments well?
- What’s their skill level, musically? You don’t want any band member to be way better or way worse than the rest of the group. And this applies to their knowledge of the genre(s) your band will be doing. The ability to shred through a metal guitar solo might not add much to an indie alt-folk trio. Or maybe it could?
- Is this person easy to get along with, or will you see yourself clashing with them down the road?
- Do you share similar ambitions? Will you be chasing after the same music goals as this person, now and in the foreseeable future?
- Do they have the right look for your band? Does that aesthetic matter to you or might it affect your music marketing strategy in some way?
- How do you align ideologically? If you wanted to do a political song or perform at an event for a specific cause, would this person be down with that?
- How is this person’s work ethic? Will they show up to every practice, gig, and recording session on time and ready to work?
How to find band members as a group, going forward
Once you’ve added someone new to your band, the question we’re tackling in this article changes a little. It’s no longer a matter of “how to find band members.” You need to know how to find band members as a group now. And that’s a similar but still different concept.
With each new person you add to a band, the need for chemistry and personality alignment grows exponentially. This potential new band member doesn’t need to merely click with you individually, but with everyone in the band as a whole. So it’s important you include each and every member of the band in these decisions going forward. And go out of your way to ensure everyone’s voices are being heard, too.
Communicate with your bandmates and find out what instruments they’d like to add. Confirm that they agree with your overall vision, and be objective and willing to compromise along the way. And after an audition, take the time to listen to everyone’s pros and cons. Make sure everyone is in agreement on who to accept and who to pass on. Remember, it’s not just a question of how to find band members. You need to understand how to work well with those band members, too!