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Auditioning Misery

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bassman134, May 8, 2010.

  1. The band I'm with is searching for a second guitarist (our previous one left for personal reasons). We have brought in about 6 players, all of which we not at the same level musically as the rest of the band. During a second round of ads I got about 6 responses and to make things a little more streamlined this is the response I sent to 3 or 4 guys.

    Due to the number of replies to the guitarist ad, the auditions are going to be more structured. Please prepare the songs listed below. We are planning on 15 minutes a person, if we feel there is a potential fit, we will have you back for a second audition. I will get back to you later this week with a time for May 6th. If you have any questions feel free to email me.




    All songs are in the originally recorded Keys.

    Can’t Get Enough – You are Playing the Lower Harmony lead parts, rhythm throughout

    Good Lovin’ – Play the keyboard solo, rhythm throughout

    One Way or Another – Start the song off, rhythm throughout

    Hash Pipe – You play the solo, rhythm throughout

    Brown Eyed Girl - You are playing the intro lead parts and the "noodling" parts during the songs.

    All 3 guys were familiar with the set list, and were down with auditioning until I sent this email.I guess I was too pushy. This was the response from one guy.


    I really appreciate your professional dealing with this. You have written a lot, kept me up to date. Sounds like you guys have it together. That is a very positive thing that few bands have these days which makes it even harder for me to say this as the band sound attractive.

    You have a load of people showing up and that sounds a bit messy to me. I am not thrilled with a 15 minute tryout. It barely gets me 5 minute set up, play three songs and out. That is a lot of work for a real small amount of time, and to be very honest, I take some of the time at the tryout to check out the band as much as they are checking me out. I do not want to band with a bunch of knuckleheads. I have a day job, don’t need one dollar to play out, but like it of course, am responsible and don’t want to waste my time or yours.

    So one less guy will help you out, maybe that means someone or all gets 20 minutes which is better for you guys. Thanks a lot but sorry I rather have a more traditional tryout.

    The other two guys didn't even reply to a follow up email , kind of apologizing for being impersonal.
    So was I too jerky with my reply? What is a "Traditional" audition. Also, we pay for rehearsal/audition time, and feel within 2-3 songs, you can tell if a guy is right for the band. A few guys half way through the first song you could tell they had no idea. The first time around we just let the guys play out a half hour. How do you guys feel about saying "no thanks" to someone after 2-3 tunes?

  2. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    I'm with that guy. Wouldn't it be worth it to spend more time with each candidate?
  3. Well,, like the email says.. if there's a potential fit, we'll bring you back in.. But then again, do you really need more than 15 minutes of playing time to demonstrate you know what you are doing? Our main problem is guys who are just sloppy players. If the case was having difficulty choosing betwen great players, we'd have a different approach.

    That said, the last set of emails sent to potentials was worded more friendly.

    When I auditioned for these guys, i got 20 minutes and was assigned 5 songs just like we are doing for guitar player (almost the same songs too).

    What is the typical amount of time to audition someone?
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    IMO, with 15 minutes, since there will be another "full" audition if there's a potential fit, I'd ask for two songs(that would demonstrate the required musical skills) and let it go at that.

    You could also detail what will happen in the second audition: how long, more songs, hang with the band, etc.
  5. Back when I used to go through the misery of auditioning, I used a very similar method. I'd actually borrow or hire a Marshall half stack and/or Fender Twin Reverb. We'd give 'em a little more time (about 30 min) so we could do some songs and then a few minutes of just jamming.

    One thing I'd suggest is give 'em a list of songs and ask them to pick 3 (or whatever).

    I got pretty well the same reaction from a bunch of guys, but I'd patiently explain that this was just a "1st round elimination play-off" to eliminate the obvious no-hopers, can't play, "just want to jam, man", etc., types. Anybody who was half way decent would get a full audition where they can use their full rig and see if they're a fit for the band and vice-versa.

    I'd suggest putting in your ad what your auditioning procedure is gonna be. This immediately weeds out the people who "don't get it". If I was looking to audition for a serious band this would actually be a point in it's favour as it'd immediately indicate they probably weren't a bunch of wasters.
  6. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    Since none of those guys will now show up, how about asking the one guy that actually replied, and giving him more time.

    IMHO, whether or not you are paying for rehearsal space should not matter to the one auditioning. If (s)he makes the cut, it's normal they chip in but the audition part is basically a YP*, not a TP**

    And I'm with that guy that 15 minutes would give me as an auditionee time to play, but no time whatsoever to establish any inkling of an idea regarding group dynamics and personalities. Unless you're all a bunch of knuckleheads and it's blatantly obvious from the get go :D

    * Your problem
    ** Their problem
  7. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    You can't tell wether there's a fit in 15 minutes. Playing those songs aren't hard. But how are you going to tell perosnality in 15 minutes? I'm going through this right now and I give an hour to go through 5 songs so I can really get to know the people.

    One band I aditioned probably 30 guitarists. They all could play anything we asked of them. But they were all nut cases. If time allows I like to get a drink with them before I audition them but sometimes that's not possible. If they can't get it on a cover gig, they're not that good.

    I give them Sweet Child Of Mine to audition along with 4 others. One guy called my yesterday and said after 3.5 hours he couldn't get the last solo and didn't feel the 4 others so he backed out.
  8. When I was doing it, the initial audition was purely to see if a guy could play, in order to avoid sitting through an hour (or whatever) of an excruciatingly awful "guitar owner".

    It probably sounds cruel, but 70% (a kind estimate) of guys showing up for auditions I could tell within 4 bars of starting the first song that they were wasting our time. I just didn't have the gumption to tell 'em to pack up and go home. This is why I started doing short elimination auditions.
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I've done countless auditions on both sides. I've come to like being the guy trying out more than the person auditioning someone.

    I don't think your response was asking too much. If someone REALLY wanted the gig it would be no problem. I understand the guys response to you, but he should understand that you can esily get stuck in a room for hours, and waste a lot of time and money, with guys who can't play. I disagree that 15 minutes isn't enough time to see if someone will work out or not, ESPECIALLY if it's a cover band. You can usually tell in the first minute of a song.

    A lot of the people who had initial interest might not have responded after the second email regardless of what you wrote back. I've gotten lots of initial responses without people ever following through. People change their mind real quickly, especially when things get a little more real.

    Anyhow, the only things I would do differently if I were you is I'd tell them to learn 3 songs, schedule everyone for 20 minutes, and just give them a time to show up without all the details. I wouldn't say we're only giving 20 minutes unless they asked. And if they did I'd simply say we'll know if you can do it in 20 minutes, if you can't prove yourself in that time then this isn't the gig for you. I might work on wording that a little more nicely though. :)

    Last note, the "due to the number of replies" thing never sat all that well with me. It can too easily come off as an ego or bullcrap thing, and even if it is the truth it only serves to lessen the chances of anyone who is putting in the time to learn the songs and come down to audition.
  10. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I've always found auditions to be excruciating, from both sides. I'm with the idea of giving them a bit more time. You need to know if s/he's worth having in your band. I'd lean towards giving them at least 20 minutes of play time, and ask them to only prepare three songs that cover the diversity of your sets. I'd also make them the hardest/most challenging of the songs you guys play, this way you'll know for sure if they are musically up to snuff. If they are, the rest of the time can be used to chat a bit and suss each other out interpersonally. A longer audition then comes later once you have a small group that you want to see later.

    In regards to his response, he sounds polite, professional and honest. I'd be writing him back and telling him that and saying "would you come out if we gave you half an hour?" IMHO, he might definitely be worth it.

    I feel for you though, auditions are excruciating...
  11. 5 songs in 15 minutes is not an audition. I don't blame anybody for backing out of that.

    5 songs in 45 minutes would be the bare minimum for a 1st audition, IMO. That's 9 minutes per song: 4-5 minutes of playing it flawlessly, and 5-4 minutes of conversation per song. You won't necessarily talk for 5 minutes after every song, but budget for that much time. It also allows everyone to try the song a second time if something went awry.

    45 minutes does put some responsibility on you to weed out the guys who aren't worth your time. That can be tricky, but when you're looking for new band members, that's your job.
  12. I would also support that idea. Anything is better than 5 songs of our choice in 15 minutes.
  13. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Bzzzzt. You didn't ask for too much, but you blew it IMHO with the 15 minute reference. I - and many people - wouldn't bother.

    The quickie in out audition is for - a broadway play. You guys don't qualify for that. If you can't give people the respect of at least a set of time in exchange for all their prep effort, you shouldn't be doing it.
  14. Yea, I knew I blew it with the email, and realistically, I was not scheduling more that 4 guys for a 2 hour session. So, putting in 15 minutes was just stupidity on my part. We have another round of guys for this Thursday, 2 or 3 I think.

    Also, I did re-email the guy who responded explaining my reasoning for what I wrote (in a nice way), and pointed out, he'd have at least a half hour if he did come down. He did not respond back.

    I appreciate all the responses. I just hope will hit gold this week. The other problem is, we are playing constantly, so we've been using fill in guys just to get through the gigs. Thankfully one of the guys used to be in the band(he's with someone else now) but he couldnt make a recent one, so we had a pro guy sit in.
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    In my world I'd just come sit on for a few tunes at one of those gigs -- there's your audition right there. And you would have already seen me playing on some other gig or you know someone who has and whose opinion you trust.

    The last three "auditions" I've had were all like that. One was a wedding gig, and the band's bass player was the guy getting married. He needed a long term sub and he figured he'd just play more at the wedding than his wife wanted him to, if I tanked. That band had great charts though, so they just handed me the bass book and it went fine.

    I realize that your world may be much different though, of course. There would be a lot of potential downside working that way for a blind audition, so I'm not saying you should do it that way. Just a thought though, and I doubt that too many tire kickers would show up if you put 'em under the gun immediately.

    Best of luck in any case!
  16. BritPicker


    Apr 20, 2009
    At first look I thought your email was fine. If I was looking for a band, I'd want one that was serious about not wasting time, getting down to business.

    Maybe 15 minutes is shortish, but I disagree with most of the guys on here. I think it is enough time to figure out what some one is like, at least enough for 1st round eliminations.

    But, guitarists are often fragile little souls and you have to treat them gentle or they run away. I think bassists are more workman-like and robust, much more organizational kind of people, so you can say "we want this", "we expect this" and it's understood to be just part of a reasonable system of working. But guitarists get scared off.

    In a way, that's probably saving you trouble in the long run. I mean, how many threads are there on Talkbass about guitarist problems?!

  17. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    I auditioned 30 guitarists for a band once. All could play. All were nut cases. Its a cover gig. Unless its prog rock or jazz its not that tough.

    I usually give them sweet child o mine and 4 others. I'm doing this now. One guy called yesterday and said after 3.5 hours he couldn't get the last solo and didn't feel the other 4 songs so he backed out.

    When possible I like to meet for drinks before we even talk about an audition.
  18. J-Razz


    Sep 24, 2009
    I find it telling that you mention 15 minutes and they don't even bother trying, that would make me question their dedication in general. That's actually a nice way to put a little pressure on. If I was interested in auditioning and was told 15 minutes I'd still give it a shot, knowing that if it's a win then it's a win and I'd be there for more than 15 minutes. And I'd definitely make sure I was on top of my game.

    But to cave after being told you'll only have 15 minutes? That's weak.
  19. ausf


    Jun 24, 2008
    New York
    I would only answer that and put in the time if it was a hot act I'd kill to be in. Unless you're paying good scratch, it has more of a hired hand feel to it. Personally I wouldn't put the effort into learning 5 tunes the way you want for a 15 min, here's your hat, what's your hurry. You'd be better off having a 20 minute jam to get a feel.

    It doesn't set the tone for any possible give and take that would transpire when looking for a bandmate. Honestly, it's a bit pompous to spell out that you're too busy, here's 15 kid, let's see what you got.

    Not knocking you, you very well might be that hot band or paying well. You're from SI, there's no lack of talent there and the proximity to NYC should have dozens lining up for a good opportunity.

    First impression might not be what you really want to project.
  20. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    I dunno. I agree that you can usually tell talent within a short period of time, but in all honesty I`d see it as a waste to drive out and set up someplace only to pack up and leave within 15 minutes. For me it`d be like, "Why bother auditioning if I can`t even get a good feel for the band?" 15 minutes is enough to say this fits, but it`s not enough to determine whether I like someone or not.

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