Questions I should ask at an audition.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by OOD, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. OOD


    Jul 29, 2009
    I’m auditioning for a classic rock cover band soon. Some of them have played together but it seems like they are putting together a new band. They are twice my age which doesn’t matter to me, but it might bring on different questions.

    What are some questions I should ask. I want to know what their goals are so I already know I want to ask about marketing ambitions, monetary expectations, and gig frequency and distance. If these goals don’t line up with what I’m looking for I don’t want to waste my time building a band I’ll be unhappy in.

    What are some questions I should avoid? Obviously religion and politics, but I’m think more along the lines of not stepping on toes in the music and business aspect.

    Bonus question: What questions should I expect from the band?

    I have little experience with this because most of the bands I’ve been in have happened organically or have been extremely laid back jam bands.

    I’m focusing on information given and received. I know how to be professional and have miles of content from searching TB on how to prepare for songs and act.
    StaceyofBassey likes this.
  2. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I would ask about decision-making process. Is someone BL, do they vote on things, can you veto a song you don't like, etc? That would especially apply to set lists - do they already know what they'll be playing, are they open to suggestions, things like that.

    Another relevant thing might be to get a sense of their hang/lifestyle aspect. Particularly, do they drink/420 in practice? Do they want to all go soak in a hot tub together? Depending on how you feel about that stuff, whatever they answer might be a plus or a minus.
  3. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    That. I don't care if people are "420 friendly" or whatever but, in my experience, they've never been dependable and if everyone does it, usually there's a lot of circle jerk breaks during rehearsals that I flat out refuse to abide by.

    Other than that, the usual. Rehearsal space, frequency, goals and aspirations re gigging and/or originals and recording stuff etc.

    Also. You're "auditioning" them as much as they audition you. You don't want extra drama in your life, especially coming from a hobby so make sure you draw your lines in the sand, so to speak, from the get go.

    Honest and clear understanding from the get go is essential in forming even hobbyist partnerships.
  4. Last Rebel

    Last Rebel Lone Wolf - No Club Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2011
    Ontario Canada
    Personally I wouldn't ask any questions I would walk in there blow the doors off with the most powerful amp I could find... leave them speechless

    Toss a cigarette on the floor say

    ..when do we play out?

    Alik, oldrocker, Seanto and 25 others like this.
  5. theduke1


    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    My business questions are as follows
    1 how is the money split
    2 who has Pa and lights
    3 who maintains, stores, hauls, and sets up said gear
    4 where do you rehearse
    The only thing I would add is
    I don’t play for free and I don’t pay to play
    Alik, GlennRH, pcake and 21 others like this.
  6. 3Liter


    Feb 26, 2015
    Bass Harbor, ME
    If you're clear about what you want from a situation, ask away to ensure you're on the same page or going to be happy. If you're not sure, ask a few questions and read the room a bit. A lot can be sussed out by listening (not to the music).

    I just joined a start up project (separate thread on that) but I'm in it for something other than immediate gigging (cause it's not going to happen). So, I'm cool with asking a few questions: Who steers the music? and How do we pick the songs (we should start with what we know and/or that the singer can deliver)? I could tell walking in, that I don't need to clear my schedule for the world/local your anytime soon. I could also tell that the whole thing might implode before too long - watching the interaction between some of the members, I don't think we're far from the fireworks.

    But, this should be like any other job interview....ask about what's important to you. That will tell them something about YOU as well. In this environment (assuming you don't make your living this way) I think you can be more up front than a "day job" where it's best not to ask about vacation days and telework policy on the first interview.

    Good luck.
    Frankie Fender, Indexed and OOD like this.
  7. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Pay, shared equipment costs, gig/rehearsal frequency and schedule (eg Sunday afternoon practice?), method of band comms and like other said, decision making processes.
    Indexed, Bad Bob and OOD like this.
  8. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    The one problem with some of these bands is they get together just to play. Make sure their goals align with yours. I spent a few years in a band that had all the good intentions of getting paying gigs but most were paid in beer and pizza.
    That's fine if that's all you're after but for me I want to do a gig and get paid so I have no problem asking financial questions, who owns the PA, what are the outgoings, how often are rehearsals etc.

    If it's flaky and no one has industry contacts for gigs and venues you may end up in the situation where it's a great rehearsal band but nothing more, clarify before committing.
    Frankie Fender, getrhythm and OOD like this.
  9. OOD


    Jul 29, 2009
    Thanks for the replies. There’s a lot of Stuff I didn’t think of.
    The Owl, hrodbert696 and Gothic like this.
  10. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    To the above I'd add to find out how they feel about you playing with other people/bands, if you're so inclined. Being expected to be "exclusive" has been a deal-breaker for me.
    The Owl, perkidan, OOD and 2 others like this.
  11. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    There might be questions about pay, but keep in mind that lots of bands start out with outsized ambitions in that department. I would be more inclined to ask as politely as possible about how the bands will be booking those shows, if the pay promises are high. Who has the networking lined up to get into what rooms? That could be perceived as a bit nosy but I can't tell you how many bands I've auditioned for that promised me $100 a night and ended up booking some little Farmer's Market for $25 per person.
    Frankie Fender, OOD, stomp944 and 2 others like this.
  12. 3Liter


    Feb 26, 2015
    Bass Harbor, ME

    Indeed. I got another email from the BL this morning. He's fussing about how we sounded the other night. (he's right) and song selection and how he's prior efforts have not gotten him gigging. But we accomplished about 20 min of music so far. Unless he's out networking, I don't see this project on stage until next year sometime.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  13. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    There are a whole bunch of questions you should ask BEFORE you audition. There are a lot of threads on this already.

    The big ones for me though,

    How often do you play
    where do you play
    how much do you make
    where do you rehearse
    how often do you rehearse
    how close to the original recording do you expect the parts
    are there any costs associated with the band (pay for PA, lights, rehearsal space, band account)
    How do you choose songs
    Can I get a copy of the song list with keys
    Do you have videos of the band on line

    Can't think of the others off the top of my head, but I have a list. You should be able to get the answers to all of these questions in a couple of minutes.

    If you don't know the answer to these questions, you don't know enough about the band to decide if you should audition or not, IMHO.
    GlennRH, mstillman, pcake and 6 others like this.
  14. Killer Bee

    Killer Bee

    Jul 23, 2021
    If it were me, I would probably ask:

    -How often and where do you plan to play out?
    -How will rehearsal be run?
    -What will my cut of profits be?
    -Will the band be drinking heavily/using other substances at shows or rehearsal?
    -Will the songs be played as they are on the record?

    That would cover my major concerns, but yours may be different. Just be sure that if you ask anything at all, do it respectfully and conversationally. If you show up and start interrogating the band, that’s not gonna go over well. Good luck, let us know how it goes!
    GlennRH, Shafty, 3Liter and 1 other person like this.
  15. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    It really depends on what is important to you.

    I personally don't get caught up in worrying about pay too much (it is what it is) as long a splits are fair. (I have no problem allowing for extra cuts for PA or booking type duties.) So regarding pay, I might inquire about how splits are figured. I probably wouldn't favor a band member getting a bigger cut just because they are LS or LG or some other prima donna reason.

    Band expenses? I'm not a fan of paying for rehearsal studio - if I'm willing to hang with them, my house is open for rehearsing if necessary. How do we fund other expenses (administrative/marketing type stuff, not band purchases).

    Actual questions I voice are about desired gig frequency and gig connections. Can they keep me as busy as I'd like? Is it OK if I take on a second band or sub (gigs: first come/first served)?

    Rehearsal schedule. Will they rehearse with a reasonable frequency and will it usually be same time/same day? Can I lock down a part of my schedule or will I always be guessing about my availability regarding other things that might pop up.

    Something I keep an eye on after joining: are rehearsals productive or just "hang and jams"? Do people show up prepared?

    Who has and who runs PA? Do they know what they're doing?

    -Democratic, dictatorship or somewhere in between? How are songs added/rejected? Do you even add songs or rely on the same old setlist over and over? Is gigability waiting on more than me just catching up? If so, how long before we'll be ready?

    Mostly, my questions are answered by just being there.
    - How is the hang? Are egos in check? Are these people that I want to spend time with?
    -Are these people as advertised? Can they actually get through the songs on their own list?
    -How is the drummer to play with?
    -Is the overall process organized or chaotic?
  16. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    I usually try to hold off on the heavy questions till after they're leaning towards an offer. After the offer, I'd say something like, "just to make sure there's no confusion down the road, I'd like to know how you guys handle............" You have to be careful, sometimes the way a question is asked can make or break a deal, but you definitely don't want to go into a band ignorant, then end out disappointed down the road.
    el murdoque, OOD and mrcbass like this.
  17. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    Ask them if they intend to wear socks and sandals on stage...:D
  18. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    By the way, the "hot tub" thing I mentioned wasn't a joke - there's a guitarist that I'm in a group doing originals with, who has one (and a pool), and pretty often proposes that we could have rehearsal at his house instead... and bring bathing suits! Which, of course, would mean not much rehearsing actually happening (the keys and drummer took him up on it once when I was unavailable, and that was pretty much the report - nobody touched an instrument until it was late, and they needed to get going for work/family commitments). I've always declined. Not that you need to put "do you have a hot tub?" on a list of audition questions, but it's worth getting a sense of how they envision the "hang" piece.
  19. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    I understand fully taking a professional philosophy towards the audition and the questions you ask, but personally, I would also need to get an idea of the worldview of the folks I'd be collaborating with over the long term in order to eliminate future issues due to incompatibility. Personality is definitely part of the business equation for me.
    OOD likes this.
  20. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    We have a pool in our back yard. The bands come to rehearse, and they rehearse. After the rehearsal time if there is still daylight, we might all have a little swim. It's silly to show up for a rehearsal and dive into the pool instead, but it can be a fun way to cool off... AFTER you work!