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Starting Out - Before you landed a gig - Your experience

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by m0ranwad, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. m0ranwad


    Jan 29, 2013
    Hey guys, I've been trolling for a while, but I finally registered for the site.

    I was hoping to hear some brief personal experiences from those of you who DID NOT necessarily start out with a group of friends in high school. How old were you when you started looking for a band? How did you connect with other musicians (hanging out at jam nights? craigslist? flyers in bars?) Were you confident in your abilities at the time?

    Just wanted to hear stories from people that may have been where I am today.

    Briefly, I am 22, and my only experience on stage was playing with a Praise Band for my old church on Sunday mornings (gag). I've recently moved to a new city, and so starting a band with friends that I'm comfortable with is out of the question. It's easy to find bands looking for a member on Craigslist, but I'm not sure that I have what it takes to show up to my first audition - as I've never really gone through that. I've been putting in a lot of time in the shed, and studying a bit of theory, but I'm still at a novice level especially where technique is concerned. Best to work a while longer, before giving it a mediocre try?

    Here is an example of me on bass, so that you can see firsthand. Like I said, I recognize it is novice, and I know that my timing needs a bit of work.


    Thanks for baring with me :hyper:

  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I didn't listen to your clip, my macbook has garbage speakers anyways.

    I have meet other musicians from a book (music shops used to all have a book of other musicians back before the internet) from kijiji (like CL), mutual friends, and I have played in a band with friends from HS. I have had others ask me to play because they have seen my band or we have shared bills before.

    I was confident in my abilities at 17 when I knew everything, now that I am an adult i am not very confident in my abilities but I do not let that stop me. As much as there will always be somebody better than you, there will always be somebody worse.

    Don't stress auditions, just go in and be you. Skills are not what gets the job, they are to an extent but most bands will work with a novice in order to not deal with an a**clown. What is the worst that happens? They say no and you gain experience you cannot gain elsewhere.

    Be very clear what you want going in to it as well, if you expect to be paid, will there be partying, how will pay be split, stuff like that.
  3. m0ranwad


    Jan 29, 2013
    What?? :help:

    Haha. Maybe it's worth mentioning that I am not interested in a full time music gig. I am married, and I'm 3 steps away from a successful career, so this would be for the love of music type of deal. :bassist:
  4. Dash Rantic

    Dash Rantic

    Nov 12, 2005
    Palo Alto, CA
    This, a thousand times this. Many bands would likely prefer a novice with a good attitude who is willing to work to improve their skills and who is willing to show up on time/isn't a flake, over someone with mega chops but they regularly miss practices or show up so drunk/stoned/etc so they can barely play.

    There are a lot of the latter, and seemingly precious few of the former. Don't sweat it, and remember the worst that can happen is that you'll gain (in)valuable experience at every audition!

  5. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I had been in a couple of bands through my school years, with guys I knew from the neighborhood or at school. But the first working band that I joined was when I was 15 or 16, by responding to an ad for an audition. They already had gigs lined up, a booking agent, and we hit the road after one week of rehearsal, playing venues within a 50 mile radius. The next band I got into was by the same process when I was 20. Two or three weeks of rehearsal and we hit the road. But this time the radius of travel was five States. That band lasted over 10 years and after a long hiatus to raise kids, regrouped 8 years ago. Now we don't get outside our 'grid' unless the pay is there, but we stay busy locally.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Welcome! Enjoy your time here. There's lots of great information to be had.

    Funny story actually. I'll keep it short. No, I was not confident in my abilities. I was 15 and in the jazz band. I had turned the position down because the director wanted me to play tuba (not cool). He bought a bass and amp and gave me a few weeks to get ready. 6 weeks after jazz band started, a neighbor (drummer) who grew up with my mother came to my house and BEGGED my parents to let me fill in with his band that weekend. Again, I was only 15, and they were all in their 30s. I went to the guitarists house and crammed for the weekend. Having been a bassist for about 2-3 months, I leanred 52 songs in a few days. Here's where it get really strange. I ended up "filling in" for another weekend, then another. Eventually I became a full-time member of a regularly gigging semi-pro band playing in two states and making an average of $500 a weekend (this was 1987) at 15 years old. So mine didn't involve any networking, but was purely by accident/fate. Been playing gigs for more than two decades now (back to fill-ins mostly these days).

    My best advice? Find some guys to jam with. NOTHING is a better trainer than playing in a band. You don't have to throw yourself into the fire (as was done to me) with a working band if you don't want yet. But at least get with a couple of guys (at least a drummer) and play some songs. That will take your playing to the next level for sure. Things like peer pressure (in a good way), following the drummer, and the structure of the songs will force you (again, in a good way) to take it to the next level. If you are on a good career path then find some guys like you who have music on the back burner and just want to have some fun.

    Good luck!
  7. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I had a few bands in high school but they suked and I played guitar then. I did not get back to playing for real untill almost 40 and I turned 51 this Monday. Anyhow, I picked up the bass and just woodsheded a few months, scales, playing to CD's etc and started answering CL ads.

    I stuck to classic rock and old school tunes I knew and that made it easy to adapt to a band. If you do your practice and show a band you are committed there are bands starting out that will giuve you a look. Try local music room, fliers at music shops and CL.
  8. Well, I started out by taking lessons. Guitar lessons, actually. I was in (earlier) 30's. I had grown up playing saxophone, piano, and to some extent drums but in my teen years and 20's I never did anything more than practice or play on my own, for enjoyment mostly.

    I decided to learn to play the guitar because it was something I always wanted to do and never had any real intention of getting into a band, gigging, etc.....I figured I could just strum chords on a warm summer night and sing "Wonderwall" if I wanted to.

    After a couple years of guitar playing and lessons, I decided that I wanted to play bass. I always liked it and it was a toss-up between guitar and bass when I started lessons. I took a few more years of bass lessons with a great instructor.

    One day he told me that there was no more for him to teach me. :(

    I had gotten all of the technical training he had to offer and he told me the only way I would get better was to actually play with other musicians. I was intimidated to do it, but he recommended I contact another one of his guitar students whom he felt was of a comparable ability and maybe we would enjoy playing some music. We did get together and it clicked personality-wise.

    At the same time I sat in with a metal band and did not like it. One time.

    We formed a band (myself and the other guitar student) and it was a disaster. We played once for some people and it was a trainwreck. Then our drummer died of a heart attack shortly after and the band fell apart. Neither one of us knew what to do or how to run a band in any way, shape, or form.

    In the meantime, I had been subbing in for some guys on rhythm guitar but nothing solid.

    One thing I did get, though, was the "band bug". I developed a strong desire to find another band and perform, which was surprising because it's not where my head was at when I started taking lessons.

    I answered a bunch of craigslist ads and was turned down for auditions because I had little to no stage experience. Sure, years upon years of lessons, but no resume so to speak.

    Then I found my current band through another craigslist ad. It's been going good, generally, have been with them for about 6 or 7 months now and we've played a few shows out and have even more booked for 2013. Ironically, I'm back playing with the guitarist from my first band who was hired after I was......imagine that.

    So, basically, craigslist did work for me. And the best lessons I ever got were from my experiences working with others. You'd be surprised how much better you get, and how fast you get there, when others are depending on you.
  9. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Great clarification,

    I would check on graig lists and local music stores for guys like you that want to jam simply for the love of music.


    BTW, I started in 1966 at age 12 or something. We didn't have many rules or stuff we just started teaching ourselves and let history take it's course. :)
  10. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Listened to your clip. Your assessment is correct but I will say that I have gigged with worst.

    I didn't pickup the instrument till I was 20 and didn't really gig till my mid-20s. At first I was really intimidated but then I realized 98% of musicians really are hacks and if you can get through it okay and are fun to hang with you were in. Now I take myself seriously, getting less "hackey" every day and seeking a strong, solid technique but I realized that their is alot more to music than music.

    If you are nervous about playing with other musicians pickup a Djembe or some type of hand drum and find a drum circle in your city. They will greatly help your timing and self-confidence.
  11. bassRunner


    Aug 10, 2012
    Urbana, IL
    Hey m0ranwad. I'd say your clip demonstrates you're "getting there." And you're probably at a similar level as I was when I first joined a band.

    After six months of lessons, I joined my high school's marching band. I played the tuba parts which were all written out for me, so that made it easier. This got my name out among the high school musicians, and consequently, I never had to audition for a band. I was either asked or guaranteed the position when I applied.

    I'll repeat the sentiment expressed by previous posters: playing with other musicians helps you grow up fast.

    Good luck!
  12. Trayster2


    Aug 13, 2012
    I seriously hope this is true! :hyper:

  13. It got me hired over people who were better technical players.:)
  14. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Get to where other musicians are. Open mics, open jams, etc. Check with a local music store (GC, or other) to find out where these things are. Networking is THE way to get plugged in to the local music scene. Craigslist is a crap shoot ... often a waste of time for both parties.

    I've played music since I was six ... first recital at age 7, first real stage performance at 8, first band at 13. Was thoroughly "plugged in". Then college, marriage, career, three kids, etc, etc. Over the course of 30 years I was totally "unplugged" from the scene and had to start over again (the relationships, not the music, I played continually ... piano, bass, guitar, harp, keys). I made some good connections, made a few good friends, and now that I'm retired (company treated me great!) I can gig as much I want to (did more than 100 gigs last year), have multiple varied projects going on. Music is all I do these days. But I had to put myself out there, go to where the musicians were, follow a bunch of dead end leads ... but it was worth it.
  15. jazzbill


    Jun 4, 2010
    Richardson, TX
    Well I had played with friends in school and church but had joined the Air Force in the early 70's and was just playing along with records in my room in the barracks. One Friday an "old man" probably a good 20 years younger than I a now came into the weather station where I worked and said he was looking for a guy named Bill who played bass. I sad that would be me. He said he needed a bass player for his country house band at a local bar. I said, I don't play country. He said, we play Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and I'll pay you $90.00 a week. Well that was equal to the $360.00 a month I was making in the Air Force. I said I don't know any country music. He said, That's okay. It's easy. We'll have a rehearsal Sunday and I'll teach you. I said Okay. He said great. Be at the bar tonight at 8:00.
  16. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    The opportunities that I threw myself into were things that I wanted to be a part of and I thought myself to be a good fit. And then I prepared myself for that first impression that is always so crucial. I got the gigs that I wanted and graciously declined the ones that weren't what I was expecting. The ones that I would like to do, but not yet prepared, I put on the back burner until I think that I'm ready for it. And I work at it. Its not that hard. I mean, I'm married and have a job too. I have other interests but I love to play the bass and contribute to good projects. So thats what I do.
  17. kjpollo


    Mar 17, 2008
    My ifrst instrument was trumpet and then baritone trumpet when I was in jr high/High school. In my senior year, I got my 1st bass for Christmas.
    That was in 1979. I've owned at least one bass at all times ever since but I never got beyond playing along to records/tapes/CDs until about 5-6 years ago. My wife and I met a couple because our sons played baseball together. Turns out the husband is a musical genius on guitar. We get together and jam a little, his neighbor is a drummer and we start doing some covers (no vox) and he wrote a couple of originals on the fly.
    Then the drummer falls into a cover band and he invites me down to jam with THOSE guys. Our mutual friend doesnt want to do a cover band so he's out.
    I get in that band and we quickly morph into an originals band which collapses about a year and a half in when the lead guitarist kills himself.
    So I hook up with 2 old friends from HS- one's a stellar drummer and the other one is an amazing guitarist. We set out to do a classic rock cover band. After 3+ years, nada. Too many lineup changes, too many musical changes, etc.
    Then another buddy of mine (singer) asks me to join a modern country band he's putting together after his classic rock band folded the tent after a nice 5 year run.. I think it over for about 15 seconds and agree.
    All of a sudden, in about 6 weeks, we slap together about 25 songs and play a fast show- long story short- the crowd LOVED us so now we're cramming in another dozen tunes and we're playing the same place in 2 more weeks.
    I'm 50, owned a bass since I was 17 and JUST played my first live show 3 weeks ago.
    I WISH I started doing this a long, long time ago, but there was always something in the way.

    So thats how my musical journey goes!
  18. Exact my thinking about 7 years ago, what I did was, I really took my time. By that I mean, it took me 4 years to locate people with similar music interest and goals in life (i.e. building an own succesful career while playing out of love for music), after that we (guitar, drums and me on bass) went through a few keyboard players and rhythm guitarists we settled with soneone matching the above criteria about 2 years ago.

    I did most of this online, posting wanted adds on a local forum and looking for people on facebook or equivalent sites. But once you're settled on a few people, the ball starts to roll, you do a few smaller gigs and people hear about you, then similar minded people will start to approach you, that's how we found our second guitarist.

    But I have to say, it's all been worth the long wait to get the "perfect" set of people together. We have become a bunch of friends who have one common topic: the band, which is exactly what I wanted. I didn't want to be in a band to earn money or make a record, I just wanted to play music for my own enjoyment.

    Sorry for the long story, but the point I wanted to make is, in your case, don't rush things, take your time and find the "correct" people.

    Good luck!:bassist:
  19. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    It was after two years of bedroom playing that I responded to an ad. It was for a local group that by the time had already put out two EPs and sounded great.

    I was underconfident in my abilities since, well, as a bedroom player you have no live music experience if you knew anything at all besides playing along to tabs... At least that's how I started lol. Anyway, come the day of the audition and I'm super excited... Got invited obviously, which already made me want to bring my a-game... But the thought of playing with musically accomplished and seasoned players was nearly enough for my poor weak heart.

    But here's the kicker... I was upfront with my ability level and apparently we gelled so well that they decided to take me on board. It seems their history of bassists was filled with all kinds of flakes, including a really obnoxious music school grad type guy who was really finnicky about all kinds of things (the band still makes jokes about some of his statements like "you can't play that note there! It's verboten!!")

    One other thing to consider is that the initial impression of a band may be illusive. By that I mean, while they may be good players, they just cook with water and make mistakes just like us. They're usually not some kind of I-never-play-wrong robot types! After Having been with this band for four years now I can say that in some regards I have surpassed my mentors if you want to see it that way. Here's the thing - I practice a lot more than any other band member which really shows in the long run.

    So tldr, when you find a band, stick to it and shed... It'll work wonders!