So, one of your bandmates has decided to go solo, or you’re starting a new band and desperately need a lead singer. Luckily, there is a wealth of resources in the music industry and online, and some impactful strategies you can organise in a short space of time to get the musician you need as we’ll explain in this short blog.
Why Host an Audition?
While auditions can be daunting for many aspiring musicians (and your band!), they’re actually useful for several reasons. They’re an opportunity to see: new talent in action, how your potential bandmates work and interact with your current members (do they “click” as a group, musically, personally and professionally?), and how they cope in the moment. Also, remember that auditions work both ways – they allow the musicians to get to know you and the band as much as you hearing and seeing them.
Different Types of Auditions
There are several types of auditions you can host. Firstly, there are open auditions, where anyone can turn up at the venue without prior notice and then you whittle the musicians through various rounds as and when. While this process widens the pool, allowing anyone to “give it a go,” it’s likely that you’ll get a mixed bag of talent, or people who are all on the same level of artistry, musicality and commitment, good or bad! So it’s wise to set some specific criteria for what you’re looking for so you don’t waste time.
Then, there are invite-only auditions, where if you already have someone or a certain kind of musician in mind, you’re able to create a customised shortlist to choose from. As you’ll have a similar pool of talent or have invited musicians that you all agree on, the process will be more efficient, and possibly, more relaxed if you know them beforehand professionally or personally.
Finally, if there are musicians who cannot attend your audition dates, you can invite them to send an online video of themselves playing. It’s useful to request a video rather than an audio recording so you can see how they perform and present themselves – a band’s stage presence is just as important as being competent musicians. However, it’s wise to arrange a private audition with them at a later date to learn what they’re actually like in person, and how they work, specifically within your band.
What To Do in Your Auditions
Conducting your auditions “X Factor style” and being destructive won’t help, especially if you’ve got young musicians there who are just starting out. It’s more productive to get people to do specific things in each round such as playing covers/your band’s songs. It’s also useful to get them doing tasks to test their individual musicianship, and if they can adapt to the band’s style. For example, 1D’s MD got bassists to play straight eighths exactly in time to a track as they don’t want a freeform jazz musician. Interviewing your musicians or inviting them out will help you see whether they’d fit into the group dynamic.
Getting them to play with you as a band in front of a paying public or invited audience will definitely be a helpful decider for a final audition as it’s a more realistic situation of what being, rehearsing and playing in the band will be like. This is also a great opportunity to get feedback from your audience as they will ultimately be the ones investing in your band.
See Live Music
Watching gigs are not too dissimilar to auditioning band members, especially if the musicians know that you’re in the audience. Live shows are not only an amazing way (if not, the best) to see fellow musicians playing in a real-life performance situation but it’s a perfect opportunity for networking, say, if you’d like to follow up what they did in the show with an audition or trialling out for a few dates with your group. So from pub shows to battle of the bands to buskers, you need to get out and see as much live music possible so you get to know as many musicians for your contacts, and don’t be shy to go up and talk to them afterwards.
We all know that social networks and apps are brilliant for discovering raw musical talent, whether that’s a major artist recommending a new act on their radar or hashtags to increase discoverability. However, we’re going to focus on five particular socials that have stood out recently for discovering new acts.
As the world’s most dominant music streaming platform, YouTube is now an essential resource for finding new musical talent. Artists are increasingly hiring people based on their performances on YouTube, but the Recommended Videos and hashtags will help you discover acts that you wouldn’t previously have known.
The slight downside is that you’re seeing an edited version of someone’s “perfect” performance or, often, the sound quality is not stunning. So it’s wise to follow their videos up with a private message, inviting them to audition in person.
It’s a well-known fact that Facebook is the world’s number one social network, and there are many Facebook groups where you can network and share resources with other like-minded musicians. What’s great is that a number of these groups request users not to exploit them for “shameless self-promotions,” allowing musicians to focus on connecting and collaborating in a more beneficial way for their careers.
Instagram has become the most popular social media app for musicians because it is very feature-rich and has allowed artists to reach their audiences and build new fans in really distinctive and imaginative ways. In turn, there are several features that gives this app so much capacity for finding new bandmates.
The Instagram Discovery feature will recommend similar hashtags, so if you are using hashtags yourself in your posts, this in turn will help to increase the possibility of finding new acts on the scene. Don’t forget to use niche hashtags that are relevant to your band and genre so that people will search it and you can increase the chances of pinpointing the kind of musicians you specifically want.
Also, the combination of having eye-catching photos and short, snappy videos will help to make any musician you’re looking for attractive. Remember that videos are the second most popular post on Instagram, and views now act as a second currency in the music industry so can really count for a lot when invested in properly – we discover music more now for the overall aesthetic.
More and more apps have been released for musicians to get discovered such as AirGigs (think Airbnb for musicians) and Gigtown, where you can find up and coming musicians playing locally in your area. One emerging app that’s on my radar is Bandr, a combination of Facebook and Tinder for musos. You search according to categories like age, location and instruments – the app then gives you a list of matching profiles and if you like what you see, you can send a request to “Connect” with them about your musical futures.
In addition to music-based apps, don’t dismiss “corporate” job apps like LinkedIn. With a whopping 575+ million worldwide registered members, LinkedIn is fast becoming a resource for musicians to further their connections in a more professional, careers-orientated capacity. What’s great is that you can see a user’s online “CV,” skillset, connections and endorsements so you can already gauge their standing within the industry, their musical talent, and what they can bring to your band. What’s more, LinkedIn is utilised across a wide range of demographics (from 18-60+ years old), so you’re bound to find someone according to your band’s needs.
Run Fan Competitions
This final strategy combines all of the above tips presented in this blog. It’s a unique way to build your fanbase and connect with them creatively and relationally. By inviting aspiring performers to submit video entries of them playing your songs/a cover on social media, and by getting fans to vote on their favourite submissions, this will encourage your fans’ community. This is a deeper, more creative and collaborative level of fandoms than just liking, following and listening to a band. Of course, what fans will like is not necessarily the same as what the band prefers so understandably, you might decide to make the final decision and use the fans’ opinions for guidance.
Inviting them to rehearse with you and play to an invited audience will reinforce the connection between you, your fans and the auditionees. Not only are they able to see and interact with your potential bandmates in real life but it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to see how you have taken the raw talent from their videos and developed it through the process, even if it is in a short space of time.
Case In Point…
Check out Wilco’s #WilcoKaraoke for a fun model of how you could run your musician-finding fan competitions!