Picking The Right Band Members

Most indie artists have expereinced the challenge of finding and keeping the right band members. Hopefully these interview questions will help you find exactly who you ae looking for:

    • How serious are you? Be sure that their level matches that of your own.
    • What experience do you have? What bands have you been in, if any? Have you been a band leader? Be sure that you are getting someone who will fit right in.
    • Are you looking to join a band as a sideman, or do you want to join a band in which you are part owner? Be sure their expectations are the same as yours.
    • Have you ever been on the road? For how long? Some musicians think being on the road will be a blast until they see how much hard work it is. Others miss their families or significant others too much and begin to resent the situation. Be sure hat your band can handle your touring demands.
    • How often are you willing to rehearse? Do you need to get paid to rehearse or do you consider it part of the job? What you want to know is their work ethic, and whether or not it is equal to yours.
    • Do you have references? It is vital that you can talk to former band members to learn about any challenges that you might have to deal with.
    • Do you have any other commitments that might prevent you from fulfilling your commitment to this band? Some musicians might have separate gigs already on their books, have a vacation planned or have a day job that might conflict with your own gigs or plans.
    • What are your strengths? What are your limitations? Be sure that the person has a realistic perception of himself or herself. You also want to know up front if there is a gap that you will need to have someone else fill, such as back-up vocals or heavy lifting.
    • Besides your talent, what else can you bring to the table (computer skills, graphic design, marketing skills, contacts etc.)? Obviously, it helps when you can keep some work in-house.
    • How much money do you need to make? How long are you willing to work with the band to work up that salary range, or so you need that much money immediately? Be sure that their expectations are in line with what you can realistically pay them.
    • Are you counting on working with this band exclusively, or will you be picking up gigs whenever and wherever you can find them? Again, their intentions need to coincide with your needs.
    • How long do you plan on taying with the band? Is this a temporary engagement for you, or are you looking for a long-term position? Be sure that their plans and your needs are a match.
    • Have you ever been a band leader? Whether you need a band leader or not, this is important to know. Ssome people who are used to being the leader are not comfortable tking orders from others.
    • Do you need to ask anyone else for their support or pemission before you take this gig, or before you go on the road? You want to know if they have family or an employer who might prevent them from fulfilling their role.
    • Are you willing to invest time and/or money into the band to take it to the next level? This is important if you or other members of the band are investing in the group. You never want an imbalance in this area without a clear understanding of the relationship.
    • Do you have all of the equipment you need, and is it in good working order? Obviously you don’t want a band member whose amplifier keeps quitting in the middle of your shows.
    • Do you have other gear or equiment that could be of value to the band (recording studio, PA, van etc.)?
    • Do you write songs? If so, are you counting on the band performing or recording them? Be sure you manage any and all expectatons so there is no misunderstanding about this.
    • Do you sing lead vocals? If so, is it your goal to be the lead singer, or to share in the lead vocals? Once again, this needs to match your vision or current lineup.
    • Do you have a challenge with drugs, drinking or other bad habits? Know what you level of toleration is (one drink per night, no drugs etc.) Be aware that they might nor answer honestly, so check their references before bringing them into the band.

If you pick the right members from the start, you can avoid dealing with a lot of misunderstandings, ego challenges and bad habits that can jeopardize not only the band, but your reputation.

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, a global business club for serious independent artists, songwriters, musicians and music professionals. Indie Connect helps its members increase their chances of success by providing practical career direction and education, combined with live and online industry networking opportunities. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, an artist manager, a booking agent, songwriter and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He is a published author and popular speaker at music industry conferences.


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