How do I start a band?

March 19, 2009 12:43 PM

I want to be in a band. But I don't know how to make that happen. Help?

Perhaps because I wasn't thinking straight, I asked this on AskMe first, rather than coming straight here. Here's the post there, with my full question, and here's a song I posted over here a few weeks ago. Performing that live at a cabaret last weekend (and the great response I got from it) is what got me going to try to do this.

The gist of it is: I sing things that sound like Patsy Cline, Etta James, Neko Case, Nina Simone, etc. I don't play any instruments. I live in New York City. I want to be in a band. What do I do?

Specific suggestions for places to go (particularly those with open mics or open jam sessions that are welcoming to singers) are most welcome, but I'd also love general advice that goes beyond "Hang out with music people. Go to shows. Post to craigslist."
posted by ocherdraco (9 comments total)

I suppose I made the question title look noob-tastic, didn't I. Awrighty, then. Self-destruction by crickets.

posted by ocherdraco at 2:56 PM on March 19, 2009

Nah, I think it's just that most of the people who might respond to this have already weighed in on the other thread.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:35 PM on March 19, 2009

Oh no, don't expect answers to flow as quickly as on askmefi. The number of people who post on mefi music are significantly fewer.
posted by umbĂș at 5:49 PM on March 19, 2009

Also "Hang out with music people. Go to shows. Post to craigslist." kind of covers any advice I can think to give.

Maybe you can tell us what else you're looking for? There's nothing really magical to it -- try to find some like-minded musicians then practice, practice practice. (Then replace the ones that quit.)
posted by frenetic at 5:49 PM on March 19, 2009

Cool. I will do that. All right. Time to go turn this into actual doing something about this rather than just talking about doing something.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:02 PM on March 19, 2009

The thing with the "post to craigslist" advice (and I hit this a bit in the askme) is that it's probably not sufficient to hit craigslist once and expect that to magically do it. When I was trying to start a band years ago, I was doing the Musician Seeking thing for a few months before I found a guy who I got along with well, and we spent a couple more looking for a drummer, and a few more looking for a bassist. There were some dud hits there along the way.

Mix it up, try different concise ways of saying what you're looking for and give it a shot every week or so. There's a lot of chance and providence to trying to hook up with people musically, because the pool of available-and-looking talent is going to be very liquid and not everybody will be looking at the same time.

I think the open mic thing is a really good route to go down if you don't know anybody in town really doing what you want (or think you want) just because it's an explicitly musical and explicitly social context, and gives you a chance to, if necessary, get comfortable initiating musical conversation and collaboration discussions in a pretty low-stakes and amenable environment.
posted by cortex at 6:20 PM on March 19, 2009

Forgive me for beating a dead horse, but you really do need to get the word out. Craigslist is OK, but I'm sure that you have some local rags that you can check out. In or around NYC right?

The Reader used to be something that musicians would refer to. We have The Troubador (sp) down here in San Diego. I'm sure there are similar things there.

Flyers in places where you think you might want to play would be a good idea too. It sounds kinda old school, but, man, I see them all the time and they work! Just make sure you post a web addy to something they can listen to, like anything you've posted here at MUSIC. And yea, flyers have always worked best for me.

Good luck, and please let us know how things work out. Go Kick some ass!
posted by snsranch at 7:08 PM on March 19, 2009

it might be worthwhile to consider what your primary goal is. everyone i know in nyc is in 2 bands, if not more, many venues are more liquor dispensaries than 'listening rooms' (the living room/pianos are some notable exceptions).

for instance, you don't really need the hassle of keeping a band together if your main focus is to release an album. you can keep 2-3 people together for 6-12 months, up it to 4 and you'll be lucky to get regular rehearsals fit in around boyfriend/girlfriend dilemmas, etc.

of course, if your drive is to perform you'll need a band. i'd argue tho, that in this band-infested world, it makes the most sense to get a killer 4-5 track ep released first.

if you are computer adept, there are many options for recording your album with lots of guests from around the world. if you're not, then befriending a such a person and supplying them with pizza, beer, weed and cupcakes is my recommended approach.

most importantly, practice every day, make sure that 6 months from now you can look back and confidently say that you're a better musician than you are today, way too many of us are content to rest on our existing talent. record your sessions for later listening on your personal music player, nothing you do (except perhaps for looping) will make more of a difference.
posted by kimyo at 12:29 AM on March 20, 2009

Seriously do you actually ever go to gigs? the smaller ones / sceney ones?

I've been thinking of trying to get a band thing going for abotu a year. Then out of no-where I meet some people and hey they kinda need a bass player. I can kinda play bass. Wham I'm in a band.

Go to gigs, hang out in the pubs / cafes / bars that those types hang out in. meet soem musically inclined people and perhaps it will happen.
posted by mary8nne at 8:03 AM on March 20, 2009

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