Everyone gets nervous during auditions, right? They’re like job interviews! You’re trying to do, be, act, and play your best, trying to make a great impression. You hope they accept you. You hope you’re good enough to meet their standards. You want to sing or play better than the other people who have auditioned, so that they pick YOU.
Basically, they have an opportunity you want… and they are the gatekeepers deciding whether or not you’re going to get it.
This kind of thinking will derail your performance and your personal presence!
But one small shift of perspective will make you much more desirable to your prospective band.
You’ll sing or play better, you’ll have more fun, you’ll appear to be more professional and experienced, and you’ll quite simply be more desirable to your prospective band.
Here’s the secret:
It’s a TWO-WAY audition.
That means: Not only are they auditioning you to see if they want you, but YOU are auditioning THEM to see if they’re the right band for you.
Remember: if you join a band, you’re going to spend a lot of time with these people. They’re going to affect your musical and your personal life and probably even some of your beliefs about life. Are they the right group of people? Will you learn from them? Does it feel like it’ll be a positive environment? Do they share the same priorities? Do you like them?
A few months ago, STAR was auditioning for a new bass player. We auditioned a lot of people. Some seemed quite eager to be in the band. Some of those players had a bit of a sense of desperation – like this was the only opportunity they could find. (It probably wasn’t true, but that’s how it felt.) Some had a more chill attitude, which said they were checking us out as much as we were checking them out. That kind of attitude shows that:
a) You’re experienced and professional enough to know what you’re looking for, and
b) You are good enough to have multiple options.
A couple bass players we were interested even turned us down before we had a chance to invite them in. Good for them! It obviously wasn’t a good match for them, and they didn’t waste our time by playing with the band for only a few months or weeks and then leave us back where we started.
So remember, this audition is not the only opportunity you’re going to come across. This one may not be the right one for you. The perfect band for you may be three, or four, or nine auditions still down the road! Even though you may be itching to get into a band right now, it’s far more important to join the right band. Otherwise, you waste a lot of time – both your time and your new bandmates’ time. It’s not fair to them if YOU don’t do your part in determining if the band is the right situation for YOU.
What kinds of warning signs tell you that a band isn’t the right one for you?
- They don’t know what their priorities are (and you do).
- Their priorities are different – for example, their priority is making as much money as possible, while yours is to play wherever and whenever as often as possible, or to create the best original music you can.
- The genre of their music doesn’t turn you on.
- You just don’t feel a connection with the band members.
- You sense discord simmering under the surface between band members.
- They have local goals while you have regional or national ambitions… or vice versa.
- The musicians are way below your level in terms of skill (and more importantly, willingness to work for constant improvement).
- They focus exclusively on live performance while you are looking for a band that wants to record someday soon.
- They rehearse more often than your schedule would be able to handle, or too far away from you.
- They rehearse much less than you know you would need to rehearse in order to put on a good show.
- They require band monogamy (i.e. you shouldn’t be in any other bands) and you can’t commit to just one band. Or on the other hand, all of them belong to multiple bands and you’re looking for a situation where everyone’s first priority is the band.
These are just some ideas off the top of my head. What you really should do is make a list of the most important characteristics YOU want in your band.
If you have trouble coming up with ideas, take the opposite approach. Imagine bands that would obviously NOT be a good fit for you. Then determine what the characteristics of those bands are, and find the opposite characteristics.
Once you know what you’re looking for, you can go out and start auditioning bands. When you understand that you’re auditioning the band as much as they are auditioning you, you’ll be more relaxed and personable, you’ll have more fun, and you’ll come across as a more desirable candidate.