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Auditions, Step 2: Getting Ready

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So you reached out to a band using the ideas in step 1, and you've been invited to audition. Fantastic! Now the real work begins.

Do Your Homework

There's a lot you can bring to your audition besides the skills you already have. This is your chance to prove your value to the band, both as a musician and a team member. While taking a break from your musical preparations, spend time doing research.

Their music

Hopefully you will have already listened to samples so you know this is a band you want to be a part of, but listen some more. Try to get the feel of how the parts are put together, how the band tends to start and end songs...anything that you can use to make your playing fit well with theirs. If you've been asked to bring in songs to try with the band, pick tunes that fit well with their style.

Their brand

Look at the band's website, social media, etc. to learn about how they present themselves to the world. I often do this before asking for an audition, just to get some idea of the band's level of commitment and professionalism. Think about ways that you could contribute to their efforts without trying to take over, and ask the band if they have considered what you have in mind.

Their gigs

This is something else you may want to look at before making first contact. Where does the band play? How often? What kinds of reactions do you see from their fans and/or how does the band promote their gigs, both before and after the fact?

Set Your Rules

At this point in the process, nobody is committed to anything other than one meeting. Think about what things might be deal-breakers for you and keep them in mind during your audition. Here are some things from my personal rules list:

  • No drug or excessive alcohol use during band work or rehearsal time
  • Bands with couples in them need to get along extra-super well
  • No excessive volume, especially during rehearsals

For me, these are deal-breakers. If they exist, I will decline any offers as graciously as I can. There are other things that may or may not break a deal for me, and those are considered along with the positive things as I weigh my options.

Whatever rules you set, stick to them. It may mean you wait longer for a gig, but it will save you tons of heartache and frustration in the long run.

BE NICE! Even if you encounter all of the deal-breaking things in your audition, do not quit early and storm out, even if you want to. Being a professional is not about getting paid, it's about how you conduct yourself. The music community is fluid and you never know when you're going to run into someone you played with several years back, so don't make enemies.

Get Ready To Play

If the band has given you charts to study, do it. If not, play along with their samples or use whatever other resources you have available. Get as up to speed on the material as you can, and practice it a lot.

If you are asked to bring your own music, make sure that you are completely solid on the songs you bring in. For bonus points, ask to do a song that the band does that wasn't in their list--and make sure you are up to speed on that one, too.

Being musically prepared shows a lot about your commitment. it also is going to help you look good because you're proving that you can learn the band's material quickly, which is something they will value.

Your gear

Make your rig as simple, compact, and quick to set up as possible. The sooner you can be ready to go when you get there, the more professional you look. It also shows the band that you've got your needs taken care of so you're not going to be a burden on anyone else as you all set up for a gig.

BRING CABLES! Don't expect everyone to have boxes of extra wire for you to use. Be prepared to be fully self-contained except for electricity. It's OK to ask if the band wants you to bring your amp or if you can plug into their PA, but be sure to ask in that manner so they know you have the gear you need and are willing to bring it.

Know your rig

Setting up fast isn't enough. You need to know how to get the right sounds out of your rig and fix any problems that come up. This includes vocalists and microphones. If you're a vocalist and you bring your own mic, know how it works and what its quirks are so you can tell others about them. If you have your own stand, be an expert on how to set it up and proper positioning for your needs.

I can't tell you how many times people have walked into music sessions and not known how to work their own gear. As an amateur, it's inconvenient but forgivable. As a professional, that's a huge strike against you.

Before You Go

Here's a list of things to check before you go out the door for that audition.

  1. Your instrument
  2. The gear you need, including cables
  3. Charts or other notes
  4. Directions and contact info if you get lost or are going to be late
  5. Your mental list of rules
  6. A feel for the band's public personality
  7. One or two points to mention from something you read on the band's website or social media (proof of your homework)
  8. A clear understanding of what you want & need from this project

Most of all, you need the confidence to get out there and do your best. They chose to offer you an audition, so you really do deserve to be trying out for this band. It's natural and even beneficial to be a little nervous, but you need to believe in yourself or you'll never be able to do a good job.

Next Step: The Session

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