Finding The Right Musicians For Your Band
Choosing the wrong people for your band can destroy it. Although your music is critically important, it is often the ‘people’ in the band that will have a greater impact on the level of success, fun and stress you will have.
The experience I have had in my band Rhapsody of Fire has been very different in the past compared to what we would do now if we ever had to replace a band member or start a second band on the side. I’ll tell you how we did things when we started out and then I’ll share with you what we do now (and what I recommend for you to do).
In years passed we never really audited (researched everything) a potential band mate. We relied on trusted common friends (typically other people in the music industry) who warmly advised us about musicians we were considering to join Rhapsody of Fire. This worked for us most of the time, but looking back at it now we took big risks on people who could have turned out very badly (fortunately we have generally been lucky and avoided making big mistakes).
But if we would have to find a new band member now, we would not take any chances. We have seen too many other bands suffer greatly behind the scenes because there are one or more people in the band who should not be in that band. So today the very first thing we would do is make ‘personality’ a very high priority. We prefer to be in a band with people who are always ‘nice’ and smiling a lot. There can be stressful moments in any band such as in the studio or on tour for example. It’s also important to be able to talk freely and be friends. Obviously a musician's musical talents are needed to be at a professional level, but talent alone won’t get anyone in our band (no matter how good they are).
Personally, I immediately feel if someone has the potential to be the right person, but we would not rely any longer on that. We will seek a lot of background information to double check. Being in the music industry is quite easy for us to get lots of information about other musicians. There are people in the music industry who can also do a lot of research for us. It would be easy for us to find out things about someone that most people don’t know. A band is a business and band mates are an investment. Every good stock market investor on Wall street will do a lot of extensive research before he invests millions of dollars into that company. For us investing in a new band mate (or band) would be exactly the same.
Finding the right singer is even more involved because I believe the singer is not only the one who needs to be recognizable and able to express in music the musical message of the whole band, but he also needs to be a good representative for the band outside of singing.
His character outside the band is critical. What he does offstage, backstage or where he lives are also important for the band’s long term success. So it would be necessary to get to know this person in many different aspects. I want to know how he lives, his personal thoughts and beliefs and how he conducts himself in other parts of life. Of course there are other things we would consider when looking for a singer (which are obvious) such as his singing skills, expressiveness, presence on stage etc. Fortunately, in Rhapsody Of Fire we already have this person.
One thing we have learned over the years by watching many other professional bands have various internal problems is that sometimes a person in the band can cause big damage for the success of the band. Most of the time this damage was not caused intentionally, but nonetheless it was caused and the band suffered in many ways. So when looking for the right musicians to join your band it is important not only to understand what someone can positively add to the band, but also to understand in what (obvious and non obvious) ways this person might hurt the band. This is why it is so important to do detailed background research before hiring a new band mate.
Here is a brief summary of things you should consider when selecting the right musician for your band.
What do they add to your band (listed in particular order):
- Musical skills
- Creative skills
- Performing (stage presence) skills
- Studio experience
- Positive personality and attitude
- Good work ethic
- Someone you would like to be around for extended periods of time (on tour, in the studio etc.)
Will they help you sell more records, concert tickets, merchandise and gain more fans?
What things about them might potentially damage your band (listed in particular order):
- Do they have a drug or alcohol problem?
- How do they conduct themselves offstage, backstage and in their daily life away from the band?
- Do they have personal thoughts and beliefs that will cause a personality conflict with you or other valued band mates?
- Will they break under the pressure of playing live, touring or the studio?
- Do they have ethical, legal or moral problems that might hurt your band now or in the future?
- Are they loyal to you personally and professionally? Will they remain loyal and respectful if a future conflict arises?
- How have these people dealt with conflict in the past in their previous bands or relationships?
- Are they mentally or emotionally unstable?
- Might these people say damaging things in the music press (either intentionally or unintentionally)?
Do they have a bad reputation?
Of course this is only a partial list of things your rock band needs to consider, but these things will put you on the right track to find better candidates for your band and help to weed out those people who are not a good match for your rock band band.
To learn the next steps you should take to making your rock band more successful, check out my rock band success coaching program.