Soundfly

Home for the Curious Musician

3 Things to Think About When Hiring Musicians for Your Band

rehearsal

+ Welcome to Soundfly! We help curious musicians meet their goals with creative online courses. Whatever you want to learn, whenever you need to learn it. Subscribe now to start learning on the ’Fly.

One of the biggest challenges as a solo artist is booking shows. After you’ve accomplished that, the next task is usually to hire musicians to create a band to support you. Three things that are often overlooked when hiring a band include establishing clear communication, knowing how to effectively rehearse the band, and advancing the show, so everyone knows what is happening.

Let’s dive in to what these mean.

1. Clear, Responsible Communication

The first thing to consider when hiring a band is that you’re communicating professionally from the first point of contact. Providing the band with the exact time frame, location, and compensation for the gig will give them enough information to determine if the gig is going to work for their schedule.

In my experience, a person who sends a vague message like “Are you working on Friday?” will sometimes forget to even introduce themselves, or let you know what project they are asking you to be take part in. It’s too casual. Unless you have a close working relationship with the person, vague messages do not give musicians enough information to decide whether it will be worth it for them to learn a set of music, and then haul their gear across town for rehearsals and then ultimately the performance. Vague messages also fail to portray the bandleader’s enthusiasm for the show.

For most musicians, saying yes to a gig without knowing pertinent details can feel very uncomfortable; like you’re being lured into a potentially bad situation or will potentially be judged for asking questions about all of the details later on. When bandleaders or artists fail to give these pertinent details, it can also feel like you might be entering a situation where the employer doesn’t respect your time.

As an artist or bandleader, showing respect and being professional by giving all of the details about the performance at the beginning of the conversation can instill confidence even before the music is sent. A message that is polite and gives all of the details about performance could look something like this:

Example A:

Hey! Would you be available to play acoustic guitar on my upcoming gig at LOCATION on DATE at TIME? The COMPENSATION is ___. Here’s a link to the music we’ll be playing:

Example B:

Hello, this is NAME, I would love to have you play INSTRUMENT and/or SING for a performance at LOCATION, on DATE at TIME. The RATE is ___. Rehearsals will also be compensated at RATE. Here’s a link to the album and clips of the live show.

2. Rehearsal Tactics

Before setting up a rehearsal, it’s good to make sure that your lead sheets or form charts are accurate. Even if you don’t provide the band with charts, providing them the tempo, key, and lyrics, can be helpful.

A wise bandleader once told me that practicing is where the grunt work happens, while dissecting the minutiae of your part and rehearsals are the times when you fit all the pieces together and polish the group’s overall sound. That way, rehearsal is used to make minor adjustments to enhance the musical experience.

+ Learn how to actually rehearse and play a decent show, get along with other bands, and make serious contacts in our popular, free course on band leadership, Building a Better Band

Using your rehearsal time wisely to make sure every element is given enough attention can be a challenge, especially if you have a lot of material to cover. One helpful thing is making a note of difficult sections in each song beforehand and making sure that they sound natural by the end of rehearsal.

One way to work through difficult sections is to slow things down and isolate parts to pinpoint issues. If something doesn’t work, you should always have a backup plan; like for example, alternate songs or playing a song solo if a full-band version isn’t ready. Even if you end up cutting a song from your set, it’s always better to have a strong performance, than play music that is under-rehearsed.

Before ending a rehearsal, it is good to make sure everyone is confident with their role in the introductions and endings of every song.

3. Advancing Shows

One of the things that separates a good bandleader from a great bandleader is the amount of information they provide for their band for the day of the show. Here’s a list of details that you should provide your band depending on performance situation:

  • Load-in/soundcheck time
  • Parking and parking restrictions
  • Backline provided?
  • Food/drink provided? (Any dietary restrictions?)
  • Set time and length
  • Dress code
  • Performance is inside or outside
  • Acoustic performance or fully amplified performance

So here’s an example of what a pre-show email for a local show might look like:

Name of Venue: Crystal Ballroom – 1332 W Burnside St, Portland, OR
Event: Carson Wedding
Compensation: $400/person
Parking: Garage B
Load-in / Soundcheck: 6:00pm / 7:00pm
Set times/Duration: Two, 45 minute sets at 9:00pm and 10:30pm
Attire: Suit and tie
Hospitality: Complimentary food and drinks for each band member.
Musical Repertoire: Jazz standards. No specific requests.

For a touring band, day sheets are a long-form way to provide the band pertinent details. Day sheets are generally itineraries used by tour managers who are hired by a band to communicate between the band and venue to make sure shows go smoothly. Here’s an example of a multi-day sheet for a weekend trip:

Day 1 – TRAVEL DAY

  • Drive from Los Angeles to San Diego
  • Depart Time: 1:00pm from Amp Studios 6336 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042
  • Approximate Drive Time: Approximately 3 hours
  • Lodging: Wyndham San Diego Bayside 1355 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Day 2 – PERFORMANCE

  • Music Box: 1337 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Reserved parking on the East side of the building
  • Day of Show Contact: Tim Smith (619) 123-4567
  • Load-In/Soundcheck: 3:00-5:00pm
  • Meet and Greet: 6:00pm
  • Doors: 7:00pm
  • Support Set: 8:00pm
  • Support Set 2: 8:30pm
  • Headliner Set: 9:15pm
  • Curfew: 11:00pm
  • Lodging: Wyndham San Diego Bayside 1355 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Day 3 – MEDIA DAY

  • Interview at KSDT Radio: 2:00pm
  • Depart Lodging: At 1:15pm
  • Parking: In Lot B

Once you become proficient with communicating, rehearsing, and advancing shows for your band, you will discover a bulletproof formula for having shows that consistent go smoothly, and also sound great. In addition, you will most likely notice that your band will be more loyal to you and your project because of your respect for their time and their musical abilities.

Want to get all of Soundfly’s premium online courses for a low monthly cost? 

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all of our course content, an invitation to join our members-only Slack community forum, exclusive perks from partner brands, and massive discounts on personalized mentor sessions for guided learning. Learn what you want, whenever you want, with total freedom.

Sign up here for Soundfly’s weekly newsletter.

Efa Etoroma
Efa Etoroma

Efa Etoroma, Jr. is a Los Angeles-based professional drummer, composer, and educator who is known for his stylistic versatility, expressive creativity, and his deep musical instincts. He performs and/or records with a variety artists including Moonchild, Sneakout, Ellen Doty, Bennie Maupin, A La Mer, BRNSTRM, The Writers’ Guild, and Sensae. In addition, Efa Jr. serves on the drum set faculty at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, California and teaches songwriting and music production at Citystage LA. Efa Jr. uses Yamaha Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Promark Sticks, Humes and Berg Cases, and Remo Drumheads, exclusively.