Have you ever heard or seen a band and thought to yourself, “I’m better than that!”
Most musicians have experienced this feeling at some point.
One of the (many) reasons that some players get the gig is that they got started off on the right foot.
It’s not always the best musicians that secures the job. Quite often, it’s the player that can cut the gig, but is also easy to work with.
Whether you’re the most qualified and proficient or not with your craft is important, but it’s the person that follows these tips – and can play well enough – that gets hired for the spot.
1. Arrive early
This is your first opportunity to prove that you are serious about the job. If you’re late, or just barely get there on time, you’ll make an instant bad impression, and the band might expect you to continue that trend.
You want people to like you right away, and when a group is looking to fill a position, they are hoping to find someone that they like.
Plan far ahead of time on how you can get to the audition 10 or 15 minutes before your time slot (any longer is overdoing it).
Take into consideration the time of day, your method of travel, and the potential for traffic issues. Check your Waze app on your smart phone (which you should have) and be prepared for any unexpected contingencies.
Even a seemingly valid excuse is still a bad start.
2. Show up gig ready
In most cases (but not all), you’ll know what material you’ll be expected to perform at the audition ahead of time.
You need to know these songs as if you’ll be playing on stage to an attentive crowd.
People get hired for work in any capacity because they arrive at the audition/interview ready to do the job right then and there.
You’ll make a great impression – and you’ll have the best chance of winning instant approval if nobody else has to tell you anything about your parts…other than how well you performed them.
Make it as easy as possible for the folks auditioning you to realize that you are the right person for the job – and show up gig ready.
3. Shake hands and smile at everyone
Being friendly is a big plus.
Introduce yourself to everyone, ask them their names (if they don’t tell you), and look people in the eyes when you extend a greeting.
And smile. This will project an air of gratitude…and it will be appreciated.
You’ll be characterizing yourself as a person before anyone even plays a note, and the act will provide a certain level of comfort and relaxation in the room…which often leads to better all around performances.
You want to be a sponge when you’re meeting new musicians and soak up all of the things that you can learn.
People can easily tell the difference between when someone is really paying attention and when they’re not. You want to be as attentive as possible and retain any information that is relayed to you.
Look people in the eyes when they’re addressing you, and speak only when you have something of value to contribute, and you’ll respected by default.
When it comes to the music, you’ve shown up prepared with your parts, so be sure to tune in to what everyone else is doing when you’re playing a song. You’ll learn a lot about the individual musicians by applying some focus to simply listening.
5. Speak only in positives
The outfit that could be hiring you only wants to know what you can bring to the table. Every musician has limitations, but your area of focus upon first meeting a group of people should be only what you can offer.
Say: “I can contribute to gang vocals!”
Instead of: “I don’t sing.”
Say: “I love that song!”
Instead of : “That band is overrated.”
Say: “I’m a quick learner!”
Instead of “I don’t have a lot of time to practice.”
Nobody wants to hire a Negative Nancy.
Show that you are a good fit by talking about everything in the affirmative. You want all of your best assets on display to a group of strangers. You’ll make them feel good about you, and it will make you feel good, too.
6. Ask questions
Anything that is important for you to know about the job should be addressed at the audition. You want to know what is expected of you should you get hired, so if important information is not provided, you’ll want to take the initiative and ask questions.
“How often does the band play? Is there a lot of travel involved? What is the rehearsal schedule? Will I get paid and if so, how much?”
Those are just a few examples of things that you’ll probably want to know.
Remember – even though you are the one being auditioned, you are auditioning them as well. Find out everything that you would want to know about the group and the individuals upon your first meeting. This will help you to be prepared going forward, and will also give you a good indication of whether or not they are right for you.
Every person likes to be recognized and appreciated. If someone plays a part very well, or has a great vocal performance, make it known to them that you enjoyed it.
By complimenting others, it shows that you are confident within yourself. If you’re just going into an audition hoping for people to tell you how great you are, that will be evident to the group, and you’ll project a vibe of insecurity.
Even if the band isn’t very good, find something that you genuinely liked, and be sure to verbalize it. This is not a time for BS. You are under heavy scrutiny at an audition. Be honest, but be kind.
If you’ve followed the above tips, you’ll be in good shape for landing the gig. Be sure to express your appreciation before, during, and after the audition.
You’ll want to shake hands with the people again and thank them for their time. Thank them for the opportunity of having you come play. Thank them for considering you for the job.
Gratitude goes a long way in any life situation. It’s glaringly obvious when you meet new people. Be your best self at any and every audition, and you’ll find yourself getting work with consistency.
Full time bass player and owner of Cover Band Central