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Auditioning for a Band

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It is a natural progression when learning an instrument to want to perform with other people. Whether you want to join a local band for fun or to play for the next up and coming music act, you will very likely come across the need to audition. If you have never auditioned before it can be confusing experience, so we have put together a help guide to put you in the right direction.

Learn the Material

You would have thought this goes without saying, but people often under estimate the level of preparation required for an audition. It is not merely a case of playing the right notes in the right order that is going to get you the gig, it’s the attention to detail that will really separate you from the competition. If you are supplied with a track to play, try and get your sound to be as close to the original as possible or within the style of the music. Prior to the audition, ask what equipment you are required to bring, often you will be required to provide your own instrument, but not amplification, although each audition is different. Check that all your equipment is working properly and that you have control of your volume, just because you are louder than everyone else at the audition doesn't mean you are better. Make sure you are able to play the material without any external references, it’s surprising how many performances fall apart as soon as the vocal melody is taken away!

Do you like the Music?

This may seem like a strange question, but it's a really important one, whether you are auditioning to join a band or performing as a session musician for hire, you need to have some appreciation for the music you are playing. Some people just like the idea of being in a band, and in the case of joining a band to make original music, if you don’t enjoy playing the music or listening to that style, you are undoubtably going to come across problems. When starting out with original material it’s not likely that you will be making a lot of money (unless of course you are very lucky!) in which case the love of the music is going to be the only thing driving you forward and if that’s not there then you are wasting your time and your band mates.

Look the Part

Daft Slim Punk


As much as we would like to think that being the best performer at the audition would guarantee you a place in a band, sadly that is not the case, in the modern music industry, your look will also play a factor in being selected. When you look at music acts in magazines or on TV, it’s clear to see some thought has gone into their styling, essentially creating the act as product.

At the end of the day, your band are marketed by your management to appeal to an audience, although you may be in the industry for the love of it, if you wish to keep doing what your love, it needs to turn some sort of profit. In order to function as something people can buy in to, it needs to appeal to the market. Ask yourself, how often would you purchase an item from the shops when the packaging doesn't look right?

We are not saying that you should style yourself in a look that makes you feel uncomfortable, however bare in mind, if you turn up to an audition for a hip new-wave electro band dressed in your finest Megadeth T-shirt and accompanying choke chain, you are unlikely to get a call back.

This also applies to people as individuals, as a musician, you are in charge of yourself as a business, you need to know why someone should pick you over any other musician. Even if you are a talented individual, there are also a lot of other talented individuals who may be going for the same job, you need to find a way to stand out whilst fitting in to any preconceived notions of what the act you are applying for stands for.

Just be Cool (or normal will do)

One factor that is rarely discussed yet the reason some people stay in the music industry for years while others simply pass through is attitude. When you are auditioning to join an act, you need to remember you are also auditioning to join a whole new circle of people. Performing on stage usually lasts no more than two hours a day, so for the rest of the fourteen waking hours of the day you are likely to be surrounded by the same group of people. These people almost become your extended family, so it is important that you are a nice and generally easy person to work with. Nobody wants to be touring with someone inconsiderate of others, and how you present yourself at an audition can really speak for how you conduct yourself as a person. There’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence, so make sure you are on the correct side when you put yourself forward.

Nerves? What nerves?

Matchbox Keyboards


It’s a normal part of any audition process to have some degree of nerves. Although there are some people who say they never experience any nervousness when auditioning, the majority of people do. There is no simple remedy as everyone is different, and in many instances, it is just a case of the more you audition the easier they become. If you have put in the preparation, learning the material, getting your sounds correct, you should have nothing to worry about.

A lecturer of mine passed on these words of wisdom that have helped me in the past “What is the worst possible thing that could happen if you make a mistake? You don’t get the part? So go audition for something else!” Even if you make the biggest mistake, all that will likely happen is you wont get the job, no one is going tell everyone about it or confiscate your instrument for the good of mankind, so dust yourself off and get back out there! 

Waiting is the hardest part!

Arguably even harder than doing the audition itself is waiting to hear if you have got the gig. Often there can be a lot of candidates for a position and getting back to everyone individually can sometimes not be possible, it's now that you need to resist the temptation to pick up the phone and start harassing people for answers. Your best action is to continue your life as normal (keep looking for other auditions too) and if you're the right person for the job you will get that call!

I hope this has been helpful to anyone looking for auditioning advice, feel free to check out our other musician series blogs or sign up to our newsletter to keep updated! Also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with the latest music industry news. 

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