by Catherine Watts
For a band to become successful, you have to seriously put up people who blends well. You need to be sure that they not only can play well but that they also vibe well with the rest of the band members and that they understand the goals and vision of the group. Bandmate selection should always focus on the big picture, and not just the person’s musical prowess. Asking the right questions will help you to figure out who can be a great asset to your band and who could be a possible liability. Here are 12 questions you can ask a potential band member to ensure that they will be exactly what you need to take your band to the next level.
Who Are Your Biggest Musical Influences?
It’s hard to get to really know someone in the short amount of time that is an interview. Asking who their musical influences are is a good way to get an idea of what they enjoy musically and how well they will fit with the rest of the group. If the person you are interviewing mentions musicians and bands that reflect the playing style of your band, then you are on the right track. A new band member should be able to fit with the band’s sound. If your band sounds like Queen and a potential member sounds like the Beatles, they might not be the most ideal candidate. An ideal candidate will talk about similar types of musicians that influence you and the rest of your group.
Do You Have Any Other Skills You Can Contribute To The Band?
Although creating good music and becoming a successful band is the end goal for all musicians, bands will still need to focus on all aspects of their musical business. Before a band starts becoming more successful, each band member will more than likely have to take on several important jobs like the manager, the publisher, or the promoter. Even if it is something that seems totally unrelated, it may turn out to be useful in promoting or managing the band.
Obviously, you want someone who meets the minimum expectations of being in the band. They need to be able to play sufficiently, have reliable equipment and transportation, and not have addictions that will negatively affect the group. But beyond that, they may have some extra talents that might prove useful. Do they have a degree in accounting? Great! That bandmate can handle all the accounting needs! Are they good at web design? Excellent! Have them manage the band’s website. Find out what’s in their whole skill set by asking questions and find ways to utilize that to your advantage.
What Is It About Our Band That You Find Appealing?
Asking this question is a good way to find out why they want to join. It could be because they don’t feel their band is doing that well. Maybe they have decided they are tired of their day job and want to become successful, and they see your band in the right direction. It could be any number of reasons, but the important aspect is you find out an indication of their real interest. You don’t want someone who says, “I want to become famous and become rich.” You want someone who thinks the band is on the road to success and just wants to help get closer to success.
What Do You Want To Get Out Of Being In This Band?
If you are replacing a member who wasn’t as serious about the band as the rest of the group, then you don’t want to bring in a new member who is the same way. Asking what they want out of the band is a good way to gauge their seriousness. On the other hand, if you’re a hobby band then you don’t want to waste the potential new hire’s time if they want a full-time career.
Have You Been In A Band Before And If So, Why Did You Leave?
This is a more crucial question. It lets you find out if they had issues with the band (or the band had issues with them). It also gets a sense of their experience level. Was the band member fired or did they voluntarily leave due to creative differences? What were the underlying issues that caused the break-up and is there a possibility similar problems can arise with your band? If you are a business-focused band, then you may not want to hire someone who has never been in a band before or someone who has routinely been kicked out of bands. If the musician has never been in a band before ask them how prepared they are to handle a group of bandmates and the conflicts that may occur.
Do You Have Reliable Transportation And Music Equipment?
Part of being a musician is having the necessary equipment. Unless the band is furnishing the equipment for the person coming in, then a new member should have decent and reliable equipment. Nothing is worse than hearing someone trying to play a janky ass instrument. The same goes for their vehicle. Unless you are prepared to pick this person up every time you have a meeting, a rehearsal, or a gig, the new hire will still need a way to meet up with the rest of the group.
How Much Time Do You Have To Devote To Practice?
As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” If a musician does not have a flexible schedule to practice, then they aren’t a good prospect for your band. Practicing is one of the most important activities a band does. Any live sets or performances in the studio will rely on it. All the talent in the world won’t matter if they aren’t able to make it to rehearsals with the rest of the band. Everyone should agree on the time commitment. Make sure that the new member will be willing to commit to it before you agree to bring them on board.
Do You Smoke, Drink, And/Or Do Drugs? Any Health Issues/Concerns We Should Know About?
This is touchier and many people with serious health or drug problems may try to hide their issues. Asking about alcohol, smoking, and drug use will let you know if know they can be up front. If the potential new hire says they don’t drink much but at the first band rehearsal drinks half a case on their own, that’s a very clear red flag. Asking about health issues is good for knowing if they have any special requirements at gigs or issues that might affect their performances.
Do You Have Any Issues In Contributing To The Band’s Financial Needs As Necessary?
When it comes to band expenses, some potential members may not be able or willing to contribute to the band’s financial needs. Knowing where the new hire will stand should a PA speaker blow or the van’s transmission die is helpful. You don’t actually need to reject a musician if they don’t want to contribute to band expenses. Instead, you can adjust their pay arrangements accordingly. It will help the members with financial responsibility to get a little more.
Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?
Commitment is one of the most important factors that lead to success. In order for a band to avoid a massive and sudden disruption, ask important questions. You will want to know that this person is going to commit to working with you long enough. Their answer will show if it will be worth hiring them. Constant changes in a band are unsettling and can cause the entire group to eventually disband. It takes time to gel with a new member and reach an optimal level of creativity. You don’t want someone who is going to run off in six months after you’ve invested that much time into making them a part of your sound.
How Do You Define A “Team Player”?
Everyone has different perspectives. So make sure you find out exactly what they think it means to be on a team. Ask for examples of how they’ve contributed to a team before. Ask them about their best and worst experience working in a team environment. Pay attention carefully to the words they use to describe these situations. Watch their face as they describe both the good and bad scenarios for clues.
What Do You Want From The Band?
Interviewers will (and should) often ask what the interviewee expects from the job should they get it. Find out what they expect the other members to be doing or where they expect the band to go in the long run.
Discover what is important to the musician and how it relates to the band. Do they prefer to only accept local gigs because they have a family, or are they willing to travel all over? What would they need to keep their creativity and maximize their involvement with the band? Do they require more freedom to experiment or will they have a limited role in the decision-making process? Considering their needs instead of just your own will help make sure you pick the right person. Their answer should reflect the opinion of the band. But most importantly what all the band members are willing to give in this collaboration.
Every relationship is give-and-take. Musicianship often requires a great amount of collaboration. This means that when you sit down with a potential band member try to ask questions. Doing this it will show you if this person will be easy to work with. By using these questions as a guide, any band can avoid the potentially costly mistake of hiring their next potential bandmate.