The Most Efficient Way to Start an Active Band from Scratch in 2017 (A Step By Step Guide)
Howdy MetalSuckers! …Suckeritos? Suiquitas!
If you’re a fan of metal, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve also thought about chasing the dream of playing obnoxious noises to smelly people in assorted grungy bars and establishments.
If you’ve ever entertained those crappy thoughts but never knew how to start a band, then this article is for you!
Keep in mind there are multiple ways to go about doing this. The method I’m about to lay out has been the path that has worked the best for me when starting out with NOBODY.
1. Use GuitarPro or some other type of tab software to write at least three kickass songs with all the instruments, lyrics and vocal patterns.
Yeah, yeah… I hear your angry comments already. Easier said than done, right? Well for the purposes of keeping this article concise, I’m going to just leave it at this: the better you write these songs, the easier the rest of the process is going to be. Let’s just keep it at that and move on with the meat of the article.
2. Find Facebook music groups centered around your geographic area and attend local shows in order to support the scene and befriend musicians.
Type in search terms like “metal” and “shows” while including your city name. Once you find these groups, you’ll see a metric FUCKTON of people spamming these pages with show flyers. Simply attend the shows that best suit your musical tastes and befriend the musicians/fans.
“What if I’m awkward?” “What If I’m ugly?” “What if people think I smell?”
Aside from the third complaint, you really can’t do a whole lot. However, when it comes to networking in the music scene, just remember to do these four things: show support, talk to people, don’t be a dick, and show support.
Even if you look like this you can still build a solid network!
3. Ask your new friends who are in existing bands to be a session musician for your EP.
These people are KILLER to ask because they’ve demonstrated that they’re committed musicians and are proficient. As an added bonus, they may be willing to promote your music to their band’s audience. Offer them compensation of some sort as a courtesy.
Make sure the vocalist you ask has a sound that best suits your artistic vision. Just because a vocalist is an amazing yodeler does NOT mean they’d be the best fit for your slam EP.
Remember your three GuitarPro songs? Simply send these files to your session instrumentalists and they should be able to learn the songs! HELL YEAHHH!
4. Book time with a HIGH QUALITY STUDIO and record a professional sounding EP.
Absolutely NO shortcuts here! I don’t care if you’ve got a friend who’s got some “sick recording gear \m/”. Chances are, they don’t have the chops to record at the level your music deserves!
The best way to find the best local studios is to listen to music by other local bands, identify the most well-recorded EPs and ask the bands where they were recorded.
Your friend’s “sick” recording setup
5. Use the EP as a marketing tool to get band members.
Many people start looking for bandmates before having an EP. However, this is difficult because people won’t know to take you seriously and you might end up recruiting people who clash with you musically.
A well-produced EP shows people that you’re committed and can quickly screen out musicians who aren’t interested in your music, saving you LOTS of time.
Go to local shows and distribute hand-burned copies of your EP, while posting it to Facebook groups and Craigslist, letting people know that you’re looking.
6. Find fill-in musicians for the roles you don’t have.
For example, If you’re only missing a bassist, ask bassists from the scene if they’d be willing to fill-in for a show or two.
Heck, even ask them if they’d be willing to join. A lot of people might feel as if they’re committing an unforgiveable act of musical infidelity by asking, but the truth is that there are a lot of musicians in multiple bands. My guitarist was actually in THREE bands prior to joining my crappy band.
7. Book and play shows with the goal of using them as an opportunity to find more members.
Getting your first show is actually easier than you think. Just let venue owners know since it’s going to be your first show, it’s very likely that you’ll be able to bring a lot of friends and family who will be able to celebrate with you.
During your performance, announce that you are looking for people to join your band.
“Hey, Reading Festival! If anyone wants to join my band, hit me up on FB!”
8. Rinse and repeat steps 5 through 8 until you have a full lineup.
Your band is fully assembled! Congrats!
There you go! A roadmap to making a band from scratch! There are obviously a lot of nuances to each step and there is a LOT of work involved but just know that the more that you put into it, the more you’ll ultimately gain.
This approach will work best if you have a clear idea of what you want musically, are decent at networking, and are extremely self motivated. If you are a musician who would much rather write with others, you might want to consider joining an existing band instead as it will be very hard to start a band from scratch.
Now I’m gonna throw it back to you, the community: what are some other tips for starting a band that I may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!
If you want to see more of me, I run a YouTube channel called Riffshop for metal musicians! We post funny metal music videos, music instructional videos, and relatable musician/skits!