Everyone knows that getting your music heard is extremely hard, but before you can even make music to be pushed out to aspiring fans, you need a team of band members working towards the same goal.
Whether you’re looking to replace a band member or you’re forming a new band, finding band members with great work ethic, awesome musicianship, and similar goals to your own is hard work.
Maybe your vocalist doesn’t sing like he said he could, or the guitarist never shows up for practice.
Either way, it’s important to do everything you can to surround yourself with awesome people who share your vision for the band so you can move forward in your musical careers together.
This article is written to help you gather as many leads as possible, then narrow them down based on different personality traits, skills, and music interests to find the perfect fit for your band.
To accomplish this, we’re going to discuss the 5 strategies I used to find band members in my area for my own band, with step-by-step instructions on how to execute each one.
After that, we’ll discuss what you should look for in a band member, and the best ways to find out if your potential band members are likely to possess these traits.
1. Become a walking billboard
It’s quite possible that many of the people you come across in your daily life – at the gym on your way to work, for example – are musicians who are looking to join a band.
Even with this in mind, it’d be inefficient (and a bit weird) to go up asking every single person you see if they play bass or drums and want to join your band.
The odds of that random person being good at drums or bass, or even playing them, are extremely low.
The random-approach-method is just doomed to fail on all levels.
A better way to approach this is to get your message in front of every single person you see as quickly and efficiently as possible, and the best way to do that is to make yourself into a walking advertisement for your cause.
You can easily do that with one of these:
This shirt allows you to to make every person you walk by or interact with a potential lead for your band without the need to talk to every single one of them.
You can go to the gym, ride the bus to work, hit up the music store, or go to a concert, and everyone will be much more likely to know you’re looking for band members.
And if these people are looking to join a band, they’ll come to you.
Not only that, but if they even know someone who’s looking to join a band, they may refer you to that person.
This strategy also means you don’t have to be annoyingly pushy with people.
I went to a small show with this shirt when I was searching for a vocalist for my band, and when I went to talk to the bands after the show, they all brought up the shirt and suggested people I should reach out to.
So instead of me asking them “Hey man, do you know anyone who might be interested in joining my band?” they bring it up themselves.
If you’re interested in this, you can grab a shirt here. They’re available for all kinds of band member position.
2. Find band members on Craigslist
Too many bands post to craigslist with little to no results. Based on my experience using Craigslist to look for band members, here are some mistakes to avoid to help you get the best results.
Making your post too long and wordy
If the post looks like one giant paragraph and includes too much screening information upfront, you’ll scare away potential leads.
Keep your post spaced in a way that doesn’t make it look crowded, and only write what’s necessary for getting people to email, text or call you.
Include only the essentials:
- The type of member you’re looking for – Guitarist, drummer, etc. Put this in the headline.
- The level of dedication required – Are you a cover band? Are you looking to take this seriously and go on tour? Make this known.
- Your influences – Genre is way too subjective and is best left for your headline. Within you’re post, a list of influences is a much more accurate description of what kind of music you’re looking to create and will draw the right types of musicians.
- Your location – Not including a location, or at least what area you’re in, will result in having to weed through a lot of options that are too far away.
Not optimizing your post for Google search
One of the most commonly searched terms on Google used by people looking to join a band is the “wanted” style search.
This is evident by the fact that if you search “guitarist wanted” in Google, a bunch of posts on craigslist show up from bands looking for guitarists. Same with drummers, bass players, and other instruments.
Musicians looking to join a band often include their city and genre of interest as well.
So when creating your headline, write it as follows for the best results:
“-instrument type- Wanted for -city- -genre- band”
This will give you the best chance at showing up in Google search results for keywords that musicians who are seeking a band are using to find them.
Not posting frequently enough
It’s important that you stay near the top of the first page on Craigslist to maximize your results.
Depending on the size of the music scene in your city, you may need to post to Craigslist daily, every other day, or weekly. Do what it takes to stay high up on the first page, but change the post a bit each time so that you aren’t spamming.
To summarize these points, here’s an example of a craigslist post I used to find leads for my band.
3. Find band members on Facebook – Target local musicians with Facebook ads
Facebook ads were one of the most successful strategies I used to gather leads.
If you have a budget of as little as $5 per day, you can easily reach musicians looking to join a band.
To set up a Facebook ad, you need to have a Facebook page. If you don’t have a Facebook page, you can look at how to create one here.
This page doesn’t have to be related to your band in any way. I named my Facebook page “Rock” and created the ad with that when I did this.
Creating your Facebook ad
After creating your Facebook page, here’s how to set up a Facebook ad that attracts potential band members.
Step 1 – Access the ad manager
To access the ad manager, click the arrow at the top right of the screen and select “Create Ads.”
Step 2 – Choose your objective
The purpose of this ad is going to be to earn comments and likes, then reach out to those people who have commented on and liked the post.
Because of this, we want to select “Reach” for our objective.
Step 3 – Targeting
You want to choose your age, gender, and location preferences based on the needs of your band.
Next, you want to make sure you’re targeting people who are likely to actually play the instrument of the spot you’re looking to fill in your band.
To target people by the instrument they play, click browse –> interests –> hobbies and activities –> arts and music.
Then, choose your desired instrument.
Finally, you want to make sure the people who see your ad are interested in the type of music you’re looking to play.
To achieve this, type band that represent your influences into the search box that says “Add demographics, interests, or behaviors” and add these bands to your targeting list.
Finally, click “Next” to start editing the image and text of your ad.
Step 4 – Budget
Facebook lets you schedule your ad for a set timeframe or let it run indefinitely at a specified budget.
For this part, do whatever you can afford and are willing to invest in your ads.
I chose to let the ad run indefinitely at $5 a day, and once I collected a good number of leads, I turned it off.
I recommend spending at least $5 a day to maximize your results.
Step 4 – Choosing an image
Facebook has some terms that go along with creating an ad, like the limits they place on text used in the image for the ad.
To avoid any setbacks, I’ll show you how to create an ad that gets approved quickly and provides the best results.
First, you want to choose the format that’s best fit for the ad. You can use which ever format you like, but I recommend the single image for this.
Next, you want to choose your image. You want something that represents the type of musician you’re looking for. So, if you’re looking for a singer, you want an image of someone singing; for a drummer, someone playing drums.
Luckily, Facebook has a huge selection of stock images that we can use for this.
To use them, select “Free Stock Images.”
In the popup, search for an image that goes along with the type of band member you’re looking for, and select the image you think looks best.
Step 5 – Writing the text for your ad
Finally, you want to edit the text and headline of your ad. This text should mention the type of band member you’re looking for, the location, some of your influences, and a call to action that encourages viewers of the ad to like or comment if they’re interested.
For reference, here’s the exact ad I created in my bands search for a vocalist.
Once you finish putting together your ad, click confirm at the bottom of the screen to publish your ad.
Collecting leads from your ad
Once your ad is running, keep an eye on your notifications for the Facebook page you created.
You’ll notice that people are liking and commenting on your ad.
These are your leads.
Click through to their profile and send them a message from your personal account mentioning the ad you made, and ask if you can send them a demo to see if they’re interested in the style of music you’re looking to make.
This is the method I used to get leads using Facebook ads. On average, it has cost me about $2.50 per lead, which I’d say is a pretty good price relative to the time I’ve spent trying to find band members without Facebook ads.
4. Find band members in Facebook Groups
When using Facebook groups to find band members, we’re going to look at 2 strategies.
- Posting to the group.
- Messaging members of the group.
But first, we need to find the groups.
Finding the right Facebook groups
The best Facebook groups for you to look at are going to be ones related to your city, genre, or both.
So to find Facebook groups that are worth your time, try using the following types of searches on Facebook:
- city musicians
- city songwriters
- city genre musicians
There are others, but these ones can help start the process.
Posting in Facebook groups
When posting in Facebook groups, many bands usually don’t write them in a way that attracts attention.
They try posting something like this:
Hey guys, I’m in a local rock band that’s looking for a new singer. Let me know if you’re interested.
There’s not too much wrong with that post. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.
The only problem is that it doesn’t engage people.
A simple way to make your post more attractive and to get more responses is to phrase your post in the form of a question.
On Facebook, and other social media platforms, questions are much more engaging than statements.
So instead of the example above, try something like this:
Any guitarists in this group?
When people respond, you can then go through the process to see if they’re a good fit for your band (which is discussed later on in this post).
This simple technique can make your time spent in Facebook groups much more effective.
Messaging members of the group
Rather than relying on posting in the groups, targeted messaging of group members seems to be an effective way of reaching a large number of people.
This can even work for huge Facebook groups that aren’t based in your city.
For any music based group on Facebook, go to the members section.
Next, scroll down to the section where it shows members of the group that live in your city and click “See More.”
You should now be seeing a huge list of every member in the group that lives in your city.
From here, you can send messages to these people.
The best approach is to look for people who have pictures of them performing on the instrument you’re looking to fill in your band, and then ask them for help. Ask if they know anyone who might be interested in joining a band. They’ll usually ask for a demo here, and if they’re interested themselves, they’ll let you know.
Here’s a message you can use to reach out to Facebook group members:
“Hey [name], I saw that you were a member of [Facebook group name].
My band is looking for a [member type], and I thought you might be able to help.
Do you know anyone who might be interested?”
This is the message I used when applying this method.
Be careful about how many messages you send each day, as Facebook has a very sensitive spam filter. I’ve found that about 10 a day is a good amount to avoid being flagged for spam.
5. Reach out to local music teachers, schools, and recording studios
Another great source of leads for me was referrals from schools, recording studios, and local music teachers.
The people working in these areas want what’s best for their students. If their students are successful, it puts them on the map.
If there are any universities, guitar teachers, or recording studios in the area, look them up, find the right person to contact on the website, and reach out with an email.
Do your best to get a name and email address of someone to contact. Including a name in your email dramatically increases the chances of you getting a response.
Here’s an email template you can use:
My name is [Your Name] and I’m the lead guitarist for a rock/metal band based in [Your City called [Band Name].
My band is looking for a [Position].
Do you know if any of your students would be interested in this?
I can send you some samples of our music if you need them.
If you could help me out in any way, that’d be awesome.
I didn’t get many leads using this strategy, but the ones I did get were really high quality.
Now that we’ve talked about how to find band members, let’s go over what you should look for in a band member.
In my experience, you want to look and test for 3 key things before bringing someone into your band.
1. Music taste
Your tastes have to align on some level. This doesn’t mean that you have to like all of the same bands or agree on every song idea, but you should both be able to create to each other’s tastes.
Test for music taste compatibility
To see if your potential band member has music taste that could provide a positive influence to your songwriting, just ask them to list their top 5 favorite bands.
If you’ve heard of and like some of these bands as well, great! If not, check them out to see if you’re into them. If not, ask the potential band member what level of influence he’d like to pull from these artists.
Communication is key.
After he lists his top 5 bands, tell him yours and see how he responds. If his response is one of excitement, he may be into creating similar music to you.
Finally, have a discussion with him about what he wants to create and see if you can find some common ground here. There may be some compromise involved, but if it’s the right person, it will be well worth it.
2. Instrumental ability
You want to make sure your potential band member is actually able to play their instrument. If he isn’t as good as he says, this can cause problems later.
Test for instrumental ability
The best test for instrumental ability, especially for singers, is to have them send over a recording of their performance. It’s not worth scheduling a rehearsal or jam session with someone who ends up being a waste of your time because they’re unable to play or perform.
3. Vision and dedication
This is too often overlooked, and can cause many bands to break up.
It’s important that your band is all aligned on the vision and is dedicated to achieving it.
Test for vision and dedication
These tests are separate
To test for vision – Simply ask where the potential band member wants to go. Do they want to play stadiums? Are they happy with playing locally? What will they do if the band doesn’t work out?
In your test for vision, it’s also important to find out how much this potential band member is willing to invest in getting the band to where it needs to be. This level of commitment depends on what you’re looking for, and is the hardest thing to gauge, in my experience.
If you’re looking to play stadiums, and when presenting this to your potential band member you get a response of “Yeah man, that’d be cool if we can make that happen,” then be careful. You also need to look for musicians who have a high level of faith in their ability to make it.
To test for dedication – Ask the potential band member to send over recordings. This is a great test of dedication and reliability. If you find yourself having to follow up too many times, then drop the opportunity and move on. If the person isn’t willing to move fast to get things going, they aren’t worth your time and can slow down the progress of your band.
Before you start your search, prove yourself – make a recording
Before you go looking for band members, it’s ideal to have some kind of recording.
The best option here for instrumentalists is to create a studio quality recording of an original song that gives your potential band members an idea of what you’re looking to create, and shows them what you’re capable of.
If you’re a vocalist, it’s best to record a studio quality cover showing off your abilities (without the use of auto-tune).
Higher quality recordings gain much more interest than low quality phone recordings do, making it easier to convince potential band mates to join you for a jam or practice session.
However, we don’t all have access to studio equipment, or the budget to get this done right away.
So more realistically, make a video or audio recording of yourself playing your instrument.
Even if it’s a performance on a $500 acoustic guitar, the purpose of this is to have something you can send people that display 2 things:
- Your abilities as a musician.
- Who your influences are.
If you can show people that you’re capable of playing your instrument and give them a taste of the kind of music you’re into, you’re more likely to find potential band members that have similar musical interests.
If you send them recordings, you can expect the same in return.
Now that this is out of the way, let’s dive into the strategies for finding band members.
Consider a probational period
If you’re unsure about a potential band member, try doing a 30 day probational period.
Invite them to join the band, and set some 30-day objectives to complete with them.
The with is important here – you aren’t giving them chores. You need to see what it’s like to work together.
The objective be to write and complete a song, play a gig, whatever. It just needs to be something that you both agree you are able to accomplish within the 30 day timeframe.
If after 30 days things don’t work out, move on.
When looking for the perfect band member, it’s important to take your time. You should be extremely selective about who you work with if you want to achieve success.
Hopefully this guide provided you with some actionable ideas. Good luck in your search!
If you have any ideas about how to find awesome band members, please share them in the comments!