How to Start a Band: A step-by-step guide

A powerful shot of me using a microphone incorrectly.
A powerful shot of me using a microphone incorrectly. | Source

Welcome to the Beginning of Your Journey

Hello and welcome to my step-by-step guide on starting up a band! You're here if you have an interest in being a musician or a rockstar or just someone who wants to get together with some close friends and jam. I have experience in several bands and over the years I've managed to narrow down what is effective and what makes for bad chemistry. I've decided to narrow it down to as few a steps as possible to make your time reading this brief so you can get started as soon as possible! As I'm eager to get started as well, let's get this show on the road!

This was my first band after our first show. We felt like gods of rock.
This was my first band after our first show. We felt like gods of rock. | Source

Step 1: Finding and deciding on members

Firstly, it's important to decide whether you're going to be a solo artist or you are going to play with other people. The difference between the two are valleys to mountains.

Solo artist
If you decide to go solo, it's harder to keep going unless you have a deep passion for music and it's something you are truly interested in. It takes a lot of discipline to pursue this course of action. The benefits, however, are that you can play whatever you like musically and you move at exactly the pace you want. You control the direction of the music, it's ultimately up to you.

A good friend of mine works on solo music all the time, you don't have to be limited to one choice either, he was a part of the first band I was in while still working on his own material. What I learned from his work as a solo artist? He gets things done. Simple as that.

Group band setting
If you decide to join/form a band, you'll find out first hand that you will almost never find someone with the same musical tastes as you and if they come close it's for all kinds of different reasons. Chemistry between members is the most important factor, I'd say. If you are playing music and having fun with your friends, then even music that isn't very "tight," is a great time. Over time you'll grow as musicians and people, and a great sense of fulfillment can be achieved because of a companionship brought about only because of a band. There are more risks with being in a band though, and I can't stress enough that each of the members you decide to work with should be on the same page, if not, at least in the same book.

*Too many groups dissolve and break away because of one or more members. If you want to play music with people, get to know what they expect or want out of the band. It could very well be the difference between success and failure*

Whatever you choose just know that nothing regarding music should ever be set in stone. It's creativity. It should be fun and liberating. Once you become experienced enough and you think you can make a go of it then you have to recognize the importance of turning your "hobby," into a business. That's an entirely different matter that I'll cover some other time. As for now, step two!

My first drummer's finished kit. By the the most impressive I've ever seen.
My first drummer's finished kit. By the the most impressive I've ever seen. | Source

Step 2: Playing an instrument

What do you want to play?
This is painfully obvious but for posterity sake I'm putting it down in words. A band is comprised of several members that are playing music in unison. However it is fundamentally important that you have some experience with music in regards to forming your group or playing on your own. Now, this does not mean that it is 100% necessary that you be able to play an instrument. Let the decision to play music or form a band be the catalyst that drives you forward. The first band I was a part of I had relatively no musical experience, it just comes with time. Patience and practice are very good friends to the musician.

*Getting good with any instrument takes practice*

You've heard it before, a thousand times over and you are perfectly aware of it now. If it's something you want to do, then dedicate yourself to it. Practice. In the end, if it was something you truly wanted to do, it'll be worth it. Nothing else has to be said over becoming a musician.

So pick your poison. Will you be a guitarist? Bassist? The drummer or the singer? This quartet forms the most basic setting for a band. You can have as little or as many members as you want, that depends on you or whomever you're in a band with. There is no set pallet for what makes a band, that all depends on you.

Step 3: Equipment and all the other details

You've found your members, you've picked your instruments, you've all sat down and discussed your interests musically and settled on a genre to play. Most importantly you've all talked about what you hope to get out of the band. What do you do now?

You'll need equipment! What are the basic things you'll need to get started? Well here is a brief list. All of the equipment each member of the band will need, as well as further electronic equipment I've put on the capsule to the right. These are definite things you'll need if you want to get started. Just the painful truth of it.

*Becoming a musician is not cheap, it usually doesn't pay very well and the only gains you can expect are directly accountable to the amount of effort you put into it. This goes for ALL members*

Guitarist

What you'll need as a guitarist is:

  • a guitar (or possibly two, as a singer can also play lead or rhythm guitar. Two guitars add more to the sound, increasing the quality)
  • a case,
  • a cable,
  • an amplifier (this is what makes rock and roll!)
  • some guitar picks and a tuner.

Pedals aren't necessary to begin with but when a guitarist wants to start experimenting with
different sounds you can do your research and pick out what is best for you.

Drummer

The drums and the type you get depends on where you are able to practice. If you have a garage I recommend a fully tuned kit. If you live somewhere that requires you to be quiet then I'd recommend an electric kit. These are comprised of whatever the drummer decides he likes,

  • a bass drum,
  • a bass drum pedal,
  • a throne (what the drummer sits on)
  • a snare drum,
  • a snare drum stand,
  • a hi-hat cymbal and stand,
  • a floor tom,
  • a hanging tom,
  • and a crash, splash and a ride cymbal.

Drummers will find that they have one of the most expensive positions in a band and if they are truly dedicated they'll find a way to pay.

Bassist

The same applies to a bassist as from the guitarist. This is usually a,
bass guitar,
bass case,
amplifier,
strings,
picks and a tuner.

Pedals are purely aesthetic and give a band a wider variety of sounds to potentially use in their music.

*Quick foot note, bassists generally have active electronic parts located inside their bass. This allows for the lower frequency notes to be picked up via vibrations. These take 9 volt batteries. Put that on your list if you're a bassist.

Vocalist

As a singer myself I've only really needed a microphone, a cable and a stand. Everything else is just an accessory that takes up space and unless you really need it, it isn't necessary.

This is all that is basically required for a band to function in this electronic day and age. The links are just basic ideas of moderate/mediocre equipment you can use to start off. It's all relatively inexpensive but be warned, it gets much more expensive when you learn that as a musician, quality is worth every penny.

Me presenting our recording equipment
Me presenting our recording equipment | Source

Step 4: A love of music

If you've read this far you're on the right track. So a love of music. What does that mean? I'm going to explain it like breathing, keep doing it. Listen to all kinds of music, listen to all kinds of artists, ask people what music they like. Discover bands you've never heard of. Overload yourself with all things musical.

Listening to lyrics and rhythm and tempo and harmonies, and so on and so on. It eventually blends together and forms your own style. A sound perfectly unique to your own interests. Music is amazing like that. Once you find what you like, you listen for the things like it and it reflects in the style of music you'll eventually play. If it's angst-y hardcore rock/metal. If it's moody blues or even exciting energetic jazz. Whatever you find, you can use it to hone your sound.

*Moral of the story? Listen to all kinds of music*

If this sounds a little extreme that's because it has to be if you plan to stick with it. Those that are even interested in forming a band, in the back of their mind wish for something to come of it. Whether making it big, or playing at a small time venue with forty people. If it's a hobby, it's a hobby. It doesn't have to be a lifestyle, I believe it's worth it more if it becomes what you revolve your time and life around but that's just me.

Which instrument would you play?

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Summary

So with those brief steps I covered several points, but here I've decided to lay it out plain as day so you don't get anything confused and you can streamline your experience and get twanging on that guitar or banging on those drums.

-If you've got a love of music, share it with friends. Their points of view can sometimes bring about amazing work. This can also help you find musicians.

-Once you've found your people, what do you all want to play? Settle on something you can all enjoy, there is nothing more exhausting and uninspiring than playing something you really can't stand. It can easily ruin any experience and future you all might of had.

-Find a practice space, set up times to practice, talk, talk, talk!! You have to communicate with your bandmates. If there is something you don't like, talk about it. If they're your friends they'll understand and try to work things out. It's also the only way you can coordinate practice times because four different work/school schedules can be a real pain.

-Use old equipment, used equipment, even borrow equipment. People are basically good-sports and once you show an interest in music you'll start meeting people with similar passions and they tend to have goodies you can potentially use just lying around.

That's it! There really isn't much necessary in forming a band, it's the keeping it alive and interesting part that's really difficult and no matter how much explaining or detail I can put out there for you. The best teacher is experience. I wish you the best of luck and if this has helped you in any way I'm glad, leave a comment telling me what you think, link your band to my page. I love local music, from anywhere! I'll give a listen and I'm good for constructive criticism. Thanks and remember, have fun!

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Comments 11 comments

CodeMaster profile image

CodeMaster 4 years ago from Alaska, Anchorage Author

You had improvisation drilled out of you?! Well that's sad indeed, nothing like getting together with friends and trying to communicate with each other with music. It's an intensely gratifying feeling. Take a look at jazz, that's some good stuff!


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Finding a group of people with the same musical tastes, yet who play different instruments, I think is the most difficult challenge! I had improv drilled out of me at a young age when I learnt piano, so am in awe of people who can.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California

What a fun hub! ANYONE looking to start a band should use this as a step by step guide. Great stuff codemaster.

Cheers!


theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Whoo! Excellent! I sang in a choir for a while, but right now all I do musically is play Guitar Hero... while that's not real music, obviously you know which direction to send me in! Thanks!


Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

I've played in a few bands over the years as guitarist and/or bassist (before MS slowed my fingers down), and from my experience, everything you've said here is 100% right on. Good hub!


CodeMaster profile image

CodeMaster 4 years ago from Alaska, Anchorage Author

Thanks guys! Yeah I don't imagine there will be too many starter bands on HP but I can certainly say I wish this hub had been around when I first started off :)


alissaroberts profile image

alissaroberts 4 years ago from Normandy, TN

A very informative guide to those who may want to start a band! Not that I will ever start one but I do love all types of music and enjoy listening to those who are passionate about their work. A great point you highlighted was that bands need chemistry to work. I must agree that without chemistry you have no chance for success. Job well done - voted up and useful!


Sidewinder6661 profile image

Sidewinder6661 4 years ago from Manchester, UK

This is a great hub! Very informative. With so many new bands starting up and people playing instruments but not knowing where to start to actually do something WITH their talent, this could be very valuable to start-up musicians.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I love to sing and have done so in Church choirs for years. I'm past the point of joining a band but your hub is a good guide for anyone with those aspirations!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Great hub! While I don't know if I'd ever form a band, I do love playing the guitar and strumming along with a group of friends. It's such great fun! You really laid out all the details here. Voted up U/A/I.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

I've never played an instrument and don't know how to read music but I love to sing! I don't think that I'll ever be a band member but this is a great guide for those who are interested in getting started.

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