So maybe you’re not looking to form a band; but you don’t play guitar or the keys very well, and you’d like to get some live performance experience under your belt. You’d like to find someone who plays guitar or piano that would be available for an occasional gig and regular rehearsals. So where do you look?
The Internet and your local newspapers and print media are great resources for finding postings from musicians looking for gigs. But you might be better off if you can find places to hang out where musicians hang out. That would give you a chance to possibly even hear them play or get some feedback from others that may know their work, artistry, their habits, quirks, responsibly quotient and commitment levels, as well as work ethic.
Local clubs, cafes, and coffeehouses are great places to find potential players and accompanists, especially those that are more likely to play the style of music you sing. Another advantage of hitting the clubs is you can establish a presence as a regular. You might even get a chance to stand in and sing with someone at some point. But it also helps you build a sense of community and familiarity. You might get to know a club manager or owner. They could even recommend musicians that might be a good fit for you and for the player.
Songwriter Nights + Open Mics
Another great resource is open mic nights. Many times you’ll find a singer-songwriter that’s looking for someone to demo their songs. They might be great musicians but not very comfortable as singers. So, you could get an accompanist for your gigs, and you might get some demo work as well. And, who knows, you just might find a band you can front for.
Another resource are performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC (all performing rights societies) and local songwriters groups that offer showcases, classes, and events that are frequented by musicians.
Check out local music stores and any books stores that have live music events, as well as schools, colleges, and universities in your area that offer music. Even churches that have a strong music ministry are a good resource for finding musicians to work with.
Jammin’ Jive Sessions
Another possible draw for attracting musicians is to hold a block party or backyard jam session. Invite your friends and ask them to invite every musician they know. This is a great way to do a little music business networking while shoring up some community support as well.
Carefully plan your event with some energetic, talented hosts to keep the evening moving, fresh, and fun. The jam session might actually trigger future jam sessions that will provide more opportunities for networking, performing, and strengthening support.
How Now, Say What?
So now that you know where to look, you need to know what to say in your search for back-up. You want to be prepared to succinctly describe the music you like, your abilities, and your needs so that those you approach have a clear sense of what you do and how they might be able to complement that. You don’t want to limit or typecast yourself into some musical straight-jacket. But you do want to give an idea of the type of singer you are and the styles of music you prefer to perform.
Stay Clear As You Steer
Be very clear about your goals in terms of career. The clearer you are, the less chance you’ll be sidetracked by musicians who aren’t right for you. And be clear on what you can offer as compensation. It may simply be exposure with no pay, which may result in less chances of getting anyone worthwhile to commit.
If you don’t write and they do, it gives them a chance to showcase their material. If you do write but can’t play, if provides a showcase for you. So there’s room for negotiating should something come through with a cut or a publishing deal. You might even forge a strong co-writing partnership.
Remember that your voice deserves the strongest support available. Don’t settle for anything less as you stay after your pursuit of finding a place in the world of music where your unique voice can find a place to call home.