6 Things Nobody Told You About Being in a Band
If you’ve ever wanted to be in a band, you’ll know that there are so many different things to think about. Even then, you’ll find there are buckets of things left that people forgot to tell you that we think are worth mentioning. With WeJam, you get to make your dreams of being in a band a reality. But until your session or you set up your own, it’s not a bad idea to have a think about what being a band member really means. We’ve spoken to some artists and rattled off some key points - so let’s get into the important things that nobody told you about being in a band.
1 Gigs may not happen immediately
Whilst this seems obvious, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and expect gigs straight away, especially if you feel like your band is the best and has potential to make it big. Unfortunately, unless you’re really really lucky, you’re not going to get gigs immediately - and to be honest, you don’t want gigs straight away. You want and need time to work on a good quality set and iron out any minor kinks before anyone hears you live. The first time people hear you is super important for building your reputation and securing you subsequent gigs. If the first gig is a disaster, don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world, but you want to be as prepared as you can so you can take on those performance nerves (which are guaranteed to come your way). You want to set yourself up for success, so preparation here is really important. Don’t rush into a gig at the first opportunity before the band is ready. Patience is key and make sure you keep plugging your band to anyone you meet, and you will get gigs in the end. Just don’t give up hope if people aren’t flocking to give you a show when you’re just starting out.
2 The gigs will likely be no or low paid
Once word of your band has gotten around and people are willing to give you a slot on stage, be prepared for it not to be the most profitable endeavour ever. Sadly, many folks see it as a privilege for you to play for them and will unlikely pay you as handsomely as you would wish or deserve. You should probably expect to do some poorly paid gigs, if not for free. Whilst frustrating it’s important to grasp these opportunities, get your name out and build your reputation. Although be careful to not sell yourselves short. These gigs are useful at the start and will lead on to getting paid gigs if they go well, hence why preparation is so important. It’s all about finding the balance of taking these opportunities for people to hear you play, and not letting people take advantage of you. Crucially, you need to know when to say yes to free/cheap gigs and at what point to start saying no.
3 Talent isn’t enough – don’t neglect publicity
Just as gigs are important to get your name out, so is publicity. Your social media accounts are easily overlooked but act as one of the best ways to get your name out there and boost your reputation. You should never underestimate the value of a good social media account and the value of regular posting. These accounts act as tools to plug events you’ve got lined up, introduce the individual band members and upload clips of some of the songs you’re working on to give people a teaser of your sound. It’s an easy, free way of boosting your publicity, so make sure you have someone in your band to look after your accounts and post regularly to make sure people don’t lose interest. Lewis Capaldi, Lizzo and Cardi B are great examples of artists unafraid of making engaging content for the gram!
4 Be prepared to test your friendships
Playing in a band with your mates is undeniably fun, however, it is always good to be prepared that some of these friendships may change. That doesn’t mean to say you’ll all start hating each other, or the friendship will be worse, it’s just that you may start seeing each other in a different light. This largely depends on how seriously you each take the band. Say one of your friends takes this band really seriously, and for you it’s more a bit of fun on the side. If you were expecting your friend to have a similar view as you, your perspective of them is likely to change. It doesn’t mean you will always view them differently; it just may be there’s a side to them that you didn’t see before. Your friendship may only be different whilst you’re doing band stuff, or maybe your relationships will stay exactly the same, but it’s something that you don’t think of in the beginning buzz of it all. The band may even bring you all closer, who knows, but it is something to be aware of when going into it. You shouldn’t be afraid of the change or panic if you feel your friendship changing, it’s natural, so don’t let it put you off! Your friendship particularly with the ‘leader’ might change. This will depend on what kind of leader they are, how well they listen to the band and how important they make each individual player feel. It can be easy for a frontman/woman to alienate the band if they don’t do either of these things well but give them a chance and hopefully you will all settle into your roles and find the balance that works for you.
5 Gives newfound confidence
There’s no denying it – on the plus side being in a successful band can give you a whole new level of confidence. It makes you feel like you can achieve anything and makes you present yourself in a whole new demeanour. Being in a band is all about presentation and faking confidence, which you can then apply to everyday life. To accompany your new-found success, the feeling of accomplishment it gives will completely boost your sense of self-belief. Obviously, it’s easy to take this confidence too far, but equally, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed of your achievements; you should be proud of your success. You worked hard to get there so let yourself feel that confidence and take it with you wherever you go.
6 You’ll become a better musician
Confidence is just one of the many skills being in a band works on compared to individual practice. This seems fairly obvious. I mean, of course being in a band will work on different skills than individual practice. It works on keeping tempo, blending your sound, listening whilst you play and a whole bunch of other factors which can be found in this WeJam article. But it also works on different skills than casual jamming with your mates. For example: your stage presence, how you interact with the audience, how you present yourself and how well you handle nerves. It highlights new musician skills like improvisation, if you choose, as well as general presentation skills. It pushes you to listen to the others you’re playing with, especially if the mics aren’t working well for everyone and allows you to focus on what you and everyone else is playing. There are many benefits to playing in a band and it can help you become a more rounded musician, like helping you work on when to bring out your solo sound, or when you should be blending your sound with others. It’s so easy for classical musicians and others to look down on a band, but it works on so many different skills that it shouldn’t be undervalued in the way it can be.
I hope this has cleared up some of the unknown aspects of being in a band for you. Reading something like this can make it seem quite daunting starting a band, but it’s so worth it and not as scary as it seems. Once you get started, you’ll be having the time of your lives. And if you don’t want to jump into it straight away, check out WeJam and have a go at a band without all the hard work.
These are the things nobody told you, but now you know them you’re in a better position. There’s no need to panic if it turns out slightly differently, or you discover more things than we’ve covered here. Don’t lose faith in your band if it doesn’t take off straight away - it can take a few attempts to work out the bumps in the road. But if it’s something that you’re really passionate about, it is so worth persevering with. Nothing will happen overnight, and it will take a lot of hard work. But it can be so rewarding and a lot of fun too. Just remember to enjoy it and good luck with your band!
Looking for your first gig?Book your band's debut performance at WeJam!
Even if you’ve never played an instrument or set foot on a stage before, at WeJam we give you a space and the equipment you need to enjoy your own personal jam session with friends. So if you’re new to playing in a band, maybe try a WeJam session before you dive into the deep end at a public jam night. There’s no judgement here and everybody’s welcome.