Singing in Bands

Singing in Bands

Bands.  They can be great, fun, emotionally fulfilling, expand your musicality and sense of community.  They can push you musically, educate you on other instruments, and support your dreams in music.  They can also be a headache, have drama and be wrought with fighting and bounced checks.  I’ve been in a number of bands, mostly as a hired singer.  Here are some of my tips for making the most of a band and avoiding conflicts.

Here are my tips before entering into a band:

  1. Ask for a contract.  Any contract specifying what they expect, how much the gig pays, and the details for the event.  At the very least, get it all in writing.  Many bands don’t have formal contracts but you can make sure all of the details are in writing.  Know ahead of time, if it isn’t in writing, this could mean the band leader cancels gig last minute, changes or delays pay, or plays over allotted time without added compensation.  I’ve found that the more professional a band is, the more detailed the contact is.   This is a business.  While some band leaders refuse to have contracts with their players/singers, remember that there is no way they would not with their client.
  2. Ask other singers about the band leader/band.  The singing community is small.  While everyone’s experience is different and you need to take personal opinions with a grain of salt, people generally have reputations if they’ve been around long enough.  Be wary of comments like “he doesn’t pay on time” or “inconsistency regarding how much the gig was supposed to pay.”  What is the temperament of the band leader?  Is it possible to talk to one of the former singers?  If the band leader refuses, it’s possibly they parted with tension.
  3. Be easy to work with.  A band is a community.  If you are a diva and hard to work with, you won’t get hired again and you may get a reputation so that other band leaders won’t hire you.  Every one is equal and important in a band (except the band leader).
  4. Know your music. Be responsible by knowing your lyrics and harmonies so well that you don’t have to think about them. Have your set list printed out.  Have lyrics printed out if you need to. Make sure your ipad is fully charged if you are using it.
  5. Be on time for gigs and rehearsal.  Even if it is a casual rehearsal at someone’s house or they seem really laid back, be on time.  Be on time.  Band leader’s notice if you are two minutes late, even if they don’t comment.
  6. Be helpful.  As the singer, you probably don’t have much gear.  Ask if you can help the drummer or guitar player carry some of his/her stuff.
  7. Be honest.  During practice, if there is something that is not working for you in an arrangement or with a key, politely speak up.  Your band leader wants the gigs to be successful and if you aren’t able to hit the notes or can’t hear yourself, they want that fixed as much as you do.
  8. Have fun. Or at least look like it.  Most people hire bands for parties, events, celebrations.  Unless you are doing an artist gig, you need to look like you are having the time of your life.  Smile, laugh, be jovial.  That is part of what you are hired for.

Good Luck!

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