12 Questions To Ask Before Hiring That New Band Member

Band Members
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Hiring a new band member is, or at least should be, like conducting a job interview. After all, if you are serious about your band becoming successful, you need to have the right combination of people in it. You need to confirm they can play sufficiently for your needs, that they mix well with the rest of the group, and that they understand the direction and vision of the group. Here are some questions that you can ask your “potential new hire” to guarantee their synergy with the band.

What Is It About Our Band That You Find Appealing?

Asking this question is a good way to find out why they want to join. It could be because they don’t feel their band is doing that well. Maybe they have decided they are tired of their day job and want to become successful, and they see your band as the right direction. It could be any number of reasons, but the important aspect is you find out an indication of their real interest. You don’t want someone who says, “I’m bored and just want to be in a band.” You want someone who thinks the band is on the road to success and just wants to help get closer to success.

What Do You Want To Get Out Of Being In This Band?

If you are replacing a member who wasn’t as serious about the band as the rest of the group, then you don’t want to bring in a new member who is the same way. Asking what they want out of the band is a good way to gauge their seriousness.

Is Music A Full-time Goal Or Just A Hobby For You?

You may or may not be able to answer this question based on their responses to the previous questions. Asking this question is a great way to get an A or B type answer. If you’re a hobby band then you don’t want to waste the potential new hire’s time if they want a full-time career. The same goes if it is the other way around.

Why Did You Leave Your Last Band?

This is a more crucial question because it let’s you not only find out if they had issues with the band (or the band had issues with them), but you also get a sense of their experience level. If you are a business-focused band, then you may not want to hire someone who has never been in a band before or someone who has routinely been kicked out of bands.

Do You Have Reliable Transportation and Music Equipment?

Part of being a musician is of course having the necessary equipment. Unless the band, or single band member, is furnishing the equipment for the person coming in, then they should have decent and reliable equipment. The same goes for their vehicle. Even if you have a van or SUV everyone rides in to gigs, the new hire will still need a way to meet the rest of the group unless you intend to pick them up every time. What about band rehearsals? Do you want to have to go pick them up and take them home for every rehearsal session? Having sufficient and reliable transportation is a necessity.

Will You Be Available For Rehearsals?

Unless you are bringing in someone well known for his or her musical abilities, you will need rehearsal time. Even if they are extremely capable, having rehearsals will only help the group become tighter and make the performances even better. If they have a full-time job that prevents them from being able to attend rehearsals, then they may not work out. After all, would you rather rehearse three times a week for a month and be ready to gig or take six months at maybe one rehearsal a week to get ready?

How Much Personal Time Will You Dedicate To Learning The Band’s Material?

Rehearsing as a group is great for making sure everyone is syncing up together. Unfortunately, too many musicians like to treat band rehearsal time as their “personal” rehearsal time. This is something I have seen directly too many times. If the potential new hire is not willing to commit time on their own to learning the material, then the band will have many wasted rehearsals while waiting on the new member to learn the material. Band rehearsal time is for the band to get tighter as a group, not for individuals to work on learning the songs.

What Artists/Groups Do You Consider To Be Influences?

It’s hard to get to really know someone in a short time frame. Asking what their musical influences are is a good way to get an idea of what they enjoy musically and how well they will fit with the rest of the group. If the band members like heavier bands like Lamb Of God or Meshuggah and the potential new hire likes Kenny G, then it probably won’t work out in the long haul.

Do You Drink, Smoke, And/Or Do Drugs? Any Health Issues/Concerns We Should Know About?

Obviously this is a touchier subject since people with serious problems may wish to hide it. If you ask about alcohol, smoking, and drug use and they are open about it, then at least you know they can be up front. If the new hire says they don’t drink much but at the first band rehearsal drinks half a case on their own, then you know they were dishonest about it. Asking about health issues and concerns is good for knowing if they have special requirements at gigs as well as do they have any issues that might affect their performances.

Beyond The Minimal Requirements, What Else Do You Feel You Can Contribute To The Band?

Obviously you want someone who meets the minimum expectations of being in the band. They need to be able to play sufficiently, have reliable equipment and transportation, not have addictions that will negatively affect the group, etc…. But beyond that, they may have some extra talents that might prove useful. Maybe they are good at graphics or web design. Perhaps they have a relative who runs a shirt printing shop. Ask this question and find out if they have something more they can bring to the table.

Do You Have Any Issues In Contributing To The Band’s Financial Needs As Necessary?

With the economy the way it is, money is a sensitive subject. When it comes to band expenses, some musicians’ wallets become tighter than a dolphin’s butt (Airheads reference). Knowing where the new hire will stand should a PA speaker blow or the van’s transmission die is helpful. Don’t reject someone though if they don’t want to contribute to band expenses. Instead adjust their pay arrangements accordingly so that the members who are accepting financial responsibility get a little more.

What Expectations Do You Have For The Rest Of The Band?

Obviously you are interviewing a potential new member the same way a company interviews a potential new employee. A lot of companies like asking what the interviewee expects from the job should they get it. So why not ask the same of the person you are interviewing for the band. Find out what they expect the other members to be doing or where they expect the band to go in the long run. Considering their needs instead of just your own will help make sure you pick the right person.

James Higgins (295 Posts)

Professional guitarist and instructor based in Alabama; performance, songwriting, and recording. Atlanta Institute of Music graduate. Part-time blogger.

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