7 Tips for Acing Your Band Audition

Whether you're trying to land a spot in a popular local wedding band or an internationally touring pop act, during an audition your challenge as a musician is the same: How do you impress your audience so thoroughly that they have no choice but to choose you?

Even though music auditions can last just a matter of minutes (or even seconds, in some cases), the road to representing yourself in the best possible light begins long before you ever learned that Band X was looking for a guitarist, drummer, or singer. 

Build Your Music Network

Bass player with drummer in background
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You can’t ace an audition if you don’t know that it exists in the first place. While many auditions can be found posted on bulletin boards or online on sites like Craigslist, some of the best opportunities are the ones you hear about from a friend, a student, teacher, or that guitarist you jammed with at a bar gig a few weeks back.

The wider and more active your music network, the better your chances of hearing about that killer act that’s looking for someone just like you.

Also, when you're building your network, always remember to play your best everywhere, even if you’re stuck on the worst gig you can remember—you just never know who will be watching and listening, and what opportunities that person may float your way.

Learn the Music

There are no rules about what you’ll be expected to play in an audition, so make sure to find out ahead of time, in as much detail as you can, so you can prepare accordingly. Being well prepared will also help keep your nerves in check as you take the stage.

Be Flexible

Once you enter the audition room, you never really know what’s going to happen, so remember to stay cool, collected, and remain low-maintenance at all times.

“Sometimes when you’re auditioning for a touring band, the artist will be in the room, and sometimes he or she won’t,” says a well-known touring bassist Ken Brantley. You have to play and act your best regardless of who’s there and what they want you to do.

Part of being flexible is knowing that the band or artist might throw something unexpected at you musically—especially if you’re auditioning for a group where improvisation or sight-reading is an important component of their music.

Even if such a challenge comes along and pushes your comfort boundaries, just do your best to jam with that new groove or play down that never-before-seen chord chart with as much musicality and confidence as you’re able to muster.

Know Your Audience

It doesn’t matter whether the audition is for a slot with a hip-hop crew or live dubstep band, take some time to thoroughly research the music before you step foot in the audition room.

Be Professional—Always

In many key ways, an audition is a job interview with different clothing—and a miniature performance as well—so treat it with the professionalism it deserves. Also, after you audition, even if it’s a room of your peers and musicians that you know, don’t hang out to see what happens or to catch up. Be professional, leave your information, and disappear until they call you back. If they need you, they’ll tell you.

Ask About Gear and Consider Bringing Your Own

A big part of your sound in the audition room will depend on the instrument(s) you’re playing, so do your best to be prepared.

Dress the Part

Your instrument isn’t the only thing that should look good when you audition. For better or worse, your overall vibe and appearance can make as much of a difference as to how well you play. Consider the type of gig you're trying to land and try to dress in line with what will be expected of you on show nights.