How to Audition For a Band

An audition is typically a one-time chance to nail the musician job you’re looking for. Not only do you have to have your head in the game, but you also have to make sure that your body is conditioned properly. Most musicians find auditions to be both nerve-wracking and thrilling.

 Auditions can last seconds or involve callbacks for multiple auditions. Each minute of an audition is your opportunity to earn more attention from the auditioners. Battling nerves and finding your groove during a performance are just the basics. Here are five for finding, preparing, and acing the best band auditions.

01
Network With Your Peers

Bass player with drummer in background
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

You can’t ace an audition if you don’t know that it exists in the first place. While many auditions are posted on actual or virtual bulletin boards, some of the best opportunities are the ones you hear about from friends, fellow students, teachers, or industry peers.

 The wider and more active your music network, the better your chances of knowing what is available. And because you never know who might be watching, play your best everywhere, even if you’re stuck with the worst gig you can imagine. Top talent-seekers know what’s good when they hear it, regardless of the performance context.

02
Practice, Practice, Practice

There are no rules about what you’ll be expected to play in an audition. Therefore, do your best to know the style and titles asked of you in an audition. Often, auditioners will tell you exactly what to play. In that case, you have everything you need to prepare well and ace the audition.

Part of being a prepared and flexible musician is knowing that the band or artist might ask you to perform something not on the audition list. You can guarantee that this will happen if the band specializes in improvisation or song creation. If you can “relax and enjoy the music,” you’ll do just fine. Comfort yourself with the fact that all the other auditioning musicians are likely as caught off guard as you are. It’s your opportunity to stand out.

03
Know the Band and Their Audience

It doesn’t matter whether the audition is for a slot with a hip-hop crew or a live dubstep band; it’s all about the audience. The identity that band members seek to cultivate has as much to do with fan appetite as it does with their own musical tastes. 

04
Show Class and Professionalism

An audition is always a performance. As such, you should treat each audition with respect and demonstrate the utmost professionalism at all times. Once you’ve completed your audition, leave the building and continue on with your day. Be professional, leave your information, and disappear until they call you back. If they need you, they’ll tell you.

Auditionees that stick around trying to find out how they did and if they “made it” demonstrate unprofessional, obsessive tendencies that the band likely does not want to invite into the group.

An audition is a first impression, so your clothing matters. Make sure that your outfit is comfortable enough to allow you to play well. But make your wardrobe a part of your audition. Often, the musical style of the band represents a certain subculture. Dressing like someone in that subculture is often very appropriate. Do not, however, sacrifice your authenticity to try to impress auditioners. At the end of the day, you either are or are not a good fit.

05
Ask About Gear and Consider Bringing Your Own

It is perfectly appropriate to ask the band what equipment you should bring. The group may already have amps for you to plug in to, or they may expect you to bring your own. When in doubt, ask. Assuming that the auditioners are providing equipment for you could prove embarrassing for you.

06
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.

07
Ace the Audition

Prep your equipment. Breaking a string or a stick in the audition is a terrible thing. You might be able to salvage the audition if your equipment malfunctions, but it is always much better to check everything prior to the audition.

Enjoy yourself. You’re a musician for a reason. Remain committed at all times to the music that you love. Performance techniques, such as visualizing the music coming from a higher power rather than your own abilities, can help you maintain a healthy perspective on the power of music. You don’t have to perform, you get to.

Audition frequently. The more you audition, the more you will feel comfortable doing it. Confront your fears and see them diminish with practice. Auditioning is one of the best ways to jumpstart your music career.