How Do I Get Started With Meeting Other Musicians?
You've decided to take the plunge into trying to work with other musicians. First, I'd like to start by saying that you're heading down one of the most frustrating and rewarding paths as a musician. Working with other musicians is just like any other relationship. You'll butt heads and disagree on things from time-to-time, but some of the best and most profound art you'll ever create will come from stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new ideas. Let's get started!
EPK (ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT)
If you're joining an established project or putting something together from scratch, you'll need to present a clear representation of where you stand. You can do this in one-shot through an EPK. It's something that you'll need if you'd like to be booked in the future, and it's a lot better than attaching MP3s to your emails. Some people will attach SoundCloud, Reverbnation links, or YouTube clips which works well as a snapshot of where you are. The good thing is that all of this is free. Upload a picture and a video and/or song and you've got a link you send off to potential prospects!
What if I don't have anything at all?
Well, you better get started on that! Some musicians, like myself, help people get started on basic demos to share their ideas. A fast way is to work on a cover song. It doesn't need to be perfect or sonically flawless, it just needs to be accurate of where you are as a musician. Most phones come with a video or audio recording app, which you can then upload to a website.
What if I don't have a way of accompanying myself?
If you're interested in trying to learn how to musically accompany yourself, coming up with a simple idea doesn't require a whole lot of skill. Look for my blog on Songwriting 101 for some fast tips. Investing in piano or guitar lessons is a good way to progress quickly. With that being said, you can always meet up with a musician who, like you, wants to practice their skills. In a pinch, Youtube has karaoke versions of most popular songs you can record yourself singing along to.
Where can you meet these guys?
ONLINE: MUSIC FORUMS, MUSICIAN GROUPS, CRAIGSLIST
There are numerous free musician forums out there such as Meetup.com or Bandmix.com. Facebook often has music groups that you can subscribe to if you run a search, but just remember you can also Tweet, Post, or Gram something saying "whom of my friends would be intersted in (insert goal here)?" You can post your influences and add any music links that you might have on these platforms. You can also keep reoccurring ads out there for meeting musicians on Craigslist Musician Classifieds. If you are a student of WVS, I have a list of people looking for singers in the WVS Forum. Just enter your password from your instructor.
TIP: Be honest and succinct about your level of skill and what you'd like to do. "I'm a singer starting-out. I sing karaoke but I would like to work on some covers with a guitarist and just see where it goes. My influences are: 1) Insert 2) Influences 3) Right 4 ) Here. Here's a video link of me singing to a karaoke YouTube." Here's another one, "I'm a vocalist taking lessons. I'd like to meet some musicians who would be interested in writing original music in the vein of 1) Cool band 2) Awesome Band 3) Rad Band 4) Sweet Band."
1) OPEN MICS / KARAOKE
You won't believe it, but these people have exactly the same goals as you (gasp!) Why not work on honing your skills together? "Hey, I like your style. Would you be interested in jamming sometime?" For WVS Students, if you're in the Pacific Northwest, here's a list of every Open Mic I'm aware of.
2) PUT UP A FLYER IN REHEARSAL SPACES
This is still super effective. Put a flyer up in a coffee shop, music store, or a rehearsal space. These are hubs for musicians!
3) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH MUSICIANS. GO TO LOCAL SHOWS
It's very common for musicians to play music in multiple groups at the same time. Plus, it aids in your networking. Start selecting "going" when someone invites you to a show. If you don't get an invite personally, go anyway! Trust me, your presence is appreciated there. People don't like playing to empty rooms. There are normally 3 or more bands playing, why not meet them? Each of them have 3 or more members. That's a minimum of 9 people who can play instruments on a stage! I'm sure if you guys click as people, they'd be happy to come jam with you as well. Follow groups you like and come to meet their fans and friends. Often, musicians hang out with...wait for it...other musicians! #MusiciansGalore
4) TAKE MUSIC LESSONS
Becoming a better musician draws other musicians towards you. Knowing the correct terminology, technique, music theory, and being a pliable musician is so much more desirable than someone who is a stick-in-the-mud. Wouldn't you want to be around musicians who are open to try out ideas? Plus, your music teacher might actually know people looking to jam! For example, there are a few WVS students listed on the homepage intersted in jamming.
UH-OH. Somebody said they'd be down to meet. What do I do?
Panic. Just panic! Seriously though, don't panic. It'll be fun and a great learning experience. Read my article on "I Got An Audition, Now What?" In the meantime, stay hopeful and positive. You'll find who you want to work with if you keep at it. Go get 'em, tiger!