It’s like a job interview, but so much more. A band member isn’t just doing a job – they are joining your creative family. You want to be sure of their technical ability, and you also want to be sure they will blend with the rest of the band. Success for your group depends on a synergistic blend of personalities. Here are ten questions you can ask a potential band member to ensure they will be exactly what you need to take your band to the next level.
1. Why do you want to join?
Watch the response to this question. Do they have to really think about it? If so, you need to clarify whether or not they have a good reason to commit to your band. You’re not trying to make it difficult for them to join, but this first question is the single most important one for them to answer well because it is a true reflection of how they feel about your band and your music. Don’t prompt them for the answer you want. Simply ask, and let them answer – no matter how long it takes or how much they struggle for the right words.
2. What do you think you can contribute?
The answer to this question will let you know if they are a well-rounded band mate. If their answer is just about their musical abilities, that should be a red flag. What you’re looking for is someone who can tell you about their musical skill, but also be willing to contribute time, energy, money, contacts, and other important resources. Someone who has experience is also a big plus. Look for a person who has their eye on the overall activity involved with making your band succeed.
3. Who are your biggest musical influences?
This question is designed to find out who your potential band member emulates musically and in every other aspect of their lives. If your band is Rolling Stones and your interviewee is Jim Croce, you might want to take that in to consideration. An ideal candidate will talk about the types of musicians that inspire you and the rest of the band.
4. How much time do you have to devote to practice?
This is serious. Practice is the heart of your band and if someone has an inflexible schedule or can’t practice every single week, they aren’t a good prospect. All the talent in the world won’t matter if they aren’t able to make it to rehearsals with the rest of the band. Everyone should agree on the time commitment that is acceptable and insist that any new member be able to commit to it before you agree to bring them on board.
5. Do you have any other skills you can contribute?
Sure they can play the drums – but find out what else they have in their arsenal. Even if it is something that seems totally unrelated, it may turn out to be useful in promoting or managing the band. A degree in accounting? Great! Ask them to help you make a budget! Internet freak? Super! Have them manage the band’s website. Find out what’s in their whole skill set and find ways to utilize that to your advantage.
6. Are you dependable?
The answer of course should be “yes,” but as a follow up to this, ask them to provide you with examples of their dependability. If they can’t come up with a concrete example immediately, you should be worried.
7. Why did you leave your last band?
Just like a job people can voluntarily leave their band – or they can be fired. They can leave for personal reasons or because of conflicts. Find out what the real reason the interviewee left their band, and remember to keep a skeptical mind. There are two sides to every story.
8. Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
You’re not proposing marriage to this person, but you do want to know that they are going to commit to working with you long enough that it will be worth hiring them. Constant changes in a band are unsettling and cause disruption. It takes time to gel with a new member and reach an optimal level of creativity. You don’t want someone who is going to run off in six months after you’ve invested that much time into making them a part of your sound.
9. How do you define “team player?”
Everyone has different perspectives, so make sure you ask them find out exactly what they think it means to be on a team. Ask for examples of how they’ve contributed to a team before. Ask them about their best and worst experience working in a team environment. It might be about their little league baseball team, their science group in high school, or their competitive race car driving experience – but listen carefully at the words they use to describe these situations. Watch their face as they describe both the good and bad scenarios for clues about how well they handled these situations.
10. What do you want from the band?
Every relationship is give-and-take. Find out what this person expects from the band in order for them to be happy and remain creative. An honest and mature person will be able to tell you what they need in order to stay involved. Do they require honest feedback? They may need to feel that their suggestions are taken seriously, or that they have freedom to try new things. Whatever it is, weigh their answer with the rest of the band and make sure it is something you feel you can do in order to keep your commitment to your newest member.
When you sit down with your potential band member, try to make it informal and easy for them to tell you what they really think. If you are having this conversation it means you have already heard them play and like their abilities; a face-to-face interview like this should be a final step in the decision making process and every member of the band should be there. Make sure you tell them a specific date that you’ll let them know your final decision and then stick to it. They’ll appreciate your professionalism regardless of whether or not you hire them.
David Hooper has been serving the independent music community for over a decade and is host of the syndicated radio show, Music Business Radio. Visit www.MusicMarketing.com for more information on David and additional music business advice. For more Top 10 lists, go to www.musicmarketing.com/top_10/.