I Wish I Knew This Before Joining a Band...

Joining a band can be a life-changing experience, yet it's also an endeavor in which reason and planning are all but eclipsed by excitement. It's not like you can predict your precise path. Still, the hindsight of other musicians can serve as a helpful tool in making the best possible decisions about joining.

- Be Honest and Know Your Stuff:
As long as you have the right people around you, starting/joining a band comes together easily. But, you need to know your stuff. If you play guitar you should know a lot of chords and have good feel and rhythm. 

Also, never mis-represent yourself. If you can't play lead, then say so. If you never reviewed any material prior to your first rehearsal, say so. If you can't learn 40 songs in around a week to play a gig with a top-40 band, don't take it. And, most of all, if you can't read a basic chart, (or make one if required), then let the other musicians know this stuff.

-Take Everything Seriously:
Far too many musicians don't take their band's seriously. They think they'll get signed in a month, or a year, and SONY or Warner Bros. will send out a private jet to whisk them away to Los Angeles. 

Sorry, but that just aint gonna happen. You'll be lucky to make any money in a year without being in debt for at least $10 or $20,000.00. Many musicians will commonly say, “I wish I had taken it seriously earlier." 

Good bands that get good shows (and make some decent money), are serious. They know a serious attitude will help all of the players in the group to learn about themselves and about their strengths and abilities in this business. 

So, take everything seriously and allow yourself to learn about music, live playing and earning money as a professional musician. Bands that have it together really get someplace with their knowledge even if they never get famous across the globe.

- Making Music is a Group Project:
Getting anywhere in music is impossible to do all on your own. Thinking that it is "Your" journey will do only one thing and that is distract you from success. 

Even solo artists like Clapton, Satriani or Vai realize that they are an integral part of something much bigger with their chosen group. If you can't see the big picture behind the group and the end performance, this often means you will loose out on important opportunities for being around good people. And, good people won't want to be around you!

Understand this, you'll have to begin by setting aside your own aesthetics and vision to serve a unified purpose. That outlook will fit very well into your musical desires for a long time. Because if you don't, as you move forward with your success, you will start to see all of the unrealized ideas and missed opportunities when you allowed good people to slip away. Your own identity as a performer has a big relevance with the people that you work with.So, respect that.

- Stay Organized for All Band Rehearsals:
It's easy to become side-tracked. It's easy to feel too tired to rehearse. It's easy not to bother writing new material or charting new songs for the group. Every day it will seem like you will remember something that you meant to do for the next band rehearsal, but never had the chance because the rehearsal was cancelled. 

When you schedule a rehearsal do your best to make it happen. Don't skip jams to go see a movie, go out to dinner, or to stay home with your girlfriend and watch TV. With each rehearsal, there are new ideas with the songs. And, these ideas need to be realized quickly, or they will lose their relevance on stage at your next show.

If something isn't working with a song, you need to take the time to harness it at the rehearsal. The more you do of this, the more you'll grow as a band. Every shrugged off rehearsal weakens the live show. So remember, practice with the group is an important key to a great live performance on stage.

- Be Yourself /Be Original:
Face facts, the world has already had a "Guns and Roses." We already had an "Aerosmith." The most important thing to avoid at all costs is to try to shape what is coming out of you from some act that already had it's day in the sun. 

Whatever raw, awkward, beautiful thing is going to happen from your group, just let it happen and allow it to be the most pure. Chasing another sound simply never works.

Trying to be someone else's vision of 'cool' or 'relevant' or trying to be the "Next" Guns and Roses, is a sick practice. Resist the urge to bang it out like some other group of days gone by just to get in front of a crowd and re-live your personal obsession. 

Be original and try new sounds and new directions musically. Most of all, never be afraid to fall on your face and embarrass yourself as much as possible.