GUEST POST: What To Look For When Hiring A Backup Band Member

Forming a band is itself a daunting task. But after the band has been formed and it starts to have a reputation for itself, going beyond their backyards and reaching a stage where they are routinely performing for live audiences in concerts or restaurants or even weddings, a band needs to have a backup plan for contingencies and emergencies. Musicians wanted as a backup band member is quiet common. When one of the members of the band happens to fall sick or get into an accident or has to keep some commitments that cannot be ignore, and the band happens to have booked shows waiting; the easiest solution in such a situation is to take the help of backup band members.
A backup member in a band is someone, and at times more than person that the band gets into an agreement with by dint of which when someone from the band is unable to put in a performance, the backup member can chip in and take their place. Band might think choosing a backup and employing one is a waste of time, but they should know that all good and established bands have their own backup musicians.

Let’s take a look at how to choose a backup member in case your band doesn’t already have one:
     Type of music and audience
Bands should choose a backup member who has similar interests when it comes to musical genre. It is essential that bands are able to keep producing their signature sounds that let them build their own special connection with the fans. The inclusions of a backup band member should not lead to distortions in the blend of sound that a band seeks to produce. Choosing someone playing similar music as a backup band member is essential. A guitarist who is comfortable playing soft blues music might not be at their competent best when being assigned to work with a band that is into hard rock or punk music.
The kind of audience that you play for also matters. If your band has a unique look, maybe you would want to keep that in mind too.

     Effect on group dynamics
A new backup band member might not be an integral part of the core of the band. But the new musicians still would be a person that the band will have to rehearse with and try to accommodate into the team. The band needs to focus on how the inclusion of the new person can change group dynamics. There have been bands which have broken up due to their backup members, with the backup becoming a bone of contention among the former members.

     A good friend does not necessarily make a good backup band member
Just because your band happens to have a friend who is good to hang out with and flexible doesn’t make them a natural choice for a backup band member. That might work when the band play together to have fun but for professionals, the competition in the music industry is cutthroat. The band needs more than fun and amiability to survive.
One bad show can spiral into a bad reputation. When a band is initially breaking out into the bigger music scene, every single show carries overriding importance. In such a scenario, as a newly formed band, go for competence and talent rather than just wanting to jam with people because you are friendly with them.

     A talented musician doesn’t necessarily make a good addition to a band’s backup line.
Talent is of supreme importance. There is no doubt about that. But when we are talking about what happens in the confines of a band’s practicing room, we do need to talk about cohesion among the members and a spirit of unity and harmony. There are lots of musicians wanted for being great at what they do, but who turned out to be bad band members due to their personal disposition. Bands need someone they can get stuck with inside a room and make music with, without wanting to tear their backup musician to pieces because of their huge ego or lack of team work or just their big unlikeability factor.

     There cannot be any compromise on hard work and discipline
Look for someone who shares similar work ethics. For example, if your band happens to have zero tolerance policy for things like drugs and alcohol, make sure to pick someone who has congruent ideals as your band. If you think that since the backup band member chips in only in times of need, minor differences in work ethics can be overlooked. But that is a grave mistake. Your backup band member would generally be someone you would want to call when your band is in an emergency situation. When that happens, you would much rather have someone reliable and consistent at your disposal than someone who shirks responsibility or might not view situations in the same way that your band does.

Bands cannot treat their backup members without respect and get away with it. While this point might be seen as bordering on being moralizing, the positives of communicating with everyone involved in the band in a level and equal fashion is very important. Even though a backup member might need to play with the band maybe once a month or even once a year, there has to be a certain comfort level to be maintained when the band members communicate with their backups.

It is better to cultivate long and fruitful associations with the talented musicians you might have used as backups rather than having to experiment with a whole bunch of people you have never played with before.
The easiest way to choose a backup band member is to go by word of mouth, taking the advice of other band that might be playing the same genre of music as your band. The musicians wanted by other bands you can relate would, are definitely worth a try. Again, putting up notices in music shops and newspapers would bring in the interested musicians too. You should specify in your advertisement about the kind of music you play very clearly. Last but not the least, having jam sessions with the trying musicians should definitely expose whether you band is likely to benefit by including a particular musician as a band member, or if doing that would just all be a mistake. Look for people who make the experience of making music exciting for your band and not someone who is going to shred your harmony and music to bit either by their incompetence or by their lack of the same vision as your band.

Kristen is a freelance writer who writes on different topics such as music, holiday and lifestyle. She holds bachelor’s degree in electronics. Her famous articles includes article on Musicians Needed. She loves to travel and make new friends