How To Start A Band As A Teenager [FULL GUIDE]

bassist and guitarist performing on stage

If you’re a teenager looking to delve into the world of bands and music-making, you’ve come to the right place. With few other financial or personal responsibilities, your teenage years are the perfect time to start playing in a band. 

 

Keep reading for full guidance on:

  • Preplanning the band
  • Recruiting members
  • Arranging the logistics

PHASE 1: PREPLANNING THE BAND

Before you start searching for members, it’s well-worth planning exactly what sort of band you’d like to form. Here are the key things to do at this stage: 

 

Decide What To Play

Deciding what sort of music to play will make it much easier to plan the lineup and recruit the right members. When deciding what to play, there are two main factors to take into consideration: 

  • The genre: Having a distinct genre will not only strengthen your band’s sonic identity, but also allow you to hone in on your target audience. Furthermore, it’ll make it much easier to find members who are into the same sort of music as you. Decide on a specific genre to play as well as a few bands you’d like to be influenced by. 
  • The type of material: Are you looking to play covers, original material or a mixture of both? If you’re hoping to play original material, it’s worth thinking about how the songwriting process might work.

Choose A Lineup

Planning the lineup beforehand will make it far easier to find the right members. Here are a few things to consider when formulating a lineup:

  • Your own position: Once you’ve decided what role you’d like to fulfill, it’ll be much easier to figure out who else you need
  • Your genre: Once you’ve decided on a genre of music to play, consider what types of members and instruments you’ll need to play it. 
  • Backing vocals: Backing vocals can add a whole new dimension to a song. If the music you want to make emphasizes backing vocals, you’ll want to recruit members who can sing. 
  • Vocalist genders: Whilst I certainly don’t believe gender should be a barrier to joining or forming a band, you might consider if you’d like to recruit a female or a male vocalist. Additionally, a mix of female and male voices can often work nicely. 

 

Plan The Aims Of The Band

Before you start the recruiting process, it’s important to decide what you’d like to get out of the band. This will influence two main things:

  • Commitment level: If you’re simply looking to play for fun every now and then, a lower level of commitment will be required. However, if you’re harboring dreams of touring and recording full-time, a higher level of commitment will be required. 
  • Short and long-term goals: Indie Panda advocates setting both short and long-term goals for your band. These allow you to make consistent progress and gain a regular sense of achievement. Having a clear idea of your aims will enable you to effectively set both short and long-term goals. 

 

PHASE 2: RECRUITING MEMBERS

Once you’ve completed preplanning, it’s time to start looking for like-minded individuals who are interested in joining your band: 

Find Potential Bandmates

Here are the best places to look for potential bandmates:

  • School: Many schools will have some form of music or band society. Societies often place huge emphasis on collaboration and serve as a fantastic way of meeting like-minded individuals. In addition, you might consider taking music elective classes in order to meet potential bandmates. 
  • Your local scene: Becoming an active member of your local music scene is another great way to meet like-minded musicians. Start going to shows in your local area and join relevant social media groups to stay connected. 
  • Online: There are numerous online resources for joining or forming a band. My personal favorite is Bandmix, which is a classified ads site specifically for recruiting musicians. Craigslist is also a good resource, as are local Facebook groups.

 

Here’s what to do once a potential band member expresses interest:

  • Ask about their musical background: Ask them how long they’ve been playing, what sort of music they like and what they want to get out of playing in a band. When doing this, it’s important to take a casual approach and express genuine interest in the other person. This will allow them to warm up to you, whilst also allowing you to gauge if they’d be a good fit. 
  • Communicate your enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is key to a band’s success. Openly communicating your enthusiasm to play music will show the other person you’re serious. 
  • Gauge their level of enthusiasm: If your enthusiasm level is reciprocated, it’s a good indicator that the member is worth auditioning. 
  • Arrange a time to meet: If everything lines up, you should arrange a time to meet up. Swap contact details so you can arrange a time between you.

 

Meet + Audition Potential Band Members

Once you’ve found some potential members, it’s time to audition them. Before heading to the actual audition, I’d highly recommend chatting to them for thirty minutes or so over coffee or some food. This’ll allow you to get to know them as a person and see how you click personality-wise. Whilst you won’t need to be the best of friends with your bandmates, you should at least have a positive and professional relationship with one another. Before meeting with the member, send them a song or two to learn in advance. When choosing material to play during the audition, I’d recommend going for a cover song that you both enjoy playing. 

 

Don’t feel you have to wait until you’ve got an entire band’s worth of potential members to start auditioning. If you’ve only found one member, it’s worth meeting up and playing together to see how you click. If all goes well, they’ll be able to join in with further auditions.

bassist and guitarist playing music and singing

PHASE 3: ARRANGING THE LOGISTICS

Once you’ve completed the recruiting process, you’ve officially started the band! However, there are still a few things to arrange in order to ensure things go smoothly:

Delegate Roles Amongst Members

Delegating roles amongst members increases productivity and allows everyone to play to their strengths. Here are a few examples of roles you might consider delegating: 

  • Pinpoint person: A pinpoint person is essentially a band member who acts as an internal manager. The pinpoint person oversees the entire operation, making sure everything is organized and on-track. Whilst the pinpoint person will usually be the person who formed the band, it can be whoever you feel is most-suited to the role. The pinpoint person can be as hands-on or hands-off as the band sees fit.
  • Songwriter: If there’s one member in particular who writes a lot of original material, it might be worth making them the chief songwriter. The chief songwriter often comes up with a ‘skeleton’ version of each song before allowing the rest of the band to add their own input. 
  • Administrator: This role involves booking rehearsals, arranging shows and hiring backline. It’s best to allocate this role to an organized member with a strong writing style.

 

Set A Schedule & Make Expectations Clear

Setting a schedule will help you maximize your productivity. Devise a weekly schedule which indicates when to practice, market the band and take care of any admin work. I’d recommend sticking to the same schedule each week in order to keep things simple. In addition, it’s worth re-establishing the aims and expectations of the band once the full lineup is formed.

 

Choose A Name

It’s worth taking the time to choose the right name to save you having to change it further down the line. Here are a couple of pointers for picking an effective band name:

  • Make sure it’s free: This is the most important aspect of picking a name. If you’ve found a name you like, do a thorough search on Google as well as social media to see if it’s already in use. In addition, see if there’s a registered ‘.com’ domain with the name. If it’s already in use, don’t try to steal it.
  • Make sure it represents your sound: Try to pick a name that effectively represents your sound. You’d want someone to be able to roughly gauge your sound just by hearing your band name.
  • Make sure it sounds good when said out loud: You’ll often find yourself shouting your name out at gigs or networking events. If your name isn’t crystal clear when said out loud, don’t use it.

 

Find A Rehearsal Space

The easiest and cheapest option is to simply rehearse in a member’s garage or basement. This allows you to keep your equipment set up in a safe place in-between each rehearsal. If you’re unable to rehearse at a member’s house due to potential noise complaints, professional rehearsal space can usually be found on the cheap. If you’re paying for a dedicated rehearsal space, you’ll need to come to an agreement on how to split the costs.

 

If you’d like a few pointers on effective band rehearsal, check out our article ‘20 Band Practice Tips That Actually Work‘.

 

Recruit Additional Personnel

One of the best things about playing in a band as a teenager is that you’ll have free or cheap access to additional services. If you’ve got friends who are budding photographers or producers, get them involved! This will allow everyone to expand and develop their skills whilst simultaneously helping each other out.

 

I founded Indie Panda in mid-2018 to help independent musicians organically grow and develop their projects. I specialize in branding, identity, audience/industry engagement and project logistics.

I have a wealth of experience in both classical and popular music. After taking piano and violin lessons as a child, I went on to play first violin in philharmonic, symphonic and chamber orchestras throughout my adolescence. I began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 13 and have played in a wide range of bands ever since. At the age of 18, my music received airplay for 30 consecutive days on BBC Radio, which led to an 'in-session' event where I performed live on the radio. I went on to earn a Music/Popular Music BA from the University of Liverpool, where I specialized in popular music performance.

I'm passionate about helping other artists realize the full potential of their talents and abilities through a strong work ethic, coherent project identity and a strong logistical foundation.

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