I’ve spent 20 years auditioning musicians – at every music college I’ve been involved in, recruitment has been my main role, and at my music management company we employ hundreds of musicians who’ve all gone through an audition process. So, if you’ve got an audition coming up, I have some advice that’s going to put you in the top 10% of people.
First piece of advice? Turn up! Seriously, around 25% of people don’t turn up to their audition slot, so just by being there you’re already putting yourself in the top 75%. And if you turn up on time, with working gear, you’re in the top 50%!
But what about getting into that magical top 10%? Well, the key is in the preparation. I’m always surprised at how little research most people do before an audition. You should be asking who the audition is for, and what they’ll be looking for from you – just like you would for a job interview. Turning up prepared to play a song is very different to turning up prepared to play a song and knowing that you have the right gear, the right sound, and the right parts. That’s a different level of preparation. If the track you’re playing is played on a Strat, or if you’re a bass player and it’s played on a 5-string bass, then go above and beyond – borrow that gear to make sure you can replicate the right sound. If it’s in a certain style, then don’t just learn that one song, learn twenty songs, so you can truly emulate the style the band is going for.
Auditions are about finding the best person for the job, and you can make yourself into the best person for the job, with some attention to detail. At your audition, highlight what makes you more employable. Do you drive? Have you got a vehicle? Do you sing backing vocals? Can you play some extra keys or guitar? Have you got video editing experience? How’s your live sound? Your social media skills? The list goes on. Don’t gloss over these things – what you’re doing here is creating solutions and adding more to the project or the band that you’re auditioning for. And if you haven’t got any of these extra skills to highlight, well now’s the time to learn. Because they’re not just going to help you at your next audition, they’re going to help you throughout your career as a musician.
When the audition is over, too many musicians play it cool, thinking that acting like they don’t care is the way to impress whoever’s auditioning them. But I promise, that’s not what they’re looking for. They want someone who really wants to be there, who’s hungry and willing to work hard. So let them know that’s you!
Another tip – you have to be memorable. Whoever is auditioning you is probably going to be seeing a lot of people, so you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd. And finally, confidence plays a big part in auditions. Whilst it’s easy for me to sit here and say “be confident!”, if you can go into an audition feeling good, and knowing you’ve done your preparation, it will make all the difference.
In your career as a musician, auditioning is pretty much unavoidable, but what you can do is try to enjoy the process, and learn from each one, to make the next one a little bit better.