1 . Try to find out the other musicians in the band . Remember this is all about “who you know”. Without being a “brown -noser”, it doesn’t hurt to try and get a recommendation before hand. Remember though, that you have to be able to back it up…you must be able to deliver.
Both your reputation and the guy who recommended you for work’s reputation is on the line. In the story above, I knew the drummer and keyboardist, but this should only support your effort. You have to be able to deliver and play.
2. Try to get the material as soon as possible and work on it . I like to listen through for a day or two before I even pick up a guitar. Make a few mental notes and then when you do start to learn the material, you will find that it will save a lot of time and make your interpretation more precise. Also, if you sing, be sure and mention this- oftentimes this is a big plus over other musicians that may not sing backups.
3. Get the right guitars for the gig, even if you have to borrow/rent one. (If it’s an R&B gig, you might want to leave the Jackson V at home.) Sometimes you may bring a few options, but don’t make the mistake of bringing so much gear an audtion that you take more time than you need.
Just bring the essentials. Always bring enough cables, a tuner and set of strings, you don’t want to be asking to borrow a cable or string at an audtion. Going the extra mile always pays off.
4. Listen to any possible effects on the record. Try to come as close as possible to copping all the sounds, if that’s what they are looking for. Is there a slide overdub? Is there a U2 sounding part on the choruses that you can work into the main riff on some sections? Gauge the situation- pay respect to the obvious hooks and musical riffs, but don’t be afraid to step out a bit and add something fresh when you think it will work. (This comes with experience.)
5. Remember that image also matters , unfortunately more than it probably should. Do a little research beforehand. What kind of clothing does the music suggest? Don’t go fully decked out in stage gear, but you wouldn’t want to wear a Grateful Dead tie-dye and your jam band attire to an audition with Garth Brooks either.
6. Don’t appear overly anxious or desperate to get the gig. Sure, you want the gig. They know this or you wouldn’t be there. Don’t make the mistake of calling the musical director again and again for details. Get as much info as you can up front, call only if you need to find out something about a song or time, and make it happen.
7. Big no-no – never talk money at the audition or ask about pay , especially in front of the other musicians. If you don’t know what the gig pays roughly, try and find out before you even schedule an audition. Play it cool, just go in and deliver, and then you can find out about the pay. This could work in your favor as a tool of negotiation as well later.
8. Relax and be yourself . Make eye contact with the other players and have a good time. Don’t let little things like running behind schedule or a tune that you don’t know throw you off track. Just keep your cool, and do your best.
9. Finally, realize that after you do all the preparation, show up with a good attitude, and play to the best of your ability, you’ve done your part. It’s now out of your hands. As you have seen in my little story, you don’t always know what is going to happen.
This is all part of the world of auditions.
If you don’t get the gig, it could be for a variety of reasons, some of which are not based on your ability . It could be political, or maybe a guy was already chosen before you got there and the audition was out of courtesy, or you just simply didn’t fit the gig. Don’t take it personally.
Try and stay in touch with the manager, as you never know what may happen down the road. You may get a call out of the blue one day asking about another artist. This happens quite often. Keep at it – when you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by all means go for it.