First Impressions: Top 5 Audition Tips for Bands

August 05, 2011


Without a doubt, auditions are the best part of working at a company like Sternberg Clarke. It’s always a pleasure to take a break from the day to day business of booking entertainment for corporate events and head downstairs to check out a new Jazz Band, Magician or Singer.

Of course, not all auditions are created equally and while the quality of acts that come through these doors is surprisingly high, there are some auditions we enjoy more than others. Often it’s not even because we don’t like the act but more that they just aren’t having a great audition.

To ease things along – we thought we’d give out our Top 5 tips for auditioning with an Entertainment Agency

Be Selective

Between listening to sound clips, listening to auditions and listening to bands performing at events – we tend to hear the same song over and over again. Female singers performing Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’, Function Bands tearing into ‘Sex On Fire’, Rat Pack Crooners singing ‘On the Street Where You Live’. It’s good to know that an act can play these songs, they’re very popular songs after all and no doubt many clients will want the played at events. However hearing ‘Someone Like You’ for the 4th time in a day can make one feel a little ‘murderous rage-y’.

Imagine that 4 out of 5 singer pianists have played identical versions of Someone Like You and then one comes along who plays a barnstorming cover of the theme tune from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’  - which one is going to stick out? If you want to worm your way into the minds of your auditioners, pick your songs cleverly and you’ll stand a better chance of  getting a callback when an event comes up.

Let the Music Speak for Itself… Up to a Point

Being all about the music is admirable and all, but we’re not just looking for musicians, we’re looking for the whole package. We need to know that an act can hold a conversation, answer questions and be generally approachable at events and all through the enquiry process. It’s best to go in to auditions expecting to talk as well as sing/play.

Having said that, any act that comes in and talks everyone to death isn’t doing themselves any favours.

Look the Part

OK, we’ll admit it – the downstairs office where we do our auditions isn’t the tidiest of places, and it might be a bit hipocritical to expect a band to get all dressed up to play in what is essentially, a large prop cupboard with a couch in it. But it’s still important to get an idea of what an act looks like, even when they’re playing with a backdrop of monk robes and disused wigs.

Once again, it comes down to sticking in people’s memories – acts like the Strumpettes, Thr Frockettes and the Three Little Maids softened us up by coming in all colour coded and costumed  and we’ve got an easy point of refernce for recalling the audition – “Remember the girls who came in in Red Polka Dot Dresses?”… Yes… Yes I do.

Create the Best Possible Environment for Your Music

As mentioned in the last section, we’ve not got the biggest space to let a band show themselves off – we’ve also got neighbors and people trying to work upstairs, so your 8 piece Jazz Band with Horn Section and Giant Gong might find it difficuflt to audition here.

With that in mind, louder or larger bands that audition with us often either invite us to gigs or arrange a rehearsal space close by that we can go to to watch them in action. This means we’re able to get the full effect of the band in the best possible setting.

Leave Us Wanting More

Now, Sternberg Clarke love entertainment, no one could possibly doubt that – anyone that does doubt that is met with a swift glove slap to the face for besmirching Sternberg Clarke’s honour. However much as we love entertainment and wish we could spend all day watching new bands, there’s work to be getting on with – actually booking them, paying them and writing blogs about them.

So with one eye on the clock, it’s often tough to give a musical act our full attention when they’re performing 3 full length songs, no matter how good they are. It’s a wonder why more bands don’t Play Abridged Versions of Songs in their auditions.

We all know how ‘Forget You’ goes, we just want to hear how you sound doing it. Why not just give us a Verse and a Chorus and get out of there? Any band that blasts through 3 shortened pop tunes without giving us a chance to look at our watches is going to be looked upon more favourably than the one who made Ben late sending off that email to the Natural History Museum.

For more information on auditioning or to enquire about any of the bands we feature in our audition posts, get in touch.