Telephone Skills

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The other night as I was drifting off to sleep I started to think. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed about all the auditions and long phone calls that never panned out. The reasons were numerous, too many times a week, too far, too young, too old, too inexperienced, too experienced…everything was a conundrum.

Actually, this article relates to The Little Black Book article that I wrote. This situation deals with how to deal with people on the telephone and make the auditioning experience for you next band worth your time.

So as you are searching for a new band, you should be able to:

  • Get what you want out of any conversation.
  • Paint an accurate picture of your soon to be band mates.
  • Make a not-of-interest phone call into a brief call.
  • Network with people of interest.
  • Create your Little Black Book (see my other article).

Well as you might be thinking where do you get all these names and phone numbers? Easy, everyone and everything around you that pertains to music. The music shop, the local record store, the papers, word of mouth, and any other connections you can come up with.

Let us say that we have collected phone numbers and put them into a book, Access or Excel database file, or whatever (the databases are great because you can filter phone numbers immediately to see if you called before). You have a writing instrument in hand and you’re ready to dial the number…NOT YET!

Make a list of what you are looking for! Seriously think of what you want and what you want to avoid. Create a checklist. For example:

  • Type of music?
  • How many people in the band?
  • How many times a week?
  • What time(s) do they practice?
  • How much experience?
  • What are long term goals?
  • How often do they want to play out?
  • Is it just a jam band?
  • Is it covers, originals, both?
  • How far away are rehearsals and gigs?
  • Where do they practice (garage, studio, etc)?
  • Do they drink/smoke/do drugs (either normally or recreational use)?
  • How long they have been together as a band? How long have they been playing out?
  • Are there individuals in the band that have played together before?
  • What are the ages of the band members?
  • What is the band mix, female, male?
  • Who and how many people sing?
  • What are everyone’s musical influences… not their likes; their influences…who would they sound like when they play?
  • What type of equipment (if you are an equipment buff)?
  • Who owns, and if they even have a P.A. system? (this one causes many problems in bands who are looking to get one, but nobody wants to dish out the cash)
  • Sound guy?
  • Ask names of people in the band and where they are from… nothing worse than hooking up to find that you’ve played with the drummer before and you really didn’t like him.
  • Are they set in their ways and won’t change tunes?
  • Do they make money at gigs?
  • Who is the bandleader?
  • Does everyone contribute equally, or is it leader directed?

You should put these questions in an order of importance to you, from most important to least. By doing this you can seriously cut a phone call short if it doesn’t meet your expectations. You will also be able to get a feel for the maturity level and the seriousness of the band. Keep detailed records of the people you spoke with, and create a little black book.

The above questions and statements will spare you embarrassing moments and save you heaps of time. I know that we are all guilty of it, when making a phone call you are so excited that you forget to ask half of the questions you wanted too, and before you know it you are driving 45 minutes to a gig that you are not quite sure you want.

Remember, a phone call is akin to a verbal resume, so be honest. Don’t inflate your talent because you will have to produce when called upon. Also, you are interviewing them, not the other way around, even if they did place the ad for auditions. You want to see if the job is for you, and you won’t know if you don’t ask. One thing that is common, more often than not, is that people tend to inflate themselves and they are the ones desperate to get people in to play. Lastly, if you don’t like what you hear, immediately say, “I do not think I am right for this situation. Thank you for your time.”

By being open minded, modest and considerate, you will find it much easier to meet people and connect with individual personalities. The best part about being prepared with the above list is that you do not have to be a phone person to accomplish this task, just determined.

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