Have you ever had to advertise for a new housemate, interview / show around interested people, decide whether to offer them the room, see whether they decide they want it, go back round the process whenever they find somewhere else they like better? I can assure you (from experience) finding a replacement or extra member for a band is just as bad, with the added disadvantage that you usually have to see candidates in places you’re paying for (unless you have your own rehearsal space) and that everyone will usually take up a good 45 minutes to an hour of extremely limited band time.
Lots of band member wanted ads conclude ‘no time wasters please’. Some even fill it out to ‘no time wasters please, we’ve had enough of those already’. It’s almost as much de rigueur as ‘must have great stage presence’ (for lead vocalists), ‘own transport’ (for drummers and anyone in a function band) or ‘fluent reader essential’ (for all cruise ship jobs, which sadly never require strings). It’s no wonder really, particularly for instruments like guitar or drums where there are millions who play them and you may be after a quite specific subset that takes a lot of sifting through able but unsuitable players to find, never mind the ones that are just bad at their instrument.
There are also times when I want to reply to ads with ‘no time wasters please’. It seems to be considered a good way of getting responses, by some marketeers, to publish tantalisingly vague ads along the lines of ‘musicians of all kinds wanted across UK for exciting new commercial project. Email [contact] for more information … ‘ I suppose the intrigue factor probably does pull people in, but does it just mean more irrelevant emails for them to deal with? I’ve had a couple of this type of thing not reply to my response at all, which is certainly intriguing, and I was particularly baffled by one I did get an initial response from.
I sent a fairly standard expression of interest email: Here’s my CV, here’s my website with recordings, video etc., where I’m based and roughly what I do, please tell me more about the project. Within hours, I got an email back starting something like ‘I’ve spent 20 years as a professional gigging musician. I know what it’s like to drive four hours to a gig and then the same back in the middle of the night. To have no money when the bookings dry up and no way of chasing up clients that don’t pay.’ et cetera, a good few hundred words on the woes of jobbing rock/pop musicians. Then finally appearing to get to the point: ‘My new project will put an end to poor pay and worse income security for musicians. I should say now that I am looking for a particular kind of person: dedicated, passionate about music, hard-working and easy to get along with.’
I had alarm bells going off all over the shop by this point, but reckoned I didn’t have anything to lose by pursuing it a bit further since he already had my email address anyway. So I replied along the lines of ‘Sounds like a great result. Before I commit to anything, can you please tell me how you’re going to achieve this, seeing as no one else in the industry has yet and you haven’t said anything about the means or the plan yet?’ I’m sure it sounded sceptical, but I think justifiably so given the conversation to that point! His next email was for all practical purposes nothing more than ‘You don’t sound like the sort of person we’re looking for. Have a nice life.’
Which leaves me with this great puzzlement: did he in fact have a brilliant idea, but one that would only work with total trust in ‘the plan’, and also a very short fuse? Or was I ‘not the sort of person we’re looking for’ because I was, bluntly, not gullible enough? Sometimes folks you never can tell …