Your annual tips for making the most of Craig’s List

The average band has the need to source at least one new player every year. If you haven’t been networking all along, this process might sneak up on you, and chances are you’ll revert to the simplest, cheapest route for recruiting new talent – good old Craig’s List.   Back in the day, and were the quick, default methods but CL definitely has a bigger selection and typically faster results.  Just remember – you get what you paid for.

If done properly, CL can be a very effective way to recruit. But for a variety of reasons, most musicians don’t seem to grasp the fundamentals.  These are: prequalifying, requalifying, auditioning and following up.  These concepts are so commonly misunderstood that it’s worth revisiting them annually.  So here we go…

Prequalifying the masses

This is the single biggest time-saving step you can take when posting a CL Ad. When you prequalify, you are doing all parties involved a big favor.  You are expressing your needs, your goals, and your abilities, and you are getting it all out there right away so other players can quickly determine if this is the right situation for them.

You want them to figure that out easily. Think of how much time is wasted with back and forth emails, texts and phone calls due to vague and uninformative ads.  Or how silly it is to have the “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” mentality.  So here are the basic, minimum items you will want to include in your initial ad:

  • What position you are seeking and a description of your existing band configuration
  • What style of music you are playing (or what styles you are open to playing), or a list of your influences
  • Your general goals: how often you play out and practice
  • Proximal information: where you plan to play out and practice
  • Are you an original band? Covers only? A hybrid?
  • Some samples of your own recordings and/or video

Many bands are tempted to skip posting recording/video links. But that is the most honest way to convey your abilities and where you are at as a band, and demonstrate your cahonas.  Get it out there.  Some other things you might want to mention in an initial ad:

  • Does the band have age range preferences? It’d be nice to think that doesn’t matter amongst musicians, but you might be surprised. Click here to see why proximity in age might be important.
  • Are there certain things about the band that might be good for everyone to know up front? Is it an all-girl venture? Do you only play nudist colonies? Does the lead singer think he is Christ incarnate? Is the band excessively recreational? You never know what might be an instant magnet or repellent – best to get it out there…
  • Include contact info – anonymous CL links are not always the most reliable. Think about including an email or even a phone number. You can always make the request that text is preferred for any initial contact.


Requalifying (or cutting through the BS)

Once you start receiving inquiries from your ad, you are going to want to vet the prospects in a timely and thorough manner. If you do nothing else, please do the CL community a favor and REPLY to all inquiries.  It’s simply polite and it’s also another way prospective musicians will prequalify you; if you are too flaky to acknowledge an email, text or phone call you are probably not going to be the most reliable bandmate.

Requalifying means getting a better sense if prospects are appropriate for your band…before bothering with any auditions. Before you call them, make sure you have a pen and notepad handy, and a few questions prepared – you will learn a lot in that first phone call, guaranteed.


Requalifying Tip: take good notes when talking to prospects.
Requalifying Tip: take good notes when talking to prospects.


Here are some strong red flags:

  • They talk and talk and talk about their pedigree and pet peeves and never bother to ask a single question about your project.
  • They are embellishing their musical background and the longer you speak with them the more obvious this becomes.
  • They sound like they should be auditioning for somebody else’s band.
  • They are slurring their words. Especially take note of what time you have called them.
  • They have no links to audio or video…and are even unwilling to whip out their cell phone to record a sample.

Assuming you’ve found a few good candidates, auditioning and following up are the next two steps.  We’ll look more closely at those in March…

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