How to prepare for an audition

Posted on 16th July 2019

I’ve spent twenty years auditioning musicians. In every music college, my main role has been recruitment. Consequently, my responsibility was ensuring that everyone auditioning was up to scratch. 

At my music management company, we employ hundreds of musicians who are gigging every single week. Each one of them has gone through an audition process. If you have an audition coming up this is something I can help you with. Having auditioned literally thousands of musicians, I know the tricks that will put you in the top 10 percent. 

When I started auditioning musicians way back in the day, I had an epiphany, auditioning is a lot easier than it seems. To give you context, around a quarter of people, do not turn up to their audition slot. Let’s think about that for one minute, just by turning up to your audition, you can be in the top 75 percent and ahead of the competition. Now, if you can turn up on time and with working gear, you are even further ahead and in the top fifty percent. Amazingly, one out of every two people cannot manage this! 

The merits of being prepared

Now, I hear you say, “that's all very well, but what about the ten percent? What about the juicy stuff?”  Well, come with me on an adventure, let's talk about what being prepared for an audition looks like. I’m always surprised by how little research people do before an audition, and this spills over into everyday life. 

When I interview for a position in my company, I always ask, what do you know about the company? I want to know if you’ve done research, do you know about the history of the company? Do you know what we stand for? Or, are you just there for the money?  Ask yourself this, who is the audition for, and what are they looking for from you?

Genius is in the attention detail, turning up prepared to play a song is very different from turning up knowing that you have the right gear, tone, and parts. If the track you are preparing is played on a strat, or if you are a bass player and it’s played on a five string bass, go above and beyond, get the right gear to replicate the sound.  

If it’s in a certain style do not just learn that one song, but learn twenty songs in the same genre so you can truly emulate the style of what that band is going for. Auditions are about finding the best person for the job, and you can make yourself the best person for the job by paying attention to detail. 

What makes you more employable?

At an audition, highlight what makes you more employable, do you drive? Do you have a vehicle? Can you sing BV’s? Can you play keys? Do you have video editing skills? Let's take some time to really engage with this, do not gloss over it!! What we are doing is creating solutions and adding more to the project you are auditioning for. 

However, what happens if you don’t have any of these extra skills? Well, now is the time to learn! This is a long career, if you are twenty years old you have at least fifty years of it, and if you are thirty you have forty, you can see how this goes on. Now is the time to learn those extra skills that add to your toolkit and help you nail auditions in the future. 

Be memorable, express gratitude

“ Thank you so much, that was great, I really want this gig, I’d love the opportunity to work with you guys in the future.”

I love it when someone says they want to work with me because I know they believe in me, thus they will be hungry for opportunity and we can build something together. Too many musicians play it cool, thinking that if they look like they don't care that will get them the part. From my point of view, as someone who is doing the audition, I want someone who will be in this with me. I want someone who will genuinely want the opportunity, in an audition you need to voice your hunger!  

Scientist believes that memories formed by the hippocampus get stored by various areas of the cerebral cortex. Now, do not quote me on that, it’s probably not correct, that being said, you need to be memorable. 

For several years, I auditioned every singer that came through the college and every Saturday I would audition about 8 singers. I’d always ask them, so what Eva Cassidy song are you going to audition for me today? And they would say “How do you know, I am going to sing an Eva track”. It was either that or Norah Jones…. Fast forward ten years and you can replace it with Adele, same sh#t different day. Ask yourself, what are you going to do to be memorable? 


Confidence plays a big part in auditions. I know it’s easier said than done, however you can go into an audition feeling good and knowing that you are the best possible person you can be. These little things matter, knowing you have a good haircut, you are wearing clothes that fit into the style of the band, knowing that you are prepared and researched. This means you are going in being the best version of you and this will bring you confidence.

In your career as a musician, auditioning is unavoidable. However you can try to enjoy the process, and more importantly, try and learn from each one to make the next audition even better! 

Thanks for reading, if you interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WateBear HQ for an Open Day or Order a Prospectus

by Damian Keyes
Damian is a renowned social media specialist, YouTube entrepreneur, musician and author of the Amazon best selling book “The Rule Breakers Guide to Social Media’. After founding The British & Irish Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), Damian went on to build and invest in several other businesses including DK Music Management, DK Music Academy & Warble Entertainment.
View all posts by Damian Keyes

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