Musician: Impossible
July 2, 2014 8:06 PM   Subscribe

How do musicians actually find other musicians in this crazy modern super-connected world? Especially in the big city?

So, it has been almost a year since I posted this anxiety-ridden tirade...In a nutshell, I am in a much better headspace and have been ready to get out and get playing (bass) in the real world. The problem is after several months I am having trouble breaking into the jam scene.
I'm in Toronto, a city not far from reaching 3 million, yet I am having trouble finding other musicians to play with.

What I've tried to far:
Want ads - Craigslist has bombed hard for me...I've received no responses to my ads, and ads I have responded to have not responded back to me.
Kijiji, which is Canada's Craigslist, has not fared much better, the only responses i've gotten are invitations to pay-to-play 'talent shows' (yeah, right).
Bandmix looked promising, but then I found out you need to upgrade to premium (pay) in order to connect with other musicians. Ugh.
Jam Nights - I've been to a few just to check them out...I should admit I haven't been invited onstage yet but I have far these things seem really clique-y, and all the players
I've met are already committed and do not seem interested in casual jamming...(jeez, I'm making it sound like the singles dating scene).
Networking - I do know a few players...they are pretty pro. I have reached out, "hey, you wanna jam sometime?" but they're too busy. I've also asked if they know anyone, but to no avail.

So on to my questions:
A) Specific to Toronto, is there a best kept secret musicians-seeking-musicians site or something? Where do all the amateur-but-genuinely-serious players hang out in this city? Maybe there are some truly open (and open-minded) non-ageist jams I am unaware of.
and B) In general, any out-of-the-box ideas on how to connect with like-minded musicians? I wish there was something like Tinder for bandmate seekers.

I just want to play being just me and my bass.
posted by Soap D. Spencer to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried looking on in Toronto? Join a Meetup, or start one -- hold it regularly and see who comes :) Keywords to search for: jam session, playing music, jazz musicians, etc.
posted by ananci at 8:28 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Meetup! Right, I forgot to mention that one...signed on for a couple of those, one was canceled and the other was clique-ier than the bar jams. I didn't feel welcomed at all...I will keep checking, though. If anyone knows any in T.O. that are good, please mention!
As for starting one - well I feel I'm not experienced enough to host such a thing. This is why I want to play with people, so I can get some experience.

Also, is meetup still a thing? I see less and less activity...maybe I'm wrong.
posted by Soap D. Spencer at 8:45 PM on July 2, 2014

Do you go to open mics? If you can tap into the open mic circuit, people will begin to know who you are. I'm in Ottawa, but the open mic people have been really nice (yes, there actually is a scene for this in Ottawa.. believe it or not) and there tends to be a hoard of them that floats from one open mic to the next. There is probably one every night of the week.
posted by winterportage at 9:18 PM on July 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you tried looking at bulletin boards of music stores, practice spaces, or even coffee shops? You can either check out if someone else is looking for fellow musicians or you can post your own ad there. Maybe some city or music specific forums where you can try to meet people or start a new thread.

And usually this is done on just networking. Ask your friends and your friends friends if you know anyone willing to jam. I've played with people that I went to school, work, and even through mutual twitter friends. Try to ask around any social groups or find social groups you can go to and try to meet people and see if you find any musicians in that circle.
posted by xtine at 9:56 PM on July 2, 2014

Speaking as an amateur/would-have-been close to your age who dips toes into it every three years or so, I'll guess that your age is working against you re the ads. It doesn't matter at all in person, as long as you can make some kind of connection on both the music front - something specific, shared tastes, not just happy to play anything - and personally. It's helpful to be easy to get along / have a drink with, and friendly but not too keen. Also, critically, available, and having the same goals and schedule. So yeah, I'd agree, it's not unlike dating :)

Two ways I've noticed people do things. They come up with something timely and cool and exciting, and drive that bus all the way; people spontaneously want to get involved. Or, they're good to hang out with, reliable as far as practices are concerned, and adequate on their instrument (in order of priority). You could do your own thing and just keep honing it, put it online, do it at open mics - check listings, there are lots of opportunities for that - and see what happens. Do go to the open mics and be friendly (but not too friendly) and talk about specific bands (re route 2 - and how great other performers are, basically, but not obviously).

The professional musicians I know would likely be a little annoyed with being asked to 'jam' - it's a legitimate business for them, they're busy, they're at a certain skill level. If you're not picking up on that kind of thing, maybe it's worth taking a look at what/how you're communicating (maybe in your ads, too?). Social skills are important in this kind of thing, like everywhere else. (I'm too grumpy, myself)

But come to think of it, ads could work for you (would go with Craigslist probably). I'd target one specifically to amateurs also in their late 30s/early 40s. Definitely mention those things, because you can bet there are tons in that cohort who would really love to just have a jam on a Thursday (or maybe every other one, people have kids, etc).

I don't know, it's a pain. I do know people who play, who I like, but didn't match musically (which I kind of knew to start with), and it's an awkward way to spend time. Luck's a lot to do with it, but you can help your luck by putting your stuff out there. If you really want to do it, though (to me, it feels tiring just thinking about it), it's worth putting in the effort. Good luck!
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:50 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ok, I've just read some of your past questions. My previous response was coming from a rather more worn place, I think, that might not be super helpful. Maybe a formal structure would help - I've heard good things come out of Humber's jazz school grads, and it looks like their continuing ed department offers a certificate - worth a shot?

I haven't done the open mic/jam nights in Toronto, but I have heard of Supermarket's night in Kensington, and Tranzac used to have something - don't know if those are still going - Free Times, probably? There are folky nights all over, maybe worth checking some out in case of cross pollination. Yelp and Now must have listings (though no more for the Grid, I guess). For jazz, maybe the Rex?
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:29 PM on July 2, 2014

There is a cliquey feeling amongst pro musicians so check out amateur jam nights and network. Sometimes you gotta just be around a while, go to gigs and be seen and then prove yourself if and when you do get invited to sit-in, so you better be ready with some skills. Just get into whatever scene you are into.
posted by Che boludo! at 5:02 AM on July 3, 2014

...After some digging, I have found this
and this...

Anyone following my misadventures in Jamland and having similar experiences may find these useful.

Thanks everyone for you're input!
posted by Soap D. Spencer at 5:24 PM on July 3, 2014

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