A session musician is a musician called up by producers to back up recording artists or come along on tour to fill out a band. Session players are not a permanent part of the band, but they do get the opportunity to work with many different great songwriters and musicians. It's a very difficult business, and there are many top-notch musicians competing for a few good jobs. If you want to succeed, you have to be a master musician and a consummate professional.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Musical instrument
- Business card
- Backup gear
- Reliable transportation
Master your instrument. Practice as many hours a day as possible. The better you are, the better your chances of succeeding.
Learn music theory. You will need to be able to site read music and to learn your part very quickly. Having a good ear and virtuoso skills won't be enough if you can't play what you are told.
Play gigs as often as you can in your area. Not only will this help you to make a living and to stay in practice, but it will also help you to build a reputation as a musician.
Visit local recording studios and talk to the recording engineers and producers. Explain that you are available as a session engineer. Leave your contact information with them. Also have recordings of your playing or links to a Website that showcases your musical abilities handy.
Have pro gear. Keep it in good shape. Make sure that you always have extra strings for your guitar or a backup set of harmonicas handy. If you are called to a session and have to fix a glitch with your equipment, you will look unprofessional.
Behave professionally. If you get called in to do a session, be on time. Be efficient and courteous. Go out of your way to do the job the way your client wants. Your reputation is your most important asset.
Be in the right place. If you're trying to break into music recording, move to wear it's happening. Live in Los Angeles, Nashville or New York. The big city in your own state is also recommended. You won't be able to get gigs if there are no studios around.
Tips and warnings
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket. The competition for session work is intense. Teach lessons. Play in a house job. Keep your day job.
- Learn to sing backing vocals on top of playing an instrument if you can. This will make you more useful as a musician.
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