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becoming a studio musician

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Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
Topic starter  

I've been a studio guitarist since 1967, but I really can't add anything because you got some really good answers and no really bad ones.

Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1543

Well I know a couple of studio musicians and I think a real key is to be able to play what the client wants. Understanding what they want to hear. Sight reading is a definite asset. You have to be non partial and you can't make judgements on the what you hear. All you have to do is fit in just right. The way they want it. You can't go playing blistering solo's where they don't belong. You can't overcomplicate a simple song. One of these guys is a rocker but most of the work out there is for country and easy listening or Karaoke backing tracks. So y'know he just has to grin and bear it. Even if the music sucks (in your opoinion.) you have to do your best to emulate the clients intentions. There's my two bits.

New Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2

Thanks Guys
bin really helpful
working on my skills
know i'll get there someday


Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 114

LOL I bailed on Being a session player. there was just not enough challenge to it.... Nah, I'm an Artist... When a musician "pays
his Dues" well that's just Bus fare for us lol.
No I'm being sarcastic. I'm not serioius at all about that

It was posted earlier that in session work, musical ability gets taken for
It's the same in my job.
I mean if I wasn't "talented" (more like works cheap)
I wouldn't have the position to begin with.
I'm not anywhere near to being a professional musician,
But I do know a job is a job is a job.
to excel in that job, whatever it may be, you have to be up to speed all the time.
You need to know how to navigate through politicts - know who's
"cool" and who ain't. what you tell a fellow co-worker can haunt you later on. You need to look for any and all sorts of advancement and see
who's shooting for it - and why. You start that by being punctual and polite
And BE HONEST...just only tell them what they need to know
(or want to hear if you want to brown nose)

Uhh as far as the technical aspects goes, sight reading...sight reading
I imagine if you don't have that ability, you'll be limited to jobs you can get.

Knowing theory... Remember, I'm not a professional, so I'm going to
"theorize " about theory.....
Why is that so awful important? I mean where does your knowlege of music theory get applied, when you're hired to play someone else's
piece of music? It would seem the theory has already been dealt with before you even came along.

I don't know how much free license a player has with the music given
if any.

Still if you want to be a session player, i'd really get the theory down.
It can't hurt.

Oh one more thing. If this is what you really really really really want to do,
then good luck!

I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but when
you're a 22lb sledge, do you really have to be?

Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 8

Interesting reading, but not a single mention of how to even get into a position where someone will pay you for your playing.
Most people go on about networking, but anyone else got any advice on how to put yourself in the right place at the right time?

Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1543

Volunteer your time at a studio. If you want to work with musicians you need to be there at the place they work. Make yourself a demo cd of the different styles you play. Jam with anyone you meet. Let them know your intentions. Hand demos to management company's. Volunteer you time to any and all music conferences in your area. Bring Demo's. Music confrences are a great place to meet people who work in the industry. You never know who you'll meet.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921

The first step in figuring out how to get work in any area of music is to figure out who the decision makers are. Once you've done that, you can develop a strategy to approach them.

So the first question should be: who hires studio musicians?

- songwriters who want a demo with more than just a rhythm guitar or piano
- producers
- advertising agencies
- music supervisors for film or TV

Then there's a second tier: the people who recommend studio musicians. A songwriter may not know a lot of pros... an ad agengy might delegate personnel... who do they ask?

- studio owners
- contractors
- composers/jingle writers
- other people (sound engineers, the guy they usually use who's busy that night, etc.)

Figure out who has the work. Then figure out who makes the decision. Then sell yourself.

It's no different from finding work at clubs. You can talk to all the bartenders in the world and never get a gig if they aren't the decision makers; you want to put yourself in front of the guy (or gal) who writes the check at the end of the day.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

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