A Guide to Becoming a Great Studio/Session Musician – Part I

A Guide to Becoming a Great Studio/Session Musician – Part I

I am constantly being asked what it takes to become a studio musician. People will ask things like “What do studio owners look for in studio musicians?” and “What does it take to become a studio musician?” This is not a simple question to answer as many factor go into this. However, I have created a simple two part guide to cover the main points that most studio owners look for in a studio musician for any instrument.

The main quality that studio owners or managers look for does not have anything to do with your abilities on your instrument. The main quality that they need you to posses is responsibility. If you think about it, this makes sense. They need a person who they can rely on getting things done on time and doing everything correctly.

  1. Always make sure that you are early or on time to the session. If you are late, you will be costing the studio money as well as the individuals that are paying you for your services in the studio.
  2. If possible, have the material memorized, composed, or outlined before you get to the session. If you have to rely on charts of some kind or are unprepared with the material. You will slow down the process of the recording session and will again be costing the studio and the people involved with the session money.
  3. Return missed communications quickly. Too many people are not good at getting back to people whether that is with phone calls, emails, or mail. The faster you get back to them, the more likely you will be called into the studio for a session. You may not be the only person called into the studio and if you do not return the communication fast enough, the session may have been given to another studio musician. Make sure you are easy to get a hold of and let everyone know the best way to contact you.
  4. Have backup instruments and accessories. You never know when something might fail to work or may become damaged. You should have backup instruments and accessories at all times. Again, you want to complete the project as quickly as you can while maintaining a high level of recording quality.
  5. Go above and beyond. Make sure that you are doing more than what is asked of you. This will lead to more sessions for you to work on, as well as countless other opportunities that will arise when people realize that you are responsible and do more than is called for.

Another quality that people look for in a session player is that they have a great personality. Nobody wants to work with a negative individual or someone who is just no fun to be around. Think of the kind of personality that you would like to work with.

  1. Be encouraging. In any environment, you want to be encouraging to everyone that you are working with. Maintain a positive attitude. This will ensure the best working environment as you will have more fun and will get things done more efficiently.
  2. Be fun to be around. Again, nobody wants to work with someone that they do not want to be around. Make sure you are maintaining a professional attitude while being very personable with everyone.
  3. Make people want you only. If you do these things mentioned, people will want to work with you and not someone else. They will choose you over an equally skills musician just because of this.

While this list is short, it outlines the basic principles of what people look for in a studio/session musician. Following these guidelines will put you well on your way to becoming a great and reliable session musician.

Be sure to check out the second installment of this article to learn more about this topic. Feel free to email me if you have any further questions on this topic.

© Zack Uidl. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

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