A session musician, also known as a backing or studio musician, is someone who is hired to add a backing track or instrumentation to a recording. A career in session recordings can become a source of reliable, constant work in an industry that will always need session musicians.
Network, network, network
This cannot be said enough! Networking is key to gaining a career as a session musician. With the market for hired musicians being more competitive than ever due to the internet, with the additional luxury of recording at home, it’s all about who you know.
Have a portfolio
Having an online portfolio that potential employers could use as a reference is very valuable. Soundcloud, Vimeo, BandCamp and Youtube are all useful tools to create a demo or showreel to showcase your musical prowess – the perfect way to market yourself to potential clients.
Get yourself out there! Opportunities may not land at your door, so it’s important to market yourself where possible. From friends and family to musicians you might know, it’s important to let people know you’re looking for opportunities.
Be pretty good at almost everything, or be amazing at one thing.
To increase the chances of getting work, it’s a good idea to be adept at playing multiple different styles at a reasonable level. Having the ability to play a variety of music genres and/or instruments will open you up to more recording opportunities as a session musician. Alternatively becoming a specialist in one particular genre or niche can improve your reputation as the go to guy or girl for one style or sound. This especially applies if you play a lesser known instrument or style.
Improve your performance skills
With session recording it’s very important to get your performances as tight as possible. Technical ability is a big part of session recording, so practice, practice, practice!
As well as musical ability, professionalism is needed from session musicians in all other aspects. Being a reliable communicator, time keeper and easy to get along with are all essential in upholding your image and help build long-lasting relationships.
Reach out to local studios
Reaching out to local studios can also be a valuable networking tool. Studios can often inform musicians of where to find good session musicians so it’s advantageous to be someone they can potentially recommend by putting yourself on their radar.
Contact Industry Link
Just like all things in the music industry, breaking into the music industry can take time, so patience is definitely a virtue.