What Does it Take to Become a Session Musician?

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Want to earn money playing and performing music? Set yourself up on the path to success with these career tips from Corona, CA music teacher Milton J.

 

Many aspiring musicians dream of being discovered and becoming the next best superstar. However, many others must also face the music that there is a certain amount of luck and chance in getting that seven-figure record deal. In lieu of sitting, waiting, and wishing for that big break, creating smaller breaks for yourself could make that eventual discovery much easier for A&R representatives and record executives, not to mention creating a source of income for yourself in the industry you love.

Some of your interests may include songwriting, producing, band leading, or being a creative manager of a music project. These roles often define the dynamics of a band or production, and can help you achieve your eventual goal of sustained financial gains and fame. They also own the most profitable portions of the music industry — copyrighted songs and publishing and performance royalties. Yes, that means the person who writes the lyrics and the melodies can potentially earn just as much or more than the artist who sings and performs it.

If you have an interest in instrumental or supportive work in a band as opposed to or in conjunction with songwriting, session musicianship would be a perfect launching pad for you. Musicians who choose to engage in session musicianship work with lots of different people, which makes for a successful career by sharing technical and musical expertise with many walks of life in the music industry. In order to do this successfully, you need to build yourself a good reputation and network constantly to create as many connections as possible. If this appeals to your twinkling piano or guitar fingers or tickles your vocal cords, here are some helpful tips on readying yourself to be a successful session musician!

Be Technically Proficient

Whether for recordings or live gigs, you need to be able to get it right, and fast! Sight reading or the ability to pick up songs by ear are very useful in this case (that means private music lessons with your local TakeLessons teacher are a must!).

Be Stylistically Versatile

Being able to play in multiple genres of music will increase your possible session gigs, which will lead to more opportunities and financial gains!

Be a Diplomat

Give your opinion if someone asks for it, but don’t overstep your boundaries, as you’re there to help fulfill a vision.

Be Picky

To begin, accepting session gigs from anyone from various genres will help to build your name and enhance your session workshop aptitude, but after a while you should focus on choosing bands that are professional and give you an element of security in terms of work, tours, earnings, and payouts or shares of future royalties.

Be Flexible With Your Time and Money

You have to be prepared to be away for an extended period of time at the drop of a hat if you’re asked to go on tour with an artist. Also, sometimes you may have a downturn in potential session gigs, and you’ll need to be financially prudent. Prepare yourself for these possibilities with your housing, bills, and finances.

Become a Multi-Instrumentalist

Being able to play multiple instruments (I personally play guitar and piano in addition to vocals) gives you more opportunities to help out and fill in with various roles, which can both set you apart from other session musicians and lead to increased pay.

Know Your Gear

Being knowledgable about – as well as owning your own – equipment is important. It makes everything easier if you show up ready to go with all your gear, and you know what to do with it to help provide the sound the lead artist is looking for.

Know Your Rights

Make sure you have clear and written-consented agreements on recordings about any royalty entitlements.

Frequent a Place With a Thriving Music Scene

Although the Internet surely helps to solve this problem to an extent, it’s a good idea to frequent an area where you know and work with the local music scene and/or touring acts, which could lead to more work opportunities and good honest connections.

Identify With Your Music

This will make your career much more fulfilling, and will show the best and most expressive side of your musicality. Isn’t this what it’s all about?

If this sounds like something you would like to pursue, then the world is truly your oyster. Time is of the essence to channel your love for music into your job!

MiltonJMilton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

 

 

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