Do you have aspirations of becoming a session musician?
Do you know how to go about it?
This article should help fill in whatever gaps of knowledge you have regarding this aspect of the music industry, and the information comes from Kip Allen, Drum Workshop Artist, and one of the most respected session drummer in the Nashville area. Call Kip the next time you need a session musician and you want the very best.
And now, for those who want to know how one becomes a session musician, we offer this information.
Commit to becoming a session musician with game
We cannot overemphasize this point too much. You must work at your craft. You must be the absolute best musician you can be. Quality matters in the music industry, and skill can be spotted a mile away.
Here is a cold, hard fact: there are literally millions of aspiring musicians, in the United States, all hoping and dreaming of being professionals and making big money. Literally millions! Of those millions there are, maybe, a handful, say one-percent, who are exceptional professionals. Heck, let’s be generous. Let’s say there are five percent who are exceptional professionals.
Who do you think stands a better chance of making a living as a session musician, the 95% or the 5%?
Work on your craft. Learn various instruments and become proficient with them as well. The more you can do, and do well, the better your chances of getting hired and working regularly.
Create your own brand
Social media has leveled the playing field somewhat in the music industry. You no longer have to pound the pavement in search of gigs, or pound the pavement asking to be hired. In today’s world, a name can be made for oneself simply by developing an online presence, learning how to market oneself online, and becoming very good at creating a brand people want to hear.
We are not saying this takes the place of learning your craft, but it will certainly help in becoming recognized once you have learned your craft.
While roaming inside the YouTube rabbit hole the other night, I saw a video of a young woman (Chloe Alexander) covering the song “Creep” by Radiohead, and she was accompanied by a singing parrot. I am not joking. It was incredibly clever, and it was funny, but by the end of the video, I was struck by how good the young woman truly was. She had a sweet, extraordinary voice.
Create your own brand!
Network, network, and network some more
Go work some gigs, and then go work a few hundred more. Hang out in the music scene today, tomorrow, and a thousand tomorrows. Sign up for free mike nights at your local watering holes. Frequent online chat rooms for musicians. I have known people to get gigs from talking to a waitress while having breakfast. I have known people to get gigs while playing on a street corner in a tourist area.
The more you get out there, and the more people you talk to, the better your chances of finally being discovered by the right people.
Once hired, be professional and go the extra mile
And, finally, once you are hired to do a session, go the extra mile, be uber-helpful, and do whatever you have to do to make an impression. That one session might be the springboard you need to nail down ten more gigs. First impressions count, and anything you can do to make you stand out among the millions of hungry musicians, you should do.
Be persistent and be a squeaky wheel
Stories you have heard of undiscovered talent, laboring away for years, and finally making it big, those stories are true. They do happen. The music industry is tough. It is not for the weak and unsure. You must believe in yourself as a musician, you must be willing to go the extra mile, and you must be confident that, eventually, someone will notice you. If you are easily-discouraged, go to trade school and learn how to be a plumber. i