So, what exactly do session musicians do? It’s an excellent query, particularly in today’s music industry, where the term “gig” is constantly redefined.
Session musicians continue to record music in common ways, although there have been some fascinating changes in how they network and collaborate with other performers.
To answers all of your concerns, I went through what sessions musicians do, how much they earn, how they get recruited, and more.
What are session musicians and what should they do?
Studio musicians (also known as backing or studio musicians) are musicians employed for a limited time for recording session or live performances. Session musicians aren’t usually hired as permanent representatives of the community or project.
Session vocalists, drummers, guitarists, and full backing bands are all common types of session musicians.
What are the responsibilities of session musicians?
A session musician’s job differs depending on the project for which they are recruited.
A session musician could, for example, have a brief guitar solo on one album. In such instances, a whole supporting band might be contracted to supply instrumentation for an entire record or to participate in a multi-month tour.
Factors such as these influence what a session musician does on a given project:
- Experience of a variety of instruments
- Rates by the day or hour
- Plan or recording requirements
- Ability to write songs
- Awareness in a variety of forms and methods
- Improvisational skills
Sessions musicians are musicians who accompany a band or project in the studio or on stage. External storage and collaborative technologies, as well as networking networks, have made it possible for sessions musicians to communicate and collaborate.
Session musicians are also working in new forms, such as collaborating online or supplying content for hip-hop creation or computer experiments that can be re-sampled later.
These advancements also opened up new opportunities for sessions musicians and redefined the part they perform in various ventures.
Why is it beneficial to hire a studio musician?
Session musicians expand the reach of the music’s possibilities.
Do you want to know how it feels to have a string part on your song? For that, there are session musicians. If you like to hear what an upright bass sounds like on a boom bap beat? There’s also a studio drummer for that.
You might download a sample pack or plugin to get similar to the sound you like, but collaborating with session musicians unlocks artistic and collaborative ability that is challenging to match.
There was definitely a moment when hiring a session musician seemed too time-consuming or difficult, particularly if you were pressed for time. However, thanks to online guitarist networks and gig sites, discovering and collaborating with session musicians has never been simpler.
Simply placed, collaborating with session musicians is not only convenient; it’s also essential for maintaining the collective and human nature of creative exchange—a part of music that keeps your craft alive.
Session musicians are divided into many categories.
Contractor who works for himself
The most famous kind of session guitarist is this one. As independent contractors, session players switch between projects that are usually shorter in length. Working in this manner enables the session artist to offer services in a variety of types and genres with a fixed price or hourly rate, and it is ideal for remote collaboration.
Contractor session musicians often provide smaller pieces of recorded music to a band in order to create a certain sound they wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise, such as a cellist on a prog rock song or a flutist making loops on a trap rhythm.
Independent contractors can supply instrumentation for a whole album or song based on the wishes of the client, but they are typically not a long-term part of the team or community.
Band or player in the studio
A studio band or player is a group of session musicians who perform in a studio environment or via a studio-based network.
In this case, session players serve as an extension of booked studio time, providing supporting instrumentation for performers renting studio time who do not have access to a band to record parts they’ve recorded.
A solo vocalist, for example, could rent studio time and collaborate with the studio band to write and record instrumentation for songs the vocalist has composed.
A player or a backing band
A backing band is a group or person that is employed to perform and record on an entire studio album or project. In situations like these, a community of session musicians is put together to accompany a band.
Backing bands are often used as a touring unit, which leads us to the next form of session musician…
Band or player on the road
A traveling band is a band or group of musicians that travels with a project to provide backing music at different live performances.
Since the studio band is usually well-rehearsed with the material an artist would be performing with, it’s normal for them to double as the touring band.
It’s normal for gigs to start low and develop into bigger gigs like traveling, no matter what capacity a session musician works in, so bear that in mind when recruiting session musicians or looking to become a session musician yourself.
What are the rates for session musicians?
Session musician salaries and prices differ greatly based on the job, the client’s talents, experience, and needs.
The length of a project often influences how much session musicians are paying. Hourly prices are commonly used for shorter projects, while a fixed price can be charged for work with a supporting or recording band that lasts many weeks or months.
Depending on the variety and genre of music being offered, session musician prices for different project-based and multi-instrumental gigs on LANDR Network vary from $30 to $499+.
Hot tip: If you’re recruiting or offering your session musician services, make sure the conditions are transparent and equitable before you start working.
How to recruit session musicians and where to look for them
Hiring session musicians was traditionally done by a word-of-mouth network that operated locally through galleries, neighborhoods, and music scenes.
Although being interested with the local group is always a good way to discover and engage with session musicians, finding just what you need for your project can be complicated and time-consuming.
As a result, online music gig networks have become increasingly common in recent years. Gig networks allow it quick and easy to communicate with session musicians with a variety of skills.
It’s simple to find and recruit local performers, or collaborate remotely with musicians all over the world—online music gig groups are fast becoming the industry norm for working session musicians.
Hiring and promoting
Sessions musicians make it possible to collaborate and create in ways that might be difficult to do on your own.
So write a brief, recruit the ideal session drummer, and start working together right away.