What Does it Take to Be a Session Musician?

Jacob Benjamin Fite

December 5, 2022


Having the skill and experience to perform in a recording studio can be the ticket to making your music dreams come true. As a session musician, you can play in a variety of styles and can make a living while doing what you love. This article will examine how to prepare for this career and what it takes to succeed.

Working in a recording studio

Performing in a recording studio as a session musician is a great way to learn about the music industry. Most recording studios pay musicians a set wage for their work. However, some companies refuse to provide a flat rate. These companies will not pay for future royalties. They may also require you to sign a release form.

Many session musicians play various instruments, including bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums. They may have experience playing other instruments, such as strings or flutes. Some musicians prefer to play solo. They may also be hired to tour with major label artists.

Having the ability to play a variety of styles

Having the ability to play a variety of styles as a session musician can increase your chances of landing more gigs. While playing live can mask inaccuracies in your ability, a good-quality recording session can reveal every fingernail articulation. Developing your network and establishing a solid reputation can also increase your chances of landing future gigs.

Session musicians are often paid a flat rate or an hourly rate, depending on the type of gig. They may also provide musical instruments or equipment. They may play on recordings, live shows, or musical stage productions. Different types of clients, including music producers, recording studios, advertising agencies, and other bands, hire them.

In addition to providing music services, session musicians may provide backup for an artist on tour. These musicians can play instruments that the band members are not able to. Some session musicians specialize in brass, strings, or woodwinds.

Having a clear contract drawn up by a good lawyer

Having a clear contract drawn up by a competent lawyer is the only way to go. If you don’t do your homework, you could end up in a sticky situation that could take years to resolve. A properly drafted document will make the whole process less painful. So, if you’re on the hunt for a new gig, here’s what you need to know.

There are two main types of performing arts contracts: recording and live. If you’re considering a recording contract, ensure you understand your rights and obligations. Also, check out the record industry’s Code of Conduct to see if the band you’re interested in playing with is a good fit for you.

You might have to spend some time on the phone with your lawyer to get the details. The standard contract for a band is typically for one year. However, you may need to negotiate a longer-term deal for multiple performances or tour dates.

Preparing to become a session musician

Whether you’re just starting as a professional musician or playing for years, you should know a few things before you apply to become a session musician. A good reputation and networking skills will help you get the gigs you want.

First, you need to build a reputation in the local music community. This can be done by performing at Many studios advertise in trade magazines. You can also post music clips on your website or social media pages.

Second, you must ensure you have a good demo recording and headshots. You can find these by searching for jobs and playing music for events on classified ads.

Lastly, you need to have a website or YouTube channel. You should also join as many music-related groups as possible. These are the best places to advertise your skills as a professional musician.