any session players here?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by danielj, Jul 25, 2004.

  1. danielj


    Jul 22, 2004
    is there any session players on this site? i was thinking of becoming one eventually. does it make good pay? is it hard to become one? would a college course help at all? :bassist:
  2. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I'm asuming that by "session player", you are referring to recording sessions. To make a "good" living at it - which means you'll be comfortable, not rich - you need to be where there is plenty of work. Nashville, LA, New York. You need to have excellent sightreading skills, and understand a handful of other chart reading systems. You will need to have great networking skills, solid tasteful playing skills and instinct, and good gear, including a "recording standard" fender bass or two (some producers simply require a jazz or precision bass, and won't accept anything else). You'll need to be reliable, prompt, courteous and professional, and have an overwhelming ability to eat crow and say "yes sir" even though the person hiring you is making a poor judgment call and wants you to play what you deem to be absolute crap.

    Sound glamorous yet? ;)
  3. Im not actually a sessions man, but I have played a few sessions .I played for a band called the broken gnome rainbow. Their bassist quit the day of recording. Another time was for some singer named John Davis Thompson , an aspiring country singer. I was in Nashville and got hired to play this guys session. Let me tell you , playing country sucks on bass. SOOOOO BOOOORING.

    Plus i think this is in the wrong forum.
  4. danielj


    Jul 22, 2004
    lol yeh i hate country. but it sounds fun to play for a living thou :)
  5. Yeah the pay is great, I got Paid close to 10,000 for the country guy.
  6. danielj


    Jul 22, 2004
    wow i would sit for 5 days being bored if it took it for 10k!
  7. By the way, You have to be able to sight read well , cause the arranger will be staring down your ass and if you at one point look like you might be confused he will fire your ass.Ive seen it happen to plenty of guys.
  8. danielj


    Jul 22, 2004
    Are you referring to Nashville numbering etc. or "real" music e.g. F-clef or both?
  9. anything they put in front of you
  10. danielj


    Jul 22, 2004
    ok ill remember that. sounds like fun thou still.
  11. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL

  12. Yeah , heavey sorry bout that
  13. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    So what is Nashville Numbering?

    I think I've neard of it, but I don't think I've ever seen it.
  14. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    And what about Nashville slang names for keys and feels. Those folks speak a language all their own.

    I remember someone telling me that a two feel in G would be 'instructed' to the band as "Eat $#!+ boy." Now how does that make any sense at all?
  15. danielj


    Jul 22, 2004
    lol yeh. i am not sure myself i just know its a type of written music.
  16. jb63


    Jan 3, 2002
    Cleveland, Ohio
  17. danielj


    Jul 22, 2004
    cant get into the site for some reason.
  18. bassturtle


    Apr 9, 2004
    Where I live it's hard to make enough money to make a living at it. Unlike Nashvegas, LA, or New York you have to be both a session player and a live player to make really good money. So, I think a lot of it has to do with the town that you live in. I think you'd be better off talking to some local guys about what the market is like where you live.

    I for one, really enjoy being a session player. I find it more rewarding than being on a stage. If you are the kind of person who gets off on being infront of a ton of people, then this might not be the gig for you.

    As far as wages go, again, I think that has to do with the town that you live in. Most of the time studios and producers will go by what the local Musician's Union has set down for pricing. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but I wouldn't take anything less than that.

    Some tips that have worked well for me:
    -Like other people have said, learn to read whatever they put infront of you i.e. Bass Clef, Lead Sheets/Chord Charts, Nashville chart, etc.
    -Join the local Musician's Union. A lot of times artists will contact them to get names of players.
    -Get known (aka Networking). Get cards made and pass them out. Go to local acoustic/songwriter shows (where the performers don't have bands) and talk to them about using you if they decide to make an album. Also, hit local studios and give them a card or a resume. Go to any 'cattle calls' in your town. Whatever you have to do to make sure people know who you are. Remember, this is a business and people can't use your services if they don't know who you are.
    -Get used to playing music that you don't like. Out of all the recordings I've played bass on in the past couple of years, I've really only loved a handful.
    -Don't freak out when someone tries to give you direction. You have to remember that it's their music...not yours.
    -Be early to sessions. Keep in mind that the client is paying for your time AND the studio's time. So, if you are running late or are having a hard time getting ready to go, you are costing that client some cash. At my very first 'professional' recording session the pianist on the gig told me "If you're on time then you're 10 mins. late." Good advice to live by.
    -Be prepared. Try to have some idea as to what the client is looking for so you know what gear you need to bring. I also think it's a good idea to bring some extra stuff just in case they decide they want a different tone or different feel.
    -Know what your weaknesses are and work on them. I have a tendency to play 'on top' of a beat while I'm recording, so I do everything in my power to lay back and create a solid pocket for the rest of the music to sit in. The easiest way to figure out your weaknesses is to record yourself playing.
    -Get basses that record well. Just because a bass is awesome doesn't mean that it's going to record well. I've owned several basses over the years that sounded like ass once they hit tape. I've tried to buy basses that are well rounded and work well for different genres.
    -Most importantly - don't be an ass. Nobody likes a jerk. I can name about 7 or 8 other guys in town who are better bassists than me. However, there are a couple of producers/engineers who always call me for sessions because "I'm a nice person and am easy to work with." Being friendly with people goes a long way.

    The way that I got my foot in the door was by meeting guys who had smaller/in-house studios. I tried to become friends with guys my age who were the 'next generation' of engineers. A couple of these guys are now in high demand and have built some very successful studios. Remember that there are plenty of young engineers/producers who are in the same position as you right now...everyone has to start somewhere.

    I also bought a ProTools rig and some good outboard 'bass recording' gear so that I would be able to work on sessions at home for clients. That was a real life saver for some people who couldn't afford to pay me and pay for studio time. I charge people the same amount no matter where I'm recording, so if they have me just record from home they don't have to worry about paying studio fees. Usually the client will want to be here with me the first time I play for them, but after that they will usually trust me to come up with something they will be happy with.

    Geeeez, that was a long post. Hopefully there's some good info in there that you can use.
  19. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    They do the same thing in Kansas City as well. I do some session dates when I can. I'm doing a recording for a movie soundtrack before I go back on the road. As well as everything everyone else has said, you also have to be part of the "clique". Face it, who you know counts just as much as what you know.
  20. bassturtle


    Apr 9, 2004

    It's the sad truth. Time is money in this business, so people are going to go with people they know they can count on. Makes it hard for new people to get in.