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Careers?? Help please.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by blankstare77, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. blankstare77


    May 19, 2006
    Here's my situation. I'm an ambitious teenager who aspires to become a successful musician.

    I need to know my options as a bassist.

    Is session playing worthwhile or popular these days? I'm planning on doing that so it forces me to think on my feet BEFORE I settle down into a Rock ensemble (no, I'm not some lazy bum who just wants the chicks and the money. I'm in it for the music, thanks).

    Are there other options I could do? I plan on going to college and majoring in music (I play bass trombone rather well) and become as well-learned I can before I tackle the industry.

    Thoughts? Any advice will do, please! I'm planning my whole life here!
  2. jsbass


    Sep 3, 2006
    Bassists don't get chicks anyway.
  3. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Sessions are almost non-existent. If you're lucky enough to get any that matter even a little bit, you'll never pay your bills doing just that. Take a look at Janek Gwizdala's forum here, he's got a lot of info.

    You have a big leg up in that you play bass trombone. If you get your skills together on that, and on electric and upright bass, you'll work a lot more than the average player, or even some of the really good players. You'll get maaad versatility. But know this: You may think you're good now. But go to a big city or a good music school . . . you'll get pwnd by ridiculous players left and right. That's your competition, and you've got to get your crap together and get yourself to their level.
  4. gkbass13

    gkbass13 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    New York
    deffinitely check out janek's forum, and im a bassist who hasnt any problems with girls...use your dexterity to your advantage...massages, etc etc...
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Why do people think it's so bad to say they're getting into music for the girls? That's why most people do it.

    Dude, here's the truth...if you're going into music, do it because you love playing music. Don't do it to make money. Very few people make money with it. My advice to people who want to go to college for music is minor in it and major in something that actually can make you a living. It's what I would have done if I was smart, which I wasn't.
  6. Really? I honestly didn't know that. I thought there was big money in sessions and studio playing, for any instrument. Hmm :meh:
  7. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    It is my understanding that teaching and playing in wedding bands pays quite well.
  8. dhadleyray

    dhadleyray Guest

    Dec 7, 2004
    AVOID BEING KNOWN AS A BASS PLAYER.... Get a reputation as a songwriter. Play piano whilst learning logic, digital performer, and pro-tools.
    Study arranging and composition. WRITE SONGS, the industry needs songwriters more than bass players. DON"T hang out with musicians, instead scmooze with music lawyers, engineers, and managers, after all they're the ones that really know who's hiring for the REAL work.

    Unless you're in a band with a "marketable" image and sound, with a GOOD manager of KNOWN repute, you will not get to the people that can help. As a matter of fact, you'll more than likely have musicians trying to block you getting to their contacts. After all, we don't want to see your buttocks staring us in the face as we climb the ladder of success....(note: not EVERYBODY thinks like this, but a substancial amount do..)

    Unless we get a percentage, for our trouble.

    Being a good bassist ain't enough anymore. If people think they can make money off you, THEN it's easy to get known. Then all you have to do is learn how to keep as much of your rightfully deserved points/percentages as others will allow. Ha!

    Write songs. It's more important than being a "virtuoso" bass player. Tasteful playing doesn't require virtuoso technique. Ask McCartney, Sting, Jack Bruce etc.


    Do what you think is best, and go where your heart leads you. After all, in the immortal words of Superchicken..

    "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it!"



    P.S. Sessions are virtually non existent, C'mon dude, EVERYBODY plays bass now! It's the easiest instrument for a novice to pick up and start making music. This week alone, I've seen 3 guitar owners play bass in public. (although even when they played guitar, they were allergic to chords! Soloing is much more fun..) No chords?! Wow, a revelation...

    P.P.S. Guitarists don't usually want to be in a band with a bassist that can solo better than them anyway. It makes them nervous. They'll always be afraid to let you "take one," in case people are too impressed...
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    First, define your success.
  10. blankstare77


    May 19, 2006
    I'm assuming I shouldn't take this rhetorically.

    I don't know specifically what you're asking, so I'll just say everything that comes to mind.

    I'm asking about how to get experience. I don't know where to get experience right now. I always thought that session playing is what everyone did a few decades ago, I was just wondering if they still did it. I suppose not, with all the technology they've got today they can just churn out whatever.

    But I'm talking about gaining versatility from working with so many different types of ensembles that I can broaden my musical horizons before zoning in on Rock 'n Roll. I'm planning on finishing a major in music and minoring in business. I'll learn the ways of the producer, and possibly sound engineer. I'll also learn much about music itself. If I fail at playing bass, I'll become a producer. I have a good ear. I'm planning on meeting plenty of people in a college so I can try to get a band together in those four years (maybe three, or less).

    Basically, I'm not asking how to get into a successful band, I'm asking how to make myself so great of a player that being in a band will be less of a problem; my success in the industry WILL be reliant on how great of a player I am. This is obvious.

    My mission is to be in a bluesy classic rock band. I'll go against the trend. OBVIOUSLY this is NOT a very successful way to tackle the industry; our band will probably have a hard time getting through to the record companies. I'm sorry I care more about music than the image. I'm sorry if I find music more than what it is MISTAKEN for on the radio. I'm sorry if I seem crazy to try to do something that maybe only a handful of people like, but hell, I'm gonna do it.

    Does that clear my situation up a bit more?
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    What I'm saying is something that came to me years ago, when I was considering going into music as a career. Success to me is being able to support myself and my family in a fairly comfortable lifestyle, and to do it by playing music. That involved some compromises. It did not mean groupies, parties, booze and drugs and being "famous". So I play music for a living, but had to make some compromises to do it. I personally joined the Army, and then the Air Force to be employed and insured (me and my family) by playing music. That's what I mean by defining success. Only you can do that for you.

    Get experience by playing. Anytime you can, with people better than you are, every single chance you get. Sessions usually go the most seasoned players. That is, the ones who already have experience.

    Learn to read. Learn as many styles of music as you can, and play them often. Play any gig you can afford to do for a while. Play on demos for free if you need to get your name out.
    If you think making a living as a bass player is hard, you can't even imagine how hard it is to make a living producing. It takes much more than a good ear and knowledge of how to record to do it. It's also a money-sucking hole that most people never get out of....

    Not as obvious as you'd think. I can point to hundreds of players that aren't as good as I am, yet have much better resumes. Why? Could be they knew the artist that gave them the first shot. They might be able to work cheaper than I am. They might tell better jokes. They might be the road manager's brother in law.... Very little depends on your abilities, once you've reached a professional level. The hang has more to do with it.

    I don't mean to discourage you by writing this, I've dealt with this for about 20 years now, and haven't had to get a 'straight job'. I just want you to have a clear head going in, knowing what you're up against. If you consider all these things, and still have to play music, you're in for a great ride!
  12. blankstare77


    May 19, 2006
    I appreciate that you're playing hardball with me. Please understand that I'm rather obsessive with whatever course I should take. Right now I'm unsure of the course. I do not step into the business lighthearted; my parents were both professional musicians and have told me time and time again what you're telling me.

    Are there any POSITIVE things you can tell me? Any references of any kind?
  13. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    One does not simply say "If I fail at bass I'll become a producer." That's like saying you can just walk into Mordor . . . (sorry, my phrasing just begged the reference)

    Before you can be a producer, you have to be an intern. That means scrubbing toilets and ordering coffee for 6-12 months. For free. Working 12-14 hours a day, if you want to get anywhere and be noticed. After that, if you're really lucky and you have pro tools skills, you might get a job as an assistant engineer. That's a good 14-16 hour workday. At this point you do start getting paid, though. After a few years, you may be able to start engineering. After more years of that, you can start looking into producing.

    Basically, if you want to be a producer, audio engineering has to be your entire life. If you want to work in a "real" studio, you'll probably have to sacrifice bass.

    It is possible now, though, to make some money using a home project studio, if you've got mad skills. It's hard to do because you'd basically have to build up your clientel from scratch recording for free for a while. But once you start making money on that, and have a few playing gigs, it's not too far fetched that you could scrape together a living. Just make sure you hang a lot, and hang well.

    edit: I'm not talking so much from personal experience (I'm only just embarking on this path), but from lots of observation of the cats around me, and what other people are doing.
  14. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I'm 2 years into a music major and i feel like i can share some humbling {for me} & comforting knowledge/experience.

    Story Time

    I was "the cat" in my area [shy of my teachers of course] in high school. I got called by my teachers to play at various things-even got to sub for my very first bass teacher {Jeff Boswell} at a middle school event-that was awesome. Got called to play w/kids around school, the local churches-if they wanted a bass player and couldn't find one they called our school to see if we had any....naturally-the call went to me. Note: I'm from a small town, in my high school i was the only doubler electric & upright and did every band we had. I had the recognition and contacts to play around here-not at the jazzer pro level, but i could keep up with the adults who played for fun/side gig.

    Wanna know what happened when i got to college thinking that i'd be able to chair in pretty high? To be honest, i got my head handed to me. I chaired dead last. It was quite depressing and humbling. It hit me-my pond just grew to a much larger size. Instead of being a medium sized fish in a tiny pond, i was now a tiny fish in a much bigger pond-possibly even a lake. All those nice contacts and repuation i had back home? Yeah, they stayed there. Gradually, i'm working my contacts back up and am developing a reputation. The catch: i feel like i'm constantly improving here thanks to the faculty {namely my bass teacher Scott Mason} and since i feel like i have something to prove now-not to anyone else, but me though. I'm not at a school where i'm already at the top, rather, i'm at the bottom seeing where i can go. Rather than just wanting to be better than others-that's not the goal, it's wanting to be better than i was when first got into my practice room that day. Constantly improving and honing my skills. The part of my playing [speaking predominatly DB side] that i feel is a strength is my tone-that's the thing that i keep on hearing "man, your tone is great" during juries. However, i know that i have a lot to work on-technique and soloing. Thumb position makes me go like this :bag:

    My regular gigs/groups are ones that i've gotten without people caring too much about my playing abilities rather they assumed i was at a level where i could handle it so it became more about if we could get along/mesh well. The musical i'm playing for? One of the co-writers was my suite-mate in the dorm last year and when i went over to talk to the other one, he asked me if i knew any bass players-and i told him "i'll do it, even if it's a freebie". The other ensembles-the folk ones are through a recording session i did back here in Indiana, and then the jazz ones are guys that i am friends with at school-we thought it'd be fun {who'd a thunk that ;) } to get together and just jam.

    Studio gigs: Quoting one of my bass teachers-"i went from doing 400 sessions a year to 40.....the work has dried up." This cat isn't a light weight by any stretch. Rather-he's one of the most sick players and teachers i've ever had the pleasure of studying with. Between his statement and a master class we had with the Boss Brass Guy [i forget his name]-it hit me that there isn't as much studio work out there as there once was. If you can get em, do it. I get called by some guys here in Lafayette to do sessions and i'm on call with 2 other places in Chicago for studio work-one is a rap/hip-hop small studio ran by a coworker of mine and then other is a small production company that focuses on performing arts.

    Positive stuff : I wouldn't change this experience for the world. I'm learning more about music and myself than i ever thought i would. Am i going to become the next Lee Sklar, Duck Dunn, or Neil Stubenhaus, Ray Brown, Reggie Hamilton, Nathan East, etc etc etc etc? Probably not. I'd be much more content being Cam McIntyre as regardless of how i do, that's who i am :) I have been depressed and i have thought about quiting-mainly when i think about the financial side of things [student loans mainly]. Life is about more than money so my plan is to go balls to the walls and see what happens. The worst case scenario is i'm $140k in student loan debt (that's the cap on what Sallie Mae allows you to take out), move back in with my mom, go to a community college, and work some sort of labor job while trying to find better. That would royally suck to be honest, but last time i checked we don't strive through life planning on the worst case scenario. More positive: You'd be going to school to help you get the contacts you need so that you can have your living be an extremely enjoyable endevour.

    I think this was my longest post in quite some time. I hope this helped some.
  15. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    I'd just like to point out that if it gets that terrible that you have nowhere to live, etc. you can always join the military. You don't have to be a combatant, and if you go to the air force, you really won't do much of anything.

    That was my "fall back" option when I decided to pursue physics. At the time I had no idea whether I would be employable at all or if I could hack it.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that with a bachelors you can become an officer, so that's always a plus.

    So basically I'm saying: aim high and don't give up. If you don't make it, there is something to fall back on.
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification


    The Air Force really isn't interested hiring too many new officers these days. We recently let go a lot of them. It takes more than a degree to be one, but we are looking for some combat related specialties these days...

    I don't want to be negative, I love my job - but it's a career, not a 'fall-back'. I work with too many amazing musicians to call it that.
  17. I hope your being sarcastic... otherwise I've wasted two years of my life...
  18. Someone said it above, but major in business and minor in music. I majored in music for two years and dropped out to try to gig professionally (on the advice of my teacher), only to find out it's not as easy as you might think. After working a bunch of crappy day jobs trying to "make it", I finally went back to school and just finished a Bachelors Degree in Business Management. Now, I will get to make a decent living at the "day job" and I still play fairly regularly. Wish I knew then what I know now.

    Also, while chops are fun and all, don't focus too much on being the fastest/baddest/coolest/whatever. Learn to lock and groove. Always remember K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) as well. Studio work (what's left of it) is all about making the song groove. More and more artists in more and more styles are going back to live musicians, but it's still going to be about who has the deepest groove. You can't go in and play like Jamerson anymore. It's got to be much simpler. I find this unfortunate, but that's just the way it is.
  19. jsbass


    Sep 3, 2006
    BS dude, there is a different between some guitarist who can noodle around on bass and a bassist who has studied theory and played bass for years. There is session work too, you'd be surprised how many music pieces would require a bassist with decent skill. Hell, look at commercials now a days. A lot more have session bassists playing those catchy bass themes and etc. It's definitely out there, one just has to look.
  20. arbarnhart


    Nov 16, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    I forget who said this (a guitarist, I think) and I am paraphrasing a little - "I got into music to meet girls and ended up discussing my fingernails with middle aged men."

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