How do you become a studio musician?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by KingOvHell, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. KingOvHell

    KingOvHell Guest

    Jul 21, 2008
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    I am much more intrested in this then a band so i think it is the route i am gonna take. Also when recording for a band that was a specific sound would they supply the effects and/or amp or would i be on my own for that?
  2. I think it really boils down to living in an area where there is plenty of studio work available and getting to know the engineers and convincing them that you can do the job quickly and correctly. Often these guys aren't that concerned that you can play a billion notes, they want someone with good tone, time and gear that works. The thing they hate the most is people who waste their time, unless of course that person is paying the studio bill.

    As far as effects are concerned, the more who have and KNOW how to use the better. The engineer will have some stuff (depends on the guy), but no guarantee what it will be. Again it boils down to time. The engineer doesn't want to sit there forever while you try to dial in some tone. Know your gear. And for the amp, I have never actually used an amp in the studio, I have always ran direct. Heck, I'm usually standing next to the engineer by the board listening over the speakers along with him.

    Finally, if you do land studio work, I like to try and get payed by the song. If you walk in and knock out a tune in 15 mins, you won't get paid much hourly.

    This is just my 2 cents but hopefully it helps.
  3. This thread caught my attention. Thanks for the above post, I would appreciate any one else's advice.
  4. LowBSix


    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    Read, read, read and learn to read!
    Play in time with a W - I - D - E dynamic range
    Study tone, amps, play all styles...
    Always say yes!
  5. KwinS


    Oct 30, 2006
    Dallas/Ft. Worth
    You need good people skills, too. Some times these are taken for granted.
    Always be early.
    Be reliable and easy to reach.
    Be in tune before they want to push "record".
    Listen to EVERYTHING.
  6. Skywalker83

    Skywalker83 Guest

    Oct 19, 2008
    Tampere, Finland
    Get together a good portfolio of pieces that show the abilty to play a variety of styles. This should obviously be a recorded portfolio. You could include some improvisation recordings as well.

    Start networking, start talking to people you know and ask if they know anyone who maybe works in the industry, even if they know someone who is the tea boy, or the van driver at a studio/production company start trying to get in touch. There will probably be a plentiful amount of competition, so look for any means possible (within reason) to get your foot in the door. Find out what bars the producers, musicians, studio workers go to, start hanging out there and possibly approach them when the time is right. Make an impression and make yourself be remembered.

    It's not about what you know, it's who you know!
  7. AndrewMagrini

    AndrewMagrini Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2007
    I can give advice from a first-hand perspective. I'm on break from college for the past month, and from a good deal of just putting my name out and giving out cards, numbers, etc., I got my first real recording situation.

    I'm no authority on this, but just from going in and getting things done in a positive and timely manner, I got in for three albums in the course of three weeks.

    Having good tone, and (IMO) a flexible tone makes all the difference. I have three basses I use almost all the time: 5 string Warwick, '83 Precision, and a Schecter strung with flatwounds.

    Look on Myspace for people in your area, and just send them a message. It really works.

    Hope this helps,

  8. Can we see an example of a portfolio?
  9. Regarding the question in the thread name:

    1) Be very, very good... clean chops, taste, expert reading, great business ethics, etc.

    2) Be one of the three or four guys that met the above criteria and were in the right place and the right time in Nashville 20 years ago and LA 30 years ago.

    If both 1 and 2 do not describe you, get a day job:D
  10. Alan Vorse

    Alan Vorse

    Aug 20, 2005
    And New York 30-40 years ago.
  11. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
  12. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Just to reinforce a point that was raised earlier:

    If you don't know how to read, forget it. Or learn how to read, then practice sight reading for several years, then think about becoming a studio musician. A working studio musician is expected to sight read songs he or she has never heard before, then lay down a good take in as little time as possible. You have to be able to read full scores, chord charts, tabs (seldom), and that numerical chord & pattern notation that is used in Nashville. You will also sometimes be asked to listen to a song and figure out your own bass part - quickly.
  13. beta_442

    beta_442 Guest

    Apr 7, 2008
    Hillsboro, OR
    I used to think that, but then a good friend with lots of connections said...

    It's not who you know, but who knows you!
  14. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck Guest

    Sep 26, 2000
    There has always been good information in this thread:

    Location has a lot to do with it. Living in a big city with lots of bands and lots of musicians and lots of studios and lots of music industry happenings is key. Making it here as a studio musician in Milwaukee would be kind of tough. I could call each of the two or three real studios in town and say "Hey, it's Michael - do you guys need me? Nope? Okay. I'll call back in a week or two". Then I would sit and play video games 'cause there's no work.

    Come to think of it, that sounds kind of nice. We'll see if my wife goes for it. :D
  15. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    1) SIGHT READ. Sight read really well.
    2) Know your theory. You don't have to be an expert, but you need to know what chord names mean (that likely will come with learning to sight read)
    3) Develop really good relative pitch
    4) BE A PROFESSIONAL, not a player. Treat the work like WORK, even if you love it. Show up a bit early, leave a bit late, be willing to do things you don't want to do (country, for example!). This also means look professional. Hygiene, clean clothes - stuff some musicians seem to forget to do...