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Part time session bassist for a newcomer to the US.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by John Hikaru Koh, Aug 5, 2017.


  1. Ladies and gents,

    Just a quick disclaimer, I am new to Talkbass and this is my first thread, so I apologise in advance if I might be posting this thread in the wrong section, asking a stupid question, etc.

    Just a brief background about myself... I'll be moving to the US next month (from Singapore) to further my studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA upon the completion of my two-year long mandatory national conscription. I primarily play the upright and can fiddle around with the electric but not to the extent as to accepting gigs on it. I also do have a classical background (so I can sightread, to a certain level) but my primary focus is now on jazz.

    Question:
    I've been seriously considering taking up a part time job as a session bassist, intending to save up that money for grad school tuition. To those out there who are familiar with the session scene in the US, I'm curious about this whole idea of sessioning. Am I right to say that I must be able to sightread perfectly on the spot on both upright and electric bass? What are the rates like? Is it worth sparing a whole chunk of my practice time on practicing the essentials of a good session bassist? (practising my sight reading, working on both electric and upright, etc.) etc. Please advise!

    Regards,

    John Koh
     
  2. JohnDavisNYC

    JohnDavisNYC

    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    If you are talking about studio session work, you are about 30 years late. The session scene is no more.

    You might pick up a session here and there, but there simply isn't that aspect of the industry anymore.

    John
     
    DrayMiles and geoffbassist like this.
  3. DrayMiles

    DrayMiles

    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Young man, you need to understand that you have a better chance of getting any session work if you can prove yourself to be exceptional compared to everyone else in a similar position as yourself. .. And learn the art of "the hang." IMO...
     
  4. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    USA
    I can't give any information on how to break into being session bassist. But the skills you describe at learning are those of just about any professional gigging bassist and are good to learn, not necessarily for session work. I would focus on becoming a gigging bassist, not a session bassist. Gigs will earn you money and are the bread and butter, and may lead to one off paid "sessions" if people like your playing. Teaching may be another avenue of earning some cash, if you are qualified for it.

    I do generally concur with others in that there "is no session scene" for the most part. If there was, we would all be doing it.
     
    DrayMiles likes this.
  5. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    The playing standard in Boston is extremely high. The buskers play at a higher level than pros in many other cities. There are tons of great musicians on every instrument who have been here for years and have made a name for themselves. You are looking at years and years of NEC/Berkelee grads who have stayed around here, not to mention professors. There are certainly recording sessions that pay, but the line is long. There are more great musicians here than anywhere. Especially in terms of random, all-styles pros.
    Better to get here and go with your strengths and make connections. Distinguish yourself as someone who does something special.
     
    DrayMiles and geoffbassist like this.
  6. mdcbass

    mdcbass Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Seacoast of NH
    The great Milt Hinton was giving a workshop at a university and a student asked "What's the most important thing I can do to be a successful musician?" His response "Always be on time."
     
    damonsmith likes this.
  7. jdthebassman

    jdthebassman

    Jul 11, 2010
    I hate to say it but the scene around here is dead. session work was never great. I have lived out in this area for 30 years and it took a while to get some good gigs, you have to network. if you get your electric chops together you may get some GB work. the theater scene is locked up by some of your teachers at berklee. it is possible to find gigs but you will need good transportation,gear, etc some gigs could be an hour to 2 hours away. it is a major + if you can sing. too many players willing to play for crap money or for free.
     
  8. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Or just for not having to pay the rental fee for the Outpost or Lily Pad. The situation for playing around here is really weird to say the least! The upside is how great the musicians are. If you are even slightly organized and can play when you do play it is possible to keep things at a high level.
     
  9. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Also, rather than say "you sometimes have to drive two hours for a gig", I would say "there are different places to play around New England that are short drives" - coming from California and Texas, that is one of great things about living here. New York is really easy, also. The more south you live, the better it seems. I live in Quincy, Logan airport is 20-45 min at the most, a gig in Brooklyn door to door is about 4hrs & 5min. A Cambridge gig is 30min, Providence 45. Hartford/New Haven is 2hrs and Burlington is 3hrs - all beautiful drives if you leave at the right times. Get a car with a good stereo.
     
    DrayMiles and sevenyearsdown like this.
  10. DrayMiles

    DrayMiles

    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Or Sirius FM...
     

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