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Self promoting for studio work

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by thrash_jazz, Mar 8, 2004.

  1. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Hello Michael, Steve and the gang,

    I had a question about how you guys first got your names out there when you first began your session careers.

    This is a field I'd like to get into and have been trying to do for the past year and a bit (although admittedly, not working at it as hard as I could).

    I've been doing the usual thing - hanging out and playing at open jams and the like, talking to people, making contacts and giving them business cards.

    Almost ALL of the people who are looking for bassists (and there seem to be a lot of them here) want full-timers, even if they are looking to go into the studio. How does one deal with this mentality - or can you suggest other steps to take in order to find session work? I know it's mostly luck of the draw at first, but I was wondering if I might have missed anything.

    Thanks in advance :)
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Adam,

    sadly there's no one route into sessions now - back in the 70s there was a strong demo scene in the big cities, so anyone who really wanted to go for it could go that route, and work pretty much non-stop if they were reliable. These days, very few people outside of Nashville use real players for demos, so you're looking to convince people to bring you in for their main deal. That's a lot to ask of someone, so something has to convince them it's worth it. That thing can be lots of different things from friendship to hearing you in another band to you having a great demo and a really friendly manner, to personal recommendation from someone else, to desparation and you being the first dude that arrives when they are tearing their hair out trying to find a bassist...

    I think the key to it is the 'work hard' bit. It's all a crap-shoot, so you just need to shorten the odds by doing more of everything. Be more friendly, more visible, more proffesional, have a better CD, etc. etc. bigger better faster more...

    Failing that, screw the session scene and become a solo artist... ;)

  3. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Ha! Actually I'm giving that a shot as well! :)

    Thank you for the input Steve. One more question - since most bands, especially in a smaller city, would prefer to find a player that would be willing to stay with them, and thus may pass up a session musician if they aren't committed... how about self-promotion to the studios themselves? I'm guessing this might be a better medium. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!
  4. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    I know it may feel like you're spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere Adam, but I'll bet in the long run your hard work will pay off. Unfortunately, getting established as a session player can be a slow process. Usually the trick is to manage to get yourself on a recording that someone likes enough to hire you for theirs, and hopefully it branches out from there. There aren't any real secrets that I'm aware of – just always play each project as if it was the most important one in the world and treat everyone with respect and dignity. That seems to be what works out best.

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