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what does it take to make it as a bassist

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by MCBTunes, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. Besides obviously being able to play, what other aspects would make me a good prospect for your band... or perhaps to be signed to a record company to play for those singers like.... Hilary Duff, mandy moore or whatever....

    I'm 18 now well almost and I'm sitting around the intermediate area, starting lessons up to work on the theory side... I want to be a musician.

    So what does it take?
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Loving your bass more than anything else in the world.

    Time to love your bass more than anything else in the world.
  3. WickdMOnkey


    Nov 18, 2003
    practice practice practice
  4. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    +1 on practice but also it dosn't hurt to live in or near a major music center in canada like toronto or vancouver or in the US like LA or new york city.im based in chicago and have done pop and r&b tour's but most of my hook up's are through people i know and have worked with and proved myself locally
  5. Eric Grossman

    Eric Grossman

    Nov 3, 2004
    St. Louis
    Endorsing Artist: Hipshot Products and SIT Strings
    I'll probably get a lot of flak for this, but for the gigs you are talking about, your playing is not as important as your age, look, personality, and connections.
    When I landed my first national tour, after the audition, the manager told me "we don't need a great bass player". I got the gig, because of the other qualities. My playing was secondary.
    If you have no connections, you need an agent who has them. As long as you can play the material well, you need to look great on stage, and be the guy everyone wants to hang with.
    Send resumes and pictures out to agents, managers, etc... If you have what they're looking for, and you can get to where they need you to be, it my be possible to land some auditions
    To back up adult selling artists, however, You'd better have your playing TOGETHER, first and foremost.
    I've worked my tail off, for 25 years, to be the best I can be, and it's kept me working. But, without connections and "hangability" it wouldn't have happened.
  6. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    funny eric i have got the "we don't need a great bass player" speech myself,image and attitude are factors also
  7. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    "Making it." There's different types of 'making it' if you think about it. You seem to have a good idea of what the goal is, as far as getting in a band or backing others. But narrow it down a little more.

    Making a living at music? That's what you seem to be talking about, right? Making a living in any of the arts can be pretty tough, even if you're talented or have the 'image' so to speak. That's why, like the others have said, you have to love it - not just the bass or bass playing - but music. You have to love doing it and being involved with it. But you also have to be able to 'put up' with it because sometimes it can get pretty trying. Not money-wise or technique-wise but there'll be times when you're sitting there thinking "Why the hell am I freegin doing this?!"

    And then you've got to be able to honestly laugh it off and say, "Because I actually like it!"

    At 18, and wanting to make a living at it, you might, if you can, enroll in some college level music courses. Get a good grounding in what's been done in the past, and see if you can really get into sight-reading and perhaps recording and studio techniques. You'll probably make more money in studios than on stage, since studio work, if again you can find it, is a little more consistent - but that's where reading standard notation on the fly comes in.

    And don't, if possible, limit yourself only to the bass. It can remain your main instrument, but allow yourself to learn other instruments - even if it's only to know how to write/arrange for them.

    But getting back to the theme of the thread: all other things being equal and you having gone through the basics and learned all you can, to 'make it' still requires that deep, unshakable love for music, and making music, a respect for it above all things and patience with it and with yourself.

    Best of luck! :)
  8. very cool.

    Mom isnt happy with my decision though haha. She expected me to take my education into something traditional, doctor, engineer, etc. Then she brings up the "what if you dont make it" already putting doubt in me... man she is a huge help haha. But I guess that is something I have to consider.... I am risking a lot persuing music.
  9. Yep you have to be versatile in all areas of playing
    Another thing is having good people skills and being reliable as well as having a good attitude
    I mean in my area there are guys with great chops and all they wanna do is play in funk bands or where the bass is the dominant part of the band but they miss the oppurtunities of the other areas like jazz or blues folk country as well as reading gigs
    Where as if they thought about it you get just as much money making as if you were in the funk band
    Also having transport and good reliable gear is a must
  10. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    I can't tell you how to be a rock star, but If your main goal is to make a living as a bassist, I can give you some practical advice:

    1) Learn the 80 most common R&B, Motown, Soul tunes that get played at weddings. Learn them really well. Be able to actually stick to the bass part. Don't get so good that playing the original line is beneath you.

    2) Learn the 20 most popular Jazz standards and Sinatra hits.

    *** You can find these songs listed at any wedding website

    3) Move to a major city. Not necessarily LA or New York, but one big enough to have a full time wedidng/ corporate music scene.

    4) Learn to sing. You will be twice as valuable to any band if you sing. Many times, a lesser bass player who sings will get a gig over a kiler bass player who sits on a stool and stares at his feet.

    5) Be reliable, professional and pleasant on gigs (I'm still working on that last part)

    6) Don't load in through the front door. The guests don't want to see your gear.

    7) Take any gig you can get until you get established. Even guys who have been doing it for years play $50 club gigs on off nights. Just don't get burnt out or start drinking too much.

    8) Be lucky.
  11. well, i'd say the number one thing is having connections...i will guaruntee that you can be better than 90% of the entire bass crowd, but without other people, you won't be very well known...corinpills also said a good one...you can always use luck. being at the right place at the right time is big.
  12. The other guys have given you some fantastic advice, but when I read your thread title, mt first thought was "be able to listen." I read a great quote in an old BP magazine that went, "You don't get paid to play fast, you get paid to listen fast." And that's my point: you've got to be able to listen to the song, listen to the other players, and make your lines fit in in such a way as to compliment the whole.
  13. hey mcb, im in the same boat as you! im 18 and i think i'd like to make a living as a bassist as well. from reading the previous posts, ive got a lot to learn and get involved in. especially with being able to read music besides tabs for possible studio work.
    but i was thinking that after i get outa highschool and branch off to college, ill hopefully be able to start a band and really get things rolling.
    anyways, hope everything works out,for the both of us. :smug:
  14. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    Be an engineer with music right beside you. There's nothing says you can't have double degrees :)
  15. I'd say, be very open to music and bass playing. Listen to a lot of music and learn a lot of music. It helps immensely to be able to go from a rock to R&B setting. One important factor is who you know... which is why you should never burn bridges. Make a lot of friends in the business, and play out with a lot of musicians. if you're good, and more importantly, easy to work with, that's a huge plus in your favor.
  16. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    My advice is to begin immediately. Hang around studios, clubs and bars that feature bands, meet people in the industry whenever possible. Music schools, such as Berklee, can be great for getting a foot in the door. You need to "build your brand equity." Your brand equity is how you present yourself to the world: what others think of when they meet you. Does your brand equity convey you as a personable, skilled bass player who's right for any gig?

    Get to know other bass players in the area who could mentor you, They might have a conflict one night and recommend you for a gig that gets you recognized. Other musicians or producers may get to know you as a willing and eager participant and have you in the backs of their minds when assembling the next project.

    It's a very hard field to make a living in, but not impossible. If you are really devoted to making a career in music, begin today. Devote yourself 110% and know you'll probably spin wheels more than you think it's worth in the beginning. But, if you keep plugging away at building your "brand" and all of your other traits fall into place (ie: your image, playing skills, personality, etc), you'll eventually get there.

    In the end, keep busy. Make everything about landing SOME kind of music gig. It could pay off in the end.
  17. 'JC'


    Mar 14, 2000
    I have to say I'm in a similar position.
    Right now I'm playing with some band I don't even like (emo/screamo crap) just to make contacts and get my name out there as a bassist. It's gone incredibly slow.

    I started taking lessons again, specifically for jazz since it's my weakest point, but other than that, I just don't know what to do. :help:
  18. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Get with a good choreographer and learn to dance. Seriously. The music business isn't about music. It's about image, and if you can't dance, you're gone.
  19. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    If you don't "make it" in ten years, you still have another 70+ years to be a doctor AND an engineer. But at that point you'll have ten years worth of great experiences and memories that you never would have gotten by hitting the books for hours every night.

    Don't let her put doubt into you. If you honestly have the passion to do it then you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot.

    My first year of college I double majored in music and electrical engineering. It was an interesting year to say the least. :)
  20. she's just trying to help you take in consideration all pro's/cons

    Good luck