what should I do to try and make it as a bassist?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DeeDeeEntwistle, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. hey guys, Ive been playing bass since i was 7 years old (im 22 now). I want to make it as a bassist no matter what the cost. I've played in a band over the last 3 years and have made some regional success but i really want to get into anything else possible too, rather it be session playing, being a hired gun or giving lessons.

    i've lost my job, girlfriend and countless other things over wanting to play for a living but i cannot get any other goal in my head but this..... even before i played when i was really young watching my dad in bands i knew i had to do this, theres nothing else for me.

    my sight reading isn't great but im working on it everyday. my ear and chops are my strong point i can usually pick up and play along with somebody in a few seconds-minutes.

    im basically asking what is it i should do to get myself moving in this direction? any input would be great.

  2. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    I thought the same way you did when I was 18. I got into music university and I was going to be be a bass player full time. Full time means just that. I spent dozens of sleepless nights studying and learning. I'd schedule my whole day from 6am-11pm with music. Plus however many extra hours my homework took. I'd have lessons, classes and homework like lifting solo's, memorizing tunes and even music history. I'd also spend 3 hours of the day just listening to music I've never heard before, trying to digest as much music as possible.

    And halfway into year two, I just started to hate how playing bass had become so much work. It was work and not fun anymore. So I left at age 19. I'm 23 now, graduated with a gas fitters license. And I've been playing in classic rock bands for the past four years having the time of my life(and getting paid respectably).

    To me bass is just a hobby. You want to take it to the next level, I encourage you! It's always good to see what you're made of! So my advice is this, take in everything musical you possibly can, that starts with a bitching music library. however you get your music, get lots of it. and learn as much of it as you can by ear. Even transcribing the actual notation. Don't just learn the bass part. Learn the lead parts, the chords the harmonies, everything. EAR TRAINING! Sing what you play. Play blindfolded. Use a metronome. Don't use a metronome. etc etc etc.

    It's really up to you how deep you wanna dig. Just do everything!
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    if you want to make a million dollars in music, start with 2 million and...


    listen, if any of us knew exactly how to do it, we'd all do it. unfortunately, luck is just as much a factor as talent, even more so, actually. networking skills help a lot to shape your luck, though. just keep on with it, play any gig you can find, and find out who the bigger dogs are in your area and seek them out.
  4. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    getting signed is much harder today. And also involves playing something that the general public will love example fallout boy. so play crappy pop punk and sign your soul over to mtv problem solved ha
  5. session work is not easy and does not pay as well as most people think..if your sight reading is only ok you dont have a chance of getting studio work because time is money..they want you in. play the way they want you to and out again..luck is a huge factor also.its about getting in the right places with the right people and being able to take all kinds of **** while keeping a smile on your face..your music style or your sound holds no grounds..actually to a point it does its what gets you noticed(Pino Palladino for example.you can almost always hear him in songs) are you willing to play anything from Miley Cyrus to jazz fusion,you need some real skill in all types of music and have quite a collection of guitars to suit what ever that band your working for requires..
    not trying to turn you off you can do anything if you want it enough but you have to learn to be humble and keep your mouth shut(not you i mean in general)
    if you realy want it ,learn to sight read on the spot.work on music you hate and go for it..its not an easy life and its not fun..your only 22 years old you might think you have seen it all and your wise in the ways but honestly you have seen nothing..i was the same as you i am 39 now and still surprised by people..it is a fine balance and someone said it becomes a job..thats exactly what it is.a job and a hard one at that..i quit bass for a long time because i just go so sick of it..learned to play piano and guitar in the down time so not all bad..learn to play piano it will help your understanding of sight reading on a different level..
    dont mean to go on but its a very hard life mate and 99% of session musicians are never heard of.think long and hard about what you really want and learn another skill just incase it goes boobies up.22years old full of hope and i admire that but you will see life different at 33..
  6. monroe55


    Mar 17, 2009
    This kind of statement always reminds me of stories I read during the intro to a lot of famous musician's biographys. Such drama.
    My advice, keep the girlfriend and the job and in the meantime, learn to sight read. With all the passion you claim to have it should be no problem. Then you'll at least be one step closer to that one in a million chance of being a full time pro.
  7. Eminentbass


    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    Apart from the necessary skills, luck plays a big part. In order to make contacts of any kind you need to be seen. Start with top 40 gigs or anything else you can find. If you're a reliable, solid player then someone will notice. Some contacts don't have immediate spinoff but it's worth printing business cards and dishing them out to anyone who'll take one. Some guys are just in the right place at the right time but it never hurts to be industrious.

    One important thing though, never take on a gig you're not ready for. A first impression is often built around the skills you have then and there, not what skills you may have in a year's time.
  8. hoffmann


    Jul 7, 2010
    Paris, France
    I agree with all the previous answers, especially with Ridgeback. It looks very shiny but it turns out to be a job pretty quickly. However, if you really want to, here is the way I would do it:
    1/ find a band which has something musically speaking (sounds easy right? well it is not!)
    2/ start playing everywhere, from tiny pubs to restaurants
    3/ only one thing will bring you to some fame (and thus to have a decent income from your own music) and it is people. If you know Universal Director or someone that can help you out, use this contact.
    4/ use the internet. you really can create a buzz around your band (or yourself)... look at marketing and communication books dealing with internet, social media, buzz, influence... It DOES work! (I am myself working in this field, how do you think brands are becoming famous? they go through this process!)

    Example: type "davidsinrocks" on youtube! this guy made so much bass cover that almost EVERY BASS PLAYER knows him. I am on a french speaking forum as well where that guy is and, believe it or not, but he had a lot of gigs (and pretty nice ones) thanks to us because everybody wants to help him (he's a very nice guy btw) to get where they all want to be! His band is famous even in Mexico while he's from a town in Switzerland... have a look at his facebook page and his number of fans!

    I hope it helped you! ;)
  9. sigged
  10. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Since I haven't made it big in music, I have no idea.

    Just an observation about talent vs. luck vs. connections. I can think of two actors I went to college with. One of them did a lot of shows, was absolutely brilliant, blew everybody away. A couple of years after graduation I saw him in a potato chip commercial. That was it, as far as I know.

    The other one was in an improv comedy group, I think maybe did one or two other things. Was not really on my radar as a major talent in the school's theater/film world. Saw him in a movie a little while later. His name was Ed Norton.

    I'm not sure why I never registered Norton's talent - was he just not doing much? or was I paying attention elsewhere rather than whatever he was doing? I'm not sure if he just lucked out with the right audition at the right time, or if he had some kind of connection or "in" somewhere, or what.

    But I think it's not too different from the music world. There are all kinds of talented people who never make it -- because they don't network right, because they don't have the same luck, because of whatever. And there are people who may or may not be as talented who do make it big. There's nothing you can do to guarantee it happening. What you can do is to "put yourself in the way of opportunities" - honing your craft, networking, keeping a professional attitude, getting yourself out there by hook or by crook. Maybe lightning strikes, you're the right band at the right time and you become U2 or something. Maybe it strikes and you're the band of the moment and five years later are in the "where are they now" column. Maybe you just are a good local talent, making your way on regional gigs and lessons and whatever. You've got to be open to all of the different possibilities and embrace them all.
  11. your not getting hired unless this changes immidiately. atleast for nothing other than rock gigs.

    when you say "make it," do you actually mean like, you want to be like les claypool? if thats what you meant, you might want to start applying to other jobs. but if you want to get hired to play jazz in resturaunts, do sessions for talentless pop singers, teach, ext, just keep studying music as much as you can, networking, gigging, ext. its a slow process, but if your legitimately capable of it, the ball should be rolling already..
  12. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love

    Nov 5, 2008
    Lubbock, TX
    my experience:
    How to get a gig as a bass player: own a bass and an amp.
    How to keep a gig as a bass player: show up on time, sober. :D

    Seriously though, I would add
    1. Be able to sing harmony or lead to your list of employable skills. (singers will get the gig 9 time out of 10 over a non singer with similar playing abilities)
    2. Remember that most of the time your job as a bass player will be to make someone else look good (singer, band leader etc) both musically and personally, so stay out of their way.
    3. Be able to look like you are always in control even if you are completely rattled. This is musically and personally too, no one wants to hire someone who can't handle stress or looks unprepared to work.
    4. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Simple, but a lot of people seem to forget this.

    Also, like others have said: be able to read at tempo, learn theory so you can predict where the tune is going even if you've never heard it and there is no chart or the key is changed on the fly, be stylistically versatile. And I wasn't really joking about the "be on time" part either.
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I was gonna post his elsewhere, but this thread may be appropriate...

    Beyond studio work, Being a spectauclar virtuoso musician doesn't necessarily get you hired.
    something I've been thinking about since listenig to the CD Baby DIY musician's podcast #094*
    in the podcast, Martin Atkins raises the point that many aspiring musicians are too narrowly focused on becoming excellent on their instrument.
    While most bands would actually prefer a competent musician with additional skills, connections ect...

    He cites the example where a band has a choice between
    1.) the bassist who has mastred all his instrument and has mad chops
    versus 2.) the bassist who is competent but also happens to be a web designer by day and can build, host and maintain a web site for the band.

    his point being that musicianship is only a fraction (arguably a small one) of the skills a band needs to succeed.
    so It's worth considering what you can bring to the band in the way of
    -recording gear and technical skills
    -venue and client connections
    -connections to other bands & musicians
    -indusry connections
    -having a van (or being abler to fix one that breaks down)

    *[SUB]( CD Baby DIY musician's podcast is quite possibly the most practical source for advice for a gigging band/ musician in this day and age)[/SUB]
  14. Greevus


    Apr 15, 2009
    Sell your soul to Satan at the crossroads.....
  15. Craig630


    Apr 8, 2009
    Rule #1 - Get a day job
    Rule #2 - Keep it
    Rule #3 - Hope, pray, wish, sacrifice, whatever it takes.
  16. just another thing to think about ..do you play fretless or double bass.your skills as a player need to be across the board.if you want to be a session player there are other factors to take in..where do you live,can you get work there,you have to be out in the open if you live in a small town you have little or no chance doing anything...an no matter how good you are or think you are there is always someone better and you have to basicly become thick skinned..the glitter and glam is no why near what you might think..when you do get working your mates/wife/girlfriend take a back seat..and you have to be willing to let them all go..it sucks but its part of the job,so are you willing to drop everyone and everything for a very very slim shot and...move to where the work is at the drop of a hat.while i hope and wish you luck with your venture i really dont think you know you getting yourself into..its not just guitar work..its tons of ass kissing and no matter how much you hate the guys your working for you have to smile and be nice.and basicly lie your ass off.and learn to never ever bitch about anyone you work for..learn a trade other than music to fall back on because to be honest it takes years to build contacts before you get a name for your self..luck is a big player in all this right place right time right attitude.there is also a lot of freebe work needed to get yourself out there..trust me been there done that and would i do it over ummm maybe..its not all bad but dont for a second think this is easy..it is no where near to easy and that is way before your bass skills are..
  17. CapnSev

    CapnSev Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
  18. thanks guys for all the imput. my current band is signed with an indie label, we dont make a ton of money but we do get free recording(and dupe, packageing) and promo.

    i am just only interested in making it as a musician rather that means playing in a band and giving lessons, playing session or whatever. as far as keeping the job or girlfriend, its to late for that. my music comes first period, and im working on my reading and everything else everyday in order to become better at it.

  19. hoffmann


    Jul 7, 2010
    Paris, France
    well if you're already signed up with all these advantages (free recording, promo, packaging...) maybe all you need to do is keep gigging (with your band I mean) and starting promoting it on your own if the label is not doing enough! and believe me promotion takes a loooot of time so I bet you can add something valuable to the already existing promotion!
  20. being signed or not has noting to do with anything..session bass players need to be a grade up +1000 than your normal everyday band signed to small label..
    dont mean to knock you man but honestly i really think you have no idea what your trying to do..there is no short cut to this you have to get out there and work your arse off..work will not come to you you have to after it..how many bands out there have good bass players ..honestly mate if you think your a good bass player with top skills you really need to go and see more bands and i mean not in your local towns..open your eyes before you waste your time..if you want to take this as your no1 job the thing that payes the bills you have to really think about what it is you want to do..make a plan and go for it..i might come across as not being as positive as you would like but lets face it even with the best skills out there the odds are against ya..one day 10 years from now you will be flat broke still doing small gig work.you have to be honest with yourself..stick up some of your work and we can listen and give an honest opionion as to if your wasting your time..losts of people think the have reall skills but really they suck..(not saying you do)