A session musician is someone hired to play or sing on a temporary basis, in a variety of different settings. There are many notable artists who began their careers as session musicians.
What Does the Role Involve?
Being a session musician can be extremely varied. It involves going on tour as a backing band, or a single session recording in the studio for a track. It’s necessary to be very talented and knowledgeable of genres, styles and basic musical theory such as keys and scales. As well as providing back tracks, session musicians may be asked to fill in on an instrument for the band. This applies to both in the studio and in live situations.
Session musicians are also often called in to perform on soundtracks, in the theatre or even for advertising campaigns. There are also TV talent shows which often require live backing bands, but often these musicians are asked to mime.
Making Money as a Session Musician?
A career as a session musician can be very tough, especially when starting out. It’s difficult to get work without experience but conversely difficult to get experience if no one will give you work. It can be advisable to offer your services free of charge or cheaply, to build a portfolio and a reputation. The more and better work you do, the more you are likely to be paid.
Session musicians generally work freelance so having industry contacts is also very important in securing work and getting better fees. Knowing as many producers and studios as possible will help in obtaining enough work to make a career. Session musicians are mostly paid per track or appearance with fess ranging up to several thousand pounds for successful players with good reputations and portfolios. Get practising early and know the basics before embarking on this as your chosen career.