Working as a studio musician

Guitar Tricks Forum > The Musician's Life > Working as a studio musician

Infectious

Mr. Hardcore Oldschool

Joined: 06/23/04

Posts: 177

How's it going guys. Just joined as a high bandwith member this morning at like 1 am. Anyhow...I'm pretty much a self taught guitarist thinking about making a living playing music. One option apparently is working as a proffesional studio musician. I was just wondering if any of you guys had worked as one before and if so what kind of stuff what be vital to know as far as music theory goes. Any tips would be also welcome...at the moment I'm totally clueless. I've only been playing for 3 years, but I'm really getting into some deep study about music theory and I even bought a keyboard to learn how to read music and such, and eventually plan to translate that to being able to read music on both guitar and bass.

Anyone have any experience as a studio musician? I'd love to know what someone wanting to get into that field would have to know. Thanks guys.

#1

How's it going guys. Just joined as a high bandwith member this morning at like 1 am. Anyhow...I'm pretty much a self taught guitarist thinking about making a living playing music. One option apparently is working as a proffesional studio musician. I was just wondering if any of you guys had worked as one before and if so what kind of stuff what be vital to know as far as music theory goes. Any tips would be also welcome...at the moment I'm totally clueless. I've only been playing for 3 years, but I'm really getting into some deep study about music theory and I even bought a keyboard to learn how to read music and such, and eventually plan to translate that to being able to read music on both guitar and bass.

Anyone have any experience as a studio musician? I'd love to know what someone wanting to get into that field would have to know. Thanks guys.

Kevin Taylor

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 03/05/00

Posts: 4722

Basically, you need to know a variety of styles. Excellent sight-reading is an absolute must. (sometimes from handwritten notes)... and improvisation is needed all the time.
In order to get work you need to live in a city where the jobs are available. ie, no point living in buttcreak, MA if all the work is in L.A.
Reliable transportation and messaging service.
Excellent equipment and a variety of guitars/amps/pedals to work with. Secondary instruments like Ukelele/banjo can make you extra money cause union rules say you have to be paid per instrument.
The ability to not be an ass and follow directions.. especially when you first start out. ie, don't act like you know everything or the older players will get you.
Kevin's Guitar Tricks Lessons
Schmange Music U.K./Canada - Home Page
Schmange's iTunes

#2

Basically, you need to know a variety of styles. Excellent sight-reading is an absolute must. (sometimes from handwritten notes)... and improvisation is needed all the time.
In order to get work you need to live in a city where the jobs are available. ie, no point living in buttcreak, MA if all the work is in L.A.
Reliable transportation and messaging service.
Excellent equipment and a variety of guitars/amps/pedals to work with. Secondary instruments like Ukelele/banjo can make you extra money cause union rules say you have to be paid per instrument.
The ability to not be an ass and follow directions.. especially when you first start out. ie, don't act like you know everything or the older players will get you.
Kevin's Guitar Tricks Lessons
Schmange Music U.K./Canada - Home Page
Schmange's iTunes

Infectious

Mr. Hardcore Oldschool

Joined: 06/23/04

Posts: 177

Ahh...some good advice there Schmange. Means a lot coming from you...seeing as how I learned a lot from some of your columns throughout the years...especially the tapping ones...which is what got me to register as a high bandwith user this morning.

Anyhow...looks like I'll be needing to move out of Buttcreak soon then. It's funny that you mentioned a ukelele and a banjo...I wonder if a recorder counts...nose trumpet perhaps. Oh yeah and I'm not worried about being an ass. That's totally not me. Even to players much worse...(ok maybe thats not the best word) than me I still offer advice and try not to be arrogant...I've always enjoyed teaching people things and people ask me all the time for some guitar lessons. Which I give...mostly free of charge...the only thing I know I'm seriously lacking is in music theory, so I'm devoting my time to that at the moment.

Again...thanks for the info...looks like I'll get back to studying then.

#3

Ahh...some good advice there Schmange. Means a lot coming from you...seeing as how I learned a lot from some of your columns throughout the years...especially the tapping ones...which is what got me to register as a high bandwith user this morning.

Anyhow...looks like I'll be needing to move out of Buttcreak soon then. It's funny that you mentioned a ukelele and a banjo...I wonder if a recorder counts...nose trumpet perhaps. Oh yeah and I'm not worried about being an ass. That's totally not me. Even to players much worse...(ok maybe thats not the best word) than me I still offer advice and try not to be arrogant...I've always enjoyed teaching people things and people ask me all the time for some guitar lessons. Which I give...mostly free of charge...the only thing I know I'm seriously lacking is in music theory, so I'm devoting my time to that at the moment.

Again...thanks for the info...looks like I'll get back to studying then.

The Ace

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 11/26/03

Posts: 802

Remember that you might be asked to play ANYTHING they want... it may not seem like a good idea to take a crash course in say... Irish folk music, but what if you get a call? If you can't play it, there goes you're $ and valuable reputation points.... The more good jobs you do, the more referrals you get, and the bigger your name becomes. (I've never worked as a studio musician but I used to play with/work for quite a few).
There are only two important things in life - There's music and theres girls, not necessarily in that order....
The Ace's Guitar Tricks

#4

Remember that you might be asked to play ANYTHING they want... it may not seem like a good idea to take a crash course in say... Irish folk music, but what if you get a call? If you can't play it, there goes you're $ and valuable reputation points.... The more good jobs you do, the more referrals you get, and the bigger your name becomes. (I've never worked as a studio musician but I used to play with/work for quite a few).
There are only two important things in life - There's music and theres girls, not necessarily in that order....
The Ace's Guitar Tricks

Dr_simon

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 07/06/02

Posts: 5021

To expand on what Schmange said. The first call will not necessarily go to the best guitarist but the one who can be: 1) reached at short notice, 2) will be reliable i.e. turn up on time and sober, 3) gets on with people.

Who wants to work with a virtuoso who's head is so far up there own ass they will never see daylight again ?

But man it is a hard life.

Oh yes, also learn to teach to subsidize studio work
My instructors page and www.studiotrax.net for all things recording.
my toons Brought to you by Dr BadGAS

#5

To expand on what Schmange said. The first call will not necessarily go to the best guitarist but the one who can be: 1) reached at short notice, 2) will be reliable i.e. turn up on time and sober, 3) gets on with people.

Who wants to work with a virtuoso who's head is so far up there own ass they will never see daylight again ?

But man it is a hard life.

Oh yes, also learn to teach to subsidize studio work
My instructors page and www.studiotrax.net for all things recording.
my toons Brought to you by Dr BadGAS

Infectious

Mr. Hardcore Oldschool

Joined: 06/23/04

Posts: 177

Ahh...thanks for the great info guys. Looks like it's back to my room for some serious woodsheddin.

#6

Ahh...thanks for the great info guys. Looks like it's back to my room for some serious woodsheddin.

aschleman

Registered User

Joined: 04/26/05

Posts: 2032

http://www.mi.edu/programs/git.htm

A friend of mine is enrolled here for next year. Some players such as Zakk Wylde have attended MI... and it's a good way to jumpstart your career. I was thinking about going there as well... but I can't afford to move to LA and pay the ridiculous West Hollywood rent... It would be beneficial.

#7

http://www.mi.edu/programs/git.htm

A friend of mine is enrolled here for next year. Some players such as Zakk Wylde have attended MI... and it's a good way to jumpstart your career. I was thinking about going there as well... but I can't afford to move to LA and pay the ridiculous West Hollywood rent... It would be beneficial.