What do they do?
Go on tour with bands.
Session musicians sometimes go on tour with bands; this involves getting paid a certain amount to play various gigs and concerts around a certain part of the world (or indeed all of it!). A session musician will either ask the company, or the company will ask the session musician to go and play either a whole tour, or just a few numbers in the tour. There is a large amount of gambling involved when it comes to being a session musician or hiring one. This is due to the fact that: a session musician gets pain a certain amount for the show (say £1,000), if the show is a total flop then the record label will lose money, BUT if the show is a roaring success then the record label will make mega bucks. The gamble for the session musician is that he or she can’t go back and claim a percentage of the profits if it is particularly good. The session musician gets paid a set amount and no more.
Quite often a session musician will go for a recording of a single or a few tracks. This will involve the producer talking with the session musician, and agreeing a set amount of pay, agreeing the song(s) that will be performed, and how long it will take, and possible whether it will be split over multiple sessions of not. After the terms have been agreed, the rehearsal and tuning will be done, this involves the band and session musician playing the first few seconds of each song, and adjusting their instruments until they are in proper tune. Finally the actual recording will begin, this involves the session musician and the band playing a set list of songs perfectly, whilst being recorded. Again there is still the gamble that if the song if a flop, then the session musician will still get full pay.
Practice/ individual techniques.
In order to be a successful session musician, you must receive some kind of musical tuition. This is because you really need to be the best in the business to be a decent session musician, in order to be the best, and make your songs worthwhile, (and make the big companies pay large sums of money for your musical genius).
Rehearsals with bands/ singers.
Obviously the session musician will need to play with other on a regular basis, as solo practice is not quite enough to cut the mustard, and a second opinion on your music can make a world of difference. The session musician will have to practice all of the songs he/ she will play in a band, because if they didn’t then the tempo might not line up properly, he/ she would be unaware of any changes made to the track, and furthermore the session musician would have less time to improve their musical craft. During a rehearsal each member of the group (and the SM) will play a few scales, tune up properly and strum a few finger loosening exercises, or something of the like. Then it is down to business with playing through a song that needs to be learnt, identifying the weak areas, tightening them up, and moving on to the next part.
Session musicians are forced to promote themselves, otherwise they would not get anywhere in their career. Promoting yourself consists of, making a few you tube videos, creating a website (hired or self designed), putting up posters, or just making some mix tapes of various songs that show of your various skills. This is probably the hardest part about being a session musician, as there is so much competition. Session musicians are a dying breed, so any opening is quickly snapped up by the fastest and the best. The best approach is to make a site, create a few videos on you tube, call a few companies, and hope for the best. If there isn’t work out there, then make work.
Do their own accounts.
Session musicians can be self employed, this means doing their own taxes and bills for things to do with their profession. This is the most unexciting branch of being a session musician, as you will have to dedicate a couple of hours a...