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  #1  
Old 02-21-2017, 10:56 PM
writer_drummer writer_drummer is offline
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Default Advice from Session Drummers, Please

I have great news, everyone! After nearly three years of taking private drum lessons, I have decided to do session drumming. My musical genre will include Christian, rock, and blues.

Who on here is one? What do I do to get started? How long should I wait until I do contact recording studios?

Advice greatly appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2017, 12:23 AM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

It doesn't hurt to place your name with engineers at studios, but most of your work will come from other musician referrals. Basically, it's who knows you. There's not really a career path for studio work, and frankly, there's not much of it available these days anyway. Your best bet is to network, and local jams are a good place to start. Once people get to know how you play, they'll be more likely to consider you for recordings and gigs.

Even in cities where there's a somewhat active recording scene - Nashville, L.A., New York - the pickins are pretty slim these days. I'd be hard pressed to name a drummer in L.A. who currently makes a living just doing sessions. Things aren't like they were 30+ years ago.

Bermuda
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Old 02-22-2017, 12:49 AM
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2017, 01:04 AM
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alparrott alparrott is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Many folks have gone a different route: They've set up a drum recording studio in their home and work primarily by internet collaboration. There's at least three such guys in my small town; I know that some larger names such as Gavin Harrison also do this.

Tony is spot on: not only do you have to be an incredibly accurate and skillful player to do studio work, but post-internet explosion, the studio scene has shrunk to a shadow of its former self. I wouldn't expect to find serious on-call session players outside of NYC, LA and Nashville anymore in the US. So a modest investment in acoustic treatment and recording gear will be a shorter path to achieve your objective.

But you can't shortcut to get the skills you will need to be the guy that gets the calls. That takes time, effort, and practice. Get a click and play to it. Figure out a way to record yourself and listen to what you play critically. And learn to read - it's the quickest way to understand what is required of you.

Good luck.
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Old 02-22-2017, 01:16 AM
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Odd-Arne Oseberg Odd-Arne Oseberg is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

That's a hard gig to get into. Those that do or could do it full time are household names with drummers.

Now, offering a studio service and being able to offer real live recorded drums in that package is a different deal and that's certainly an option.

3 years is cetainly not a long time playing. If I hadn't gotten into the bad work situations I've been in, I guess in 4-5 years was my plan, but I already was a guitar player on that level. I've been playing a while longer now, about 8 years. Though my chops, conditioning, musical skills have gone up and down with my work and health condition, the general touch and fluidity I have now I doubt could have been achived in less time. Then again I go for the open improvisational "Vinnie way". Put a bit of restraint on that and you could ceratainly make basic things sound good if you practice a lot, play a lot and focus on the right things. I'm a teacher, so I need to both do and be able to explain and work on it all with anyone. That's the hardest "chop" of them all IMO.
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Old 02-22-2017, 01:25 AM
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BenjaminCamelot BenjaminCamelot is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
Even in cities where there's a somewhat active recording scene - Nashville, L.A., New York - the pickins are pretty slim these days. I'd be hard pressed to name a drummer in L.A. who currently makes a living just doing sessions. Things aren't like they were 30+ years ago.

Bermuda
What makes it so different compared to back then? Is it what other musicians want or is it more of an income thing?
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Old 02-22-2017, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

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Originally Posted by BenjaminCamelot View Post
What makes it so different compared to back then? Is it what other musicians want or is it more of an income thing?

Back in the day it was all sessions. Today it's mostly home recording.

The days of labels being willing to pay for a band using 3 years to make a new record, spending most of the money of **** and blow are certainly over. Good thing that things are different that way, but the labels and the budgets aren't there. A lot of that is the digital revolution, illegal downloads.... That's also why a lot of the older well known bands, who said they were done, are out touring again.

Vinnie could probably only sessions. JR could, but only within his own circle. Matt Chamberlain, Curt Bisquera. A few more.. There's also a bunch of Nashville guys that I don't really know, but the thing is that there aren't really any new cats and people are mostly hiring musicians and friends they know and trust.

Younger player get used on tour because the older ones don't want to travel anymore or prefer sudio and local work. They also cost way less.

My way is really teaching and doing the music I want. Didn't go to well first time around, but when I get to a city it will be better. I wouldn't rely onm just gigging, though. It's getting way harder for those I know who are successfully doing that, too.

For live playing there certainly is a market. You just have to be good, keep your band together and be willing to work for what was normal 30 years ago.
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  #7  
Old 02-22-2017, 02:12 AM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

You know, I wanted to do that too, and look where I ended up ;)

Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was when one of my teachers let me go to one of his L.A. studio sessions (where he was getting to sub on xylophone) for some Warner Brothers cartoon music. I was 17 at the time and as I sat quietly in the back, a 25-piece orchestra comes in, and after everyone is seated and ready, they literally rolled the music in on a cart. Kinda' like music by the pound. Nothing had titles, it was all numbered. Conductor calls up the first piece, everyone places it up on the stands, conductor chats a bit about any changes, he puts his headphones on (he's listening to the click track and watching the film on a little monitor), the red light goes on, and he counts them in. Once that little spot is done, he calls up the next one. It was scary to hear a recording session go down with absolutely NO MISTAKES from anyone. They did this for almost three hours, going through all the music that was rolled out. Nothing was rehearsed, nothing was played twice.

Scared me to death. At that point I did a bit of soul-searching to determine if I really had what it takes to be one of those guys in Los Angeles. Luckily, I hung out a lot at Pro Drum Shop and got to meet some of my studio idols and back in the day (or maybe still) I learned that there were only five or six guys that did everything in town. The key was to be good enough to get on one of those guy's lists of sub players whenever any of them were too busy to take all the work. Nowadays, like Bermuda says, work is probably even less so now that anyone can have a studio in their bedroom, so the advice remains the same, play out, network, be friends with as many people as you can, and be able to deliver the goods so these people can call on you. It's not impossible, but you do have to plug away for a long time, so do all that you can do.
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  #8  
Old 02-22-2017, 02:27 AM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenjaminCamelot View Post
What makes it so different compared to back then? Is it what other musicians want or is it more of an income thing?
The wane of studio players is due mostly to today's drummers playing better than their counterparts in the sixties and seventies. Back then, when labels were genuinely concerned about how records sounded (because that was their livelihood,) they needed pro players who could cut radio-friendly tracks that would sell records. Many groups' drummers - and other players as well - just weren't up to snuff when it came to making records, so the studio guys were in high demand. As drummers became better players with better rock & pop role models, they were able to record with their own groups.

Studio drummers also recorded for artists who didn't necessarily have a regular band.

In the last 30 years in particular, artists had producers who programmed rhythm tracks, so even they didn't have a need for studio guys.

There are still some studio gigs, but it's not a career like it was 40 years ago. Even the established guys don't work as much as they used to, and you'll find them going on the road, which was a cardinal sin for the working session guys, because they'd lose their position in the pecking order of first-call players. But back in the late '80s you started seeing solid studio guys taking road gigs. Keltner, Kunkel, JR, etc. It was a sign of things to come.

Bermuda
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  #9  
Old 02-22-2017, 02:48 AM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Read this book. It will help you understand how the music business works.

The book is called:
"The Big Gig"
by Zoro



Best of luck to you.


.
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  #10  
Old 02-22-2017, 04:45 AM
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ineedaclutch ineedaclutch is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
unfortunately ... you don't just decide that you will become a session player.
you have to get out and earn a name before anyone will just pay you to play on their music.

a few things

3 years is not very long and I have obviously not heard you play but you may want to start with a few home recordings with friends first to become accustomed to the process somewhat.

get comfortable with a click ... learn how to sound good playing with a click... how to push and pull with a click.

the last thing people want is someone who will need 20 takes to get a keeper... they want one take Jake.

you may be required to read charts ... learn tunes on the spot... and record them immediately and be expected to nail it.

also ... cornering yourself to a couple genres is limiting an already limited amount of work that may be out there.... you should be willing to play anything and everything at any time of day or night.

there is a hell of a lot less session work than there used to be ... and the same guys that were getting the good calls 30 years ago are still getting those calls.

start small ... at home ... drop your card at local studios... get into a small studio with some friends and track a few tunes so you have some work to show ... etc .

not trying to discourage you ... but I would hate for you to ruin your name before you even establish one ... and trying to bite off more than you can chew before you are ready could very well do that.
You saved me a lot of typing brother. Your teacherosity™ shines through.
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  #11  
Old 02-22-2017, 06:05 AM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

1. play everything with a click. insist on a click.
2. keep your fills simple. no one wants to hear complex fills
3. don't ever bring friends/etc. to a gig with you. no one wants their opinion of how your drums sound.
4. show up early. be quick to load-in. use your ears, not your mouth, more.
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  #12  
Old 02-22-2017, 10:53 AM
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Mighty_Joker Mighty_Joker is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

I thought I'd share my thoughts on experiences with this, and I'll start by echoing what has already been said.

I live in Nottingham, UK. Studio City, it ain't. However, that doesn't mean there aren't musicians trying to make music. I was already gigging regularly on the scene - people knew me, I knew them. When people would approach me to drum for them, I had to make it very clear that they were hiring me - I was not joining their band. Over here, outside of London, we don't really have a session scene, so I had to create one. If a band were trying to record their album and wanted me to drum on it, I had to be clear that they had to pay for that service.

Ive been involved in half a dozen professional sessions in the past five years of my playing career, and four further sessions that I funded myself, in which I hired the other session musicians. I know for a fact that I am the only drummer in Nottingham with this sort of professional record, strictly with regard to working on other people's records for a fee.

I am building a home studio for myself, and the interest I've had from people wanting me to record drums for them from there remotely, already outstrips much of the session interest I get. The times simply are changing.

That said, there is always work for a competent, professionally minded drummer, but the posts above me have already covered that.

To be very clear, if I relied on the money I make from session work alone, I'd be living in a cardboard box and typing this on the street with chalk.
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  #13  
Old 02-22-2017, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Read Confessions of a Record Producer by Moses Avalon.

If you still want to be a part of this dying industry, have at it.

I quit trying to be a pro years ago, and I'm glad I did. I still get to do some cool gigs from time to time, but I just try to concentrate on making good music as opposed to trying to make a living at it. If I make money these days, it's a perk.
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  #14  
Old 02-22-2017, 05:25 PM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
The wane of studio players is due mostly to today's drummers playing better than their counterparts in the sixties and seventies. Back then, when labels were genuinely concerned about how records sounded (because that was their livelihood,) they needed pro players who could cut radio-friendly tracks that would sell records. Many groups' drummers - and other players as well - just weren't up to snuff when it came to making records, so the studio guys were in high demand. As drummers became better players with better rock & pop role models, they were able to record with their own groups.

Studio drummers also recorded for artists who didn't necessarily have a regular band.

In the last 30 years in particular, artists had producers who programmed rhythm tracks, so even they didn't have a need for studio guys.

There are still some studio gigs, but it's not a career like it was 40 years ago. Even the established guys don't work as much as they used to, and you'll find them going on the road, which was a cardinal sin for the working session guys, because they'd lose their position in the pecking order of first-call players. But back in the late '80s you started seeing solid studio guys taking road gigs. Keltner, Kunkel, JR, etc. It was a sign of things to come.

Bermuda
In addition:

Modern software makes it easy for drummers who aren't quite studio perfect to sound studio perfect.

Cut and paste.

Quantization.

Sound replacement software.

So calling in a hired gun to fix a so-so drum track isn't always necessary.

Even some pro's may record great tracks, and still have their takes edited to sound machine perfect.
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  #15  
Old 02-22-2017, 07:05 PM
writer_drummer writer_drummer is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Thank you to everyone who has replied.

Let me clear up some things so you don't think I've gone off the deep end.

My having in mind to do session drumming is not an exclusive thing. I'm just exploring, in the thick of discovering what I am going to do in this next chapter my life. I also write and edit, and am also expanding my skill set doing photography. So, I'm an author, music reviewer/publicist, editor.

I also know it is not going to happen overnight, that I have to get out there, develop my skills. There are a few personal issues I am working through, especially with my house, and a health issue I have done well in overcoming in the past year or better. It's looking like it will be most of this year before I get to the bottom of that and more.

But it is nice to know that in spite all of the changes that have taken place in my life, I have discovered my talent in playing drums.
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Old 02-22-2017, 07:54 PM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

I'd say that the "traditional" role of a studio drummer is circling the drain. It's like saying I want to install TV antennaes for a living.

Nowadays, things are going to the basement.

And I'll go out on a limb here and say that a drummer who hasn't played gigs on a regular basis...wouldn't have what it takes to excel in the studio anyway. I'd guess that applies to 90% of the players out there. You learn what to play and what not to play by gigging, recording yourself and listening back and critiquing yourself, changing what need changing, and keeping what works. Most of us can't go to college without going through high school first. You can't fly a space shuttle until you've driven a commercial airliner first. Same principle.

However, in an effort to encourage you...you could take bulls by horns and put together a band, raise money for a recording, and do it that way. The old days of studio drumming are gone for guys like you and I.

The only thing left to do is adapt to the new landscape, however you can.
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  #17  
Old 02-22-2017, 08:30 PM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

If you seriously want to do this, buy yourself a nice Mac, some mics, a good interface, and sound-treat your bedroom. Learn how to use ProTools to make your drums sound amazing. Next, network with as many people as possible. Heck, even play for free if you have to get your foot in the door somewhere.
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Old 02-22-2017, 08:57 PM
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River19 River19 is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkPieGuy View Post
If you seriously want to do this, buy yourself a nice Mac, some mics, a good interface, and sound-treat your bedroom. Learn how to use ProTools to make your drums sound amazing. Next, network with as many people as possible. Heck, even play for free if you have to get your foot in the door somewhere.
All the advice in this thread above is very valid, PorkPieGuy really provided a great summary if you still really want to "get into" recording.....that is the format much of the "recording" is headed these days....home studio collaboration.....
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  #19  
Old 02-22-2017, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Don't forget to wear some sensible shoes.
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  #20  
Old 02-23-2017, 12:21 AM
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Living Dead Drummer Living Dead Drummer is offline
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
work will come from other musician referrals. Basically, it's who knows you.
Bermuda
ALL OF THIS! Just about all my work has come from recommendations, little is cold called.
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  #21  
Old 02-23-2017, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: Advice from Session Drummers, Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I'd say that the "traditional" role of a studio drummer is circling the drain. It's like saying I want to install TV antennaes for a living.

Nowadays, things are going to the basement.

And I'll go out on a limb here and say that a drummer who hasn't played gigs on a regular basis...wouldn't have what it takes to excel in the studio anyway. I'd guess that applies to 90% of the players out there. You learn what to play and what not to play by gigging, recording yourself and listening back and critiquing yourself, changing what need changing, and keeping what works. Most of us can't go to college without going through high school first. You can't fly a space shuttle until you've driven a commercial airliner first. Same principle.
If read the stories of the guys who became known studio drummers, be it Hal Blaine in the 60's, or Kenny Arnoff in 90's, your are spot on.

Hal didn't become a studio drummer until his mid/late 30's.
Vinnie had recorded with Zappa before becoming known a a studio guy.
Arnoff was the toured behind two albums before he got to play on one.
And the list goes on.
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