Musical Careers – A Different Path – Part 1

Until the start of 2018, I thought I wanted to be a musician for hire. Specifically, I thought I was on the path to be a studio musician. Since then, I have been learning more about the music industry and what’s expected from today’s musicians and I’ve started down a different path. Now I’m planning to be a producer/artist.

Being a studio musician sounded really cool until I found out what it can take to land one of those jobs.

The studio musician serves a role that may soon be obsolete. Back in the days when record labels owned all of the recording studios, a producer would often have a short list of “guys” (a keyboard guy, a guitar girl, a bass guy, etc.) to call when they needed to record. Studio time is expensive so a producer will want this short list of talented musicians with experience in recording in order to spend less time in, and less money on the studio. A studio musician would often have to learn parts written by the songwriters, and in legendary situations, the studio musician might be asked to make up new parts for the song. In such legendary situations, the studio musicians who write hits sometimes get to go on tour with the artist, and probably join the band. The studio musician saved the record label money by using less time on delicate equipment to record on expensive tape under the supervision of recording engineers, who also need to be paid…

To get this kind of job, you basically have to know someone. You might know the producer or the engineer, but you still have to be the better choice for your instrument. Can you learn a song within the hour? Can you sight-read sheet music? Can you play different styles? Are you one of very few owners of a rare/unique instrument that also happens to play it well? Can you carry a tune and sing backup vocals? A studio musician needs a lot going for him to make the short list.

That’s where I started to lose faith in the dream. I need a lot of time to learn a song, especially if I don’t have a way to listen to it. I can slowly read sheet music, but not very well while playing. I listen to lots of styles and genres, but I almost never learn to play most songs. I don’t have anything unique or rare in my gear collection. I can kinda sing, but I find it very difficult to sing while playing. And except for drums, I don’t really play any instrument well enough to feel comfortable improvising or noodling in front of people.

To be continued…

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