#1
Hello There,

So basically I have a few questions about becoming and being a session musician. I'm 22, been playing for over ten years on guitar, bass, and drums, I live in Chicago, and have been professional for 3 years now, working with countless bands and gigging frequently.

A few months ago a band I did some temporary work for started a label, and wanted me on-call for recording on it. I agreed, and we are in the process of setting up a contract now.

I've never done anything like this professionally before so I'd like some advice or suggestions, anything really, but I'd like to know the following:

1. Pay--How much for how long? Should I charge by song, takes or hours? Or just set a flat rate for a day?

2. How much input do I have?-- Will I be helping with composition and lyrics often? Or do I show up and play what I'm told?

3. Will I have access and control on mixing, etc?--This label knows I have certification as an Audio Engineer, but for future work, will I ever have any say on recordings?

Thanks for your replies.
#2
Figure out what you want your role to be and how you will fit into their organization. Lots of guys in LA start at around $100 per track or $400 for an 8 hr session. This should make it worth your while to get your feet wet and generate relationships. Adjust your rates over time based on supply and demand. Be cooperative, play well and you will always have work.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#3
1. I personally do per song, but that is cause session work isn´t my primary income when it comes to music, and i do alot of session work for up and coming singer/songwriters. When i do bigger session work i charge by the hour.

2. That depends on what the original songwriter says, they call the shots. Your main job will be to either record the specific part they have written for you, but they can´t play themselves, or to write a part that compliments the song. And that means playing very simple stuff most of the time, simple that sounds good. Sometimes they will request something more complex of you and then you have to come up with that. Bottom line, the artist makes the shots.

3. Same applies as on 2. You are not the artist in this matter, you are a recourse for the artist. Some people might want your opinion, others have a clear vision of what they want, and if they are the ones that pay, they make the decisions.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#4
Quote by BlueJayWater
1. Pay--How much for how long? Should I charge by song, takes or hours? Or just set a flat rate for a day?


Research the local market. Get in touch with some session guitarists and ask how much they charge.

Quote by BlueJayWater
2. How much input do I have?-- Will I be helping with composition and lyrics often? Or do I show up and play what I'm told?


Do what the client tells you to do. I would think that outside your guitar part you would have zero input into composition and lyrics. Furthermore if I hired a guitarist and they started talking about the lyrics I'd make them sit outside and think about what they've done.


Quote by BlueJayWater
3. Will I have access and control on mixing, etc?--This label knows I have certification as an Audio Engineer, but for future work, will I ever have any say on recordings?


If you're being hired as a session guitarist, no, you should not have any say on recordings.

However! If this label owns its own studio, ask if you can volunteer doing assistant engineer stuff (setting up microphones, running coffee, maybe some extremely basic mixing like bouncing or creating tempo maps). It would be a good way to either step up at the company or to score jobs elsewhere.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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