You can play and have some good gear, so why not earn some money recording online? Simple right? Well, it might not be as easy as you think. I’ve been remotely recording bass guitar and double bass professionally for over 10 years now, and I’ve picked up some tips that will help you. Many of these skills are separate to the musical ones you’ve spent so long working on.
Think of yourself as a business. Work will come in direct proportion to how much effort you put into spreading the word about your brand and you will need to move with the times. Think about how much you want to earn per month and then work backwards. This will inform your pricing and how many clients you’ll need to meet your earning target. Do a little every day to improve your business.
Just like with studio sessions, you will be called on to play every kind of music. It’s fine if you’re no expert in a particular style but, if you’re primarily a pop or rock player, it helps to be able to play some jazz too. It’s possible to specialize in one or two genres, but they need to be popular otherwise you won’t get much work.
This skill cannot be underestimated. Most discussion about work (whether a potential session or one you’ve been hired for) takes place over email. You can use Skype or a phone call of course, but clients like it when you’re crystal clear about what you’ll deliver and by when. In turn, many people don’t really know what they want. You’re the expert, so it’s your job to give them what they want (or what they don’t know they want…). Your communication skills will help you no end.
You can use sites like www.soundbetter.com to get work. You register on the site and compete with loads of other musicians for the same work.
I recommend you get your own site and understand a little about how websites work. Your offerings need to be very clear and the site easy to navigate. All your info needs to be there as well as examples of your work. Know a bit about search engine optimization (SEO) and your site will climb the Google rankings.
Your site is a huge investment in yourself. Get it right and you’ll get work. You can find people to help you on sites like www.upwork.com.
This is another area where you can get your name out there and you need to think of it as part of your business. Post examples of your playing, your recent sessions, gear — anything interesting to your target niche (producers, composers, etc.). The correct hashtags will allow people to find you. Make sure it’s obvious what you do via your bio and profile. This is your shop window, so dress it well.
Social media can be a large part of your marketing strategy, but there are other ways to get your name out there. Ads can work, but so can good old-fashioned word of mouth. Tell your friends and colleagues about your service, go to music networking events, write a blog, send 10 emails a day to composers. All these things take time and effort but will set you apart.
It doesn’t matter what instrument you play, clients want you to play something with great tone, timing, and feel. For me, I need to be able to create a wide range of bass tones from 1960s McCartney to modern metal and everything in between. That means I need the bass guitars, pedals, and effects to do the job. By all means have your signature sound, but be able to create a few different tones.
Chances are you’ll be gigging or writing or doing whatever else you do alongside your session work. You have the rest of your life to manage too. So, if you say you’ll do the session by tomorrow, you need to be as good as your word. Make sure your gear is in good working order and your studio is ready to go. Setup a creative workspace that inspires you.
This should go without saying, but you need to sound authentic in a number of styles. You need to be able to play with great feel and timing to a click track, and you need to be able to come up with parts that enhance the song. Experience helps in this regard so, if you’re new to it, start recording your own music and playing on anything you can. Do tracks for free to gain the valuable experience and, of course, play live and in real studios as much as you can. Always listen to different styles of music and keep on top of new music (even if you like the old stuff like me!).
It’s fairly standard to offer one or two revisions but, if you’ve communicated clearly with your client, both of you will know what to expect. Don’t forget that it’s a big thing for someone to get you to play on a track, so be as accommodating as you can. Work with them to make their music sound as amazing as possible. This might mean you have to bend over backwards to get a session done but, by doing this, you’ll be the one they turn to next time.
There’s no reason why recording remotely can’t be a significant income thread for you if you take it seriously and work hard at your game.