At the beginning of a musician’s career, a lot can rest on being able to find the right musicians or bands to play with and to potentially build a successful career as a musician. Many different types of people and companies are looking for musicians to suit their various needs. This can include everything from performing at a wedding or other event, to standing in for a regular musician in a band as ‘dep’ (Deputy) musician, or even contributing to a song in a recording studio as session musicians.
From a musician’s point of view, it’s important to get yourself seen and heard, and the key to this is to make yourself or your band as contactable as possible. Many bands and artists sign themselves up to agencies and directories, such as Last Minute Musicians, to raise their exposure and gain more custom. This extra promotion helps you to reach a wider and more diverse client base as well as establishing the impression that they are experienced bands and are familiar with the industry. If you happen to catch someone’s eye it could open up doors for you to branch out into working as a ‘dep’ or session musician. Not only this, but signing up to a directory projects an image of professionalism to prospective customers and leaves you free to pursue other means of publicising yourself.
Networking among musicians in the 21st century is a breeze thanks to the Internet and various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Sites like these are fantastic for bands and session musicians as they give prospective clients and colleagues a chance to find everything they need to know about a musician in one place! This also means that up and coming bands are available at the click of a button and that, in theory, if a musician drops out of an event or recording it’s easier than ever to find a dep or session musician to replace them. With Facebook increasing in popularity, the act of meeting new musicians and finding new music is effectively being handed over on a plate. Bands, including session musicians, can create music pages’; giving fans the opportunity to be updated regularly with the band’s latest happenings if they ‘like’ their music page. ‘Fans’ of the page can also share content among their friends resulting in further promotion without you even lifting a finger!
This advancement has made networking among bands and musicians a simple and effective task that requires much less effort than would previously have been necessary to forge a successful career as a band or session musician. This results in a tendency for musicians to become lazy when it comes promoting their availability, so it’s important to remember that the more effort you put into promotion, the more your band will benefit.
Sometimes musicians are needed to stand in when a regular member of a band drops out. The musicians who take their place are called deputy musicians, or ‘dep’ for short and are especially popular in the world of pop music. It is possible for musicians to make their living out of simply being available at short notice to act as a stand in for an absent band member at a gig, recording or other session work. As a dep musician, you’re going to expand your network and if you do a good job its likely you’ll be offered permanent slots or session work with the bands. As a general rule, ‘dep’ musicians are more accomplished players than others as they need to be able to play different genres to a high level, but if you’ve got what it takes there is definitely money to be made as a dep or doing session work.
Most deps also double up as session musicians, and due to the amount of networking their names are often passed around among bands and musicians. Once you have your foot in the door it becomes easier to find work as a session musician and you’ll find that word of mouth is your most effective tool when it comes to maintaining a steady flow of interest.
Making a living
Any musicians that want to make a living in the music industry need to be accomplished in their craft and promote themselves effectively in order to raise exposure and get noticed. Because bands and session musicians are wanted by a multitude of customers, they need to be available to play different genres, read music, but above all you will be invaluable if you can make yourself available to stand in for others at the drop of the hat. Do a good job and word will get around that you should be the one to call, whatever the genre or event.
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