Eveything You Need To Know About Session Drummers? [2022]

By JohnPascuzzi

Real drums are always the best. Additionally, session drummers laid down famous drum recordings one project at a time, providing some of the best actual drums on some of the greatest albums ever. You are already familiar with session drummer lore and folklore. However, what exactly are session drummers, and what do they do? Furthermore, how do they function, how can they be incorporated into your projects, and how can you engage them to provide you with dreamy-crisp drum tracks?

Learn everything there is to know about session drummers in this article, including how they may add a drummer’s touch to your projects.

What Are Session Drummers?

Session drummers are drummers that bands, artists, and producers hire temporarily. Jobs for session drummers can include playing with a supporting band while on tour or producing drum tracks for individual songs or entire albums.

These kinds of session drummer gigs have historically made up a significant portion of what session drummers do. However, the growth of online gig marketplaces for artists has helped diversify the projects that session drummers work on and the locations from which they can cooperate.

What Do Session Drummers Do?

What Do Session Drummers Do
What Do Session Drummers Do

#1. Studio Drummers

Studio drummers record specific drum tracks for an entire song, various sections of a song, or an entire album.

As the name studio drummer suggests, this type of session drummer job is frequently required during the studio recording process for musicians, producers, or bands who need drum accompaniment during studio sessions.

Drummers used to work with producers or performers in the studio to record their drumming. However, session drummers can now work remotely on these assignments thanks to remote cooperation.

#2. Backing Or Touring Drummers

Depending on the project, backing drummers may also be referred to as traveling drummers. They work as members of a supporting band or ensemble that frequently performs live.

A drummer who supplies all or part of the drum tracks for a studio session or album frequently serves as the supporting drummer.

While different drummers may play different tracks on an album or project, a supporting or touring drummer will often play most or all of the drum parts for performance.

*** Read more: Timpani Ranges: Everything You Need to Know

The Benefits Of Hiring A Session Drummer

First, working with a session drummer to record and track your drum parts allows you an unmatched amount of creative and collaborative freedom.

Drums sampled or programmed almost always have a ceiling and can be challenging, time-consuming, and difficult to edit programs and comp.

You may get no-compromise drum sounds from a real drummer that perfectly match what you hear in your head.

One of the most challenging components of recording is tracking and recording your drums.

A skilled drummer will frequently provide technical expertise to your project and even offer equipment like overhead mics, conducive locations for recording drums, and more precise overall recordings that you would never be able to achieve on your own.

It is unnecessary to record the entire production using a session drummer.

Simple tasks like recording drum break samples to edit later or adding different fills to a piece you are already working on could qualify as a session drummer gig.

How To Find And Hire Session Drummers?

It is a good idea to hire session drummers from your network if you reside in a city with a vibrant music scene.

However, finding variety and skills that work for your project might be challenging, particularly if you are pressed for time or want a particular tone.

Using a gig network like LANDR Network to find session drummers online is a simple way to increase your options.

Finding the best drummers and recordings for your projects has never been easier, quicker, or more reasonably priced.

You can hire drummers for large and small projects while working remotely, allowing you to build contacts and networks outside your neighborhood.

*** Read more: 11+ Of The Best Drumming Quotes of All Time

How To Become A Session Drummer?

How To Become A Session Drummer
How To Become A Session Drummer

#1. In-Person & Online Services

A good producer is constantly searching for new talent. You can contact nearby studios and let them know your prices and availability.

Let them know you exist by sending them a copy of your portfolio. You should not be shy at this moment. Even if they do not call, they might be able to connect you with a musician or band that needs a drummer.

Trying never hurts. Additionally, the session industry is evolving due to advances in music production technology.

These days, many online platforms, including Fiverr, AirGigs, and Soundbetter, allow you to work from home.

Set up a home recording studio by investing time and money in purchasing a few drum microphones, a drum audio interface, and a DAW for your computer.

Your talents can be significantly enhanced by recording your playing, correcting problems, and learning the entire procedure.

Create an account on these web networks and add your portfolio. Choose competitive pricing when you first start so that you may build a strong reputation before raising your charges.

#2. Be Able To Play To A Click-Track/Metronome!

Any drummer must have the ability to perform comfortably to a click track or metronome. The same applies to session drummers.

You will probably need to sync to a metronome in the recording studio to keep time. Click-tracks are being used by more and more musicians on stage, especially pop and techno performers.

Being a session drummer may put you in an awkward situation if you cannot play along with a metronome.

There is no justification for a drummer not being able to play along with a metronome. You have to arrive on time!

If you believe this is an area where you need improvement, start working on it immediately.

#3. Know Many Genres And Playing Styles

Know Many Genres And Playing Styles
Know Many Genres And Playing Styles

As a drummer and musician, you should strive to have a diverse skill set. Having the ability to adjust to many genres may be the key.

Whatever route you take, you should aim to understand drumming theory and technique thoroughly. This entails knowing the subtleties of numerous musical genres and styles, being able to improvise on the spot, and being familiar with the rhythmic quirks of every style you intend to work with (such as Pop, Rock, Jazz, Latin, Reggae, etc.).

Do you require a music master’s degree? If you are applying for session drumming work, it is unlikely that you will be asked about your educational background. Unless we get into specialized situations, your work may rarely merit any institutional mark and can speak for itself.

Many outstanding drummers have received a solid education, and on the other hand, some self-taught drummers have achieved success in the profession and are just as well-respected.

If you are good at sight-reading, you can significantly broaden your job’s scope.

*** Read more: How Much Does A Drum Set Cost? – Hapitones

#4. Play Tastefully

The key is to drum gracefully. There is no need to overdo it or put on a show; instead, let the music and your heart guide you in the direction you want to go.

A skilled drummer will develop the song’s rhythmic framework with maturity and restraint, one of their defining characteristics.

A talented session drummer comprehends and represents the producer’s or songwriter’s artistic concept. You have already won over whoever needs to be won over, so you were asked to go to the recording studio to record some drum tracks.

You should not show off your abilities during a session gig solely to make a good impression. Do not overwhelm the artist and play for the song.

#5. Be Very Prepared

Every minute in the recording studio is expensive. That requires doing your job without wasting time and showing up prepared.

You do not want to anger the producer by forgetting a set of drumsticks or a drum key.

Things won’t turn out well if you waste their time. Create a toolkit and a bag with everything you need, and always have it with you.

Keep an extra set of drum heads, snare wires, a loaded stick bag, and other equipment that could delay or ruin a session.

Additionally, you ought to be dependable and punctual. Try to get to the studio early, have a cup of coffee, and soak up the atmosphere to get a feel for the concert.

#6. Advertise Yourself 

#6. Advertise Yourself 
#6. Advertise Yourself

Even if you could groove beautifully like Peart or Portnoy in your basement, it would not help your career much if no one else was there to notice.

Social media and self-promotion will significantly influence your reach. You will need that reach to build a loyal following or create a collection of films showcasing your drumming prowess.

Your art might become your ticket to the studio or a big audition when other artists who share your interests stumble across it.

However, not all session jobs require an audition. You must widen your network and invest some time in self-promotion if you desire a steady job, especially in the early stages of your career.

Create some professional-looking videos showcasing your drumming prowess and post them on social media sites. Add networking to this; finding new customers and breaking into the studio drumming market for high-paying film or commercial projects is essential.

#7. Leave Your Ego At The Door

Be courteous and respectful. Keep your ego outside. Do not endanger your position by tearing down relationships.

It takes more than having excellent technique and nasty chops to make a competent session drummer. You will not get called back for jobs if people don’t like you.

They must believe that you share their aesthetic goals and can effectively communicate those goals. Many well-known composers or producers will echo this attitude that a personal connection and the capacity to comprehend the musical environment are as crucial as the right talents.

What can you then do? To begin with, talk to the artist or producer and learn what they seek. Request some reference tracks or check out some of their earlier work.

If they have a pilot track (without drums), ask them to transmit it to you and take some time to take notes. Build on your favorite grooves and motifs while you jam to the music. This will help to free up crucial studio time. Additionally, it will solidify your reputation as an assiduous drummer with a DIY outlook that producers and artists can trust.

*** Read more: Top 12 Easy Songs To Play On Dums For Beginners

#8. Performance And Improvisation

Performance And Improvisation
Performance And Improvisation

You will work in various studios, genres, and styles as a groove trader. Additionally, you will work with a variety of personalities. The secret is flexibility.

You should also be able to follow an artist’s (sometimes ambiguous) instructions and produce something delectable and substantial. You frequently improvise during a solo passage, the outro, or even the entire song when performing live. You are expected to sit in the studio and perform flawlessly during the first few takes.

You must develop the ability to adjust to the tension and pressure of every circumstance because session gigs can be subjective and unpredictable.

More work will result from having a laid-back mindset and a flexible playing style.

To pursue a “pet genre” and market oneself as an authority in it, such as a go-to jazz drummer or funk drummer, is allowed. However, remember that this will drastically reduce the jobs you qualify for.

#9. Have Self-Belief

Avoid dwelling on the feedback and rejections. You must persevere and be committed to the task at hand. Nobody desires a quitter or someone incapable of perseverance.

Although it may seem like general advice, this is crucial. You will probably encounter much rejection while applying for any professional position in the music industry. Depending on where you live, you could also have to work for very little money or perform numerous free jobs before you are compensated well.

You must be able to recognize these as opportunities in order to gain any experience. These should produce a solid collection of images, songs, and videos that you may utilize to market yourself.

People could be impolite, especially at first. To succeed, you must put forth your best effort. It would be best if you found a nice balance between being personable and promoting your abilities while talking to people about your self-belief so that you do not come out as egotistical.

#10. Know Your Goals 

Know Your Goals 
Know Your Goals

Getting there is a lot simpler when you know where you are heading. Set attainable objectives and strive toward them.

What do you hope to achieve as a session drummer? Do you intend to make it your primary career? Is it supplemental income? Or will it merely be a side hustle while you keep your day job?

Which musicians would you like to perform with? Do you like to perform for huge crowds or prominent albums?

It would be best if you utilized your goals as a vision to keep going, maintain passion, and remember why you started out playing session drums.

If your enthusiasm for session drumming wanes, go back to your original objectives. It is possible that the genres you deal with no longer thrill you as much as they once did. Perhaps you are not as well suited to the life of a session drummer as you once believed. Alternatively, perhaps you have not been stuck there long enough to realize your profession as a session drummer’s full potential.

Remember that. When doing it, remember your initial motivation for starting, return to your goals and vision, and make sure you stay true to them.

*** Read more: How To Tune Your Drum In 7 Steps – 2022

How To Work With A Session Drummer?

How To Work With A Session Drummer
How To Work With A Session Drummer

#1. Your Track Should Be Ready For Drums

Something that a drummer can play over is required.

In a DAW, this often means having a project that is essentially finished and that you can distribute in stem format or as a saved DAW file.

For the drummer to hear everything happening and make decisions depending on the music, it is also necessary to have a good mix of your track available.

So be sure to include a vocal track and explicitly identify sections and instrumentation changes. A proficient drummer will pay attention to these cues and play in time.

#2. You Should Be Able To Describe What You Want In The Drum Take

If you want the most significant outcomes, be as specific as possible in your drum take.

That entails describing the type of drumbeat you want, the general style of drums you expect, and how and when the drums change during the song.

For instance, you must specify if your song begins just with guitars and vocals and includes a tom breakdown in the bridge.

To describe the primary type of drums you want in your track, you do not need to be an expert in drum patterns.

However, having a basic understanding of a few drum types and patterns might be helpful when describing the overall sound you want for your track.

#3. Use Song Form And Drum Kit Terminology In Your Directions

Learn the various components of the drum set, and while describing the different elements of the song, utilize terms prevalent in song form.

If you can state something like, “I want a tom breakdown in the bridge, a simple hi-hat beat in the verse, and go all out on the crash in the chorus,” it will help your drummer understand everything very well.

It will be easier for everyone to achieve your goal if you are clear about what you need.

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Maintain humility and develop a thick skin. It is no secret that many creative people have egotistical or temperamental tendencies. Sometimes, someone will criticize you insensitively, and you will need to deal with all kinds of irritation or abstraction. Rarely is it personal?

Because any unjustified attitude or ego might damage your reputation, treat it as helpful criticism and try to make the necessary adjustments.

Playing session jobs is a beautiful way to stretch yourself consistently and improve as a drummer. You can keep doing it while pursuing your objectives or performing with your band.

Once you get past the initial struggle, it is a lucrative sector that can be financially rewarding.

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