Dealing with studio musicians
Old 8th January 2013
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Dealing with studio musicians

I have had a few situations where I call in a studio musician and they can't get the job done to my standards..... The do ok and passable but just don't knock it out of the park. I have used a certain drummer on several uptempo rock/country songs and he has been phenomenal but this last session has been like pulling teeth on a laid back feely Pop song.

If you guys run in to this and have to get another musician in how do you handle it as regards to pay and the talk of letting them know that it was not working. I don't want to offend him so much that he doesn't want to do more work on the songs that fit his niche.

Thanks for the advice
Old 8th January 2013
  #2
Gear nut
 

use pros - usually part of the MU
Old 8th January 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
The guy is a pro.... No music unions where I'm at. Song just didn't play to his strengths. Not everyone has mad halftime shuffles
Old 8th January 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
 

You need to Pay him anyway, and just get better at making your choices next time.

What if a band recorded at your place and you spent xxx hours on their album and then when it was done they decided your work "Just wasn't quite what they were looking for?"
Old 8th January 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Yes I did pay him.... We spent 10 hrs setup and tracking .... Trying to build a guide track with more feel instead of the static click. I paid him 300$ ... I usually pay 60 an hr though
Old 9th January 2013
  #6
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
As long as the musician shows up and gives it their all, I always pay what ever we agreed to. If they player is a pro they will understand if you ended up using some one else. Its a bit of an ego hit to the player but it happens to all of us that do creative work professionally.
Old 9th January 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Good to hear, I need to really go over with musicians there strengths and weaknesses untill I get to know them personally before I hire them.
I'm a pro guitar player and I get paid well often but I still hire a different guitar player when I need brad paisley style country licks because I don't have that in my wheelhouse.. I wish everyone realized there weaknesses and would speak up upon request for genre skills
Old 9th January 2013
  #8
Gear nut
 

don't be afraid to tell the truth. Just pay him and let him know that even though you typically enjoy his work, it just wasn't what you were looking for this time.

I've had somebody tell me that kind of stuff before. It was a friend and he said it really nicely(well, he didn't say it at all, but I sort of forced it out of him). I practiced, then showed him some stuff in that style the next time he hired me. No hard feelings at all. Would've been the same even if he wasn't my friend.
Old 9th January 2013
  #9
More cowbell!
 
natpub's Avatar
I had a friend who is an amazing jazz pianist, and he was called in to do sessions for Chris Martin from Coldplay who was doing a film soundtrack. All the parts had been scored out by a top-tier arranger. They had probably 10 musicians there and spent the morning going over the pieces. However it quickly became clear that none, zero of the people there could cut sight reading the arrangements and nailing them the way he wanted. So, they took everyone aside one at a time, were very complementary, but said it wasn't what they needed, paid everyone for the whole day, and sent them home. From what I heard later, they had players in from area orchestras within a couple hours and finished the sessions. My friend was bummed, but felt OK since they were so complimentary and clear that it was just a matter of style and limited time.
Old 9th January 2013
  #10
Gear Guru
 

IMO, you have to pay him for the time he spent, or the time you booked him for, whichever is greater.

But you should be ready to pull the plug and send him home early rather than beating your head against a wall or racking up overtime trying to 'fix' something that isn't working.

I think if the guy really is a pro, you should be able to just say up front it's not working out. If you pay him for his time, he is not going to be so "insulted" that he won't come the next time you call with another paying gig!

Quote:
Song just didn't play to his strengths. Not everyone has mad halftime shuffles
Only a very small handful of guys can be counted on to have "mad everything". That's why you keep seeing the same names over and over.

Quote:
I wish everyone realized there weaknesses and would speak up upon request for genre skills
Realizing one's weaknesses is one thing, and "speaking up" about them to a potential employer is quite another! Beside he may be sincerely convinced his halftime shuffle is impeccable. It's your opinion of it that matters.

Most studio musicians have a reel or some clips on their website. It is ultimately up to you to go through these and literally "shop around".
Old 9th January 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
5down1up's Avatar
 

60 an hour ???

gimme a call, i play guitar :-)

and for 60 anything else
Old 9th January 2013
  #12
Lives for gear
 
famousbass's Avatar
 

A worker deserves his wages and the price of your experience isn't free either.
Pay the guy what you agreed and know that you're in this for the long haul.

Now, here's where we get personal:
If someone calls you for advice on a drummer, well, should they assume free access to your experience to their benefit? What do you do now that you have professional information that has come at a real cost to you?
Old 9th January 2013
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Beat Poet's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SirEarl View Post
don't be afraid to tell the truth. Just pay him and let him know that even though you typically enjoy his work, it just wasn't what you were looking for this time.

I've had somebody tell me that kind of stuff before. It was a friend and he said it really nicely(well, he didn't say it at all, but I sort of forced it out of him). I practiced, then showed him some stuff in that style the next time he hired me. No hard feelings at all. Would've been the same even if he wasn't my friend.
Yeah, you'll be helping out the drummer Arichlsss, by highlighting one of his weaknesses. If he misses out on the session, but goes away and practises, if you get him in again he'll be over the moon and you'll know you've made him a better player.
Old 9th January 2013
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
This is an interesting thread I would love to hear more success stories or times where it has blown up in your face
Old 9th January 2013
  #15
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 

As a studio drummer I've tended to know when I haven't cut it.
Two to three takes is the norm. If you are still working on the song after five hours, you know something isn't working. In which instance i ask the producer/song writer what it is I'm doing wrong. Offer to keep working at it, or pack up and go home.
Yes, I usually expect to be paid, as I trucked all my gear to the studio, and delivered on a good drum sound (which takes time). If my playing is bad, not just insufficiently uber high standard for the artist, I consider not charging, or offering a discount - cancellation fee.
The main thing i want to say is there really are very few studio musicians who do everything well.
A good producer builds up a stable of players who specialise in certain things.
Looking for alternative rock style - choose drummer X.
Looking for jazz style - drummer Y.
RnB - drummer Z.
Etc.....
You are right though, I was never an all rounder, and would quiz the producer before accepting the session. Knowing I would waste everyone's time if it was a nashville groove, or heavy jazz chops.
Vinnie Calaiuta has excelled at metal, jazz, fusion, mainstream pop and more.
But if you are looking for killer half feel shuffle, you might call Jim Keltner instead. Expensive, but the job gets done to a 'mad good' standard in one hour. And Keltner probably plays a few things you didn't plan on that lifts the production to an even higher level.
Old 9th January 2013
  #16
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 

Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arichlsss View Post
The guy is a pro.... No music unions where I'm at. Song just didn't play to his strengths. Not everyone has mad halftime shuffles
.

In 2007 for a show in LA, I fired one of the most famous drummers in HISTORY because he couldn't play a half-time shuffle at 60BPM on my material! It killed me to do it, because this guy was one of my childhood idols!

To be fair, metronomic half-time shuffle is a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIItch for most drummers! ...And most musicians, in general!

This is the main reason even killer drummers like Jeff Percaro and Bernard Purdie were ****ing sampled in 8 and 16-bar loops!!!! EVEN THEY couldn't nail these grooves for that much longer!

I'm just giving the drummer the benefit of the doubt. These are indeed some of the most difficult grooves to nail.

These days, there are lots of drummers who CAN nail these grooves, but the chances of them living in your town, and being available and affordable are questionable, to say the least.

The conclusion to my 2007 story above is that the drummer we ended up with for our performance in LA was just touring with Rhianna. He is KILLER. Runs the Recording workshops at the Musician's Institute in LA. He knows how to play and sway to a click better than anyone I've ever played with. If you need his contact info, PM me, and you can fly him out from LA for your session.

.
Old 10th January 2013
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.

In 2007 for a show in LA, I fired one of the most famous drummers in HISTORY because he couldn't play a half-time shuffle at 60BPM on my material! It killed me to do it, because this guy was one of my childhood idols!

To be fair, metronomic half-time shuffle is a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIItch for most drummers! ...And most musicians, in general!

This is the main reason even killer drummers like Jeff Percaro and Bernard Purdie were ****ing sampled in 8 and 16-bar loops!!!! EVEN THEY couldn't nail these grooves for that much longer!

I'm just giving the drummer the benefit of the doubt. These are indeed some of the most difficult grooves to nail.

These days, there are lots of drummers who CAN nail these grooves, but the chances of them living in your town, and being available and affordable are questionable, to say the least.

The conclusion to my 2007 story above is that the drummer we ended up with for our performance in LA was just touring with Rhianna. He is KILLER. Runs the Recording workshops at the Musician's Institute in LA. He knows how to play and sway to a click better than anyone I've ever played with. If you need his contact info, PM me, and you can fly him out from LA for your session.

.
John Blackwell?
Old 10th January 2013
  #18
Lives for gear
 
famousbass's Avatar
 

I was called to do a bass session years ago. Asked to bring a fretless and it was assured it would be a walk in the park, pretty much what the guy saw me play live, he said.
Anyway, I arrived, got comfy, some guy who recommended calls out, "He can play anything" then the producer says he wants me to play like Pino Palladino, literally, now, for the ad, roll the tape, let's go, should be cool, just wanna capture what you feel... WT*!!! I'm feeling NOTHING right now, just parked the car!
I hated how I played that day.
How that for poor communication? How's that for being a "Producer". I felt so bad about myself I didn't send an invoice. What was the point?
What I git from it all:
As a player, I learned about the right preparation, especially asking the right Q before you take a booking.
As a producer these days, I gotta make sure the guy I book totally understands the brief, right up to the point that I give him an escape clause during the call. I ask for evidence he can cut something before confirming the booking. Why not? It's my money...
Old 10th January 2013
  #19
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by famousbass View Post
I was called to do a bass session years ago. Asked to bring a fretless and it was assured it would be a walk in the park, pretty much what the guy saw me play live, he said.
Anyway, I arrived, got comfy, some guy who recommended calls out, "He can play anything" then the producer says he wants me to play like Pino Palladino, literally, now, for the ad, roll the tape, let's go, should be cool, just wanna capture what you feel... WT*!!! I'm feeling NOTHING right now, just parked the car!
I hated how I played that day.
How that for poor communication? How's that for being a "Producer". I felt so bad about myself I didn't send an invoice. What was the point?
What I git from it all:
As a player, I learned about the right preparation, especially asking the right Q before you take a booking.
As a producer these days, I gotta make sure the guy I book totally understands the brief, right up to the point that I give him an escape clause during the call. I ask for evidence he can cut something before confirming the booking. Why not? It's my money...
.

Indeed, man.

But even given all the preparation, things can still go south.

These days, there are so many amazing session guys on line, I would seriously consider having drums tracked remotely - especially, if you live nowhere near the talent pool.

I have drummers I work with who are all setup to record. I know their setups - drums, mics and rooms, and I just send them a file, tell them what drums, mics, etc. and they send me s track back. Perhaps a few tweaks back and forth, and we're done. The level of online/web/smartphone/tablet interaction is amazing now.

The vibe's all good, I know who can do what, I know what it will sound like, I know the pay scale variations. If I'm expecting something above and beyond the call of duty, I expect to pay accordingly.

Some drummers, I'll trade services with. They play on tracks, and I compose and / or produce material for their projects.

Track for track. I respect their time, they respect mine.

Regardless, though, there are still always going to be misunderstandings here and there - it's just part of life.

I hired one of the best session bassists in the US - and a good friend - a few years ago, and the track was so bad, I couldn't even use it. No matter what I did, I could not get the guy to get the feel of the track - and the sound was just not happening. This bassist just recorded a record with John Mayer.

My point is - shit happens. And it's no reflection on anyone. Sometimes, vibe and communication and sync are just not there. People have bad days, etc.

Yes, preparation is key, but busy producers and session folks don't always have time to prepare, and even if they do, things don't always turn out well. It's just life.

And it's all good. For ever shitty session, there are tons of great ones.

For the most part, I try to make peace with everyone, if possible. I don't want professionals leaving my space or project feeling negative, ripped off, taken advantage of, disrespected, etc. Just like I don't want to feel those things.

.
Old 11th January 2013
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Ward Pike's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arichlsss View Post
Yes I did pay him.... We spent 10 hrs setup and tracking .... Trying to build a guide track with more feel instead of the static click. I paid him 300$ ... I usually pay 60 an hr though
Was this 10 hours for set up and tracking for ONE song? Holy crapola, in 10 hours using the right drummer (I know my usual session drummers and pick the right one every time) I can get a full 12 song record done. A pro nails the part every time and I usually get 3 to 4 great keeper takes on each song in that time frame.
Old 11th January 2013
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 

Talking

.

I know, right?

My usual session drummer tracked all these songs in less than an hour:

Wing sings AC/DC | Wing Music

And his drum sounds are just BEYOND ridiculous!

.
Old 11th January 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Ward Pike's Avatar
Wing Han Tsang is the bomb!
Old 13th January 2013
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Yes one song :(
I should have called it quits after 3 hrs
Old 13th January 2013
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Arichlsss's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.

I know, right?

My usual session drummer tracked all these songs in less than an hour:

Wing sings AC/DC | Wing Music

And his drum sounds are just BEYOND ridiculous!

.
Haha that is amazing
Old 13th January 2013
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
I have been in tracking sessions where all players are on top of their game but they cannot collectively get their "vibe" going and the whole session falls flat on its face. I have also been at sessions where you can physically feel the vibe and the session goes extremely well.

I really feel for session musicians they have to be on their game all the time and sometimes they are working with one or two other musicians that can't cut it.

I was at one session with a string quartet where we did 27 takes because the cellist could not get the ending right. If we could not get the ending right the quartet would have to come back another day since we were running out of time and the producer was getting somewhat edgy to say the least.
The cellist finally nailed it on the 27th take and the session ended. Why he was having problems is anyone's guess. The other three players literally never missed a beat but they were getting really tired.
Old 13th January 2013
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Beat Poet's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
The cellist finally nailed it on the 27th take and the session ended. Why he was having problems is anyone's guess. The other three players literally never missed a beat but they were getting really tired.
Maybe it was overplay or that the part was so simple to him that he kept screwing it up! Most likely though he just kept getting to that part and suddenly his hands turned to jelly.
Old 13th January 2013
  #27
Gear interested
 
PL@Y's Avatar
 

I had a situation later week similar to this case. Only I was dealing with a session Singer.

Sent from my Android device.
Old 14th January 2013
  #28
Gear Guru
 
Sqye's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by PL@Y View Post
I had a situation later week similar to this case. Only I was dealing with a session Singer.

Sent from my Android device.
.

Uganda? Really? Holy shit! Welcome!

.
Old 14th January 2013
  #29
Lives for gear
 
famousbass's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beat Poet View Post
Maybe it was overplay or that the part was so simple to him that he kept screwing it up! Most likely though he just kept getting to that part and suddenly his hands turned to jelly.
Oh man, don't we players know!!!

There's a valuable reading lesson I learned from a killer session drummer:
"Learn to trust your eyes."

The reason we make mistakes in the studio isn't that we can't read something and play it well, most of us play well and are too old or too experienced to be anything else but good at it. The reason we make mistakes is that we double guess the part we see coming and start to have doubts about it. Instead of giving voice to your taste buds and therefore taking your mind off the task, silence your internal drama queen and allow the pure effort of reading what's written, the job is easier, it gets done and everyone is happy.

If you don't sight read then forget everything I've told you.

Everything...
Old 14th January 2013
  #30
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 

Great producers know who to call - and who not to call. ALL musicians have strengths and weaknesses - ALL of them. Even the greatest of the great. I can only think of less than what I can count on one hand that do it all and do it top drawer.

The secret of being a great producer is to know who to call, when to call them, and how to get the studio and other musicians around them right for them to perform to your (the producers) expectations.

If you want versatility and a wide variety of styles at top quality standards, the older cats are usually the best. If you want outside the box, uber-creative edginess, often a younger - but still seasoned - pro will be the call. If you want someone who can read, it's going to demand a different call. Someone who can help the rhythm section glue together, a different call yet. Blues, guy A. Rock, guy B. Jazz, guy Y. Who ya gonna call?? In this case.....grooveBusters.

I can't say it enough, knowing who to call is key. Just because a guy is cool and a pro doesn't make him right. It takes a lot of recommendations, trial and error (ie: sessions like you just had) and experience with players to get better than a .500 batting average on these things. It also takes a sixth sense - developed over tiime.

View the Steely Dan Aja netflix Classic Albums doc and see how they fired MULTIPLE rhythm sections. See how many solo's on Peg they had by top level pro's before Jay Graydon nailed it. Listen to how "average" they sound compared to Jay's solo.

Become efficient @ who to call and you won't have 10 hour musician frustrating, hair pulling sessions..... Good luck.
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
minus-sounds.com / Music Business
23
elarreal / Electronic Music Instruments & Electronic Music Production
10
johnashmore / Mastering forum
8
Deleted User / So much gear, so little time!
1

Forum Jump
 
Register FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.