Hello Produce Like A Pro Academy! I am Paul Kinman, and I work as a session and touring guitar player in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Over my time doing session work, I have been fortunate to get to work with producers, engineers and artists such as Robert L Smith (Aerosmith, Lady Gaga, Glee, David Gilmore ect..), Dean Maher(ACDC, Elton John, Slayer ect), Tommy MacDonald from the multi platinum Canadian band Hedley, Blood Diamonds (Universal), Benji (Musical Freedom),Jason Dunn (Hawk Nelson/Sony), Chris Buck Band (Two top 40 Canadian Country singles), Robyn & Ryleigh (Sony), and many, many more. The journey of building this career has taught me that, often, the most lucrative and rewarding ways to build our careers are often paths that we wouldn’t think of by looking at the way that traditional pro-audio/musical careers have been built and over the last few decades. Over the last few years, I have gotten into doing sessions online, and have found that it is a great way to earn extra income, even if you’re not primarily a musician, and are more into production.
Now days, a ton of records are made online. One reason for this is because it allows producers and artists to pick and work with players from all over the world, as opposed to just the best ones in their town. Whether you’re a full time session musician and are looking to build into an online career or a producer/engineer who is also a very talented instrumentalist and you are looking to add to your income, learning to effectively play and work as a session musician online can be a great source of extra income. Here are five tips to help get started:
- Don’t be afraid of cold calling
This is a big reason why I think I was able to get this business off the ground. I was never afraid to just outright message or email someone that I had never met and let them know what I was doing. Obviously you have to be careful when you do this. Never just send a copy and pasted email, nobody likes that. Make sure that, if you do email someone, you say why it is that you would like to work with them, and always use their name. “To whom it may concern” is very literally the kiss of death in the music business. Also, make it clear that you’re not expecting them to hire you for a job, that you’re just introducing yourself. This makes them feel less pressure. And do not feel upset if you do not get hired by them right away. Some working relationships take years to bear fruit. And sometimes they might say right off the bat that they won’t hire you because they have a guy already, but they might still become good friends or give you great advice. So no matter how large, or small the potential client seems, do not be afraid to reach out, the worst thing that could happen is that you get no response, and that is not really a big deal.
- Know when to outsource
I have a respectable home studio setup that is able to satisfy the requirements of 90 percent of jobs that I get. However, when I get the occasional job for a very large project or a very well known producer, I am always honest with myself if I do not have the engineering capabilities or gear to get the job done, and will hire out an engineer, or call on one of my engineer friends who may owe me a favor. For example, I recently got called to work on a song with an American producer who had a staggeringly long and distinguished credit list. I knew right away that even though I probably could engineer it myself, I didn’t want to. I would rather have this project go really well, and just have to focus on the playing, then risk it being average because I insisted on playing and engineering myself. Plus, having an extra set of ears on the session was incredibly helpful.
- Don’t be afraid to use sites or agencies that find online work
Sites like SoundBetter.com are great for chasing down leads for online session work or mixing/mastering jobs. Even if you have a respectable business already, getting jobs through a an online service is a great way to get more jobs and connections. Plus, Soundbetter holds the clients money as you work, so that you know the client is serious, avoiding the possibility of finishing a job and not getting paid.
- Keep in constant contact with the client
When you’re working online, a huge fear that a lot of first time online clients have is that you will just disappear with their money, or that it will be hard to communicate what they want, so they won’t get the product that they want. Keeping steady contact with the client to let them know how the project is coming a long goes a long way towards making them feel at ease. Also, never underestimate the power of words like “us” or “we”. Using these words goes a long way towards making the client feel like you and them are working together. To add to that, try and make sure that you use the simplest wording possible, without sounding ridiculous. This is because a lot of online clients are from other countries, and many don’t speak English well, so keeping your grammar and word choice relatively simple will go a long way towards keeping everyone on the same page. Even if you’re working with someone who has a strong command of the English language, simple writing is still a good idea because it avoids any possible misunderstandings.
- On your site, don’t be afraid to Mention other musical achievements that you have outside of your online work
This is a big one. Even though some big gigs that you played as a sideman have little to do with how good you might be on an online session, it goes a long way towards showing that you’re a professional. For example, last summer I was lucky enough to be able to open up for Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett at a large summer festival. You better believe that went on my site right away, and the home page of my site has a picture of me on a huge stage in front of thousands of people when I was playing a prime spot at another major festival. None of these things have anything to do with my studio work, or my ability to work online, but they all go towards showing that I have experience in the music business, and when paired with mentions of my work in online and in person session work, make the client happier and more confident in hiring me.
Visit Paul Kinman’s Website Here: