Studio musicians (also: session musicians or accompanying musicians ) are freelance or permanent instrumentalists or singers who accompany and support music productions of all kinds on behalf of interpreters or production companies - often according to fixed specifications - often for the purpose of sound recordings . Your typical workplaces are recording studios and theater stages .
History of origin
The term studio musician ( session musician ) came about after the first recording studios were founded in the USA in 1897. The need for musical accompaniment increased when professional musical and / or vocal accompaniment was required for sound recordings, as was also available for live performances. Since the studio technology was not yet so advanced that existing deficiencies could be subsequently eliminated through audio effects or post-production , the studio production had to be of high quality with the help of professional session musicians. From 1923 the American record companies had their own "studio bands". These included Waring's Pennsylvanians (October 1923 to November 1932), Jean Goldkette & Orchestra (March 1924 to January 1929) or Vincent Lopez & Orchestra (March 1923 to February 1926). Its members such as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey , Benny Goodman , Oscar Peterson or Miff Mole played in dance bands at concerts in the evening and on radio recordings as well as in the recording studio during the day to accompany other performers.
Organization and tasks
They usually get the job as studio musicians from the artists themselves or from the music producer . The reason for their use can be the general broadening of the sound image, but also the qualitative improvement of the instrumentally or vocal less talented artists. Session musicians are usually so professional that they only need a few takes to perfect their part and thus save higher studio costs. The studio musicians who used to be permanently employed have now been replaced by freelance colleagues in order to reduce the fixed costs of production. Usually the studio musician is paid per title, per time unit or per production. From a tax and legal point of view , studio musicians conclude work contracts with a music producer in order to replay pieces of pop music composed by others in the recording studio, which are then mixed with vocal music to create a piece of music suitable for recordings. "The studio musician is a freelance , independent artist, provided that he has no permanent position.
An essential attribute of the studio musician is his anonymity, because mostly his musical participation is not even mentioned in the liner notes of the sound carrier , so that the general public is not informed about his participation. Session musicians are not at all or only loosely organized as a group due to their freelance work, or they rarely form a fixed group. You will receive a contract that obliges you to make the agreed musical contribution and guarantees you a fee. In doing so, however, it is not uncommon for them to get rid of all other income, for example when the sound recording becomes a million seller and licenses for this music are in great demand. In Germany, musicians are therefore represented as performing artists by the Society for the Utilization of Ancillary Rights (GVL), provided they have the appropriate membership. The job of a studio musician can also consist of accompanying the artist (s) on tours.
Singers or groups who do not accompany themselves or instrumental soloists depend on the support of session musicians. On the one hand, the accompanying musicians established themselves in recording studios, who are able to meet the technical and stylistic requirements directly from the sheet music without preparation. They are available on call. On the other hand, studio musicians, as well-rehearsed accompanying ensembles who embody a certain sound, have become the trademark of certain recording studios.
Famous studio musicians
With some session musicians, the sound impression they made was so characteristic and highly recognizable that the sound was named after it (“ Nashville Sound ”, “ Motown Sound ”, “ Memphis Sound ”, “ Philly Sound ”) and they were one Named ( Nashville A-Team , The Funk Brothers , Memphis Horns , MFSB ). One of the first informal studio groups of this kind was The Studio Band from New Orleans , which between 1946 and 1957 was usually present in Cosimo Matassa's J&M studio at recording sessions with a changing line-up. One member of this group was drummer Earl Palmer , who left the studio band in February 1957 to become a sought-after session drummer in Los Angeles .
He joined the most famous and most widely used, albeit largely anonymous, group of session musicians: The Wrecking Crew . They also supported performers like The Monkees , who were said to have little artistic talent, or music professionals like Frank Sinatra . In the country music was asked much the Nashville A-Team , from the drummer Buddy Harman stands out with over 17,000 recording sessions. Hal Blaine of The Wrecking Crew even recorded 35,000 songs, making him the most booked studio drummer of all time. One of the most successful British session musicians was guitarist Jimmy Page . He developed into a sideman when he stepped out of his anonymity through membership of the Yardbirds and became known to this group himself without giving up his work as a session musician and from January 1963 often helped out with well-known interpreters of British pop music, such as the million seller Tobacco Road from the Nashville Teens .
In the 1970s, a formation in the USA made a name for itself in studio circles, The Section . It consisted of the renowned studio musicians Leland Sklar on bass, Russ Kunkel on drums, Craig Doerge on keyboards and Danny Kortchmar on guitar. They were so well coordinated that they were usually booked as a complete band for musicians such as James Taylor , Jackson Browne and many others.
Another well-known session musician was the British pianist Nicky Hopkins , who was best known for his work with the Rolling Stones , Beatles , The Who and The Kinks . The members of the American group Toto were in demand as studio musicians in the 1980s and have recorded many international productions. Prominent examples from Germany for "test tube groups " are Milli Vanilli and Boney M. Even today there are many performers who rely on the help of studio musicians. It is still the case that due to time constraints or a lack of skills, it seems advisable to have playbacks tailored by musicians with experience in the studio.
- Hans-Jürgen Homann: Practical Guide to Music Law: A Guide for Music and Media Professionals , Berlin: Springer 2007, p. 284f.
- Ekkehard Jost : jazz musician. Materials on the sociology of African-American music . Ullstein Verlag, Berlin, 1982. ISBN 3-548-35129-8
- TopTenz.Net, Top Ten Session Musicians and Studio Bands
- US dance sound files
- Federal Finance from 9./12. July 2010, Tax treatment of artists ..., p. 4
- Tony Scherman, Backbeat: Earl Palmer's Story , 2000, pp. 62 ff.
- Citizendium, Jimmy Page, Cataologs