Studio Pros

Working with Online Session Musicians

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

At Studio Pros, we give you the best tools possible to record a hit song. When I say that, I mean that the members of the Studio Pros team have major label credits. The big advantage to using Studio Pros’ musicians for your own songs is the experience and professionalism they bring–and the inspiration they draw from the top-level artists they’ve worked with.

To get the results the results you’re after you need to be specific with your instructions.  The special thing about Studio Pros is that you’re the boss of the production process–you get to give feedback every step of the way.  But, just like a craftsman must know how to properly use his tools in order to build something, you should know how to use the great tools we provide–that is, excellent musicians.

How to give great instructions for session musicians

1. Never leave wiggle room. For example, don’t say “I think the tempo should be somewhere between 100 and 120 BPM… Or maybe a little slower.” Give very specific instructions: “The tempo is 113 BPM.” If you’re not sure what the tempo should be, a quick phone call to one of our producers will give you a solid answer.  Leaving details open-ended could result in a result you hadn’t planned on.
2. Always be specific. Mention parts in minutes and seconds instead of bars, beats, etc. Say, “When the chorus comes in at 2:03, the drummer should switch to ride cymbal.”
3. Describe in detail the playing you want to hear. Give examples and reference songs to help the processes. We once had someone tell us, “I want the guitars to sound like rain.” Since that’s a very subjective description that can be interpreted in various ways, we could only guess as to whether or not we were recording what they wanted! Direct links to youtube videos is a great way to communicate references.
4. Lay out every one of your expectations. If you’re expecting to get something done the way you want, say it.  Even though you’re dealing with great musicians, they can’t read minds. If you don’t specify what you want, you probably aren’t going to get it!

Rapid Response

It is important to respond to your preview fast while the song structure is still fresh in the musician’s head.  This will also ensure that the recording set up remains the same while we work on your song.

Always be positive!

It applies to your co-workers, family, friends–and Studio Pros’ musicians. My advice would be to never be negative when giving any feedback–think about your goals and do the best you can to achieve them through positive comments.

Try starting your feedback with a simple “thank you”–whether you liked the result or not. Saying thanks doesn’t necessarily mean you like it, it simply shows that you value the effort that the musician has put into your song. Avoid negative expressions like “I’m disappointed” or “I don’t like it.” Instead, say “I’d like it to be played like this..” or “I want this type of sound”. The musicians you work with are a reflection of yourself. Be positive and you’ll get great results. If you feel emotionally charged and can’t seem to write a response that isn’t negative, take a few hours to bring it all into perspective and try writing your feedback at a later time.

When you’re not sure, get advice.

If you’re not totally convinced by a part or a sound, ask a friend or talk to one of Studio Pros’ producers. It’s free of charge, and you can call as often as you’d like. Our producers are songwriters themselves and have a lot of music production experience. They also know the musicians at Studio Pros best, and they would love to help with useful advice.


  • Victor

    Very good article! I’m relieved because I was thinking I was being to specific and detailed with the song notes — but it turns out it’s the way to go.

    Whew! I’m not as “obsessive compulsive” as I thought… :)

  • Josh

    Victor, I felt the same way. I tend to be obsessive compulsive with my music and always fear I’m being too specific. Everyone is human – meaning I’m sure my tenancies modifications could have annoyed the engineer/musician at some point – but this article gives me more peace of mind. Studio Pros has been a joy to work with thus far and I really appreciate the work they do without any “attitude” whatsoever. They’ve always treated me with the greatest respect. I love the professionalism of their service!


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