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Studio Etiquette Tips For When The Session Ends

If the goal is to get called back for the next session, don’t ruffle any feathers in your noble efforts to make new friends or create more work.

I’ve covered studio etiquette rules here in the past, but they were primarily for when a session was in progress. When the session, or your part in it, is completed, the etiquette doesn’t stop though, as this excerpt from The Studio Musician’s Handbook (written with ace studio bass player Paul Ill) illustrates.

It’s perfectly natural to develop relationships with people you meet on sessions, but make sure you don’t ruffle any feathers in your noble efforts to make new friends or create more work for yourself. You want to get called back for the next session and you want the team you just worked with to refer you for more work.

— After your tracks are completed and you’ve basked in compliments during playback, let whoever hired you or your point of contact know how much you enjoyed the experience and how much you’d like to come back again.

— Remember to honor rank and be careful to defer to established relationships. If you just finished a synthesizer overdub for a producer but his engineer got you the gig, your best bet is thank the engineer for the referral at a time when the producer is present. Then let them both know you are available for more work. You’ll quickly develop a keen sense of when it’s cool to hang out or if you should quickly be on your way.

— Be careful not to be overly friendly with the staff. This can be misinterpreted and come back at you later if you make someone feel the least bit uncomfortable.

— Be careful about making unsolicited referrals for your friends. A general rule of thumb is only refer someone when you’re asked to recommend a player or singer for work. If you’re good at what you do and act professionally, producers, artists, contractors, engineers and managers will inevitably ask you for recommendations and then you’ll have ample opportunity to create your own ”A Team.”

— Fast friends and strong bonds can be made amongst recording musicians. Often a sense of “family” prevails and often it’s perfectly appropriate to hang out and socialize after sessions. Recording musicians often end up touring or doing media promo dates with artists for whom they’ve made records, and lifetime bonds can be formed. Just remember to acknowledge the individual(s) who create these opportunities.

It’s always good to check in after a session via phone or email just to stay up on the “radar.” Many successful recording musicians make themselves available free of charge or at a reduced rate for “call backs” – brief “quick fix” sessions that involve little or no logistical hassle and usually only takes a few minutes. And its good to make sure your regular employers know when you’re available, especially if you also tour.

You can read more from The Studio Musician’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of

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