7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Online Musicians
As a songwriter, you want the integrity and vibe of your music to stay intact when hiring online musicians for help. However, if you don’t have experience with recording sessions or people management, this can be very difficult to do.
You may not realize it, but you could make mistakes that will kill your production from the start. If you aren’t careful with how you go about things, then the chances are your production won’t sound like what you imagined.
As a songwriter myself who has outsourced work in the past, I’ve made plenty of mistakes that gave me less than stellar results. I want to help you avoid these mistakes that I’ve made.
So I’ve compiled a list of 7 common mistakes that songwriters should avoid when outsourcing recording work to remote musicians so they get the best possible outcome for their music.
#1 Not Preparing a Demo
Suppose you fail to prepare a demo before hiring online musicians. In that case, you will struggle to get a recording that you are happy to release.
The adage, “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” is true in music production.
Your demo is the sonic blueprint. It’s the best way to communicate your vision and vibe to the musician you plan on working with.
Remember, even though you are outsourcing work to get a professional performance on your tracks, you are still the captain of the ship. Online musicians can’t read your mind, and if you aren’t clear with your vision, they won’t have a clear idea either.
A good demo should include your entire arrangement with the primary backing instrument, scratch vocals, a backing beat, and bass. Suppose you can go the extra mile and incorporate some lead lines. In that case, this helps guide certain instrumentalist decisions for the parts they will play.
However, don’t sweat it if you aren’t proficient in playing any instruments. All digital audio workstations (DAWs) have virtual instruments that you can use to quickly sketch out the musical ideas you have floating around in your head.
An even easier solution is to find loops and beats that inspire you and use those to build your track around. If you are looking for beats, check out Supreme Tracks’ selections of beats for sale.
Your demos don’t have to be elaborate. If you could create all the parts yourself, then you wouldn’t be hiring online musicians to help you out in the first place, right? So simply do what you can and make sure that you give the musician you hire a clear musical direction to bring your song to life.
#2 Going With the Cheapest Option
Outsourcing your work can get expensive especially if you are working with more than one online musician for your project.
The temptation is to find the “best deal” to try and save some cash. However, you get what you pay for.
Before looking at the cost of the musician, first, look for performance examples that inspire you. Then, think about who will compliment your musical vision the best and find a way to make the budget work.
If this means waiting an extra month to save the money, then do it. Or you can reach out to the musician you want to hire and see if you can negotiate a better price. Maybe they will discount their rate if you hire them for more than one song?
Just remember, you are hiring a team of people to help you create something that will hopefully be heard by thousands of people.
When you surround yourself with greatness, you become great.
It’s that simple.
We always recommend hiring online musicians you want to work with, not the ones who are cheap.
#3 Hiring a Musician Outside Your Genre
Each genre of music comes with its preference for playing styles, gear choices, and skill level.
Search for a musician who shares the same musical taste as you. Even if a highly rated musician agrees to work with you, if their primary genre is salsa and you’re a garage rock band, you’re likely to miss out on that “x-factor” in the recording.
The feeling of a player will come through in the recording. They also will instinctually perform parts that will sound appropriate for the style you’re going for. This will help reduce the chances of you getting that “sinking gut” feeling of receiving back a performance that just feels wrong, no matter how well it was played.
A musician who gets your genre will also carefully select microphones, pre-amps, and instruments to get the best sounding recording for your song. These small choices in capturing a performance will go a long way to ensuring you get a recording that sounds familiar to your sonic palette.
A great example of a player who fits the style and vibe of the music is drummer Meg White from The White Stripes. She might not stand out in an online music reel, but her playing is part of what made those songs so good.
Do your due diligence and make sure that you find a player who resonates emotionally with your genre.
#4 Hiring a Musician Who Lacks Communication
Recording music is a collaborative experience. Before hiring a specific musician, reach out to them and see what their communication style is like.
Things to notice:
- Do they respond quickly?
- Do they ask questions about your music and direction?
- Do they offer any suggestions for your track?
Being comfortable and confident in the communication between you and the online musician is crucial for a few reasons. First, it will make the recording process go more smoothly. There will be fewer revisions, you’ll get feedback that enhances your track, and it creates a better recording experience for everyone involved.
Remember, good communication goes both ways. By being prepared, you show respect to the musician you hired. You also will inspire them to provide you with their best work instead of seeing your project as just another paycheck.
Good communication creates synergy and will help you get a performance that you are happy with.
#5 Being Unclear With Your Expectations
From the first moment you reach out to a potential musician, be clear with what you want and expect respectfully.
If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to ask more questions or simply look for another player. You should seek out someone who will work with you throughout the recording process and make sure you are happy with their work.
To ensure this, you need to be clear and give specific instructions on what you are looking for. Give particular notes on each section of the song. Also, provide song examples, your expected turnaround time, and the number of revisions required.
Also, avoid vague language when describing your music. For example, saying you want your verse to be “chill” can be interpreted differently by different people. Instead, try saying something like, “the energy of the verse should feel loose and lazy.” This paints a better picture of what you’re looking for and gives the musician a better opportunity to ask you the right kinds of questions on how they can nail the part.
#6 Setting Unreasonable Deadlines (Or Failing to Set One Altogether)
By giving your musician an unrealistic timeline, you’re putting them in a position where they’ll be forced to rush through the recording process.
When hiring online musicians, make sure the musician you’re looking to hire can deliver their tracks in a time frame that is comfortable for both of you.
When working with online musicians, you’ll need to set some expectations for when you want the recording done. This is helpful for both parties because it gives both parties a timeframe to work towards and allows the musician to plan their workload accordingly.
Nothing is worse than having your project delayed because the hired musician prioritized other work over yours because you weren’t clear on your timeframe.
By agreeing upon deadlines upfront, you avoid these kinds of issues.
#7 Asking Them to Do Work Outside Their Role
Producing professional-sounding recordings can take a massive team of people. Look at the credit list of some of your favorite songs at https://allmusic.com to see what I mean.
Recording music is a lot like building a house. The song is the foundation, the rooms are the instrumentation, the painting is the mix, and the landscaping and staging is the mastering.
When hiring online musicians, you want someone to give you a high-quality recording of an excellent performance.
Unless you arranged other services from the musician beforehand, it would be inappropriate to expect the musician to edit or mix the given work.
Even the best performances these days get timed, tuned, chopped up, and rearranged. However, that type of work should fall back on you or another person you outsource the work to.
Be aware of the type of work that you are outsourcing to ensure a good working relationship in the future.
What Are Your Next Steps?
Finding the perfect musicians for your next musical recording doesn’t have to be complicated, or waste you a ton of time you don’t really have.
Consider SupremeTracks.com. Supreme Tracks has handpicked the highest quality session musicians in multiple genres, so you can get studio recordings of tracks played with the right energy, expressiveness and emotion – every time!