Home > The Arts > How to Become a Session Musician

How to Become a Session Musician

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 28 May 2015 | comments*Discuss
Musician Instrument Session Television

Without wishing to shatter your dreams of a creative career change, it’s important to state, right from the beginning, that there is no fast route to becoming a session musician. The vast majority of session musicians have worked hard at their chosen instrument for many years, and have built up a network of studios and record labels that call on them for professional recording sessions.

That’s not to say that you cannot change career and become a session musician, it’s just that it’s really hard, over-subscribed and highly competitive. You do need to be realistic. This article is not the written equivalent of a tuneless, chubby kid’s mum at the X Factor auditions, saying that he’s going to be a star. He’s not and nor will you be unless you’re really, really good. You need to know exactly how good you are and put the work, Networking and practice in to being as good as you possibly can.

There is plenty of work out there for session musicians, especially if you play an unusual instrument to a high standard, live in London or near a major television production centre and are totally professional. This is not the kind of job that you just ‘have a go’ at; it needs total dedication and an acceptance that you need to earn your stripes.

Have You Got the Skill?

In order to even start thinking about a change of career to become a session musician, you’ll need to ensure that you have the following skills.
  • Play at least one instrument to a very high standard
  • Are able to read music, or at least notation
  • Have a good standard of music theory to be able to interpret briefs
  • Have wide-ranging music knowledge to be able to understand references
  • Are organised
  • Are totally professional
  • Have access to reliable transport
  • Are skilled at networking

Be Realistic

Of course, being able to play an instrument to a high level is easier said than done. It’s one of those things that we say we ‘always meant to learn’ but never get round to it. Presumably, if you are thinking of making the brave career change to become a session musician, you already have musical ability. If not, this really isn’t a good career move for you.

So, if you match all the above list of skills, and are realistic about your level of talent, where do you go from here? Do be aware that it is quite a cliquey business, so you’ll need to have your eyes and ears open to any possibility to get a foot in the door. This may mean waiting until someone else is ill or makes a mistake, but that’s life. It also means that, once you do get that illusive foot in the door, some other aspiring musician will be poised to take your place, so you cannot let your standards slip.


A good place to start is by calling through a list of recording studios in your local area to see if they work with session musicians. Television production companies are also a potential source, as well as theatres. Note the names of everyone you speak to, and never be rude to anyone because you never know who you’ll end up working with another time, and don’t badmouth other musicians; it’s a very close knit community.

Once you start getting work, be sure to build up a show reel that you can use to attract more business. You can also use social networking sites to build your profile.

Are You Ready for a Change?

Not sure if you are ready for a career change or not? Take a look at our Questionnaire to help you decide if now is the time to stop dreaming about your ideal job and make it happen!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
How do I put my profile on Nmp to become a session musican
cowboy - 28-May-15 @ 11:37 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Pogelswood
    Re: Becoming a Teacher or Teaching Assistant
    I have a degree, BAhons in early years teaching and am looking at becoming a TA. Do I need to undergo any further…
    14 January 2020
  • alihon
    Re: Becoming a Mechanic
    I work in an FE college and I would like to highlight the fact that the advice given here is not correct. There are very few colleges which…
    7 January 2020
  • ferrari
    Re: Becoming a Mechanic
    im 13 and thinking that mechanics is where i want to go, but im not sure what gcse`s to take could anyone help please
    4 December 2019
  • Catalina
    Re: Changing Career to Become a Social Worker
    Hi I'm a RGN,I'm working for four years in a nursing home and I'm looking for a change in Social Worker. What do…
    7 November 2019
  • Anu
    Re: Becoming a Mechanic
    Hi, I am a graduate of physic with electronics and am 22 and i want to be a mechanic. I interned as a mechanic in a car company but now i want…
    5 November 2019
  • Sunnygill19
    Re: Becoming a Social Worker
    Hi Thinking about totally changing career path and becoming a social worker. I currently have an hnc in business administration with…
    21 September 2019
  • Lou
    Re: Becoming a Painter and Decorator
    Hi, I am a 31 years old Chef who is looking for a career change into the painting decorator industry. I always been painting…
    10 September 2019
  • Woody
    Re: Becoming a Mechanic
    Hi I'm 28 and work full time nights in a job I want to get out of and would like to study/train to become a motor mechanic. How would I go…
    2 September 2019
  • Abbyf38
    Re: Becoming a Social Worker
    Hi! I’ve been a primary school teacher for 21 years (BEd Primary Studies 2:1) and have always had a burning desire to train/work as a…
    9 August 2019
  • Chantelle
    Re: Training to Become a Midwife
    Hi, I’m 29 years old. I’m currently a bar maid and part time nail technician and a mother of 3. My highest qualifications are 2…
    8 August 2019