Get the Gig, Keep the Gig!

Want to know how to make yourself more desirable, marketable, and overall employable as a side-person or session musician in today’s post-pandemic climate?

In this session from the 2022 DIY Musician Conference in Austin, TX, you’ll hear Damon Grant (who’s worked with Charlie Hunter, Madonna, and many more) and Stephen Bidwell (of Black Pumas) talk about:

  • good preparation
  • the right tools
  • memorization hacks
  • professionalism
  • finances
  • and much more

Though both presenters are percussionists, this conversation is relevant for any instrumentalist or vocalist who seeks to work in a supporting role, on tour or in the studio.


To skip directly to a particular section, just hit the timestamp corresponding to:

  • 00:00 Introductions
  • 01:58 What IS a side-person or session player?
  • 02:29 Mastering your craft
  • 03:50 Practicing efficiently
  • 05:09 The “sound” of your instrument and genre
  • 06:40 Why you still need a mentor
  • 08:15 Rehearsing is a luxury
  • 08:50 Knowing the gatekeepers
  • 11:01 Do you have to read music or know theory?
  • 13:04 “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you”
  • 15:57 Consistent and tasteful musical execution is key
  • 18:22 Doing recording sessions from home
  • 24:28 The tools you need
  • 28:00 Do you live in the right place?
  • 29:36 Gear endorsement deals
  • 31:58 Digital charts, in-ears, tuners, etc.
  • 33:15 Protect your ears
  • 33:39 Marketing tips for side-persons
  • 36:48 Instrument repair and maintenance
  • 37:03 Travel and time-management
  • 40:51 Why are YOU right (or wrong) for this gig?
  • 43:56 Dressing the part and etiquette
  • 45:25 Bad reputations spread faster than good ones
  • 46:33 Other jobs to supplement your income
  • 50:15 The money and business stuff
  • 52:01 Are you a cool hang offstage?
  • 52:45 When to take or pass on a gig
  • 54:30 Will your friends be welcome backstage?
  • 55:04 Mental, physical, and financial health as a hired musician
  • 56:42 You need a professional team
  • 57:28 The best mobile apps for side-people
  • 57:44 Audience questions

Check out Damon Grant’s music at https://www.damongrant.org/

Hear Damon’s podcast Discussions in Percussion at https://www.discussionsinpercussion.com/

Learn more about Stephen Bidwell’s music and writing at https://www.bidwellondrums.com/

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