Hiring a session singer is usually near the end of a songwriting project. However, sometimes people are so excited to get to the end that they fast forward through important steps. This can lead to confusion, mistakes and retakes, so it’s important to make sure you have these steps cleared before hiring a session singer!
Hiring a Session Singer
If you’re not sure if you even need a session singer, check out this post on why a session singer is important for your song.
By the time you’re ready to hire a session musician, you likely are so excited to get it done that you can’t wait to jump in. I encourage you to wait a bit before doing this, just because the more prepared you are, the easier the process will be. These are all things you should do before hiring a session singer:
1). Finish the Song
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many people want me to get started on something before the song is finished. Sometimes, it can be more of a collaborative project where we develop the song as we go. That’s completely fine and I enjoy doing that!
Here’s where we run into trouble:
Let’s say you have a piano-only track and you have me add vocals. I add an emotive, timid vocal that fits the track as you have it thus far. You get my vocals, then later decide to add drums, electric guitar, the whole works. Now, my timid ballad vocal doesn’t go with the rest of the song.
This happens often, and it doesn’t have to! Just sit with the song for a few days and see how you think it might take shape. The singer should generally be the LAST session musician on the project (although a guitar or sax solo can come later if needed).
2). Research Vocalists
You might think you know who you want, and that’s fine. However, I encourage you to look around a bit. There are many vocalists out there, and not all of them will be a good fit for your project.
Most session singers will have reels on their site (mine are here). If not, feel free to ask!
3). Write Out *Exactly* What You Want
I recommend writing it down, because you might forget or lose sight of it as the project continues. I have free worksheets that will walk you through everything you’ll need before hiring a session musician. However, if you don’t want to download those, here are some quick questions to ask yourself:
- What is the key and tempo of the song?
- What are some similar songs (in terms of sound, vibe, emotion)?
- What, exactly, do I need from the session singer?
If #3 doesn’t make sense, consider this:
People often contact me asking for “singing services,” only to later tell me they also need me to write lyrics, or write the entire vocal. Those are three different services! Writing out exactly what you want will save you time in the long run.
4). Contact Your Session Singer Finalists, Stating *Exactly* What You Need
This will give you accurate quotes and you won’t have to deal with people raising their prices once they learn what you really need.
5). Choose Which Singer Best Fits Your Goals and Budget
Once you’ve done the first four things, this part should be easy!
Hopefully this helps you create a plan before hiring a session singer! If you want to work with me, contact me and let me know!
Here is a checklist you can use before sending your songs out. Feel free to print, pin or share!