I am assuming most everyone knows the definition of Harmony, but I included it in my book because it’s an area of confusion at times. Singers don’t know what the client wants, the client might not know exactly what they want, and a lot of time is spent hashing it out. Let’s save you all some time by discussing it here!
Let’s Talk Harmonies
First things first: Why are harmonies an extra fee?
The first thing I (and any other session singer) will tell a client is yes, harmonies are an additional fee. I have had clients get irritated and say, “well you’re already recording, why can’t you just keep going and record harmonies?” It’s a matter of time and effort put into the project. A harmony track requires the same amount of time and energy as a lead track, even though there may be less singing involved. I still have to go through at the end and edit everything to send over. I have to figure out what the harmonies are and I have to spend the time recording them. So yes, there is an additional fee. It’s usually not as much as a lead (and you may get a discount depending on the singer and project). But in general, you can expect to pay extra for that service.
This has nothing to do with the post, but I searched for “harmony” and found this and thought it was cool.
How much harmony should be included, and how many parts?
I was hired by a major production company for lead and harmonies on a song. This was my first time working with them and I wanted to make a good impression, so when they said “include harmonies,” I wasn’t sure what that meant and was too scared to ask. I ended up doing a three-part harmony through the ENTIRE song, which a). was a lot of work, and b). kind of sounded stupid. I sent it over and told them to just use whatever harmony parts they wanted. The producer wrote back and said, “Oh yeah, you only ever have to do harmonies on the chorus for us.” Lesson learned: Ask! I would have saved so much time and it would have been a better project overall.
So now I ask clients up front: What are you looking for in terms of harmonies? Where would you like them, and how many parts? Sometimes, people aren’t sure. That’s okay! As long as I know where the production is headed, I can make creative decisions as I go.
How do I decide what harmonies I need?
If you’re a client looking to hire a session singer, the first step is to decide if you want harmonies at all. Not every song needs them, some need full choruses, and others just need bits here and there. You don’t have to plan it all out but having some idea of what you want is helpful! If you know exactly what you want, feel free to send us a track or sheet music of the harmonies. This will ensure that you get exactly what you want the first time.
The creation process should be fun and exciting for everyone involved. The easier it is to understand each other, the better! For more tips like these, check out my book Way Less Cowbell. To hire me as a session singer, contact me here!