TPM 101 | Studio Musician

 

It takes good song lyrics, the right instruments, and a perfect recording studio to go a long way. Those are the key factors to a better song and create an excellent result. In this episode, Travis Huisman, a Record Producer at Catamount Recording, provides tips for studio musicians to get hired as session musicians or singers. From discussing instruments to harmonies, Travis also dives into the production side to bring an excellent-selling song. Tune in and know more about what Travis Huisman and Catamount Recording bring into this episode.

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Tips For Studio Musicians: How To Get Hired As A Session Musician Or Singer With Travis Huisman

I am so happy to be here with Travis Huisman from Catamount Recording. We’re going to be talking about some interesting stuff that we’ve never covered on here, especially how to get hired as a studio musician. Travis has a recording company and a studio. He deals with hundreds of musicians all the time. He’s able to see what qualities can help musicians get hired as studio musicians and how we can supplement our income with that.

If you’re a performing artist that wants another stream of income, we’ll also get it into talking about how to make songs better in the studio and make them more commercially viable and things like that and whatever else we talk about. I’m excited to get into this now. Travis, I’d love to have you share your background. What is your music journey story? How did you get into music? How did you end up starting a studio recording company?

I started like as a producer and engineer like any other musician probably does. When I was growing up, I played guitar and piano. I get to junior high school. I start playing in bands and like every other musician, I went to then go out and play shows or gigs. To get a gig anytime, you need at least some demo of your band to play out there. I started trying to figure out that side of how to record something and that interest took way over.

I ended up going to tech school for two years to figure out how that happens and works. About the time I was done with that, I met Tom Chapman who is a music producer and has been in the industry for 30-some years at that point, and Grammy nominations and all that fun stuff. There are a lot of rock bands. He was looking for someone to help him after a few interviews and a couple of shows like, “I know somewhat what I’m talking about.” He took me under his wing and that was 2004. He was my mentor for a long time and that expanded. As he started slowing down, I started getting more of his clients and I kept going into what it’s now over time.

You’re at a point where it’s like, “I need to record an album.” You can either raise money to go to a studio to record it or you can say to yourself, “I could figure this out.” What made you think you could figure it out or you wanted to figure it out because a lot of musicians don’t?

At that point, I was seventeen years old. That wasn’t even about making an album. I wanted to play some shows at the local places but they wouldn’t even respond to me without a demo for my band. I need something so that I can play.

You could set the bar low because it was a demo and you can practice. I know what you mean because I did the same thing.

In my mind, it completely is different at seventeen than it is now. It’s a little different but still, that’s what got the switch turned on. As soon as I got into that, I was like, “This is pretty fun. I like it.” That interest took way over.

A lot of musicians that are on the show are dabbling because they want to save money. They want to have a home studio. Did you start with the home studio and then expand into your own building or are you still in a home studio?

Catamount is a two-studio facility, an SSL room, and a big live room. It’s a pretty big studio. When I started, I would scour eBay for every little piece of gear I could find and would buy and sell it. I will find stuff I like and didn’t like. As I said, once I started working under Tom and he showed me how things are done, it opened my mind to what I should be using and not getting stuff just because I read it was a good thing to have. You have to use it and see what works for you and continue on that path. Right now, this is a two-room studio facility. It’s not a home thing.

TPM 101 | Studio Musician

Studio Musician: Catamount is a two-studio facility SSL room. It’s a pretty big studio.

 

However, I do end up mixing a lot of things that people had tracked at home or talking with clients to figure out their budget and their goals. If it’s not going to be feasible for them to spend a bunch of time in here. We’ll try to knock out what I think are the most important things to do in a big studio, which to me are good drum sounds. I would say everything but that would be the first thing.

If you’re doing stringed instruments like a solo piano, grand piano, violin, and stuff like that, I prefer having it in a big room. You can usually get a better sound instead of having the mic right on it in your bedroom type of thing. It gets pretty direct and not less sounding. Also, the mix. I was talking about with a client first, “If we don’t have the budget to do it all here and you already have a studio,” since so many musicians do have something anymore at their house to record.

We’ll start with, “We’ll do this stuff here and then we’ll transfer it to you. You can work on it. You can update every week or so with what’s happening and we will tweak it and we’ll keep going.” It’s endless how you could end up working with a client either all here or they do it all at home and send me rough cuts along the way if I have any feedback for them and then I’ll mix it. The options are endless.

I imagine that if they’re recording with an electric guitar, a keyboard, or whatever, that’s a digital signal usually. That would be much easier to have a good solid sound from a home studio. How do you feel about vocals?

Vocals, I would always prefer done here because I’ll be here with them. I can go through the tracks. Even when I was recording my own songs years ago, I would still have someone else do it for me because it’s two different mindsets. When you’re performing, you don’t want to think about, “Is this recording? Was there a glitch? Am I storing all these takes? Am I organizing all this so I can go through it later?”

I’d rather shut off that side of my brain and focus on the performance part. When I have a musician, I’d rather have them doing that too. They’re in there worrying about singing, performing, and getting the perfect take and everything else is taken care of. I usually think then they get a better performance and the song ends up better. It snowballs.

They can focus on being a performer. I record demos from home and I know exactly what you mean. When you’re on your 15th, you’re being so critical of yourself. You keep recording it.

Also, another trusted ear to be like, “That is good. You’re inside your own head.” To me, no matter what anyone says, vocals are the most important thing in a song. They should get a lot of detail to them, hopefully.

Vocals are the most important thing in a song. Click To Tweet

Do you find that you’re operating also as a producer? Is that an extra thing that you do for them? Do some of them bring in producers?

Sometimes but most of the time, I’ll act as a producer anymore. I have done sessions where I’m doing the engineering and they’ll bring an outside producer.

As I mentioned at the beginning talking about another stream of income for musicians. Everybody that’s recording something usually needs help. They might need a backup vocal. They might need a guitarist or whatever. How can people get started with that and get connected? How can they connect with studios and artists in their local area and then also, online?

I’ll tell you how I do it. I work with a lot of singer-songwriter artists where I’m putting a whole band behind quite often. I have a handful of really good studio players that I’ll bring in a lot of times. However, I also get emails or calls almost weekly from musicians that they want to be studio musicians or just offering their services.

It is hard to open that door mostly because I’m already so familiar with people that I use a lot of times. What I always tell musicians when I talk to them is when you want to be a studio musician, it’s granted to a producer or engineer that you’re going to be a good player anyways. That is the obvious like, “If they’re going to bring you in, you’ll be a good player,” but that’s not even the criteria that I have musicians meet when I want to start hiring them.

1) Whether they are even an okay person to be around for however many hours it’s going to take to do this session. I’m going to have to be in there with him at the time. I don’t want a Debbie Downer the whole time. I want someone that’s fun to be with or at least, I enjoy my time with them because time I’m the one bringing them in. I’m the one spending the time with them.

When I meet them and they’re moping around or maybe very introverted, which a lot of musicians also tend to be, that’s probably not going to work out for me because the sessions won’t go as smoothly if we’re not having a good time with it. That was always my end goal to make the session be as smooth running as possible and get the best takes there are. If there are going to be any hiccups in that, I ignore it right away. That’s my number one criterion.

Make the session as smooth running as possible and get the best takes. Click To Tweet

2) What also gets very tough for musicians is if they’re getting hired to play on someone else’s song, I don’t necessarily want them trying to take over the session and tell the artist, “If this is my song, this is what I would do.” I wouldn’t make it like this because that’s not what the artist or I want. We’d rather them come in and play what the artist is hearing in their head of how they imagined it the whole time.

Granted, if I or the artist asks a drummer for instance, “What kind of feel would you put there?” bring it up but I wouldn’t start taking over the session with all these ideas of, “You should add a whole string part to this section,” or stuff like that. That oversteps the boundaries a little bit and steps on the producer’s toes. It goes down roads that take too much time out of a session.

That is money.

It makes it difficult on the artist too because now, they had all these ideas of what they thought it should be and now, they’re second-guessing themselves and everything isn’t going to go smooth anymore that way. That’s my number two criterion for session players. It sounds easy but it’s very difficult for musicians and that has ended a lot of relationships with musicians or studio ones because I can’t call back after something like that.

3) Will you show up on time? This also seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. If I’m personally hiring and putting my name on the line for them and I say, “We’re starting at 10:00 AM,” and they’re not here until 11:00 and the artist is here, then I’m there looking like a clown. “I promise they’re good.” I don’t want to start making excuses like that.

If you can’t meet all those three criteria, to me, you can’t be a musician even if you’re the best player in the world. They all seem like easy things but you’d be surprised over the years how many people can meet all three of those criteria. That’s the main thing I follow. The other thing is how to get your foot in the door and get hired as a musician, is what you were wondering.

I’m pretty sure all of the musicians that I’ve hired have either come about two ways. Number one, they were in a group that I probably already recorded at some point in my life. It’s like a test. I’ve worked with them and I’ve found out how they handle sessions. Are they easy to work with when they were here? Were they showing up on time? Were they a team player type thing? If they’re good, then sure I’ll give them calls to play on stuff.

The other is I’ve had interns many times at the studio. Over the years when I have an intern come in, there’s a university in town so I usually get one in the fall. In the spring, I’ll get another intern a lot of times, and a lot of them are always Music majors or something like that. They’re very good players at what they do too.

I’m hanging around with them and I’ll test without knowing it’s a test type of thing. Are they this? Are they that? I’ll give them calls to get paid for things outside of their interning duties. Those are the only two ways I’ve hired people in the past if I’ve already had a relationship with them. I’ve tested them in a way that’s not on the clock to see how they would be before I put them in an environment where I’m paying them with clients they’re sitting and watching with my reputation on the line.

Those seem pretty similar to other ways that people get other jobs.

I say that to people all the time but this is the only occupation I’ve known. I’ve done it since I was eighteen. I haven’t done anything else. It’s like, “I suppose it’s obvious for everyone else in the world.”

It is, but it isn’t. Musicians don’t think about studio work the same way they think about getting a job anywhere else. It’s almost like marketing. You need to give people a little sample, a little free taste of what you’re like and what they would get if they were to pay you. Just like we give out a free checklist or a free income guide where people go, “This is good stuff. I’d like to maybe buy some stuff from you.” It’s the same thing applied to people.

It’s not to say that people that are cold-calling me that want to be a studio drummer wouldn’t meet all those criteria. It’s just that I already have people above them on my list right now that are tried and true that I’ll call them first. If you were a musician looking to get in, before starting to go out there asking to be a studio musician, I would build a relationship with the producers and engineers around. Get to know them and show them what kind of person you are first and then you’ll probably get more doors open.

That involves either being an intern, which could be educational, fun, and all of that, or using your studio, or coming in with another group that’s using the studio in order to get that face-to-face time.

That’s how it’s worked with the studio musicians I hire but that’s not to say that you could start hanging out somehow or meeting the producers and talking to them on a friendship-type basis. You meet them and let them know that way as opposed to being like, “I’m a drummer. I’ll play for you anytime.” That probably won’t work as well.

Do you find that there are specific skills that you’re looking for in specific genres? Should people market themselves? As a vocalist, when I’m promoting myself online for doing demos, I say, “I do Christian music. I do Broadway and classical,” because those are things that the average person can’t do. I also can do pop. Is there a way to put yourself forward like, “I’m really good in these particular genres?”

I would, and that is why I have so many different studio musicians because they’re all good at something. With drummers, for instance, I have a good rock-type drummer who smacks the snare drum very well. I have another drummer that he’s a more feel and brassy type of sound. It’s the same with singers. I have a lot of different singers on roll call and it’s because they have a different sound or different tone to their voice who will probably match up. I’m hiring their background singers. A lot of them will match up well with the lead singer of the song we’re working on. I would market towards your strengths for sure especially if there’s something that maybe is not as common.

I was wondering about backup singers. Do you find that you hire those a lot? A lot of artists sing their own backups or they have band members that do it. Do you find you have a need for those?

I hire them a lot. There are a couple of reasons. Singer-songwriters, if I’m putting the whole band behind them, a lot of times lead singers aren’t the best harmony singers. They’ll always go towards the melody instead of the harmony a lot. I’ll bring in harmony singers. This can be way more efficient for them to sing the background instead of struggling and having the singer frustrated and stuff like that. However, a lot of times, that also depends on the budget.

If the band doesn’t want to hire 2 or 3 singers for a couple of days, then we’ll have them sing it and I’ll come up with the parts and they’ll double the part. I take the lead out of their headphones so they’re not ever getting confused and they use double the melody that you hear there and that will be your harmony. I like to use background singers a lot because if you use a different background singer as opposed to yourself, it always sounds bigger. They are a better blend to me.

It’s the same if you recording guitars. If you recorded a left and a right on a guitar but as the same amp and the same type of guitar on the left and the same type and amp on the right, it wouldn’t sound as big or as wide as if you switch it up just a little bit. It’s a little bit different tone. They always sound bigger to me. That’s why I like to use background vocals so I make the whole thing sound nicer.

It’s an artistic choice too. If you think about someone like Phil Collins or somebody that does all their own backup vocals and that’s a specific sound.

As I produce a lot of albums, that’s a sound I like so I build on it. Unless I have a vocal genius that’s a lead singer where they’re going to want to do four-part harmonies everywhere, I’m like, “You do your thing.”

Let’s talk about the production side. What do you do to help artists? They come in with this raw idea or a basic demo or whatever. You’ve worked with so many artists. You have this sense of what’s going to make it more commercial, what’s going to make it more appealing on a pop level, or whatever. How do you convey that to the artist and what shape are their songs usually in when they get there?

That varies big time. However, I always start with a pre-production meeting when I meet them. I’ll tell them to bring in the versions of the songs. It could be just a very bad phone recording for all I hear. I want to hear where it’s at this point somewhat. I’ll pretty much start by talking about their goals of what their actual hope is for this song or this album. What are they trying to get out of it? Surprisingly, fans can be pretty different. Some want better-paying shows and some want to have 1 million streams or anywhere in between. I try to start catering their production then to what their actual goal is and help them.

My goal as a producer always is not to take over their song and make it my own. It’s to help them get to their end line of, “This is my song and this is how I hear it in my head. This is what I want to do with it. I want someone to help me take it there.” I’ll always offer advice along the way, “In my experience or my opinion, this will make your song more catchy or more mainstream and more people will like it. However, at the end of the day, it’s your song. If you don’t want to do it, we’re not going to do it.”

TPM 101 | Studio Musician

Studio Musician: As a producer, don’t take over your client’s song and make it your own.

 

At the end of the day, it’s their name on the front and my name and very little marks on the back. They are way more important than me. We’ll talk about the goals first and then figure out how I can help them achieve that with their song. If it’s something that they just want to make a song that will resonate with more people and they’re having trouble with that, then I’ll go through their song. I like to call it cutting out the fat, going through, and seeing what’s not needed in the song first.

That will probably make it a lot better to start with. Also, seeing where we can start adding ear candy to make it more appealing to a larger audience. As I said, those are all ideas and opinions with a lot of experience over the years that I can offer to the musicians. However, if they’re not on board with it, then we don’t do it. It’s not my song.

That ear candy, is that usually in the form of vocal or instrumental hooks? How do you help them figure out what that would be?

It’s all of the above. It depends on the band. If it’s a whole band already or if it’s a single musician, I’d start within the band a lot and see what their strengths are. If the song’s going and let’s say we get to verse 2 and nothing’s changed from verse 2 to verse 1, which happens a lot, then we’ll say, “What can we change or add here that will make it more interesting for the listener?”

To keep the short attention span of all these people out there interested for another 30 seconds, for another 30 seconds where they’re listening to your whole song. I look within the band. If the band has a good background singer, then let’s add some harmony stuff here and there and touch it up. If they have a really good creative keyboard and synth player, let’s come up with some ideas with instrumental responses or stuff like that to keep it interesting. I always start within the band and say, “In my mind, I would put something here. Do you guys have any ideas?” and then we’ll talk it through like a team.

Are you ever changing the writing? I had a producer in the studio but I remember going and being, “No. This line’s not working or this bridge needs to be cut in half because it’s too long and we waited until getting to the studio to do those things, which was weird to me but I know that happens.

There is not so much change. I’m not going to change their chord structure or anything like that. That’s the basis of their song. Arrangement-wise, if I think there are spots that are treading water, the song’s not going anywhere but I will only offer the suggestion. I’m not going to say, “I won’t work with you if you don’t cut out that bridge.” I’ll tell them, “I think this bridge should be cut in half or something to make the song better,” and then we’ll talk about it.

If we’re all on the same page, then we’ll do so. If not, it’s their song. I’m not going to change it on them. The lyrics on the other end, I tried to get all this stuff out of the way before the band comes in. We’ll have pre-production meetings or they’ll send me phone demos of the version of this so when they come into the studio, it’ll go smoother and we’re not sitting around talking about whether there should be 10 or 8 syllables in the second line. Let’s get all that out of the way so when you’re in the actual studio, you’re just performing.

I’m always big about what it sounds like to the musician at the time they’re doing it. If it sounds better, they’ll perform better. You’ll get a better take, you’ll get a better song, and you’ll get a better result. It’s a giant snowball of betterness. If we start from day one with pre-production where we’re ironing out the song before they ever come in, everything will go better.

Do you think it’s your years of experience that when you hear a phone demo, can you hear it in your head fully produced or ideas or ways of arranging it? I’m not like that. I listen to a phone demo and I go, “Hmm.”

For the most part and I’m a big note taker, spreadsheets, and all this. I have spreadsheets and documents upon documents of things that I’ve done in the past that I liked. I’ll always resort to things I know have worked. If I hear a song that’s similar or arrangement or structure similar to something, I’ll refer to, “I did this once and that worked. This type of client did this and that worked.” That came from my experience of logging what worked and what didn’t work. I write it down so I don’t forget.

Do you have any other recommendations for artists of ways that they can save money in the studio as far as being efficient with their time?

Be prepared, first of all. The other thing is it depends on what you want from the studio. If you’re going that route and go to a studio, then it’s a relationship with a producer. If you’re going to go the route of going to a studio, I have a producer there. Hopefully, they have a producer on staff or an engineer that can work also as a producer helping out and building relationships.

Granted, there always has to be a first session where everyone is tiptoeing around, feeling out each other, and seeing how people respond to stuff. However, the more you can prepare for that ahead of time, the better. I would talk with the producer. Before you even go to the studio, as I was saying, you work out a lot of those details because that’s stuff that artists can be doing at home. They don’t have to sit in the studio with me for a whole day working out arrangements.

They can out arrangements, send them to me, and I’ll spend fifteen minutes going through them. I send them feedback and then they keep can working on it so when they get in here, we are not wasting a bunch of time. The thing is technical stuff. Drummers, make sure you get new heads on your drums ahead of time. Get them somewhat tuned up before you come in because that will waste a ton of time. Guitar players and bass players, bring them to the guitar shop. Get them set up ahead of time, otherwise, you are going to be running into intonation problems, most likely.

Also, broken strings.

All that stuff takes time out and as soon as there’s a hiccup in the recording session where we’re waiting on something, then it takes longer to get going again. Once you get into that flow, everything seems to always be running nice and if you run into any technical hiccups like that, then it can be a problem. It’s being prepared. Have your songs as ironed out as possible before you ever get in there.

Hopefully, that means talking with the producer ahead of time and working out ideas where you don’t have to do it on your dime sitting in there doing it. Make sure your gear is ready to go and if it’s not, see if the studio has something they can lend to you. Stuff like that is going to save tons of time. Talking about the time, this is me personally. I know there are a lot of studios that aren’t like that but I would talk with them. Trying to get your best quote ahead of time for the musician so you’re not going over ever where they’re going to start charging you more or something because that’s going to stress you out. That’s going to make the whole thing worst if you are going to stress out about it.

A lot of times, I’ll talk to the artist. At this point in my career, I know how long things take. We’ll talk about what they want, we’ll talk about their budget, and then we’ll agree to a number and then that’s that. I don’t even worry about the clock after that. I don’t even have a clock in this room. There is not a time everywhere the artist would be like, “I wish I could do another take, but I don’t want to pay for another hour.” That goes back to my whole theory of if they’re worrying about other things, they’re not performing well. We’ll have the pre-production meeting. We’ll get all that budget stuff out of the way and then you know what it’s going to cost and we make it happen. We don’t worry about the clock anymore.

How do you handle that if you think you’ve got everything all dialed in for a price but then they come and they start doing things in the studio that are changing, taking a lot of time, and not living up to the agreement?

Shockingly, that doesn’t happen as often as you would think it would but as I said, I know even with the worst-case scenario of how long things take in the studio. It’s all budgeted in and thought-about to start with. This probably comes with experience doing it over time but when I meet with someone in the pre-production meeting and I have questions, I’ll ask them so I can get the feeling of what kind of person they are.

If they’re very back-and-forth type where they might switch their mind quite often or I could foresee down the road, I’m going to give them a finished mix and then a month later, they are going to want a completely different type of thing. That’s probably experience but to me, I’d rather risk that little bit for how little it happens to make the artist feel more comfortable in the studio and not have to be worrying about the clock.

I wondered about the mix. Do you allow the artist to sit in on the mixing process or do you produce a mix and then get their feedback? I remember being in the studio with a band and they were getting super granular during the mixing process and arguing about it. I’m like, “How much more are we being charged for this?”

If it’s something I’ve been on or I’m working with the band from day one and producing the whole project, by the time it gets to the mix point, I should know what they’re wanting and going for. I’ll always prefer to mix alone. It’s way more efficient. I’ll get it to where I think it sounds best and should be. As I said, if I’ve been working with the client the whole time, I should know what they’re going for at that point.

I’ll get it to, “I think it’s good,” and then I’ll have the band come in and listen to it in the studio, if possible. If they’re around, they can do that. I’ll have them come in and listen because then we can tweak on the fly and usually at that point, they’re going to be pretty small things. It’s much easier if they’re here next to me instead of going back and forth emails here and there to like, “We’ll turn the whole clamp a little bit.”

That would be ideal. However, if I’m mixing something for someone that recorded the whole thing at home, then I’ll ask them a lot of times before I even start the mix, “What were you going for? In your mind, give me 2 or 3 albums that you think are the greatest sounding albums. Here’s the sound. Anything like that, you’d be happy,” so I have some point of reference like, “They like this type of sound or this type of sound.” It gives me a direction to at least head.

It has to be realistic. If they’re recording from home and they’re like, “My favorite album is Hysteria,” or something, that’s not going to sound like that.

It has to be realistic. If it’s not, I’ll tell them, “Your vocals and everything did not sound anything like this. If that’s what you want to go after, maybe you should pre-track some things. Otherwise, we’ll get it close as we can to that.”

I want to close us out by bringing us back to the studio musician idea. If people want to be studio musicians, what level do they need to be at? Do they need to be able to read music? Do they need to be able to make things up? With guitars, a lot of times, they make up solos on the fly.

That circles back to what you were saying about having a niche for like, “I’m good at this.” That’s also going to factor over then and depend on who we’re going to hire. If you’re a violin player, let’s say, you’re going to get hired to play on a string quartet or something on an album, then it should be a given that you should be a very good music reader because that’s probably what the client’s going to give you.

TPM 101 | Studio Musician

Studio Musician: You should be a good music reader because that’s what the clients will give you.

 

They’re not going to be like, “Come up with a string line for me.” However, if you’re a guitar player, it’s not necessary probably to even be able to read music. It’s going to be more of a feel and being able to break down chord charts and all that but as far as sheet music, that wouldn’t even be on my radar ever for a guitar player because I know a client’s never going to put a piece of sheet in front of one, but a chord chart, sure.

I wondered about backup vocalists. Do they usually have their lines written out or someone plays it for them like, “This is the harmony we’re hearing?”

They are playing it for them. Usually, when I have a background vocalist come in, it depends on who it is, but if it’s someone that I haven’t brought in before, I’ll always have the harmonies sung out or somewhat roughed out for them to hear it. Someone is like, “This is what we’re going for,” a much better voice, and start with that. If we are looking for other ideas, then we’ll ask and stuff for that. However, with the background vocal, we’ll always start with what we’re thinking ahead of time and have them do that first and then go from there. Usually, there are no written-out notes or anything. There’s the lyric sheet and then we’ll play the melody for them and they’ll figure it out hopefully.

That’s good to know for anybody that’s interested in getting into becoming a studio musician. Also, there are these local studios like I’m talking to Travis about right now. There are also a lot of online opportunities nowadays, places like SoundBetter and Airgigs are where you can connect with a lot of people that have either home studios or like to work digitally. You can make some income that way as well. Do you ever work digitally there or because you’ve got all the equipment, you may as well have them there?

I do like to have them here, but as you were saying, I have hired two singers off the internet before mostly because the client that I had, every single person that I brought in, he was not liking their tone. I went on a search online to find someone that had somewhat their tone and we did that all digitally. As I said, that was a very specific client and we were looking for a person that I didn’t have on my Rolodex of people that I could bring in on the spot. That’s a unique situation, but it did happen.

I find too that if you’re looking for either a unique instrument or a specialized instrument, maybe you just don’t have any brass players that you bring in very often, but this person wants a French horn or something on their song.

That’s viable. If it’s something very unique like that, online would probably be the better route for marketing your service to people to try to find someone or be at a much larger city where there’s going to be a lot more musicians that would want a French horn if they’re talking about a French horn. The opportunities might be less so online would probably be the way to go.

This has been super interesting to dig into all the studio stuff. Is there anything else you want to let our audience know?

I like what you’re doing with the show and showing ideas to musicians to be able to make it a career if they want, a good side hustle, hobby, or whatever they’re liking. The only thing I would tell musicians is to keep going forward and keep doing what they want to do. The music business can be tough. If you’re doing what you want to do, then that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Don’t let people tell you no too much and keep moving forward.

Keep going forward and do what you want to do. The music business can be tough, but if you will do what you want to do, then that's all that matters. Click To Tweet

I love that message because the thing is, only a certain percentage of musicians are going to “succeed” or become commercially huge. What’s the alternative? Are you going to stop making music? You’re probably not because it’s in your bones. You got to still keep producing music and enjoying the process. Finding a studio like yours where you can connect and get a great product is still going to be important to you, whether it’s commercially successful or not.

That goes back to sitting with the band at first and seeing what their goal is and what their definition of success is. If their definition of success is being able to go out and make twice as much money on the weekend playing one show a month, but being able to bring in more money, then we’ll try to lean into that then. It goes to what you want to do and what you think matches up with your goals and your definition of success.

It makes sense. How can our readers connect with you online?

If you go to Catamount Recording on Facebook, I pretty much will respond to every message. On our website, there’s a phone number there even. That’s the easiest. The website’s CatamountRecording.com.

I don’t think you ever mentioned where you’re located.

We’re in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

In the middle of the country.

That’d be a whole other discussion of how people in the middle of nowhere if you’re not in California, New York, Texas, or Nashville, can still be a musician and live. That’d be a whole new rabbit hole.

You don’t have to go and record in Nashville, LA, or New York. There are great studios all over the country.

There are plenty of options for people out there.

Thank you so much for all of your knowledge and experience. I appreciate you talking with us on this episode.

No problem. Thank you.

 

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About Travis Huisman

TPM 101 | Studio MusicianTravis Huisman is a longtime record producer at Catamount Recording in Cedar Falls, IA. He has produced albums that have charted on the Billboard charts. With credits including The Avey Grouws Band, Kris Lager Band, and hundreds more.

 

 

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