An online session drummer can readily offer various drumming styles that match your specific requirement. Nevertheless, it is crucial to take note of certain vital factors to guarantee a fruitful partnership.
Whether it’s for a live show or a recording session, it is imperative to select a drummer who is suitable for the task.
This article will give you an outline of the key points to ponder upon when recruiting an online session drummer, which includes their expertise, gear, accessibility, and expenses.
1. Skill set
The drummer must possess several important skill sets essential to making the music work. But most importantly the skill set should match your requirement!
If you are making metal music, then the drummer should be comfortable playing a double bass metal, if you are a pop musician, then the drummer should have the ability to take a back seat and only provide a supporting role in the music, unlike metal.
If you are used to writing first with sheet music then they must be able to read and interpret musical notation and time signatures.
The experience of the drummer is absolutely necessary for the success of your project.
With experience comes the ability of a musician to serve the music better. Typically, a more experienced drummer would have much less timing issues, will be used to playing on a metronome and will be able to play tastefully to complement your music.
An experienced drummer will take the time to understand your vision of the song, your references, and play based on that.
Make sure to select one with a wide range of experience and a deep understanding of your genre of music.
This is probably one of the most important factors when considering an online session drummer. Your range can start from $50 per song to as high as $250 per song. And much higher if you are looking for drummers who have played with big artists.
Consider how much you can shell out for your drummer, keeping in mind all the other expenses that come with producing a song.
You will find that the skill level and experience is, to an extent, correlated to the price with more experienced drummers charging higher. But with platforms like Fiverr and SoundBetter you can end up finding exceptional drummers at a decent price range.
Different drummers structure their packages differently.
The deliverables could include a drum mix, stems, midi, mixed drum track and mixed stems. Additional factors could be faster deliveries, playing videos or selection of different gear.
Understand what deliverables are required by you to make an informed decision.
*The picture above shows the different packages I offer on Fiverr, and how each contains different deliverables
Playing skill is of course important but equally important is the equipment used by the drummer.
Many drummers have an arsenal of different snares and cymbals to tailor their drum track to the song and client expectations.
Also important are the drum mics and room treatment. Higher quality mics in a treated room would make a world of difference and give much better results.
The better drummers are sometimes booked in advance for days or weeks. If you need a drum track immediately you might need to figure out alternatives or pay more to bump you up the queue.
It’s best to plan in advance so you meet your deadlines.
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7. Reviews and Reputation
Before you start working with someone search as much as you can online for reviews. And not just on their own website (where you might see only positive reviews) but on every other platform. This could include their Facebook Page, Fiverr profile, SoundBetter profile or their Google Business listing.
Get a fair idea of what other customers say before commiting.
8. Quality of Recording
A good quality recording is really a basic for a good session drummer’s but some drummers struggle in the recording process.
It is good to just ask straight up for a sample recording. Many will have a ready set of stems to send to potential clients.
Check these beforehand to make sure there are no surprises later with respect to quality.
This is a sample of a raw metal drum recording I provide
9. Electronic drums vs acoustic
Both electronic and acoustic drums can work great for your song!
Now with drum libraries like Superior Drummer you get extremely realistic drums and you can’t differentiate between a vst drum track or a live drum track.
By using midi and a drum library you can get extensive sound options, get a consistent drum tone, and edit however you need even after the drummer is done playing.
On the other hand, for genres like jazz or maybe funk, a live drum track would be able to give a feel which a virtual drum library might not be able to.
9. Ability to mix a track
If you are a home producer, having the option to get a pre-mixed drum track can make life much easier for you.
This could include basic EQ and compression to get the tracks maybe half way through. Or a full blow mix with EQ, compression, saturation, clipping and limiting where you would just need to import into your DAW and you would be done.