As an educator of
undergraduate music students at a
small liberal arts college in Los Angeles, I am occasionally asked by
my students for advice on becoming a studio musician in the Hollywood
film and television industry. As I have had a relatively fleeting
career in that profession prior to my career in academia, I feel that I
can advise them from the perspective of someone who has “been there.”
However, I am obligated to tell them the truth about their pursuit,
warts and all, so as not to mislead them. It is with these truths in
mind that I present this paper.
Since the late 1970s when I began as a working
musician in Hollywood, the landscape has changed significantly. Both
the workplace and the product have constantly evolved in response to
outside stimuli such as technology, economics, and musical aesthetics.
As my research into this arena unfolded, it became apparent that the
music industry in Hollywood is still strong but it has become a very
different environment than I experienced. Fewer performers are utilized
and different skill sets are now required in order for studio musicians
to make a living. This paper will examine the careers and current
working situations of several working Hollywood musicians and how their
careers have changed over the years. I will also give some
recommendations for students and others hoping to make a career as a
Hollywood film and television musician.