Full Guide to Session Vocals

Contrary to what many regular listeners think when they hear gospel music recorded and mixed in a studio, many artists still use session vocalists for their projects. What does this mean? Sometimes musicians, bands, songwriters, or producers will hire these singers to help produce musical masterpieces in the recording studio.

Whether background vocals, choral vocals, or even lead vocals, having a session vocalist is extremely important and benefits a full mix. Other than what we’ve mentioned, what are session vocals? How does one go about finding session vocalists? How are they recorded? Once session vocals are recorded, how does the mixing & mastering process work to incorporate their vocals into a complete mix?

 What Exactly Are Session Vocals?

Session vocalists and singers are hired contract workers for recording and production. There is much more to it than just singing into a microphone. Session vocalists are meant to not only lend their voice – some can utilize a special sound to their singing and be able to adapt to various musical styles.

In the gospel music category, it’s important that session vocalists can bring a strong and soulful message to your production. Whether it is Southern gospel or classic R&B gospel, or even some more contemporary styles of today, a gospel session vocalist needs to be able to cover the genre with exemplary tones and harmonies and have a history in singing.

recording session vocals

Hiring a session singer familiar with your genre and the genre’s influential artists is important. You also want to ensure they can incorporate all elements – some are primarily lead singers, and some are just background singers. There are even full choirs that can provide session singers.

How are Session Vocalists Hired?

There are many ways in which this is attained. Often, a recording artist or songwriter will hire someone to sing their song for them or appear as a featured artist. Other times, they’re hired by the recording producer or studio themselves.

What About Bands?

One thing to remember about session vocals is that it isn’t just limited to singers. We can touch on that topic again but remember – even a full band can be hired. This is great if you’re a solo artist or a solo singer-songwriter.

drummer in a band

5 Benefits of Hiring a Session Vocalist

There are many reasons why you can benefit from having session vocals for your recording. Even the Beatles and other top names in the music industry hire session vocalists and musicians for some of their most famous records. While it may cost money, it saves you on the primary thing that many bands and songwriters don’t have – time.

working in the studio

1.  Shaving Time Off the Studio Price

Hiring a session singer is like hiring a contractor with a full team vs. building a home for your house alone. Even some of the most experienced musicians would take longer to get the recording, mixing, and mastering of a song done than if they hire a session vocalist.

save time off the studio price

This is because session vocalists are used to recording and performing in these fast-paced studio environments (and they do it well). You can even save money by lessening your studio time simply by spending a bit on having a session vocalist bring in their expertise.

2.  Giving The Labels What They Want to Hear

Another thing to remember about the music industry…

Labels and consumers want to hear what they’re familiar with.

know what you want to hear

That being said, by providing some familiar sounds to a recording, session vocalists that have worked with major artists or productions can give people a certain sound that they’re used to – all while providing that polished sound that other major labels expect from a demo recording or EP recording.

In the older days of the music industry, it was nothing to record a demo yourself and send it to a record label. These days, thanks to technological demands, producers and record labels want to hear that fully produced sound.

3.  They Can Play it By Ear Well

When you hire a session singer, there are things that you need to know. Most session vocalists can use their skills to create their melody with yours. If you don’t have sheet music, some can punch some out quickly to follow the sound you want to the exact note, octave, time, and more. Gospel session singers can provide that soul your project needs to provide multiple sound levels – and they know when (and when not to) belt it out.

singer in the studio

4.  You Can Keep Full Copyrights of Your Song

By hiring a session singer, they have many contract policies to cater to the hiring musician or songwriter, but they also allow you to keep every bit of your copyrights. They know this is your baby and want to feed it and nurture it. They get paid for their time. They may ask for credits in the thank you section or “featured” artist in the performer’s section of your song’s credits, but you get to keep the full copyright of your collaborated works and sell it to earn your profit.

Many gospel singers also know that things cost money; they are happy to help others and provide by having their name out there. Helping someone to create their legacy by leaving their own is one of the most important things – and they love doing it.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest