Session Guitarist Reveals Biggest Misconceptions About Becoming a Pro Musician, Names One Advantage Young Musicians Have Today

Known for his numerous collaborations, session guitarist Tim Pierce pointed out some of the most important things young musicians should know if they’re planning to become professionals in this line of work. And while his name isn’t the first one to come up when you think of some big-shot guitar players, it’s important to note that he has worked with the likes of Roger Waters, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Joe Cocker, and Bon Jovi, just to name a few

So what he said in a recent interview with musician Philip Conrad should be taken seriously. When asked to share some advice “to someone that loves music, and they want to have a life playing music and a career playing music” in this day and age, Tim Pierce replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“Let me preface this by saying: be careful who you get advice from because advice becomes obsolete in the music business very quickly. I mean, if you’re talking to a musician with a point of view, and they’re talking about two years ago, it’s obsolete. If they’re talking about five years ago, it’s completely obsolete.”

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One particular issue that Tim is referring to here is the usual tendency for young musicians to try and move to these big cities that are centers for future professional work. He continued:

“So I’ve seen that before. In this day and age, there is less work in these major cities and more competition. So if you move to Nashville, or Los Angeles — which are the two places that are the centers of music in America — there’s going to be so much competition, that it might be best for you not to engage and try and climb that ladder.”

On the other hand, you could go down that path but you should just bear in mind that it will take more time to achieve your goals:

“But if you do try it, you need to allow yourself a couple of years to wait for opportunities to meet people and rise in the ranks.”

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However, instead of just purchasing your plane ticket, packing your stuff, and jumping the opportunity to move there, there are a few other things that you should do as well. For instance, as Pierce explains, networking is of utmost priority:

“What I tell people is: meet as many people as you can, play for free, and be willing to wait. You have to find a way to actually pay the bills while you wait for opportunities and wait for connections because that takes a couple of years at best.”

And then, of course, we have the present-day wonders of the internet. With the right approach, it can only help you get your name out there and, eventually, even help you have a career without moving anywhere. Pierce continued:

“But the beauty of this modern world is that you can live in another region, start your career, and build a career, in part because of what you’re talking about — reaching people on social media allows you to reach the world from wherever you are, and that’s a great thing. I would recommend for you to stay where you are and do what you’re doing.”

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On the other hand, if you really feel like moving, Pierce has a few recommendations based on your skills and preferences:

“If somebody’s really a great sight-reader, and they can play upright, and they can play jazz and classical, and they can play everything, and they’re very ambitious, and they’re willing to really, really push — you can go to LA and work on TV and film.”

“If you’re a virtuoso at bluegrass, or any kind of country stuff, even classic rock, you can move to Nashville and start getting gigs. But you have to be in the upper 5% just to really even compete in these two cities as a musician, and maybe it’s best if you create something different, like Scott’s Bass Lessons, or what you [the interviewer] are creating.”

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Interestingly enough, even though he comes from an older generation, the one we know as “boomers,” Pierce actually shifted his career towards social media. And from being just a side gig, it’s pretty much become his main occupation these days:

“Social media for me was going to be a Plan B. It’s become a Plan A. I spent 40 years as a session musician. I do really well at it, but I realized at a certain point I was going to age out now — that happens to everybody.”

“I lasted a lot longer than most people. My thing was, if I can do a music school online, that’d be a good segue for me to go into. What I didn’t realize, is that it has become Plan A and is actually a better career than the first one. And I certainly wish that for you, and I wish that for everybody.”

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However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to having skills. After that, you can spread out and have multiple income streams:

“Lastly, the way you do it is you do everything you can — you perform, you write, you teach, and you do everything you can, so you have multiple income streams, and multiple things to rely on. And we see that, we see people doing that, you’re doing it.”


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.