The work realities of professional studio musicians in the German popular music recording industry: Careers, practices and economic situations

Jan-Peter Herbst, Tim Albrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Among the professional roles in the recording industry, studio musicians have perhaps received least academic attention. The present study explored the work realities of professional studio musicians in Germany, one of the largest music industries worldwide, based on interviews with six pop musicians; guitarists, bassists, keyboarders and drummers aged between 27 and 66 years. The findings show how the changes in the recording industry, most notably the dwindling budgets, the rise of project studios and virtual collaboration, have affected working practices, skill requirements and business models. The findings indicate that in Germany it is hardly possible anymore to live from studio work as a professional musician, even for the leading session players. Sinking fees and the lack of access to royalties pose a problem, one not tackled due to the fierce competition and the risk of damaging one’s reputation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-37
Number of pages20
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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