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Types of Sessions

The types of session you can encounter as a recording session musician.

Last updated: 11 June 2021


Music Studios are where the majority of commercial audio, film scores and advertising music are recorded. You may have cameras filming your work – it is quite common practice for producers wishing to fully promote their recordings. MU agreements allow for this.

London has some of the most frequently used large recording venues, famous for film soundtracks and commercial audio, such as Abbey Road, AIR Studios, and British Grove.

Location recording

Recording at external location, makeshift studio - to enable the producers to get the sound recording they need.  Many broadcasters will want recordings of live events, or producers making audio visual recordings in situ.

  • Be totally flexible – you may be sat in a different position to what you are used to / different configuration.
  • Consider the journey to location - how you are going to get there, am I leaving enough time to find venue and parking. Quirky filming locations are not always the easiest to get access to.

Commercial audio (MU BPI Agreement)

  • Sessions for audio recordings to be commercially released.
  • Recording for a featured artist or with an orchestra or band
  • Classical or Non-Classical.
  • A label will likely be involved and have reps at the session.
  • The session could be filmed for promotional use without further payment.
  • Your performance may not actually make the final recording.
  • Not scoring to picture.
  • BPI rates – the recording is for commercial exploitation only, Any further rights required will need to be cleared.

Music for advertising (MU IPA agreement)

  • Recording music for advertising (TV, Radio, Cinema, online).
  • Usually a short (1 hour) session recording ‘jingles’ of around 3 minutes.
  • An ad agency Creative Director may be involved in decision making at the session and there will potentially be last minute changes to the music.
  • Normally cleared for limited use rights.
  • Branding of product – higher rate of pay, usually cleared worldwide in perpetuity.

Film & soundtrack (MU PACT Agreement)

  • Recording to picture often with a click track.
  • Usually recording orchestral or contemporary film / tv score.
  • Film Director often at the session and may wish to make detailed changes – especially in terms of energy and style.
  • Overdubbing within the same session can be allowed for these types of recordings in certain circumstances.

Live television

  • Musicians have to be absolutely prepared, physically & mentally, and confident - there are no second takes.
  • Pay absolute attention to getting the cue right – always keep an eye on conductor (they will usually have an earpiece and get direct instructions from the director).
  • Be aware of directions from floor managers – they are there to communicate both ways with production
  • If a label has booked you to play, always ensure you know what the fees are for any broadcast element. Broadcasters have to clear your rights!

Concert recording (Relay fees)

  • Recording a live performance which is transmitted to broadcast, either live or after, or to be made into a commercial AV release
  • Live concert performance with an audience.
  • Ensure you know the deal, what the recording is for and how it will be used.
  • Consent for the recording should take place prior to recording
  • The production company need to clear both the live performance and the broadcast rights. ie Your fee will be made up of two separate amounts

Production / library music (MU LPAG Agreement)

  • Recording music specifically for sync use. The work is added to a Library, pre-cleared so it can be submitted for sync projects.
  • Clearance will be required for all sync rights so no further payments for other sync uses.
  • Try to ensure the Library you are working with is an MCPS member.
  • Library music is not for commercial release unless further fees are paid to musicians.
  • If in doubt – call the Recording & Broadcasting team at the Musicians’ Union

Remote sessions

  • Treat as an ordinary session with the same consideration for rights and fees as appropriate to the type of session above
  • If this is your studio and you are joining a producer / major studio elsewhere via broadband, you should also charge a facility fee.

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