Online Session Drummer | Mark Feldman


SoundBetter Review: can studio drummers get work there?

SoundBetter is a marketplace where professional musicians can offer their services to the world. There have been many different social media platforms that focus on music–Reverbnation and Soundcloud both come to mind–but SoundBetter is different because it focuses on commerce.

It’s a place where a novice music creator can find professionals to help them mix, produce, play or sing on their tracks and otherwise collaborate with. For a fee.

And SoundBetter takes a cut, which is understandable.

If you go to the site and browse a bit, you’ll see that there are musicians with significant credits on their resumes. And that is a big part of SoundBetter’s marketing; you’ll see they promote the fact that the sidemen of famous artists can be found on the platform.  And their marketing is backed up by facts. You will find people who have played with all sorts of top talent from many different genres.

From what I have read, if you are a consumer, you can definitely find what you want as you craft your music.

But what if you’re a session musician and you hope to find more work? Can you get traction here?

Remember, that the SoundBetter platform has been around since 2012, so it’s not exactly new. What is the ecosystem like there?

I made a video about SoundBetter and in it I discuss what I think are the possibilities for getting session work on the platform and elsewhere. I’ll delve into the details and give you my assessment of what your chances are for success if you’re thinking of jumping into the mix (no pun intended). Watch it below and start planning your marketing attack in search of more sessions!

Pro Tools Click Track Sounds for the Online Session Drummer

If you’re new to Pro Tools, this might be helpful.

I recall not having any idea where to go to change my click sound in Pro Tools and it drove me a little bit nuts at first. There was also an issue with which sound to use. Some of the click sounds in Pro Tools are horrible. In the video below, I’ll take you through–in just under four minutes–the sound I hate the most and the one I use most often.

I’ll also show you how to make the change in Pro Tools.

Just check out the video below for the details…

Why I Make Drum Charts

Lately, in the studio, I’ve been doing much more detailed charts.

They serve me well.

It takes a little longer to make my charts this way. And, as a studio drummer working out of one’s own room, that’s OK.

But, when you’re in a studio with a bunch of people on the clock, with the room costing a certain amount per day or hour, and each musician and the engineer all getting paid, there’s a different dynamic.

In the latter case, what I usually do is hand write something as quickly as I can in order to be able to read the form.

But, in my own room, I can be a little more thoughtful. “On the clock,” you’ve got to go more on gut. You’ve got to really keep it moving.

I also, had a thought about making charts that I thought was interesting. I share it in the video below.

“Green River” with Evan Kremin, Jay Shepard, Gary Bristol and Mark Feldman

One of the producers I’ve been working for consistently is Keith Foley, out of NYC. He puts together a great crew of top-notch players (mostly based in New York) and in 2020 I got into the mix (no pun intended), doing my thing as an online session drummer to track for him.

Last summer we recorded Creedence’s “Green River.” I tracked it in my Aunt’s beach house on Cape Cod, where I was hiding out all summer from COVID. You can see me in the video; lower right hand corner. Doesn’t it look like a little beach house bedroom? It was!

One of the things I like about this track–besides that I think all the players are killing it–is that the drum sounds I got in this tiny room sound pretty damn good. That’s a good example of the notion that you can make great sounding records these days all “in the box,” as they say. That’s part of the fun of being a remote studio drummer–audio engineering yourself and working on getting great sounds.

Here’s the video. Listen with headphones if you can, because the sonics are great. It’s a clear, airy mix under the steady hand of Mark Dann, with JP Bowersock producing and Keith Foley Executive Producing. Me? Just playing drums!

Oz Noy’s “Steroids” Play-Along for Drums

One of the side benefits of putting my recording studio together is that my videos sound way better. A couple of weeks ago, I filmed and recorded a version of “Steroids,” written by my friend Oz Noy.

The first released version of “Steroids” is very different from what is represented in the video I made. “Steroids” first appeared on “Oz Live,” which was released in 2002 on Planula Records. You can check out this version at the Spotify widget on the left. I haven’t been able to find track by track personnel credits anywhere, but both Anton Fig and Keith Carlock play on the release and it sounds to me like Keith played on this live version of “Steroids.”

This new video version was made from a play-along that Dave Weckl produced and that you can buy on his website. The personnel on the track: Oz Noy on guitar (of course), Will Lee on bass, and me making a “guest” appearance.

You’ll find out by watching/listening, but what is so different about this new version is the tempo. It is much slower than the original. And interestingly enough, it works great. Funny how tempo changes can so dramatically change a song…

There are also some drum breaks near the end of the song, so stick around for that if you’re into that sort of thing.

Check it out below.

By the way, both Oz and Will played on my band’s debut EP that was released in 2019. You can check out a video from that release here: Mark Feldman’s LEVEL5 plays “Sybil”