It Turned Out That Good Session Musicians Are Just Like Good Creatives—

—in that they possess much of the same work qualities. Nathan East is one of the best studio musicians in the industry. Here are what some of the artist that he worked with have to say about it. My translations to ad/design-speak are right after the quotes:

“He is a virtuoso, and yet he can provide the support.”
–Eric Clapton

Being a diva isn’t forbidden. Not applying yourself to the group is.

“I’ve never had to sit down, really, and say, ‘this is what I want.’ He hears it, and he just knows.”
–Phil Collins

Sensitivity to the client’s need is paramount, because they don’t always say what they really wanted.

“I will say [on] some days, ‘it’s good for me,’ and Nathan and the boys will say ‘give us one more. That’s not our best.”
–Lionel Ritchie

Client thinks that your perfectionism means better result for them. You get to keep it. Yay, you!

“He knows when to put the licks in, [and] when not to. There’s an art to that…”
–Billy Preston

There’s a time to shine. There’s a time to lay your head down.

“All great musicians that I love sound different from anybody else. And that’s what I’m always looking for. If a player doesn’t have that quirky, individual difference, then they just become one of [the] dozens of other regular players.”
–Bob James

In the end, you have to have something that’s uniquely inherent in yourself to stand out.

To close off, another quote from Lionel Ritchie:

“…what I find is that the ‘A’ player…has the knowledge, has the years. He’s watching not only the players, but he’s feeling the players. Whereas the guy who’s the ‘B’ player… He’s playing… He’s technically correct. But it’s not really [coherent] with the other unit.

And then at the end, he has to ask one important question: ‘how’d that sound?’

If you have to ask that question, you have missed it.”

Good night.