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  • Writer's pictureSarah Scott

Industry Feature Friday: Ryan Stead (Guitarist)

Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!

Please welcome Ryan Stead!! SO excited to put this session and hired gun guitarist, (and Singer-Songwriter!!) in the spotlight this week!

Ryan is residing in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is a multi-award winning singer, songwriter and one of the most sought-after guitarists in the entertainment industry. Ryan's career has garnered global attention through award-winning hit singles, sold out tours, headlining festivals and countless more accolades.

Here's more about Ryan:

"Ryan took on the world as a “Hired Gun” guitarist. Hand selected by the likes of Fefe Dobson and Carly Rea Jepson. He broke out into the world of country music landing a gig with Universal Canada, Big Machine artist, Wes Mack. Ryan landed the roll as Bandleader with Mack as they prepared to open 16 dates on Shania Twains “Rock This Country” tour. Touring with Florida Georgia Line and Dallas Smith that same summer playing almost 20 festival dates really helped his brand as a player. With artists such as the Chris Buck Band (Royalty Records/Sony Canada) and Madeline Merlo (Open Road/Universal Canada) taking notice of Ryan, he locked in a few more high profile gigs in the country scene. Ryan received the Mike Norman All-Star Band guitar player of the year award at the 2018 and 2019 BCCMA’s. Along with Socan Songwriter of the year for Chris Buck Band’s “Good Ol’ Days” - (Source:

Alongside playing live on the road, Ryan has established himself as a studio guitarist as well. Playing for recording acts like, George Canyon, Luke Combs, Aaron Pritchett, Meghan Patrick to name a few. Also working closely with producers such as Jeff Johnson, Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) Jason Barry (Dean Brody)."

He's a genius player. As a player it is all tone and touch, knowing when to tickle it and when to hit it hard - and if you need to take your tracks to the next level, Ryan's your guy! He's recorded on countless top 40 songs across many genres. Can cover very creative-complex options to the simplest hook lines all in one session. Just a superstar. Absolute superstar.

I've seen Ryan play live a few times. He truly has voluminous charisma onstage. When all is said and done, he's what a great guitar player is, and sounds like no other.

Get to know more about Ryan Stead here:

Sarah Scott (SS): Ryan, thank you for joining me this week for IFF! You're one of the most sought-after guitarists (on stage and in studio!) in the entertainment industry, you've recorded on countless top 40 songs across many genres and you're also a singer/songwriter. It's so exciting to showcase you and your guitar experience today. Before we get into all that, for those who are unfamiliar with you, tell us more about yourself and your musical journey!

Ryan Stead (RS): Hey Sarah! Always a pleasure hanging with you and catching up! Where to begin… it’s a long and windy road. I started taking music seriously at around age 12 when I realized I had any musical ability whatsoever. I started to really appreciate the guitar and how it made me feel when I heard it. Then it became somewhat of an obsession.

I finally got my first guitar at 13 and haven’t been able to put it down (even after 20 years) I started making music with friends in high school which is pretty normal. Lucky for us, we signed a record deal at 18 and toured extensively for a few years.

The Latency had some radio and much music success and those years were a great learning opportunity for me! In 2011 when we disbanded I was no where near being done with my musical journey. I was hired on by a artist, Wes Mack to tour with Shania Twain in 2015 and that begun my “sideman” career. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do that since.

SS: What three qualities make a good guitarist?

RS: Practice practical things. Chords and voicings are used so much more than the sweet child of mine riff

Leave your ego at the door.

Patience with yourself. Take time learning and go at your own pace. Don’t rush the simple stuff.

You perform and record for several genres. Tell us about your practice routine.

Every genre has its differences but when it comes to practice I start very slow. I’ll challenge myself with upping the speed of something simple. Then try something more complex.

SS: How do you prepare for what kind of performance? On stage vs. in studio.

RS: Stage is so much more physical for me. I’m pretty energetic so it’s important to focus on has to keep stamina while being able to play consistent. I’ll warm up my hands with a few scales then do a lot of stretching.

Studio is a lot more mental. Thinking quickly how to add to a song on the fly whether it’s an effect or a single note. Being one step ahead never hurts.

Is it considered normal/is it expected for a session guitar player to be able to play multiple genres? And if so, how does one prepare themselves?

That depends on what you want to do. If you put yourself in one box there are less opportunities to grow. Expanding your musical vocabulary is super important.

SS: If there's an aspiring session musician (stage and/or studio) reading this, what can they expect and what should they prepare for? How do you cope with a crazy schedule? Is it a hustle lifestyle with performances, studio work, and tours?

RS: Allow yourself to grow. Learn from mistakes made and keep learning. No matter how much you do it things are constantly changing and it’s up to you to stay on top of it. Go easy on yourself if the home doesn’t ring right away. Go to as many jam nights and shows as you can and introduce yourself to the people you look up to. Prepare to be organized.

SS: You're also in the spotlight with your solo releases. Self-written and produced, you continue to be a one-man powerhouse, pairing a love for heavy guitar riffs with mesmerizing pop melodies and captivating lyrics. How have you balanced being a solo singer/songwriter and session/"hired gun" musician?

RS: I don’t know if I’ve really balanced it. I see my musical journey as an umbrella. I just really love what I do and I hope that translates. On tours as a session man I’ll write and demo my own ideas in the little time I have because I love it. It should never be a chore.

Learn more about and follow a long Ryan's very exciting musical journey here:

Instagram: @ryansteadmusic

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