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Thread: How to Earn a Living Playing Drums

  1. #1

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    Default How to Earn a Living Playing Drums

    I post too much ...

    Anywayyyy... I've been thinking. Which isn't something I do on a regular basis. How do people earn a living from drumming? I love playing drums, but eventually I'm going to have to buy my own house to put them in and I don't know what the best way to go is. I like the idea of recording, and I think working as a sound engineer would fit quite well with drumming. Teaching isn't really my thing. What about sessions? Or do most of the people on here not play drums as a full time job, but do gigs occasionally, etc? What route do most people go down?

    Any info appreciated!

    Thanks.
    SPLAT-BOOM-SPLAT-BOOM-SPLAT-BOOM-GIGGA-TISH!

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taras View Post
    I post too much ...

    Anywayyyy... I've been thinking. Which isn't something I do on a regular basis. How do people earn a living from drumming? I love playing drums, but eventually I'm going to have to buy my own house to put them in and I don't know what the best way to go is. I like the idea of recording, and I think working as a sound engineer would fit quite well with drumming. Teaching isn't really my thing. What about sessions? Or do most of the people on here not play drums as a full time job, but do gigs occasionally, etc? What route do most people go down?

    Any info appreciated!

    Thanks.


    Whatever way you go, it has to bring in $$$$$$ on a steady basis.

  3. #3

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    The majority of us that are in bands have regular jobs and just gig on weekends. There are a few members that do it for a living...it can definitely be done.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    The majority of us that are in bands have regular jobs and just gig on weekends. There are a few members that do it for a living...it can definitely be done.


    It can be done, but, I think it was easier back in the '70's when I got started, if for no other reason than there were more bars/clubs looking for bands, and with that came exposure.

    From what I hear now, 4-5 bands on 1 stage in 1 night, I would never have bothered.

  5. #5

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    The live music scene is alive and well where I live. Lots of great regional bands. I've met a handful of them and also know quite of few of the drummers. Generally speaking, it seems that if you are 'the drummer' for the First-name Last-name band, you are struggling to pay the bills. Even when Mr./Mrs. First-name Last-name are doing pretty well and living nice. Now, if you are part of a 'Group' and everything is split equally, then it seems those guys are doing a lot better financially.

    To clarify, I'm only talking about full time musicians/bands. As Brian said, I'm one of the ones he referred to as having a full time job in order to support my weekend habits.

    Tex

  6. #6

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    Where I live, musicians aren't making much of a living off it anymore unless they stay on the road quite a bit. Guys around here are playing in 3 to 5 different bands just to work. You can't work steady in one band anymore. Times have changed.
    - Tom

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  7. #7

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    Become a lawyer or investment banker. Become incredibly wealthy at a young age and then play drums to your hearts content!!!

    all the best...

  8. #8

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    As has been said, times have changed and it's very difficult. Then again, what that is worth it isn't?

  9. #9

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    Thanks for all the help. There are a few drum teachers in my area making a living out of it so I might go that way and gig when I can. Thanks!
    SPLAT-BOOM-SPLAT-BOOM-SPLAT-BOOM-GIGGA-TISH!

  10. #10

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    Find out what kind of salary they make and that might discourage you. If every drummer that can't make a living playing turned to teaching then that would make kind of hard too make a living as a teacher. Tough world the music industry. Like Rick it was easier to get into it back in 60-70's Just sayin.

  11. #11

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    there's really only two ways to make a steady and decent living from drums.

    1) become so incredibly great at it that you're better than those thousand guys chasing the ten studio session jobs.

    2) Become so incredibly LUCKY (like winning the State Lottery LUCKY) that you fit into a band that makes hit music, that the public wants to spend $$ buying albums and concert tickets of it.

    As a weekend warrior drummer, you couldn't support a family unless you can draw welfare or something as a supplement.

    all the best...

  12. #12

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    I don't play drums for a living, and don't plan on it. But I can give general advice about anything you want to make money at. Pour your focus into developing the skill, get really, really good (learn about the art of practice, if you need to), and you won't have to ask how to make money at it. Instead, you'll be pondering which offers to take.

    It's that simple, AND it's that hard.

  13. #13

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    Be ready to go on the road in the beginning... if you're young . Get out NOW and start meeting other musicians . Go to all the jams that you can..even if you think you're "not ready"... you will never be ready . The point is to get your face and name out there . People need to know you're a drummer and ready to work .
    You don't have to be a "great" drummer to make a living at it . But you do have to be "professional" . And the key to professionalism is consistency . I'm not saying to forget about practicing , you keep at it and improve yourself .
    I do this for a living in what I and many other people consider a small town , Tucson Az. It can be tough at times . I could go out on the road and make a ton of money but I own my own house now and I just don't want to be on the road anymore . That's just me .
    I do teach but it's not like I'm supplementing my income with it . It's more of a mentoring thing with my students . There is a big Hispanic community here and I just happen to be Hispanic myself so that opens up twice the gigs for me . But if you look you will find that there are lots of ethnic gigs you can get in on if you take the time to find them and learn the music . A lot of times these types of gigs pay more than the average gig . Also I have learned to swing jazz and shuffle the blues . Country swing and German polkas too . Yes there are good paying gigs around October for polkas ! I had to be willing to leave half my kit at home and learn to play at more than half the volume . I'm not afraid to dress up for a gig or dress down . A tux is a must as are a pair of boots and a cowboy hat..at least around here .
    And don't forget that there are churches that pay well . You don't necessarily have to be a member , just be respectful .
    Studio work isn't what it use to be . There is a heavy reliance on computers and the software now . Sometimes I go in and wind up playing on a set of electronics or a SPD-S pad . Then later on they use the software to manipulate the sounds or even the playing . Rarely do I get to play a real kit anymore ... in a real studio and not someone's bedroom . And most of the time they don't want to pay ...they try to barter for studio time for YOUR project .
    Social media can be a big help . There are many drummers with their own Youtube channel where you can hear/see them play and get in touch if you want to hire them . That wasn't available when I got started back in the late 70's early 80's . So being media savvy is a big plus .
    I hope you are able to get something from this . I know I left some stuff out ... not intentionally tho . Hopefully others will chime in and fill in the blanks .
    Anyway ..good luck if you decide to go for it . Hang in there and enjoy the whirlwind !
    Last edited by jedi; 10-31-2016 at 05:39 AM.

  14. #14

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    This^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    I didn't do it that way, but Jedi is right on the money.

  15. #15

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    What Jedi sad makes perfect sense from a business standpoint. If you're gonna make a living from it, you need to "sell yourself". Advertising, product, service and confidence are the key. Get out there and network with as many musicians, bands, club owners, etc... they can't hire you if they don't know who you are. Learn as many different styles of music as you can, the larger your market, the more opportunities you have. Be willing to do things that others won't.....you can find those niche markets that are more profitable. Listen to them and give them what they want, they are a paying customer. If they want "boom-chuck-boom-chuck", play that way. You can make creative suggestions, but if you're playing for money it's their call. Attitude and persistence can accomplish more than talent that is poorly applied.
    -Brian

    "Too many crappy used drum stuff to list"

    Play the SONG......not the DRUMS!!!

    "I think that feeling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." ~ John Bonham

  16. #16

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    I tried being a session/studio drummer in college and I made money but definitely not enough to live off of. Even today I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am now if I based it off of music.

    Would I love to quit my job and just go on tour forever yes of course!
    But is it realistic.. no... and now I have a family and I'd never go back.

    Weekend warrior club here I come!
    19pc Yamaha Maple Custom Vintage | 10pc PDP X7 Sparkle Orange | 9pc Ludwig Jr. wine red | 8pc Pork Pie ZebraWood | 6pc Sonor | 5pc Orbitone | 4pc Sonor Martini | 39 Snare drums and growing!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by N2Bluz View Post
    The majority of us that are in bands have regular jobs and just gig on weekends.
    I started gigging in the mid-70s.............and back then, if you were booked into a club, it was generally a 6-night gig..........not any more. As Rick said, gigs then were easier to get -- there were so many more clubs and people loved to get out to see live music. It is not that way today at all..............less demand.
    I knew even then that I would not be the type of guy that would want to try to live from just playing drums, because while the money was adequate, it was not great...............still today, I work at my job all week and play gigs on the weekends -- and I continue to have a lot of fun at it.........I don't ever worry about burn-out..............and I don't worry about paying the bills.

    Quote Originally Posted by SpazApproved View Post
    Weekend warrior club here I come!
    It is actually a smart choice -- you will enjoy the best of both worlds.
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


  18. #18

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    As most have said................the vast majority of us have "real" jobs and play on the side.

    Making a living with music is possible, but extremely difficult. The title "Starving musician" came from somewhere!

  19. #19

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    Thanks everyone for the info. I'll get grade 8 out the way soon and see where I go from there.

    Taras.
    SPLAT-BOOM-SPLAT-BOOM-SPLAT-BOOM-GIGGA-TISH!

  20. #20

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    So you are in 8th grade right now? I think it would be kinda cool to hear who your influences are and what bands you like. If you're interested in sharing.

    When around 11 years old I started paying attention to music in the mid 70's when I heard the Paul Mccartney and Wings stuff that was all over the radio and then eventually started paying attention to the drummers. Mainly rock drummers.

    I use to put much more energy into my drumming and less into day jobs but that all changed about 16 years ago. I have a decent day job now and play on the side.
    Last edited by slinky; 11-02-2016 at 06:18 AM.
    RED DIRT MOUNTAIN
    http://reddirtmountain.com/
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  21. #21

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    Perhaps the easiest way to make money playing drums, is to take your kit to work

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qoncussion View Post
    Perhaps the easiest way to make money playing drums, is to take your kit to work
    I have friends in the industry that post pictures of their drums on stage title it, "My Office". That's about right!
    - Tom

    T-shirts and Gifts for All Musicians

    -----------------------------
    New Drum Party Lights!
    Jazz up your drum room, your studio or your screened in porch. Maybe take them camping!
    Decorate your next party! Now... drummers have their own awesome drum party lights! Drum Chat members get 20% off!
    Simply enter drumlights20 upon checkout.

    http://store.drumbum.com/skuMSC-382.html



    http://store.drumbum.com/skuMSC-382.html

    When you shop at Drum Bum or BuyGifts.com, you help with the costs of operating DrumChat.com. Please consider patronizing their fine stores. Whether you need unique music gifts for friends or just want a a little something for yourself, Drum Bum is the place!





    For coupons and specials, join the Drum Bum mailing list.
    That will also allow you to be eligible to win a free drum T-shirt. Drum Bum gives away a free T-shirt every month!

    Buy Gifts for Drummers. And don't miss the free Drum Lessons!

  23. #23

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    The band that plays together, stays together, and goes through the tough times together, usually winds up killing each other.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    The band that plays together, stays together, and goes through the tough times together, usually winds up killing each other.
    This is so true. Especially when women/girlfriends become part of the equation.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by inthpktplayer View Post
    This is so true. Especially when women/girlfriends become part of the equation.
    I worked in a few different bands with female singers, it was always a huge No No for any of the male band members to get romantically involved with them, It happened once and it was a disaster , I ended up leaving the band, and I would never play in a band with a dating or married couple, it's tough enough as it is.

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