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Thread: Drumming as a career?

  1. #1

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    Default Drumming as a career?

    So I have some big life questions that I have been trying to answer lately and Im not sure what to do so I decided to get some more opinions here. Before I start let me give you a lil background on myself to get a better understanding of who I am and where Im coming from.
    So basically my whole life has revolved around music. It is all that I spend my time on and I am very serious about it. I have been playing drums for about 10 years now and I have been in a band for almost 7 of those years. I live right outside of New York City so there is a pretty sweet music scene over here. Right now I am at the end of my high school career and I still haven't really decided what I want to do in life. I love music, but I also love science, specifically physics. I understand that my band is most likely not going to make it big, so it wouldn't be good to just hope for that to happen one day.
    So basically my question is, what would be the best career decision for me? Should I go to school and study music or should I look for something else? I was thinking about being a sound engineer but I wasn't sure if I would be able to get a job once I get out of college or if it would even pay well. I also didn't want to go to school for music and then end up working in a job I don't like or in a genre I don't enjoy.
    So if someone who is in the music business or knows someone in the music business could give me some insight on what its like and what would work best in this day and age, that would be awesome. Thanks!
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  2. #2

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    I cant speak as one in the music business or knowing anyone in it. But would suggest going to school for the love of the work and not the dollar sign,Jmo. I would however suggest sending demo's of your drumming to bands hiring or studio's for studio work. I know people who use this route to stay in the music scene without it being their primary source of income. They seem to be happy with the work it brings with a little cash too. It maybe a door way to bigger things. Congrats on your almost ended quest to Highschool. And best of luck on your choices. F/T

  3. #3

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    one thing I have learned is never to rely on other people to make YOU money, it doesn't matter what profession you go into. If you are self employed you need to be able to sustain your own income without relying on someone like a bandmate, who is still on the fence about the seriousness of fulltime musical work. (I have seen the same thing with professional photographers)

    If music is your passion, why don't you try to express it by teaching it to others? Go to school, get a degree, become a music teacher. I am certain there is nothing more rewarding then seeing your own pupils take what you've taught them and run with it.

  4. #4

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    Yup, a degree in music is the best thing you can do.

    About playing, first decide what is more important, playing music or being a "star?" Can't help you with being a star, but if you want to play music which means playing a lot of music you don't care for, then there's hope.

  5. #5
    Jason11 Guest

    Default Re: Drumming as a career?

    It's always good to have a well paying back up job in case it doesn't work out. Also, if your 2nd job pays well then you can play for free (even after you get real exposure).

  6. #6

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    td1242, I'm 46 now and enjoy playing drums more than ever. It wasn't always like this, there was a time when I became a pro drummer which was the worst experience I've ever had. It was like musical prostitution...that is, you start having to play genres that you hate, playing with musicians that are not cool, bar owners/agents that don't care about you, places where you don't want to be, and not getting very good pay either. After a year of doing this, I went back to school and finished my BS in Computer Science. I was so burned out, that I'm didn't want to be near a drum for over 10 years. Now, I'm back to playing in my own terms.
    Btw, from all the musicians that I knew, only one actually broke through....check out his website: ravidrums.com
    Last edited by drummer; 01-13-2011 at 04:04 PM. Reason: commercial link

  7. #7

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    Learn to live with less, in fact a lot less than what your non-musician friends make. I have to buy my cars second hand, live in cheap rent, and can't really afford to go on holidays like my other friends at the moment. But at least I'm able to slip into a number of teaching situations, because I'm pretty well experienced playing in a lot of genres, plus I got my Diploma of Music...even though extra-curricular music tutors (usually the casual ones) are often asked for a Bachelor in Music nowadays, drum teachers are usually on thin ground in the primary and high school level (well, here anyway). Thing is, you have to show you can teach reading and other fundamentals, plus having experience with other percussion instruments (especially orchestral ones), all these skills give you an edge over drummers who are just "kit players". Also, having those skills means work will come through, but you still have to know how to hussle. You have to let people know that you're around, whether you're in the teaching side of it or performance side. And if you're under the impression that you're too cool to be a jack-of-all-trades and think that your one special area in music is going to get you through, then I'm afraid a reality check is in order....one-trick ponies rarely get a second look-in in a competitive session scene.

    And then there's this....you know when a song gets written by a band, that then becomes a hit and the royalties come flowing through....how much do you reckon the average drummer gets from it?

    Guess?......


    Nothing, if at all.


    Well, I don't know what the publishing situation is like in America and elsewhere, but here in Australia, APRA, (the Australasian Performing Rights Association) has this thing where it's the lyrics, melodies, hooks etc of a song that become part of the negotiations of which person gets what in a band. So you get this situation where singer writes lyrics= 30% split, guitarist, keyboardist etc writes the chords that make up the bulk of the song= 40-50% split, someone else comes up with the interesting hook, well, there goes the rest. What gets left? Do the sums. So that's why drummers who can also write (which means knowing another instrument, or at least can throw a few chord structures together) tend to get credits on releases. Unfortunately, some inexperienced players can fall into the misconception that everything will be alright and the band will stick together and so on, but longevity in this business is damn hard, you have to use every ounce of wit, skill and humour to keep yourself going. It's pretty hard not to feel low and bitter when people rip you off, or worse, when you get let go from a band because you weren't right for them or whatever, but if you can always bounce back and be even better as a person because of it, then maybe you can find your niche somewhere.

    By the way, if someone lends you the "Neil Peart - A Work In Progress Video"....watch it!....because he quotes this: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity" -['Wild Bill' Donovan, Head of the OSS during WW2]
    Last edited by Drumbledore; 01-13-2011 at 03:25 PM.
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  8. #8

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    I think teaching is a great way to go too if you think you would enjoy it or any other job related to music. I think teaching is great and you can do your own thing on the side. Sound engineer is good too. You'd be surrounded by what you love and make great connections that way too. Maybe google sound engineer jobs and see what they have listed and what the salaries go for. Go for something that you really want to do.

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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by nio View Post
    td1242, I'm 46 now and enjoy playing drums more than ever. It wasn't always like this, there was a time when I became a pro drummer which was the worst experience I've ever had. It was like musical prostitution...that is, you start having to play genres that you hate, playing with musicians that are not cool, bar owners/agents that don't care about you, places where you don't want to be, and not getting very good pay either. After a year of doing this, I went back to school and finished my BS in Computer Science. I was so burned out, that I'm didn't want to be near a drum for over 10 years. Now, I'm back to playing in my own terms.
    Btw, from all the musicians that I knew, only one actually broke through....check out his website: ravidrums.com
    No offense, but I find what you wrote full of humor. I've had my share of day jobs while working on a career in music and I've worked a lot of jobs I didn't like, doing things I didn't like, working with people I didn't like and in places I didn't like. I always go back to the fishing bumper sticker, "A bad day of fishing is better then a good day at work." I always felt more of a prostitute at the day jobs I've had. Every time I've played music I didn't care for, probably most of the time, it improved my overall drumming skills. No day job did that. I always get something out of playing along with a pay check. All I could count on from the day jobs was the paycheck. I'm playing on my terms, I'm playing and getting paid for it. It is everything I want? No. Is it more then a day job? A big yes. Few people live all of their lives on their terms. Those that do, most anyway, were born into money.

  10. #10

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    Wow, this topic.... sheesh...

    I have a long story about this, lemme see if I can condense it before I post. :p

  11. #11

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    Righhhhhhht, food for thought. I've basically dropped out of university because I decided that I wanted to be a professional musician, and that if I return, I'm going to go back onto a course with a clear career goal.

    Do you love music? Do you breathe music? Do you see music as a vehicle for your own financial success or critical validation? Or do you recognise music as being the source of happiness in your life? The first thing I do in the morning is go make myself a pot of coffee and stick on an album. If someone leaves me in a room with a guitar, I jump on it. Music is my flame, and I'm just some kinda moth. Mothmonster! Rawr.

    Being a musician means being someone beyond your own personal taste in music. To fear yourself getting stuck in a band that you don't like is not in the same category as being stuck stacking shelves for your entire life; you build contacts within the scene, and you discover that every musician isn't just a musician, they're a music fan as well. Look at bands as being a job, but one that is based around creative freedom; if you really, actively go for it, setting your sights and your goals on what you want to achieve, you will get there in the end. It just takes a while.

    Do you know what you want out of life? Do you know what you want to do with your life? How can you contribute towards society and the world around you? If you get into this business wanting to make a quick buck, then there's something intrinsically wrong with your motives. The artistic industries, as they stand, are increasingly under threat by commercial and market forces that see something successful as being something that shifts units. Radio Friendly Unit Shifters, yeah? It's surprisingly easy to sell out, it's much harder to make a statement with your art, increasingly in this day and age.

    I was doing a Cinema course at university, because that's what I thought I wanted to do. It was a lie; it's what people expected of me, because I'm clever and know a lot, and want to make something with my life. But it's not what I wanted for myself; sure, I could go into cinema, a medium where it's easy to make a lot of money quickly, but I'd sell out along the way. The more and more I went down this route, the more I realised what I missed was the time I spent teaching myself about music, and why I hadn't committed myself to the lifestyle I wanted then. I'm in a position now where I'm putting as much energy as I can into exploring, finding and playing as many different styles of music I can. I'm lucky; I've taught myself bass, guitar and drums along the way, and gotten pretty damn good at them all.

    If you want money and stability, then I don't know what to suggest for you, because I don't give a damn about either of those things. I just want to play music from my heart with my friends.

    BY THE WAY - There is a *huge* difference between being a professional musician and playing in a band. If you play in a band, you play with your friends because you all love being together and making the greatest music you possibly can. If you're a professional music, it's your job as a technician to be able to play what people want. I've played in both capacities, and the first is more enjoyable.

    At the end of the day, your future is yours to decide. All we can offer is friendly, helpful advice, but it's up to you to do what you can with this information. You'll understand what you want soon enough, it just takes a while for you to realise it. Good luck.
    Today, on Ethel The Frog...

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