Advice for a Dad

mpic

Junior Member
My son in 11th grade has good grades but could be better if he worked at it. He has set his heart on being a drummer for a metal band as he is very talented in music, orchestra, can play the drums, and guitar. Mom and dad are trying to convince him that he needs to get a college degree in music, engineering, etc.. and at the same time work on music pashion. He seems to think now he should just form a band and go that route. Any metal drummers out there with some advice on how realistic his plans are?

thanks!
mpic
 

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
HI there. I play in a metal band, so I suppose I count as a "metal drummer".

I would make a few points:

1) Limiting himself to metal drumming is cutting off his own leg. If he wants a career in drumming, he will need to play all styles. There is no money in metal, period. The highest selling death metal band of all time, Cannibal Corpse, barely breached a million album sales, and still need other jobs. There simply is no money in it.

2) To make a living drumming is nigh-on impossible, but to do it requires much, much more than playing in a band. You need to teach, do clinics, do session work, and play in as many active bands as possible. All this will be made a million times easier by having qualifications.

Your son sounds like he has the dream; the reality is, it is all but impossible to make money out of it. You need to incredibly good, or incredibly lucky, and usually both.

This shouldn't put him off, but it should make him think twice about not taking exams. Plus, if he has the chance to get an actual music degree, he should jump at the chance. I know many people, myself included, who would bite your arm off to do it.

If he needs any more convincing, I'll tell him how much money I made in my year trying to make it pro. I'll give you a hint: it starts with a minus.
 
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thatoneguy

Guest
Passion*. Odds are he's not Tony Royster Jr. I would recommend education along with music. But, what if he really is that good? If he was, you wouldn't be here asking us..... I'm sure he's a big boy who is capable of making his own decisions. Is he capable of dealing with the outcome of said decisions (good or bad)?
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Rick H.

Senior Member
You could always try convincing him that if he goes to school he always has time for a metal band on the side, and just because he is going to school doesn't mean he can't end up being in a successful metal band.
 

jkevn

Senior Member
If all else fails....remind him that the largest gatherings of like-minded wanna be musicians are located on college campuses. How many bands have you heard of that met in and around a college town....

College towns and the associated venues also offer more opportunity for playing live....although he's not gonna get rich doing it.

And, he might just get an education by accident.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Nothing wrong with joining a band.

But most bands don't make much, if any, money right away. It's not impossible, but darn difficult to support oneself right away, and even over time.

One key is music is a business, and business classes are always helpful.

A money making band is a business, so any general business degree has value.

An accounting degree is helpful in keeping the bands books straight and making sure you're not getting ripped off.

All bands require good marketing, so a marketing degree has value.

The bass player from Guns and Roses wrote about going and getting a business degree after he became a rock star, because he realized he couldn't read his royalty statements, and he didn't like not knowing if he was getting his fair share or not.

And of course, any music degree or program helps give you a back ground in being a band.

The nice thing about college, is unlike high school, you can pick your hours a little better.

I'd always set up my schedule to avoid early morning classes so I could play at bands at night, and still make it to school the next day.
 

Florian

Gold Member
my better half wanted to be a rock and roller from the time she was 10....she was fortunate to have a great voice and a good ear. She was in a band in HS, then as a result of her vocal talents, got a scholarship to WVU in voice....she washed out in about a semester after finding out that opera and musicals were part of the curriculum. She paid her way thru college playing weekend gigs and working her ass off. I would recommend your son go to college and start looking at that point to hook up with some likeminded individuals. If all else fails, he has an education.

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Frost

Silver Member
Most bands, not just metal bands, which are anything took ten years to make.

Music doesn't really pay, it is something you do because you are passionate, you hope it goes somewhere but really it's like writing a book, you don't quit your job to write full time without prospects, you do it on the side, and if it does get published and you make a fortune, well you're living on easy street.

Commercially, even the most mainstream of metal is inaccessible to your average Lady Gaga fan. It wont get radio play, it wont get number one hits. That doesn't mean it can't make money, many metal bands, excluding the likes of Metallica who in rights became mainstream due to making rock music, live comfortably, but at the same time, they spent years of having little to no money working much much harder then average to get there. What money they do make generally comes from playing live and building a loyal following who will support them but even then most bands simply cover costs.

It is a rewarding hobby with career prospects in the long term, but it never hurts to have education to fall back on. That applies to all walks of life really, how many small time footballers make sports there career and land up working average, unrewarding jobs in their forties and fifties. If he has something to fall back on, even if he does make music his life, he wont regret it, even if he never uses his qualifications they are worth having.

Your son might be surprised to find out how many of his metal idols work very average day jobs. Even bands that tour internationally often have to go into work the next week. My friends recently toured Europe, the lead singer/guitarist is now back working as a law clerk and the keyboardist is teaching in primary school.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Tough call, because regardless if he gets a music education or not, there's a chance that he could just make. Or not. Entertainment is that way.

You didn't say where you were living, but one thing that is important is that he needs to be where the players are. Even on the outskirts of Los Angeles, if you're not hob-knobbin' with people in L.A., it's very difficult. I was a pro drummer for my first 15 years out of high school and through college, and it was hard. The decision is ultimately his, but too bad there's not a rule book to go through prior to stepping out as a musician.

I've always been a little down on music education too, just because it doesn't really prepare you for the real world either. You can be a teacher, but that's so far removed from what attracts you to music in the first place. If you just want to be a player, then you have to be incredible. You can probably accomplish this goal on your own without going to school. Take lessons with the pros instead. Tony Williams wanted to learn about composition, so what did he do? He hired the composition professor from UC San Francisco for private lessons!

I tend to give that advice to everybody. If you want to be a successful gas station owner, go talk to a successful gas station owner. He'll know more about it than anybody else. Same thing with musicians, go find a few and chat. They're out there, and they love nothing better than to impart some first-hand knowledge, and it's good for their egos.

You can also play the numbers game too. Just look around on YouTube at all the talented amateurs out there doing drum covers, there are literally thousands. Then add to that the professionals that are putting their playing up on YouTube, and then all the greats also on YouTube that the rest of us aspire to be. You might as well be counting stars in the sky. But, there's always that chance someone is looking for the brightest star, and he could be it, after people wade through all the rest of them.

I don't say that to deter, just to get a realistic sense of how many people are out there displaying their drumming prowess, looking for a gig. I suppose it's not any different from finding a regular job, just that there are no rules!
 

Sway

Junior Member
Taking a handful of introductory music theory classes at a local CC should give him a decent enough launching pad to continue his musical aspirations. As was mentioned before; a more practical major than music theory may be the best/safest route (no offense meant to anyone).

I personally took Music Theory 101/102/103 and that was all I felt I needed at the time. Understanding time measures, sheet music and melody patterns such as the circle of 5ths (it's a common misconception that drummers only need to concentrate on rhythm - how can one be expected to co-compose a song when they don't know what everyone else is doing?) is a solid start in my opinion.

I agree with Drumeatdrum about looking into a business department degree. It can be quite flexible in the job market as well as lending some practical knowledge to someone going into the entertainment industry. An option that he may or may not like is to take up an online degree (at least initially). Within the business department I'd personally say that a market degree would serve him very well since it is not only interesting (in relation to business degrees anyway) but it would lend a savvy commercial side to his business understanding. Looking around for what options he has online, such as on http://www.marketingdegree.net/ would probably best serve him.

At the end of the day getting a business, or marketing, or whatever degree will not make him a worse drummer. If anything further his education and flexing his brain may aid him in becoming more thoughtful and inspired on the drums. Best of luck to both him and you.
 

Neil

Senior Member
Growing up, there were a lot local of bands that I really idolised. They were touring, releasing albums had a huge fan base. One band released a rarities album post split title 'We should've gone to University', says it all really.

It's my reckoning that kids/teenagers will not listen to their parents, no matter how sage the advice is, I know didn't, I know my friends didn't. Find out what his favourite bands are, e-mail them and ask how they're finding things. You never know, they might reply and the son might read it and take it onboard.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
If he wants to make a living as a drummer, it's really hard, but doable. He has to diversify, though. There aren't that many good-paying metal gigs, and he will probably have to teach lessons to supplement his income from his few-and-far-between shows.

He should really look into another profession. If he's serious about music, he should do a major/minor with business and music, business being the most important of the two...
 
He should keep focus on the objective to achieve a main profession. From there, as an additional He can play the drums as a hobby and also as another way of income (extra money).
 

zfzgg

Senior Member
Making a living entirely from working with ONE band (especially something as saturated as metal) is nigh on impossible.

Making a living entirely from working with any number of bands is still out of the question for most people.

Here's why:
-Amateur bands are a dime a dozen. There are so many factors that have to come together to make a great band and actually being good at your instrument is just one of them. Not even the main one! I don't mean to make any assumptions about your son, but unless he is incredibly clever AND lucky he's forever going to be stuck in the $100 + free beer bar gigs.

-Forming a band requires a LOT of effort. Actually getting the members together is hard enough, but writing and rehearsing is a process that can take months before you have something worth playing. The main problem with this is that if one of your band members quits....you've just lost your job. Probably for a few weeks while you train up a new band member to replace them.

-If you injure your self or can't work for any other reason, you're screwed. Let's face it, most musicians live paycheck to paycheck, and if you have no income for 6 weeks because you broke your leg, you're done for.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Playing gigs is generally something you do at night, rehearsing is generally something you do on a weekend. There really is no good reason whatsoever that your son can't hold a full time job while being fully committed to his music. I myself don't make a living from music, but I know several drummers who do. Here are a few realistic paths you can pursue that are a bit safer than simply gigging:

-Teach music at a school. You'll need a degree, but it pays well and you'll be covered if ever you break something or come up sick.

-Work in a drum shop. Easier to get into than teaching and is great for networking.

-Teach drums privately. My own teacher visits schools during the week and spends 6 - 8 hours a day teaching drums there privately, as well as afternoons after school at his house (as well as gigging etc). Pays well, but you'll be earning nothing/much less during school holidays. You'll also need to be a great communicator and very knowledgeable about the instrument.

If music is really really really what your son is set on, that's great. But I can guarantee he'll be living in your basement until he's 30 if he doesn't find some sort of 'proper' income on top of simply gigging.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
He has essentially told you that he intends to play the lottery for a living, I think, but it's also important you don't forbid him to play metal. My dad told me that music was only a pastime, not a career, and so what did I do? Went out and made a career of music.

Does he expect his band to be successful, and then he'll ride along with the band on its way to success? Or does he want to be a successful drummer regardless of band? Find out specifically what is motivating him. At 17, I just wanted to hang out with my friends and play music I liked.

A shining example of success is Tommy Clufetos (now Ozzy Ozbourne's drummer), who started playing in his dad's band (Mr. Clufetos is a saxophonist) as a young teen. That training, his talent, and the exposure to a musical environment, plus years of networking, and some help from his parents, played a huge part in his success. Would your son be happy playing for Ozzy? If he'll admit that he would, then you've broadened his idea of success, if only a little. Your point would be that Ozzy's drummer has education (from his dad's band and others), and education is a non-negotiable part of his future. That your family isn't booking the gigs is just a hard fact of life, and he'll have to overcome it somehow. If he does join a band that plays paying gigs, you'll know if he's serious by how he handles the gig. Does he play too loud? Show up late? Not know the songs? Talk with the bandleader, and keep up on his behavior.

I'm not sure what his training has been so far, but compared to successful drummers, he is probably behind, especially if he has been neglecting musical styles other than metal. He needs more lessons on both drums and guitar, work experience (paying gigs), experience in musical theater and jazz band, not to mention life lessons in terms of being a good employee and bandmate. Mostly, he needs to re-define what success as a drummer is, because bands come and go, no matter how famous, and there are tons of talented drummers (and sometimes they even look cooler than you).

Of course a business degree is useful, but is it also possible to send your son to a music school for a couple years? Is is financially possible for him to obtain a four year degree, and then enroll in a music program for 2 years?
 

gwaco

Senior Member
As a Dad with a young aspiring ( though now more realistic ) drummer, I can say that every one of the post below offer a very good dose of reality.

My daughters teacher (Casey Grillo) just happens to be a metal drummer in a very successful metal band. He tours worldwide quite a few times a year , and is sometimes gone for 2 months at a time.

But guess what ! When hes not touring hes not making money, so he plays with numerous local bands, has a few side endeavors, and teachs to keep a float!

This is someone who has numerous endorsements including Pearl, Zildjian, Evans, Vic Firth and even a boot manufacturer!

His advice (and mine) to my daughter is to get the education, and he would tell your son the same exact thing.
The royalties on even a very successful recording will not get you much more than a few weeks worth of happy meals from McDonalds!

I wish him well in his endeavor but if you haven't had him sit down and read every post on here, you need to.
 

Frank

Gold Member
If one is going to pursue music as a career, it should be in a pro manner, not a hack. Meaning studying in school. He might not even finish, if some Outstanding opportunity comes along, but he should start.

I have been very open minded with what my kids are going to do. But if one of them wanted to pursue music, I'd support it only if it also came with formal education - and very serious study. Even without finishing, years down the road, that school pursuit would show other potential employers he was serious about it and gave it the right kind of try.

If he doesn't go the distance in music, there are an awful lot of segments of the world that will dismiss him outright when they see he didn't *bother*
with formal study.

On top of all of that, he'll obviously be a better, well rounded player by studying in school.
 

A-customs

Silver Member
HI there. I play in a metal band, so I suppose I count as a "metal drummer".

I would make a few points:

1) Limiting himself to metal drumming is cutting off his own leg. If he wants a career in drumming, he will need to play all styles. There is no money in metal, period. The highest selling death metal band of all time, Cannibal Corpse, barely breached a million album sales, and still need other jobs. There simply is no money in it.

2) To make a living drumming is nigh-on impossible, but to do it requires much, much more than playing in a band. You need to teach, do clinics, do session work, and play in as many active bands as possible. All this will be made a million times easier by having qualifications.

Your son sounds like he has the dream; the reality is, it is all but impossible to make money out of it. You need to incredibly good, or incredibly lucky, and usually both.

This shouldn't put him off, but it should make him think twice about not taking exams. Plus, if he has the chance to get an actual music degree, he should jump at the chance. I know many people, myself included, who would bite your arm off to do it.

If he needs any more convincing, I'll tell him how much money I made in my year trying to make it pro. I'll give you a hint: it starts with a minus.
This is spot on advice.Well stated.......
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I am a Dad and Drummer, If your son wants to go to college for music he should get a degree from a real college. not MIT or something like that. If he ties that degree with education he could teach band or be a band director at a school. Thats a pretty good career.
My dad always told me if you go to college get a pratical degree and a miner in music. In the real world as far as bands and other live giging jobs. No one cares about college degrees they want the best players. Its fierce competition out there, The best get the gigs Period.
 

THC

Senior Member
At 42, I have no aspirations of becoming a metal drummer; or even a professional musician,(at least not realistic ones) and I really have nothing insightul to add other than this is one of the most enjoyable threads I've read in awhile. Very good, and sound advice, regardless of what career path you choose.
 
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