Can I become a millionaire being a drummer?

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TFITTING942

Guest
But if you love drums unconditionally, you will have a happy life just playing local gigs and living modestly, and being able to legitimately call yourself a full-time musician.

Bermuda
I would love to trade my day job to play drums full time making the same exact living I make right now. I used to want the rockstar mansion and the five Ferraris in the driveway but thats not a measure of success to me anymore.More than anything thats a measure of that guys lucky break. There is no clear path to that kind of life, otherwise we would all have it. Jack Welch who became CEO of General Electric did not go to CEO school. He was/is a chemical engineer by degree. You have to be prepared for that big break when and if it comes your way. I am not a rockstar in that mansion, but I have no regrets what so ever, and I am proud to call myself a drummer.
 

sega039

Member
A fair question, and obviously not just one answer. Let me expand a little on what I said about the absence of a 'career path' in being a musician.

When you said being a drummer is a "profession as much as many other professions" that's not really true. In most professions, you go to school or otherwise train, and earn a degree or practical experience that possesses a certain value and status to potential employers, or to potential clients/customers if you go into business for yourself. And as either an employee or an entrepreneur, there is an opportunity to grow and advance based on skill, effort, and most of all, desire.

But being a musician is quite a different situation. Employment is not based on schooling or training (music institute school diplomas mean little in terms of getting work,) or experience (necessarily,) how much effort you put into looking for work, or how much desire and passion you have. Every time you want to work, you have to interview (audition) and choices are made completely subjectively. If you don't look right, or can't sing well, or won't travel, or don't have a shiny kit, or are too old or too young... you may not get the gig. There's no policy or protocol in the hiring process (as with normal businesses,) typically no benefits, and no recourse if you think you should have got the gig over the other guy... good luck claiming discrimination!

The only exceptions to this would be 1) performing with a symphony, where there are union policies in place, and there is still a stringent audition process. And limited opportunities, as many symphonic players are lifers (they're also not making a million bucks!) and 2) a career as a music teacher at the school level, which isn't really being a working musician, and also unlikely to acrue a million by retirement.

Luck is the biggest factor in whether there can be an opportunity to pursue music on a financial viable level. Unfortunately, we do not create or manipulate or foresee our own luck.

I'm not saying you shouldn't pursue drumming as a profession if you really love playing. But playing drums in order to facilitate a higher lifestyle - which is all you've talked about so far - is going to be very unsatisfying, assuming you're the one in a million to make great money at it. But if you love drums unconditionally, you will have a happy life just playing local gigs and living modestly, and being able to legitimately call yourself a full-time musician.

Bermuda

Bermuda,

Thanks a lot for your clarification, I got your point about musician career path. By other words even if you graduate Berkley Music College or Manhattan School of Music it's less probability that in few years after graduation you will end up with $150-250K p.a. like you would do if you graduate Wharton Business School, Law School or Medical School.

How about so many gagnster rap and pop stars who can't even read music but show off their fancy maisons on MTV. I thought that their career paths were a bit easier than the career paths of hihgly paid top notch lawyers or doctors or investment bankers.
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Bermuda,

Thanks a lot for your clarification, I got your point about career path. By other words even if you graduate Berkley Music College or Manhattan School of Music it's less probability that in few years after graduation you will end up with $150-250K p.a. like you would do if you graduate Wharton Business School, Law School or Medical School.
Correct. Berklee and such schools are great for advancing skills, but a degree has nothing to do with getting gigs, big or small. Zappa didn't hire Vinnie or Bozzio because they had degrees... they auditoned just like everyone else. as for skills in general, I think they're very important. But it's more important to know that 90% of the money gigs out there involve playing pretty straight ahead. Players in a hurry to demonstrate their skills or who are too 'creative' and want to make a song their own, don't get much paying work. Famous technicians like Neil Peart, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, etc. are great role models for the art of great drumming, but also in the severe minority in terms of making money with their playing. It's the art of being a great musician that tends to pay more often, and even amazing players like Vinnie do their share of 2 & 4. Players that you may not know are amazing, such as Jim Keltner, get paid more for playing 2 & 4. You rarely hear them cut loose, because there's just not much money in it for 90% of the music that pays.

It's not about dumbing-down music, it's just what it is in terms of what sells and generates work and income for players. I know there are some well-known, highly-skilled drummers out there who make less money and do fewer gigs than I do, yet they can drum circles around me. What I'm trying to reinforce here is that skill and income are not always related. Learn everything you can, but be very careful how you use it, and understand that you may never get paid to show what you know.

How about so many ganster rap and pop stars who can't even read music but show off their fancy maisons on MTV. I thought that their carrer parts were a bit easier than to become a hihgly paid top notch lawyer or doctor or investment banker.
Being an artist and writer is different than being a drummer (who is typically a sideman.) A fast rise - and fall - in the music biz is different than a career. Having a mansion typically means they're in debt. It's a common tale of rappers and rockers who over-extend themselves, spend the money they do make, and end up destitute.

There's really no comparison. The list of rappers with any longevity and financial stability is very short, and probably not a coincidence that some of the most successful ones expanded into TV or movies: LL Cool J, Ice T (Ice Cube?), Queen Latifah, Flava Flav...

But again, your focus remains on making money, not making music. I would suggest pursuing drumming as an avocation, and study for a more stable career with a proper direction and better chance for longevity. Trust me, you'll find plenty of opportunities to play and satisfy your musical side. But from what you've told us, you're less interested in playing than making a good living. That's fine, and you will do better in the long run if you set your priorities and goals accordingly.

Bermuda
 

baz

Silver Member
...My only question to you, or anybody else in pursuit of musical fame and fortune is, "what if you are a really lousy musician and don't know it"

That being said, if you have the talent, passion, and drive, anything is posible.

I went through the whole woulda shoulda coulda with photography, so by the time I took up drumming, I had no pie in the sky drumming dreams. My first drumming goal was to find a bunch of guys and gals to play with on a consistant basis. This is still my goal. I do play with a few different people, but only time will tell if anything comes of any of it.

I have been playing the drums for fifteen years now, and if I compare the progress that I have made in my drumming to the progress that I have made in my carreer, there is no contest. My job provides a decent standard of living, and some long term security for my Family, while my drumming serves mainly as an expressive form of stress relief.

To date, I have made a grand total of $30.00 playing the drums. At this rate, I will make a million dollars if I live to be two hundred and six.

Barry
 
T

TFITTING942

Guest
...My only question to you, or anybody else in pursuit of musical fame and fortune is, "what if you are a really lousy musician and don't know it"

That being said, if you have the talent, passion, and drive, anything is posible.

I went through the whole woulda shoulda coulda with photography, so by the time I took up drumming, I had no pie in the sky drumming dreams. My first drumming goal was to find a bunch of guys and gals to play with on a consistant basis. This is still my goal. I do play with a few different people, but only time will tell if anything comes of any of it.

I have been playing the drums for fifteen years now, and if I compare the progress that I have made in my drumming to the progress that I have made in my carreer, there is no contest. My job provides a decent standard of living, and some long term security for my Family, while my drumming serves mainly as an expressive form of stress relief.

To date, I have made a grand total of $30.00 playing the drums. At this rate, I will make a million dollars if I live to be two hundred and six.

Barry
Yeah but, isn't having a million dollars worth of deedubs the same as being a millionaire????
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
DrumEatDrum said:
But you have a better chance of winning a million dollars playing the lotto than drumming.
Nope. I've read that the chance of winning Lotto is around 14 million to one. I'd imagine that the chance of making a million dollars from drumming would be MUCH better that that, perhaps a mere 7 mill or so :)

If that seems high, at least the chance of spending a fortune on drum gear, lessons, rehearsals, recorded music, attending concerts/gigs etc is very, very good.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
And that's in Canadian dollars!! :O
I usually wind up with enough cash to buy a tank of gas for my truck after a weekend gig. Sometimes I drink three free beers (Thats the limit that I place on myself these days) and I get a cheeseburger and fries on the house at the clubs that I play at.
If one person from the club comes to me and says, "I liked the way that you played" Thats Priceless! Thats worth a million to me! If it is a pretty lady, Thats worth a billion!
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Use the money that you earn from drumming to try to make your million. Although it's not the best of times at the moment, unfortunately.

That's actually the time to invest. (unless you don't think we've hit bottom yet.)

It is good advice that no matter what you do you are no going to become a millionaire unless you save and invest it wisely. Secondly, if you want to retire comfortably being a multi-millionaire should be a clear cut goal for you in today's world. Thirdly, it will be ten years before you see any profits in music. Many people leave the music business after 5-7 years having not made a dime. A good business sense a a good strategy for success in life, esp if you are in the music business.

Just to clarify, Liberty DeVito was the guy that wrote Billy Joel's songs.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Nope. I've read that the chance of winning Lotto is around 14 million to one. I'd imagine that the chance of making a million dollars from drumming would be MUCH better that that, perhaps a mere 7 mill or so :)

If that seems high, at least the chance of spending a fortune on drum gear, lessons, rehearsals, recorded music, attending concerts/gigs etc is very, very good.
True, the odds of hitting the lotto is around 1 in 14 million.

However, someone wins the Lotto at least one month on average, some times twice a month. Plus, there are 6 different lottos going on across the country at the same, although some of the bigger ones pays out less often.

Even in a bad lotto year, that's still going to be roughly 12-48 people winning a million dollars+ via a lotto per year.

I don't think there are 12 to 24 drummers who becoming millionaires per year, even a good year.

There are guys who might gross a million here and there, but few can hold on to it, or keep earning enough to stay in that category.
 

sega039

Member
Bermuda,

Thanks again for your detailed faeedback. it's clear that pop music is much more lucrative and generate better cash flow for music industry market players than any other music genres. It's called pop or popular music because it's popular amongst most of the music listeners in the world. No wonder why musicians who play pop are better off compare to jazzmen for instance but of course there are exceptions e.g. Winton Marsalis.

Statistics says that only 8% of the music lovers listen jazz and less than !% in favour of classic music. I don't know why majority of listeners like a pop music, perhaps one of the most primitive ones from the drummers point of view. Maybe the secret is that the human mind hates a complexity in everything including music and that's why very few people enjoy hard bebop or free jazz.

Second issue, which you pointed out is a hired musician career path vs. "your own band" way. As I understood unlike other industries top notch music education didn't guarantee a rosy way for a musician and Berklee College in CV won't necessarily open up doors to prestige symphonic orchestras and bands.

But the good news is that apart from a hired job any musicians have the second option to start up own band and the entry barrier in music industry to start up isn't that high compare to let's say oil & gas industry (from $100MM) and literally any musician can do it and has a chance to succeed.
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
But the good news is that apart from a hired job any musicians have the second option to start up own band and the entry barrier in music industry to start up isn't that high compare to let's say oil & gas industry (from $100MM) and literally any musician can do it and has a chance to succeed.
Easier, yes... successful, probably not.

True, the 'industry' is becoming less necessary as an exposure tool for starting artists. But 'success' in promoting one's own project on MySpace, Facebook, CDBaby, etc. is far smaller than the success of having a label behind you. Selling 5,000 albums worth of songs to online fans is considered really good, and a lot of that money is retained by the seller. Considering there'd be no manufacturing costs, there's tremendous profit there, but far from a million bucks, and don't forget each band member gets a cut. In the real world, having 5,000 fans means nothing (unless you're playing Jazz!) If you were on a label and sold 5,000 albums, you'd get dropped (unless they're Jazz albums!) Also consider the glut of artists on labels now, and they're not selling. When anyone can promote themselves online, it further dilutes the monetary success that each artist can have.

It's important to have goals, and making (and keeping!) money is important, but the chances are very slim that playing drums will generate big income or security for retirement. And you've yet to say that you actually like playing drums! I predict that you're in for a very frustrating future if you don't have a passion for playing.

Bermuda
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I don't know why majority of listeners like a pop music, perhaps one of the most primitive ones from the drummers point of view. Maybe the secret is that the human mind hates a complexity in everything including music and that's why very few people enjoy hard bebop or free jazz.
It depends. Complexity mostly just refers to that which stretches our capabilities. Sandeep started a thread about chemistry so let's use that analogy:

If a cutting edge chemist is speaking to a peer s/he might say, "A single-crystal pulsed neutron diffraction study of p-hydroxyacetanilide (the analgesic Paracetamol, C8H9NO2) was carried out at 100 K". That might be fairly well-known info in chemistry circles but it looks complex to the rest of us. Let's call it classical, jazz or prog chemistry of the less accessible kind.

On the other hand, many people are interested to know whether a pain killer has codeine in it or not. POPular chemistry. It has a very broad spread of interest in the community, speaking of our day-to-day concerns. Maybe even more popular is knowing what fragrance will drive your partner crazy - without having the slightest clue what chemicals are involved.

Knowing whether a pain killer has amphetamines in it is more punk or grunge :)

Knowing whether that [expletive] has taken your stash of painkillers which you plan to convert to street drugs is, of course, rap :))

Those who are more purist by inclination are most interested in their interactions with peers and that's who their music mostly speaks to. Nice in terms of one's development but not so great for the hip pocket. The pros here can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that coming across a band/performer who manages an idyllic compromise between real depth and breadth of scope, along with huge appeal is the holy grail but most settle for music with the maximum commercial potential that remains above their baseline depth and taste needs.

If you can't tolerate any music that's less sophisticated and/or accessible than Wagner, Coltrane or Yes, then you either need to be a genius or get a day job.
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
My suggestion to most young musicians is to study & build a career that can done & give you the freedom to do your music. Whether it's owning your own business or consulting or producing or what have you.

Wasn't he also B.Joel's musical director? Or am I mixing up drummers?
That I don't know for sure so I don't want to say one way or the other.
 

Ekim

Silver Member
...My only question to you, or anybody else in pursuit of musical fame and fortune is, "what if you are a really lousy musician and don't know it"

Barry
Pfft! Like that stops anybody in the music biz? Come on...
 

drumgeek93

Senior Member
To hell with the money do it cause you love it! If it brings you financial success well then that's a bonus.
Totally agree. Any Pro drummer out there that has money, got there money because they loved playing, not because they wanted to get rich. Do it cause you love it.
 

drummer girl09

Senior Member
I was actually recently talking to a friend about doing gigs for money, because I was complaining that I don't have money for many mics or anything for the necessities of gigging. I wouldn't make it my total career; there are other things that are fun besides drumming, believe it or not to make it your career and put more than just bread on the table :O I see it just as gettin a little extra on the side. I'm eventually getting a job, so that could pay for the equipment anyway. That's my view.
 
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