How do I get into a touring band?

Ferret

Senior Member
I've got the timing/chops/reliability/referals etc..

I am not sure I am gonna be able to find a touring act on craigslist. How do these bands find replacements or fill ins?

Anyone got stories to share on it?
 

JayBee

Junior Member
Get to know more musicians and play gigs. Open for bigger bands and hope their drummer is sick or something ha. Its usually a gradual thing
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I've got the timing/chops/reliability/referals etc..

I am not sure I am gonna be able to find a touring act on craigslist. How do these bands find replacements or fill ins?

Anyone got stories to share on it?
Then either a) you DON'T have the timing/chops/reliability/referrals or b) you don't have the right referrals.

Getting into any band isn't like getting a job at McDonalds. You obviously have to be a great player, but there's this whole "people" thing that has to be happening too. You have to get to know alot of people, or let them get to know you, and maybe years later they'll take a chance and let you sit in. The more you're out playing the more people can see that you're doing stuff, and they can see you play.

And even if you're a really good player, remember those people skills? Touring bands are basically joined at the hip on a tour (sort of), and out the 100% of time you're together, I'd say maybe 10% of it is spent playing music on stage. If you can't get along with people, it's gonna be a long tour. Or if you can't tolerate others, same deal.

I worked at Disneyland in a few bands there and even though we got to go home every night, some days it's hard because you're dealing with alot of different personalities. And the more inexperienced of us were literally lashing out at other players before the gig was over. Those people never got called for the next job. I got to do it for 15 years, so maybe I'm more level-headed than I think. But during my time doing that, your playing level is the least of your concerns. The company assumes everyone can do what they ask of them (and we could). If you couldn't, you weren't asked back!

Sometimes bands are looking for a 'look' too. I'm too short for alot of things, so if you're looking for the lanky, tall, long-haired rocker, I'm not your guy. You have a country band but everyone has to be blond in a cowboy hat? Not gonna work with my black hair. If you need a shorter Hawaiian to play anything, give me a call!

And of course, none of this seems fair, and it isn't. You could have it all; talent, reliability, but man, if you show up all covered in tattoos for a wedding band audition, what do ya' do? Several pro musicians have written articles on how to a be busy sideman, and alot of those articles really stress being able to get along with people, and being able to dress the part, and showing up early, these points were almost more important than your actual playing. In fact, I started working alot in college not because I could play and read music, but because I could sing, and the band didn't want to hire a separate singer and a drummer, that was too much money. I became a double threat that day.

You just have to slug it out with the rest of us and see what doors open. And when that door does open, don't blow it. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity - Steve Jordan said that.

Anyway, that was my adventure. Your mileage may vary. There must be other words of advice for our OP from the vast amount of pros here....
 

Joe Morris

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
I've got the timing/chops/reliability/referals etc..

I am not sure I am gonna be able to find a touring act on craigslist. How do these bands find replacements or fill ins?

Anyone got stories to share on it?
When you hear someone else say you got all of the above you mentioned then things will start happening. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing here at all man. I watched your video on your myspace page and you have potential for sure. You have to practice, network, record, and everything else in between. If it was that easy everybody would be doing it. Just keep at it, by the looks of it your pretty young. well at least to me. lol. So keep at it, the first thing you need to do is get a name in your local scene, no one national is going to just pop up and snatch you. Get known in your town as one of the guys!! So to speak. That is your first step.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Well, that is the million dollar question, isn't it?

Well, ok, finding a band that tours isn't ubber difficult, but finding a band that will make you any money from the tour, that's another issue.

I made a post on here a while back from an ad I saw on Craigslist a where a band was looking for a drummer for tour, but they straight up said there was no pay, you weren't a band member, and it was a temporary position. That was interesting discussion.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Well, ok, finding a band that tours isn't ubber difficult, but finding a band that will make you any money from the tour, that's another issue.
And finding a band that needs a drummer is going to be the biggest hurdle.

99% of the bands that tour are bands - they have drummers. And most artists who have backup bands will hire the same people if they're available. It's not as simple as just hanging out your shingle and waiting for a call or, as already pointed out, everybody would be doing it.

Obviously having talent as a drummer and most importantly as a musician is key to getting work of any kind. A few others have echoed my sentiments about who decides when you're suitable for a gig: it's the other guy who determines that... not you. That applies not just to your playing, but to your age, your 'look', your gender, your gear, and possibly even your race. There are no 'equal opportunity' laws in entertainment, and there's no recourse if the applicant doesn't like the employer's choice. Decisions about who gets the gig are thoroughly subjective, and talent is only one factor on which a potential player is judged.

So, for Ferret to believe he's ready to rock, it's good to have confidence. But for every audition, someone else is going to decide if that's really true for their situation. As such, any press kit and video/audio material out there needs to be top notch and pro. Nobody gets a gig because they have potential... they get it because they are ready to do the gig right now. And putting stuff up prematurely can haunt that drummer for a long time. Flash forward 5 years: "Hey, a drummer named Ferret wants to audition, should we see him?" "Nah, I saw a clip of him, he's not ready." Shouldn't they have to give you another chance or seek updated information? Nope.

Ferret, I haven't seen your info, but if it's not professional or doesn't look or sound great, you're not going to be eligible for pro gigs. And even then, finding a band that needs a drummer is going to be the biggest hurdle. There's a tremendous amount of luck and being in the right place at the right time involved. Just being a great musician with a great look, a lot of passion and a web page, isn't enough.

Sorry, but that's how things work. If you think that's bleak or unfair, try being an actor, comedian, model, writer, or anything in the arts.

What can be done to guarantee success? Well, nothing. But there are some things that will help put aspiring players on a good path:

Network. It's not who you know... it's who knows you. Get out and get known. Visit local jams, hand out cards to those who say they like your playing, and get to know other drummers. While they may not hire a drummer, they may refer you when they can't do a gig.

Attitude. In this business, the nice guys finish first. Be the player that people want to hire, and especially, don't turn down work. As Tommy Tedesco said, "don't say no until you can't say yes."

Ability. Know that being a great drummer isn't enough. You have to be a great musician, and that usually means not playing your fanciest licks.

Be a pro. Even if you're just doing clubs or not making any money at all playing, being a pro means having a professional attitude in whatever you do. It can convey experience, even if you haven't been playing very long, and pros like working with other pros.

Bermuda
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
. And putting stuff up prematurely can haunt that drummer for a long time. Flash forward 5 years: "Hey, a drummer named Ferret wants to audition, should we see him?" "Nah, I saw a clip of him, he's not ready." Shouldn't they have to give you another chance or seek updated information? Nope.
Off topic, but this is why I wonder why so many young drummers post clips of themselves on youtube.

I can just imagine in the future this could be a dicey situation when someone talented calls on a band looking for a drummer, and the band leader dials up youtube and finds a clip of the drummer at age 15 or whatever, not realizing the clip is old, and makes a judgment on that. Most people aren't going to sort through someone's page to watch 5 to 10 3-minute segments to see the progression over time.
 

jer

Silver Member
^^^

I've had a band show up at a gig to see the poster list covers we do based on youtube clips the promoter found... I felt like we were such a disappointment when we didn't play the tunes listed.

To the OP, as with anything in this world, you are best to grab life by the horns and steer it in the direction you want to go, rather than wait for someone else to hand you a golden ticket.

Start a band with the intention of touring, put together a set or 3 of music, get on the phone / internet and book the gigs yourself. It's not easy and requires dedication, but what goal is?
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
@Bermuda: Very interesting post, I agree.
Bermuda said:
As such, any press kit and video/audio material out there needs to be top notch and pro. Nobody gets a gig because they have potential... they get it because they are ready to do the gig right now. And putting stuff up prematurely can haunt that drummer for a long time. Flash forward 5 years: "Hey, a drummer named Ferret wants to audition, should we see him?" "Nah, I saw a clip of him, he's not ready." Shouldn't they have to give you another chance or seek updated information? Nope.
I see one downside to this though: As we all agree, getting out there and play is the most important thing both for one's own musical development and for getting one's name spread. But what if a drummer has potential, but doesn't sound too much "professional" yet, and other musicians hear him at gigs? I mean, personally I think hearing a drummer play live has a greater impact on me than seeing him doing some video on youtube, and if I'm not impressed, 5 years later that image could still be in my head.

But I do agree that people shouldn't be throwing around their videos all over the internet.
 
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MisterZero

Senior Member
Networking, networking, and more networking. Just like in the business world, you need to network. If it's a touring band you want, thats no problem. It was very difficult 20 years ago, when I tried to get a band together, but that was before the INTERNET. The whole world is on your PC now. Step 1: Google "touring bands that need drummers" and enter your zip coed or city. I bet you get 1,390,000 hits...(in .31 seconde- I did it as I wrote this. The first one, Drummerswanted, looks intriuging. Try this approach. My current band was created from me, my brother, and a dude I went to high school with but havent seen until Facebook And there's another vehicle: Facebook. Our current bass player I found on Craigslist, among 15 of them out there. it was kind of funny, too, I saw bass players seeking drummers, drummers seeking bass players, and all sorts of inbewteens: bands seeking drummer, drummer seeking band. It was comical. There is also a site called Bandmix.com. I didnt have any luck with that one though, and it's $10.00 per month. My point is this, were in the information age. You can find what you need when you need it almost always. Lastly, it won't happen overnight. Try to build your band, not acquire it.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I agree with all that has been said in this thread, especially about networking...but there is one thing I want to stress. There is NOTHING you can do to guarantee that you'll ever be successful in the arts. So much of it is luck that it's disgusting. When Bobby Sheehan died, Blues Traveler replaced him with Tad Kinchla...who got the audition by being the brother of the original guitarist of the band, Chan Kinchla. He was a good player already, but was working a day job at the time...and suddenly became a rock star. Will Champion was a multi-instrumentalist and mainly guitarist when he was asked to drum for a band for the first time. The band was called "Coldplay," and he's now toured the world for years as a professional drummer...though he never drummed in a band at first. I seem to remember an interview with him where he pointed out that his style is simplistic largely because he can't really play the drums, and really wasn't good early on. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong. You should be doing everything in your power to put yourself in the best possible position...just realize that it may never be enough, and that others who aren't nearly as talented as you may get significantly further in their careers than you will.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
It's also very germane to note that there are many many different levels of success. Statistically speaking, only a tiny percentage of musicians make their living off music alone; most have day jobs. Only a tiny percentage of musicians tour as hired guns; those that do are usually very established players in the pro music community. The very opposite end of this spectrum is a beginner playing in his folks' basement on his first kit. Between theses extremes are many types of players, making various amounts of money.

Some drummers never progress out of their local scene. Within that scene, they get lots of calls, they play pretty regularly with one or more bands, they may do dozens of shows a year, and they may do some local session work and/or appear on some locally released CDs. And that's it. That's where I've found myself. And my gigs' paychecks support my shameful gear habit, but not my family. But I feel successful, and I feel that if I applied myself harder and networked at a higher level, I could eventually work my way out of that scene.

Don't let any of this dissuade you from chasing your dreams! But your goals need to be realistic, otherwise you'll run aground on the reef of disappointment and may just end up quitting.
 

BrewBillfold

Silver Member
I've got the timing/chops/reliability/referals etc..

I am not sure I am gonna be able to find a touring act on craigslist. How do these bands find replacements or fill ins?

Anyone got stories to share on it?
No offense to anyone, but one thing I think people should be talking about if they answer you giving advice about this is just what their experience has been--whether they really have the credentials to answer with solid info. You need advice from people who have done what you want to do, or who at least personally know--and know well--people who have done what you want to do. Otherwise, they're really just telling you what they imagine (or figure out via "common sense" from an armchair, etc.) might be involved.

We've all read stories about this, but even with that, (1) the stories don't always go into the details you might need to know (for example, they usually don't talk about just how they were hooked up with or found out about auditions), and (2) the stories might be just as much that--stories cooked up by PR guys who prepped the musician prior to the interview as much as they are the truth of what happened.

I find it odd both that we trust random strangers on the Internet to be experts and that random people on the Internet work hard to appear to be experts even when they're not.

As far as we know, everyone else posting is pretty much in the same boat we're in. I doubt that we have many, say, Eric Singers posting here--or if they are, I doubt they're about to identify themselves from an account they regularly post with.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Well, I can tell you how I did it. I started a band myself, me and another guy, we wrote a bunch of songs, got a couple of other guys, made a record that got a lot of play on the college charts and off we went. We went all over the place. It was hell, living in a van driving all day from one town to the next, not getting any sleep and eating crap food. After almost a year of that the record company folded, we lost our distribution deal and the band fell apart.

We had a couple of big labels interested in us but somehow that got screwed up. Now if we'd stuck it out we might have done alright but I just wasn't willing to take any more chances.

Not all touring is like that, of course, but if touring is what you really want to do then the best thing to do is to do it yourself, and in the meantime audition with everyone. Move to LA, get to know lots of people in the business, start living the life even if you're not really living it yet. Takes a lot of single-minded drive and a great deal of inconvenience to make it all happen.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Will Champion was a multi-instrumentalist and mainly guitarist when he was asked to drum for a band for the first time. The band was called "Coldplay," and he's now toured the world for years as a professional drummer...though he never drummed in a band at first. I seem to remember an interview with him where he pointed out that his style is simplistic largely because he can't really play the drums, and really wasn't good early on. Sigh.

It's funny you should say that because I saw CP early on in the NYC clubs and even into their early arena days, and Chris Martin was always giving him grief. The guy really couldn't play and I wondered, how he ever got that gig.
 

ChipJohns

Senior Member
Getting into a touring band isn't usually the best thing for a young career. It truly is putting all your eggs in one basket and shutting down many other opportunities that would have come your way.

As was mentioned, network network network. Meet as many people as you can. This is what will keep you busy, Even when you are well known, when you get back off the road, (and you will,) you will find yourself sitting at home trying to find a gig.

My advice to new drummers is not to get tied down. Don't be in A band. That is for those of us who already have other lives and play part time. If you want a true career as a drummer, you need to know EVERYONE...! Star meeting them now.

...to finish my thought above, Don't be exclusive. It's not disloyal to be in more than one band...
 

Ferret

Senior Member
Thanks for all the feedback guys! What I'm asking here is for other peoples experiences on how they did it, just to see if theres any kind of trend to the process.

This has been quite an encouraging post, attitude wise I've got it, I can work with even the most inflated egos guitarists can throw out there, and I am good at making acquaintances too. So here's a few more details on my situation here. Let me know if there's more I should be doing

I'm 21 and have been playing 6-7 years. All of the stuff on my myspace was done before I started taking lessons. The recordings are 2 years back and the drumoff vid is close to a year back, and I ended up kinda choking when they sat 3 judges down in front of me. I work with 2 teachers now, one of which is purely for timing, sticking, and technique. I've learned a lot and I think I'm ready to step into all of it. I am looking at different people's stories to figure out how I am gonna break into this industry. I am gonna do it or die trying.

I do need to make new videos and get the new EP out before I can start looking at big bands by the look of it...thats the first step from here.

I have played with a million bands of a lot of genres in a bunch of different kinds of gigs, I understand how recording works. I am with one band right now which I plan on taking somewhere, but I want to know where to look for other opportunities. I always practice with a met we have it running during all our band practices. We record every practice and listen over it for mistakes/improvements.

The great thing about the internet is there's no birth certificate that says Ferret. So when I am done learning the basics of the pro industry I don't really worry about all the mistakes that I've learned from coming back at me. I am very grateful for how blunt people will be on here, it sparks the most improvement.
 

Joe Morris

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
@Bermuda: Very interesting post, I agree.

I see one downside to this though: As we all agree, getting out there and play is the most important thing both for one's own musical development and for getting one's name spread. But what if a drummer has potential, but doesn't sound too much "professional" yet, and other musicians hear him at gigs? I mean, personally I think hearing a drummer play live has a greater impact on me than seeing him doing some video on youtube, and if I'm not impressed, 5 years later that image could still be in my head.

But I do agree that people shouldn't be throwing around their videos all over the internet.
I disagree. People don't look at a drummer if there thinking about hiring him and go well he has potential. (That translates to "he's not that good") Thats the bottom line. Whether its on youtube or live. Your going to be judged on what your playing, not your potential. I would have to side with Bermuda on this one. He made some great valid points and he was being nice about it trust me.
 
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