Making a living playing the drums

drummingman

Gold Member
My goal is to be able to get to the point to where i am making a living playing full time in my original Christain metal band. But until i am able to do that i am trying to think of other ways as well to bring in money playing the drums. Of course there is playing in cover bands and doing session work and things like that. But what are some other ways to bring in money playing the drums until im able to support myself by playing full time in my 1 band?

As a side note, what are some good things about the musicians union that can really help out a pro musician? I have read that they have things like health insurance for musicians and that they have things that allow for a musician to put into things like a retirement fund. Does anyone know about these things and others that the union offers?
 

Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
Christian Metal? That's a tough one, as it's not quite mainstream. You're certainly not gonna be asking every other club out there for a gig.

My area has an organization that was made to help the musical community by sponsoring shows and setting up the area's own music festival. It helps bands get recognized, and also does all the local Battle Of the Bands.

I suggest looking around to find out if your area has one like it, they could get you gigs, either for the name or for the money.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
Christian Metal? That's a tough one, as it's not quite mainstream. You're certainly not gonna be asking every other club out there for a gig.

My area has an organization that was made to help the musical community by sponsoring shows and setting up the area's own music festival. It helps bands get recognized, and also does all the local Battle Of the Bands.

I suggest looking around to find out if your area has one like it, they could get you gigs, either for the name or for the money.
Well, i want my band to tour and play with Christain and non-Christain bands. Like Living Sacrifice and Underoath do. I will be open to playing just about anywhere and everywhere with my band.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The musician's union has kind of devolved over the last few decades, and better serves those who are already doing union dates - few and far between these days - rather than help get work for its members. There were certainly good benefits for those doing a lot of work in the '50s-'70s, but there's very little being done anymore other than the occasional soundtrack, awards show, play or symphony work. Even in large markets like L.A. or New York City, union membership, power, finances and benefits are dwindling.

Basically, joining the union at this time in order to get work isn't going to be very helpful. If you have a long-term gig that requires joining, or get offered a union album date, it would be worth it, at least temporarily.

Bermuda
 

JT1

Silver Member
Hmm difficult question to answer I would say. As I live in the UK, bands rarely ever get paid money to play, the only ones that do are very decent cover bands but the ones who get the most money are the tribute acts. We had a Rage against the Machine tribute band round where we live and they were so spot on if you closed your eyes you could swear it was them.
Now I believe they were getting in excess of £500 per show.

My advice is start up a tribute act to a band that many people like but one that has been paid tribute to a million times before like AC/DC or Metallica for example. Once you're established you can charge a lot for gigs and venues will pay to have you, if you are good enough.

Another option is having a band for weddings and occasions, I understand you can charge quite a bit if you sound professional. It depends on your style too if you only want to play metal then there probably is no easy answer I'm afraid.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
IMO relying on a ban
d to "make it" is a fool's errand. The best way to make a living is first to be good. Once one has something to offer, the better the chances of full time work. An agent is a must in many cases. The ability to get along with people, play in time and cover many styles is key.

There are numerous avenues to pursue such as teaching and gigging. Recording follows gigging with as many people as possible. One needs a large base of people who know they can trust you.

Bottom line is, be good enough to be in demand.

Sorry to post.
 

bigd

Silver Member
I don't think you can make a living on the drumset alone. My son studies with a local college professor. He teaches at the college full time, writes the show for the local drum corps each year, works for one of the local high school drum lines, teaches from his home $40 per hour, fills in for the local symphony when he can, does recording sessions, fills in on conga's for a local group if needed, played timpani for Aretha when she came to town last year, did a 6 week engagement of Wicked on percussion when the touring company came through town last year, and much more. Why because he plays all things percussion. Mallets, timpani, snare, set, hand percussion. EVERYTHING!!!!! You want to work steady you can't do it on just the drumset alone hoping for bar gigs and to "make it". There are several people in my area who have busy schedules like this and are living comfortably.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
Thanks for the replies all.

For me im ok with doing cover band work and sessions and teaching and things like that as well. But i have always wanted to have 1 main band that is my major focus that i can work hard to make a success. I really think its doable to make 1 band a huge success if a person puts in the time and work and finds the right people (and gets other members if people quit). I see it like building a house with 1 main band. I just have to build it up.
 

theindian

Senior Member
There are a lot of people who want to play their own music with one band. Thats the problem, oversaturation. Its possible but even guys who "make it" still have to do more usually than play drums in one band. I play in two bands, & occaisionally deal in used gear, & I still have a day job.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
"Making it" and "making a living" are two entirely different propositions. Don't confuse them. Both are possible, but one entails more than just hopes and aspirations.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
I think that a band can make it to where they can make a living playing in that one band. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance but it can be done for sure. I think that until a person gets to where they can support themselves off of the 1 main band that they want to play in that it is good to do other things to bring in money as well. But one has to remember which band is the most important to them as they play in other bands and play sessions to bring in money. That wont be a problem for me personally. Im just saying.

The sad thing is that a lot of peple get so discourged by others a lot of the times when it comes to trying to make their one band a success. A lot of people paint it like it cant be done. And this is just not true. But it will be true for the people that believe that it is not possible to make a living playing in one main band. And the reason is because they tell themselves this. If a person convinces themselves that they cant do something or that something cant be done they are going to get just those results regardless of what they are thinking that about.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I'm not trying to be discouraging mate. Moreso just passing on what I've picked up along the way. Tenacity and self belief are admirable traits, but they are applicable to you as an individual and unlikely to sway record companies or the consumer......at the end of the day, if you're aiming for superstardom, you'll need the support of both.

Go for it, I say....just have a "plan B" mate. I know too many guys who's musical hopes and aspirations lie on the scrap heap.....despite all the self belief in the world. They are in their 40's and 50's, never worked, no home, no money and still playing solo acoustic gigs on the local circuit for peanuts. The band long gone, the dream long dead. I wish I could say they were happy.

Again, go for it......but don't ignore other life skills along the way. You're aiming for a very niche market - bigger in the US than here, but still you haven't had too many replies on where to move to to start a christian metal band. This tells me that the market is small by comparrison......don't be afraid to broaden your horizons and keep yourself working.

Good luck to you though my friend.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
I'm not trying to be discouraging mate. Moreso just passing on what I've picked up along the way. Tenacity and self belief are admirable traits, but they are applicable to you as an individual and unlikely to sway record companies or the consumer......at the end of the day, if you're aiming for superstardom, you'll need the support of both.

Go for it, I say....just have a "plan B" mate. I know too many guys who's musical hopes and aspirations lie on the scrap heap.....despite all the self belief in the world. They are in their 40's and 50's, never worked, no home, no money and still playing solo acoustic gigs on the local circuit for peanuts. The band long gone, the dream long dead. I wish I could say they were happy.

Again, go for it......but don't ignore other life skills along the way. You're aiming for a very niche market - bigger in the US than here, but still you haven't had too many replies on where to move to to start a christian metal band. This tells me that the market is small by comparrison......don't be afraid to broaden your horizons and keep yourself working.

Good luck to you though my friend.
A good thing is that most Christian metal bands play in the secular market as a Christian band. This is what i also want to do. This also allows the Christain metal bands that do this to appeal to all metal fans on a musical basis. This is also what Underoath does and they have a had great success in this way.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
A good thing is that most Christian metal bands play in the secular market as a Christian band. This is what i also want to do. This also allows the Christain metal bands that do this to appeal to all metal fans on a musical basis. This is also what Underoath does and they have a had great success in this way.
Does your band have a good demo recording? Send it to Underoath! I would have thought that Christian metal bands would be far more, well, accessible than their secular counterparts, and that band already knows who's who in the Christian metal business.

Send them your CD! Why wouldn't they want to help you if you're really good?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
A good thing is that most Christian metal bands play in the secular market as a Christian band. This is what i also want to do. This also allows the Christain metal bands that do this to appeal to all metal fans on a musical basis. This is also what Underoath does and they have a had great success in this way.
Not a bad option......you'll need a band first though won't you? That's your first point of call mate. I'm yet to see a solo drummer on MTV....christian or secular :)
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Not a bad option......you'll need a band first though won't you? That's your first point of call mate. I'm yet to see a solo drummer on MTV....christian or secular :)
Oops, sorry, I thought he already had a band.

Still, make a good demo of yourself and send that to Underoath. They may know of a Christian metal band that's looking for a drummer, no? I wouldn't have thought there'd be zillions of Christian metal drummers out there to compete with although I could be wrong.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
Does your band have a good demo recording? Send it to Underoath! I would have thought that Christian metal bands would be far more, well, accessible than their secular counterparts, and that band already knows who's who in the Christian metal business.

Send them your CD! Why wouldn't they want to help you if you're really good?
Thats a good idea for sure when i find the right band.
 
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