Thinking About the Future


Hey, I rarely post here, but I was hoping maybe you guys could help me out. I've always, without a question, wanted to play drums for a living. I've been playing for 13 years, get lots of recognition, get asked to play for people all the time, and have been accepted into Berklee (except I can't afford it). So I figure I must be doing something right. I'm confident in my abilities to play in any situation. How realistic do you think it is to make a career out of playing drums (without teaching)? I'm only 20, so I do have a long life ahead of me(hopefully). Basically I'm juggling between moving to a bigger city and persuing drumming, or going to university for a different career (in which the drumming would obviously take a back seat). Any suggestions or insight on your part is much apprectiated. Thanks!


You've probably already heard much of what I'm going to say. Out of the thousands and thousands of great drummers, there's just a handful that makes their living solely from being a great drummer, most usually just use the extra income to supplement their 9 to 5 employment. If you really have something in your heart that you really want to do and you have the talent to do it, then there shouldn't be anything to stop you. It will take a lot of sacrifice and dedication on your part. I would also say reading music is a must, being a sight reader is even better. You say you've been playing for thirteen years and you're just twenty now, I feel as if I got started late, I was eight when I first started taking lessons, lol.

I know some others will chime in with good representations concerning this topic. Good luck in whatever you decide.



Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
There are many topics and perspectives on this subject in this and other fora, it's worth a search.

In a nutshell:

1) It's completely possible to balance a day-job or career with drumming. Never give-in to the idea that it has to be one or the other.

2) Don't count on getting noticed just because you get a degree from Berklee or PIT. However you should learn and grow because you want to, and obviously it's important to be skilled at what you do, even when it's just playing 2&4.

3) You will be playing a lot of 2&4.

3a) In bars.

3b) For $75.

3c) On a good night!

4) There's no "career path" to becoming a full-time playing musician. Moving forward depends largely on being in the right place at the right time (aka luck.)

4a) Nobody knows exactly where the right place and time are, so don't ask.

4b) There are places that are more likely to provide exposure and opportunities, feel free to ask.

5) Success means different things to different people. Don't set self-limiting goals such as "If I'm not playing professionally by the time I'm 25, I'm quitting the drums" or you're guaranteed to never achieve what you want.

6) Play because you love to play, and you'll be happy.

6a) You might even get lucky.



Thanks for the insight, I already knew much of what you guys just said. It's just taking me time to take in the fact that I won't be able to just play drums for a living, cause as niave as I was when I was younger I never realised how many drummers actually have other jobs. Looks like I'll be going to school for something and playing wherever I can. I'm just hoping that I'm not playing in a top 40's cover band when I'm 50, lol, man that's lame.


Platinum Member
Possible? yes.

I knew of many guys long before they got to where they are today in their careers. It is totally possible to get in the right band, or right tour or right session that launches your career into full time money making.

However, it is very difficult. I know of many, many very talent drummers who are just as talented and skilled as the guys who get on the cover of Modern Drummer, but for what ever reason, the can't quite make it just playing. They have to supplement with teaching, or other things.

I know of people who did get a big break, but that break didn't quite launch them into the next level like you would expect.

Nothing wrong with going to school and playing. Just set up your classes so yo don't have early morning classes, and that frees up your mights for rehearsals, gigs, etc.
Plenty of name drummers went to college for a period of time.


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I'm just hoping that I'm not playing in a top 40's cover band when I'm 50, lol, man that's lame.
More likely you'd be playing in an oldies band at that age, and it's far from lame - it's fun! If you're going to set conditions on what's cool, or what gigs you will and won't do, you can expect a frustrating time ahead trying to be a working drummer.

Very simply, you've got to love playing drums to make a career as a drummer work. You may be able to make choices later, but if you try to make them from the start, you won't get far. Once you start turning down gigs, other musicians will get the hint and stop calling.