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Old 06-03-2009, 11:03 PM
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Default What are some different careers for us drummers?

In school we had to do this life after high school thing and in it we had to pick a job. It kind of scared me when almost nothing came up because thats what I want to do with my life, make music. So what are some different jobs that are for drummers/percussionists?
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:33 AM
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Default Re: What are some different carrers for us drummers?

Originally Posted by jwildman View Post
In school we had to do this life after high school thing and in it we had to pick a job. It kind of scared me when almost nothing came up because thats what I want to do with my life, make music. So what are some different jobs that are for drummers/percussionists?
Unfortunately I want to do the same thing. I know it's unrealistic but it's my dream anyways. I'm considering going into carpentry/home improvement but almost everyone I talk to tells me not to do it.
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:53 AM
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Default Re: What are some different carrers for us drummers?

Waiter, taxi driver, UPS delivery guy, etc

Get to school, get a degree(s).

Make lots of money at your day job; gig at night.

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Old 06-04-2009, 04:53 AM
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Default Re: What are some different carrers for us drummers?

Some of the 'safer' career options in music would be: Tech (studios and live. there will always be a market for competent guys who can man the sound desk), Managing/Booking (consider working with an agency, record label, promoter, publisher etc), working within a music shop, running your own live venue etc.

If you particularly want to play I'd encourage you to get into teaching. There's not a large percentage of drummers who make their money solely from gigging or recording.
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Old 06-04-2009, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: What are some different carrers for us drummers?

When you ask some of the kids on the basketball team what they want to be when they grow up, some of them are certain that they are going to play professionally. They have all the drive and most of the talent to get there, and they're ready to go for it. Then, one day, reality hits in the form of them not getting picked for the college team, not getting nominated for the draft, or whatever. Then, they have to "settle" for a "real" job.

I knew tons of kids in high school who were SURE that they were going to be rock stars. They put ALL of their energy and focus in that direction. That's all that they could see themselves doing. Nothing else even popped into their minds. Nothing else would do.

...what are they doing now? Well, construction/labor jobs mostly. They took their focus off of going to college and getting a *real* job, and that left them unprepared to make a *real* living when reality and adulthood came and smacked them in the face.

The truth is, there are only so many jobs out there to fill, and so many people vying for them. If you have the drive and determination to go for it against all odds, and are creative enough to create a path/job for yourself that can sustain your way of life, then you are a success. It's pretty rare, though. Most musicians have to diversify SO much in order to "make it". I am in 5 bands, an on-call drummer for 2 studios, on-call classical percussionist for 3 studios, I compose, score music, record jingles, engineer for recording sessions, run sound for live events, teach lessons, and I'm sure a few other things that I'm not mentioning. The point is this...you can't just go to school, get trained to be a good musician, and be guaranteed work. There's so much more to it than that. As for jobs for a drummer/percussionist...if you're REALLY good, I'm sure you'll be able to find something that can supplement the rest of your income (whether it be from other bands or music-related professions, or the dreaded "day job").

I sincerely wish you the best of luck. To not be able to think of anything else you could see yourself doing IS pretty scary. Better think of something quick, so you can at least survive while you try to carve out your music career. They don't come overnight, THAT'S for sure!
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:43 AM
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Default Re: What are some different carrers for us drummers?

Yes. I was exactly the same at the end of high school. I wanted to be a musician, full-stop. It took 12 years of low-paid gigs to realise that the dream wasn't going to materialise. I think it was INXS's success that made me face reality. They were a bit younger than me and started around the traps a couple of years after my main bands, yet they'd "made it". I looked at my band and manager - self-indulgent bunch of unorganised pot-heads that they were - and thought, "You've got to be kidding", and left.

I've since done a couple of courses and now work in HR reporting and statistics, and recently started in a new band. We plan to take the restaurants and wine bar scene by storm before some fat A&R guy with a cigar in his mouth wanders up to us after a gig and says, "Boys and girls, I gotta gig for you at the Entertainment Centre!" :)

Reality really does suck at times and it can be hard to know what to do. On one hand you've got the stars saying things like, "I always knew what I wanted to do and all ya gotta do is is follow that dream and never let it go!" when they forget the massive role luck played in their success (unless they are freakishly talented and/or obsessively pursue their goal with iron-clad discipline).

Look at Caddy. He's classically trained and no doubt has chops even coming out from where the sun don't shine ... and he has to do all those things to make a living.

Then you have all these negative-sounding old people saying, "Hardly anyone gets there. Get a job and enjoy it as a sideline".

What sounds more attractive and life-affirming? No contest. That's how construction workers are created.

There are, as Caddy said, so many people wanting the same thing that only the super-talented, super-disciplined and super-lucky get there. There are thousands of musically gifted people out there doing normal jobs (not me, I'm pretty average, but really fine players).

Last edited by Pollyanna; 06-13-2009 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 06-04-2009, 06:20 PM
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Default Re: What are some different careers for us drummers?

Scary thoughts! Ya, when I was 16 and 17 my junior and senior years of high school I was in several garage bands that went completely nowhere. All the people thought they were going to be the next musical sensation and be famous, rich, etc. All the snot-nosed jock types just knew the next college recruiter or pro recruiter would be knocking on their door to sign them. They knew they would be the next sports sensation and acted like it.

Then we all graduated and thought "What happened?!" Out in the real world, people don't think I'm the coolest cat around. People don't think I am the musical wonder my friends thought I was. There are millions of people who are just as good or better at sports than I am. People don't kiss my butt anymore and stroke my ego like I'm used to!

It sucks when reality hits you in the face like a brick! The real world can be a real bitch at times! Where are the people that just knew the real world would kiss their butt and stroke their ego? Those guys either started flipping hamburgers or working construction or working at car washes. Yeah, real successful, huh? I ran into one of the dudes I had the unfortunate pleasure of going through school with. This dude just knew he was the next Buddy Rich-caliber drummer to come along. This dude acted like he invented drumming and nobody knew more than he did. He had the big ego, lots of trash talk, bullying others, etc. Guess what, I ran into him one evening and he was working full time at a greezy porno shop renting porn movies to make a living because he couldn't do anything else. Too egotistical and too smart to go to college....

I wound up graduating from college with a Business degree and working as an accountant, financial analyst, IT geek, technical writer, etc. Thank goodness my parents instilled in me the importance of a decent education. Even with a business degree and lots of computer science classes, staying afloat and putting food on the table sometimes was hard. The economy tanks, businesses fail, or lay off people, job skills become obsolete, etc. Years later I finally got a MBA. I'm now making decent money with a decent position in telecom, but man! It was hard!!

As for music, I still am totally nuts about drums and music and look for other like-minded people to play music with. But the last 4 bands I have been associated with or was a "founding" member of have fallen apart because real life gets in the way and people have real jobs, family responsibilities, medical problems, etc. Nobody's fault. Just the way the real world is.

Good luck!
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Last edited by rogue_drummer; 06-04-2009 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:34 PM
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Default Re: What are some different careers for us drummers?

I'm in the same situation. I got one more year to decide what to do after high school, and frankly, there's a lot of choice but not a lot of interest. Everyone would rather be a drumming sensation, but like many people already said, there will always be someone bigger and better, and sometimes, even they don't make it. But choice is important. As long as you secure yourself a decent education, you'll always have doors open to you. Its not like I can say for certain, I've yet to go through this , but I suspect that striking a balance is the best. Find something you'd also love doing, or at least wouldn't mind doing, and make sure you start on it. In the meantime, practice like crazy, jam, and keep improving. But I'd say never give up on education unless you're fine scraping by with the bare minimum.

I plan on majoring in Psychology at the UofA. It'll take up a lot of my time, but what else is there to do besides drumming, realistically? Riight?
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: What are some different careers for us drummers?

Yeah, the trick is to find something you enjoy doing, or will enjoy doing and is marketable. The key is marketability. Will an employer pay you to do it? Will they pay you well? How will you stack up against 500 other people applying for the same job? What skills set you apart from the other people? What makes you unique and stand out from the others? Can I depend on you to get the job done? Are you trustworthy and likeable? Can my team get along with you? Can I get along with you?

Just some thinks to thnk about when deciding on a career.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:32 AM
davidandrewmoore davidandrewmoore is offline
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Default Re: What are some different careers for us drummers?

Here's my humble perspective on this, and personal history as a professional drummer/ percussionist/ arranger/ musical director.

This life is not for everyone, here's my story, thus far. Originally from MA, I graduated from Berklee, and now live in New York. While I'm not a "famous" drummer, I am busy working, both in town and, in the past, on the road. I have done lots of recording sessions at big fancy studios and in my apartment, played major clubs and festival, as well as dive bars and bar mitzvahs, musicals (in-town and touring) and a cruise ship or two.

I have got to play with many of my favorite musicians and opposite many great "famous" drummers. I have worked in every style you can think of; from Balkan brass bands, to latin pop, West Indian gospel, and much more. Of course, I set out to be a jazz musician, and I still play a lot of jazz, but to stay above water, I have done a lot of different stuff, and learned from and enjoyed it all.

Now, 31 and recently married, I find myself in a similar situation to many of my peers and contemporaries, as well as many of my musical heros who I have got to know personally; I am able to stay afloat financially with gigs and teaching, but "getting ahead" is extremely difficult. When you sign up to be a professional musician,9 times out of 10 you sign up for a lifestyle that is a considerable compromise.

I don't own a car or house. I take the subway & bus, or when I need it for a gig, rent a zip car. I just quit one of my teaching gigs, which was two days a week, because the guy never paid me after two months.

In the past, I played big festivals and got paid up to $600 for one nights work, about 20 times a year. This year's New Year's eve gig only paid $250, and that is usually one of the best nights of the year.

My wife and I (she's a musician too) have decided to go back to cruise ships, and save for a down payment on a house, somewhere outside of New York, which will limit my gigging opportunities greatly. But, with the cost of living here always on the rise, there is no way we could do it here.

But I still love it. I still love playing every night, weather on the main stage of the Montreal Jazz Festival, or on the lido deck of a cruise ship, I feel blessed to have this life and this calling. But it is a calling, and it doesn't make sense. I don't know ANYBODY in this music-life who has an easy go of it, nobody. But everybody I know, is excited to be alive and working, and is perpetually renewed with spirit and inspiration to move forward.

Some tips I wish someone had given me:

More on this. You don't need a degree to be a drummer; I acquired over $60,000 in debt during my studies at Berklee, which is crazy considering my job security. However, you must study, which brings me to my next point.

you must learn how to read music, play a lot of styles, learn tunes by ear, have great time/groove and remember arrangements and songs if you want to work. Have strong improvisational skills is also required for many gigs, and only helps to reinforce the other skills. Study not only objective data, but also the master musicians who created the music you are playing, and learn theory and harmony, not just drum stuff. I have had a lot of band leaders tell me to "build it up at the modulation" and I have never had a band leader tell me that I needed to play more double-parradiddles or that my ride pattern wasn't phrased properly. Knowledge of drum vocabulary is only the first step.



A lot of musicians think that "playing for the gig" is somehow in opposition to artistry or personal expression, especially on comercial gigs (pop gigs, musical theater work, or cruise ship etc.) However, if you can find a way to approach these situations that satisfies you artistically, you will keep working and enjoy it. Others will want to play with you, not only because of your great drumming, but also because of your positive attitude.



David Andrew Moore
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:51 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Default Re: What are some different careers for us drummers?

If $ is the thing you are after, nearly any other career is advisable.
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