Are there fewer demands for a drummer now, than before?

Thaard

Platinum Member
Hey guys. I'm writing a research paper for my school, and I'm in the middle of gathering info. The hypotheses is that there are fewer demands for drummers generally now, than there was 10-20 years ago. I'm thinking mostly of in the way of recording. You can step record, drum replace, trigger, time-flex and edit/quantize. On the other hand, you have to play to loops, trigger effects live, metronome, time is money and all that.

So, I would like your opinions on this subject. For me personally at the moment, feel like the span has become bigger. It's easier to be a drummer, but to be a good drummer is much more difficult than before.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
If you want to get usable data you will have to be more specific with the question/questions.

Do you mean, are drummers more in demand, or not?

Or, are the demands on drummers greater or less than they once were?

Your current question is far from clear.
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
If you want to get usable data you will have to be more specific with the question/questions.

Do you mean, are drummers more in demand, or not?

Or, are the demands on drummers greater or less than they once were?

Your current question is far from clear.
Sorry, english is my second language, so it's a bit lost in translation'y. What I mean is that it's easier to be a drummer and record in the studio than it was before. For example that you had to know all the parts and if you effed up, it would be like that forever, because you had to cut into the tape. Now you have all this technology that can make your drumming perfect.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Got you. I wasnt having a pop, just getting the question clear.

I would take issue with you on the point that its easier to be a drummer now and record.

With the advent of music coleges doing specific drumming courses and the influence of learning on the internet there are so many drummers out there, of a very high standard, all after the same work, that it is more difficult to even get near a studio than say, 20 years ago.

40 years ago it was, probably, easier to get studio work but a lot of it was recording a "performance" ie, all the musicians playing at the same time. Easier for the musicians musicaly, as you have reference points and are playing in a band situation, but more demanding technicaly.

Now, with all the technology, it is easy for any mistakes or tempo issues to be sorted during mixdown.

You could argue that drummers, in general, have never been so well coached/trained and rehearsed, but with click tracks and after the take technology there expertese has never been less relevant. Even live lots of acts use clicks and backing tracks so sometimes the drummer, in effect, is just another passanger following the click.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, I think technology has allowed drum parts to be edited more easily and even mediocre drummers can create a drum part that can be made to work on a recording.

On the other hand, I think drummers are better-schooled and more versatile now than ever before. I think music education, whether formal or via all the DVDs and YouTube videos, has proliferated and raised the standard a bit. It's not uncommon today to find bands that have drummers who can record well, play with a click, read and perform a variety of styles. 40 or 50 years ago, that was pretty much only true with the session drummers.

Sorry, that's not a very good answer. Just some observations.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, I think technology has allowed drum parts to be edited more easily and even mediocre drummers can create a drum part that can be made to work on a recording.

On the other hand, I think drummers are better-schooled and more versatile now than ever before. I think music education, whether formal or via all the DVDs and YouTube videos, has proliferated and raised the standard a bit. It's not uncommon today to find bands that have drummers who can record well, play with a click, read and perform a variety of styles. 40 or 50 years ago, that was pretty much only true with the session drummers.

Sorry, that's not a very good answer. Just some observations.
This is all true from my POV.

Also true that technology has been putting drummers out of business since the early '80s. While it's easier then ever to stitch together a perfect performance in the studio, record sales aren't where the money is anyway. You still need a badass drummer for your live show and the bar for that has been raised by studio perfection.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
I think the observation that 'being a drummer is not the same as being a producer' might be helpful here.

...or an engineer.

Producing and engineering is more complex now - giving the pay-off of greater control over the sound.

Drumming is not much different today than yesterday.

It helps to wear more than one hat...being a drummer/producer/engineer will help in making a living.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Fewer demands? From where I'm sitting, that couldn't be further from the truth. Everything is getting more complicated, at every front it seems. I would never survive in this climate. Demands go up, pay goes down. It really is a bad time for a drummer, business-wise. IMO.
 

Swiss Matthias

Platinum Member
Interesting topic!

What's to add...? I think as with all things, the drumming community is and always has been in a collective learning process. Nowadays with the infamous internet that's become as easy as it gets.

Also, while 60 years ago it was even hard for learning drummers to buy a nice collection of records, nowadays it's almost the other way round: It's just too
easy to get access to thousands or millions of songs, and the hard thing now is actually to focus and study anything with a certain amount of depth.

The drumset as an instrument is very young, and I can imagine that a time where it's kind of "all said and done" may still be in front of us. But even when it is "all said and done" technically, there will always be musicians with their individual voice and set of ideas, hopefully!
 

Thaard

Platinum Member
Thanks for the replies, keep 'em coming!

I think for bands it's maybe easier to get a perfect take, but for session musicians, the bar has been raised
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
As a little bit of a side track, it seems like guitarists, bassists, and probably every other instrument...I may be ignorant of certain things, but it seems to me that our instrument and it's requirements is the only one changing.

Guitarists seem to be functioning just as they were 50 years ago, with not much change to their job description. It seems the same with most other instruments too. But not drums. Drummers are in charge of following a click, starting sequences, programming drum parts, and all kinds of other things that weren't our responsibility just 40 years ago. The pay hasn't gone up, or the general respect, and it seems like drummers are the ones who have to adapt, while the others just kick back and do what they always have been doing, with no added responsibility.

I admit that I may be off there, but it sure seems that way from where I'm sitting. Sour grapes? Yea, probably a little. Somebody tell me why I'm way off please.
 
T

The SunDog

Guest
I'll site an example of what I think is the new broom in music. I call it soundcloud kids. The very popular "rock" band Imagine Dragons was founded by the singer and a drummer, college friends. They then moved to Vegas, rounded out their lineup, and began writing, recording, and doing live shows. Local success came quickly followed by national attention and ultimately record companies. After the band is approached by Interscope the drummer, a founding member, suddenly leaves the band during contract negotiations. The subsequent album is full samples and drum machine tracks. The new drummer plays an essentially live role on tours. They won Grammys so what do I know. The singer and his floor tom and his stupid bass drum onstage (God I hate singers with a floor tom!), probably has more to do with the drum tracks than the new drummer (who is not a full partner).
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Fewer demands? From where I'm sitting, that couldn't be further from the truth. Everything is getting more complicated, at every front it seems. I would never survive in this climate. Demands go up, pay goes down. It really is a bad time for a drummer, business-wise. IMO.
I think it's not a good time to be a musician, period, business-wise. The market is absolutely glutted and there are no real middlemen anymore, as the internet now puts anyone with some basic recording know-how directly in the consumer's ear for next to nothing. The product is so readily available it's nearly without price anymore. Live music in many locations is slipping away as a viable industry or paying opportunity.

The music industry used to be defined almost entirely by the elusive recording contract and you could argue that the 1% who made it to that level were special in some way (even if that specialness was mostly luck). Now the preponderance of top-40 music could be made in a bedroom with a MacBook and a USB microphone.

Most working musicians I know wouldn't dream of quitting their day job. Ythose that choose to generally choose to emigrate to one of the larger cities and they are hustling their arses off trying to keep food in their guts and roofs over their heads. Many teach. Several busk. And then there's a goodly number who give up.

I love the internet for all it's done to improve the human condition, but it hasn't done this dream of ours any favors, in my opinion.
 

Captain Bash

Silver Member
I think the question is wrong, it should be has the role of drummer changed in the last 20 yrs. I was playing (recording) both then and continue today so I have some medium term perspective. I actually think drumming has gone through a number evolutions and evolutionary dead-ends.

Fact: you use to be able to turn up with really average, out of whack sounding kit and nobody gave a fig, people just didn't analyze sounds and it was more about delivering the spirit (of the age), you now pretty much have to turn up with a really good sounding kit or your drums sounds will be replaced with samples.

Grid it: this seems to have wax and waned over time, nudging slightly off beats was std practice but actually seems to have fallen away a little.

Why even have a drummer: Producers and everyone have at their finger tips thousands of beats and yet drummers are still hired -don't under estimate the X factor vibe we bring - drums are just exciting to be around.

What hasn't changed is Getting on with people no matter what level, really enjoying those band moments when you ALL are in sync.
 

_Leviathan_

Senior Member
Well, studio time is very expensive. Most recordings these days could be done in a bedroom, and like you said, producers have access to thousands of beats, fills, styles, and sounds at their fingertips that could be accessed and worked on anywhere. The only reason drummers are hired at all for recording is their feel that they bring to the track. The notes themselves, sounds, can all be accessed readily.
 

_Leviathan_

Senior Member
I could be wrong, but my understanding is that drums are one of the few things that are still done in actual drum rooms in studios when a bigger than life modern sound is desired. The rest can be done anywhere, but unless everything is sound replaced, the room is obviously a big factor for acoustic drum recording.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I could be wrong, but my understanding is that drums are one of the few things that are still done in actual drum rooms in studios when a bigger than life modern sound is desired. The rest can be done anywhere, but unless everything is sound replaced, the room is obviously a big factor for acoustic drum recording.
That is more and more common.

And it's pretty easy to get a BIG modern sound with samples.

You may not get the same vibe as a real drummer in a real room, but in terms of just getting a drum sound, vst type programs have made the breeze.

And even then, a huge room is not always necessary if it's been designed properly. Nearly every name studio drummer in Los Angeles now has a "home" studio where they do much of their tracking instead of going TO a studio everyday.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Anyhow, to get back to Thaard's question, I agree with 8Mile here:


On the other hand, I think drummers are better-schooled and more versatile now than ever before. I think music education, whether formal or via all the DVDs and YouTube videos, has proliferated and raised the standard a bit. It's not uncommon today to find bands that have drummers who can record well, play with a click, read and perform a variety of styles. 40 or 50 years ago, that was pretty much only true with the session drummers.
A few examples:

When I was in my early 20's, if someone asked if you could play double bass, and you pulled off a few selections from Metallica's Master or Justice album, that was considered impressive.

Now, if you ask someone if they can pay double bass, that person is expecting to hear Derrek Roddy style extreme blasting at speeds no one even thought about 20 years ago.

In the 80's, only the studio drummers really worried about having good enough time to play to a click. Clicks were pretty much only ever used in the studio. These days, electronic forms of music are so pervasive in modern society, that even young drummers on their first gig are pretty much expected to have machine like time. More bands play to clicks to today then not.

Gospel chops drummers have pushed some forms of gigs from requiring just money beats to drummers who can play money beats AND shred when giving the cue.

And because there are so many fewer playing opportunities, the players that do get the paying gigs have to really be prepared to play anything. It seems the drummer who specializes in just this or that is becoming more rare.
 
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