Cynicism and making a living as a musician

mrchattr

Gold Member
I am actually friends with a good number of successful professional Christian musicians, including members of Dizmas and Adam's Housecat. Mr. Of-Gold is absolutely right. Almost every truly Christian band that makes it does so as part-ministry, part-band. Even the big names, like the Newsboys, Third Day, etc, follow this philosophy. There are lots of band prayers, band devotionals, etc. Many, even the metal bands, also do praise and worship together at churches, both to learn that style, and to be playing together more and getting tighter. I have actually performed in Christian bands, and the number one rule always seems to be "ministry before music." A lot of the places that you play, people will see you on stage and, whether fair or not, will think of you as spiritual leaders. Thus, having non-Christians in your Christian band becomes a real issue. If a person at a show goes up to the guitarist and asks a spiritual question, and gets, "How the hell should I know?" or "I don't buy this stuff," it becomes an issue. A band can be destroyed by a member sleeping with a member of the audience, etc.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I will also play in other bands with Christian and non-Christian members as long as they dont have a problem with me being a devout Christian.
Well, that's what everybody does, isn't it? There's no reason to announce to all and sundry what your religious beliefs are. All the guys who are writing the checks care about is whether or not you can produce the goods, meaning whether or not you can actually play the drums and make them sound the way they want them to. If you can do that and can do it on a predictably consistent level then you could be a druid for all they care.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
Now only the cream of the crop actually support themselves in music.
Not necassarily, getting your foot in the door at the right time is a factor, but that can also have to do with the band seizeing good oppurtunities.

I would just like to say that further narrowying down an already niche style to something way smaller doesn't seem to suceed...generally...

Now think what you want about the establishment in the music industry, but show the industry nothing that can show you as weak or un-professional, that way you still get to have a go without being kickout for showing your cynicism.

Geez, I thought a session drummer would atleast be payed better than teaching drums.

I quote my one of my drum teachers "If I was a session drummer I wouldn't be teaching here."
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Not necassarily, getting your foot in the door at the right time is a factor, but that can also have to do with the band seizeing good oppurtunities.

I would just like to say that further narrowying down an already niche style to something way smaller doesn't seem to suceed...generally...

Now think what you want about the establishment in the music industry, but show the industry nothing that can show you as weak or un-professional, that way you still get to have a go without being kickout for showing your cynicism.

Geez, I thought a session drummer would atleast be payed better than teaching drums.

I quote my one of my drum teachers "If I was a session drummer I wouldn't be teaching here."
Dude, session work pays WAY better than teaching, if you can get enough sessions...but on an hourly rate basis, session work is by far the best. Sessions make my wallet happy!
 

theindian

Senior Member
Even people who make a living as a musician, (except for the select top of the line few) usually have to do other things to make a living. Most play with more than one group, also there is.

Giving Lessons
Buying/Selling equipment
Fill in/sub gigs
Repairs
Working at a music store, etc.

I don't think I could live off gig money alone, so I do all the above. Even well known drummers have to do some of those things if they are not recording/touring. Some people think of it as an all or nothing scenario, which leads to negative attitudes. "If playing in an original band is not my only source of income, then I haven't made it, I may as well give up and get a 9-5 office job." Most people fall into the middle category by making some money gigging, while also doing other things for cash on the side.
 

drummingman

Gold Member
Your core vaules are yours and yours alone mate.....horses for courses etc. If your belief system is what floats your boat, then I'll never argue with that. BUT, that said, I'm not sure this is the best approach going forward. I can only offer secular advice here, but personally speaking, how can you open up a 'christian band' to someone who doesn't share those core values? Just sounds like a recipe for conflict to me. I honestly think you'd be better served concentrating on people who are 'like minded'.

The only reason why I question this, is that I have 'born again' parents. They are family, yet we STILL have our degree of conflict over this issue (they are believers, I think it's either rubbish or if true, then god has disappointed us all and has a lot to answer for!!).....either way, this mix of secular and believers doesn't promote harmony in a band situation IMO. I think you'd be better served building a band with people who are more 'in tune' with your beliefs.

With, this scenario....forget cynicism over 'making it as a muso'......there'll be more 'cynicism' over internal beliefs and that just can't be good for the common goal.
I do want to find all Christian members for sure for my Christian metal band. But i have thought about what my band may have to do if we cant find all Christian members.

My goal with the band is to have Christian and non-Christian fans, like underoath and as i lay dying.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I do want to find all Christian members for sure for my Christian metal band. But i have thought about what my band may have to do if we cant find all Christian members.

My goal with the band is to have Christian and non-Christian fans, like underoath and as i lay dying.
And may you achieve that goal my friend!

I'm not saying it would never work mate. It's just that I live this scenario and I'm aware of the pitfalls of the differing philosophies. If both of parties can agree to live and let live.....it'll work fine. If one party gets offended by the words or actions of the other, you'll get conflict. Obviously that applies to every aspect in life, but religion or in fact, anti-religion can have a tendency to be divisive very quickly. Just things to ponder
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
Dude, session work pays WAY better than teaching, if you can get enough sessions...but on an hourly rate basis, session work is by far the best. Sessions make my wallet happy!
Then what do you mean by all these large gap spaces in your visual representation?

I'm actually making a living as a drummer, and I'm still very cynical about the business. It's a horrible, horrible business, filled with a lot of bad people, depressing set-backs, and painful changes in perspective (like being told you are the best band the owner has ever had, sincerely (and I know it's true, 'cause he actually started coming to our other shows), but that you don't get enough people, so he's not paying you for the night, or having you back).

Another thing that sucks is that, in my experience (I do all of these), the pecking order (as far as how you are paid and how you are treated) is:
Studio musicians
Teaching

Theatre work/fill in shows



Cover Bands












Original Bands.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
Studio musos up the top of the paying list, going down till it finally arrives at original bands.
Thanks, now it all makes sense, session drummers are paid very well.

...and I see where Pocket-full-of-gold gets the user name.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Studio musos up the top of the paying list, going down till it finally arrives at original bands.
I think BD was expecting a bigger gap between session work and teaching.

Fair point too, based on what MrChattr said but I suspect the small gap relates to this comment of his - "if you can get enough sessions". The suggestion is that while studio work pays well by the hour it won't make you rich unless you're regularly on call.

The vast majority of bands playing originals pay to play by the time they substact costs associated with instruments, studios, transport and hired help. They not only pay to play, but are waaay behind.

Generally, you have to do it for the love; anything over and above enjoyment and satisfaction gained from playing originals is a bonus. The good news is there's a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction in playing your own stuff.
 
Last edited:

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I'm making a decent living as a musician, and I get to work with a LOT of people.

HEADS UP!!! One of the main reasons musicians DON'T get hired is their cynical, bitter attitude. Even if they have better chops than another player, the band leader/booker will more often hire musicians who are easy to work with, have a positive attitude, and will make the band look better and more professional overall. Complaining, grumpiness, bitterness, etc...these are not traits you want to be known for, as they will prevent you from getting gigs!

I know some great players that I've worked with, and they just.....don't......get......many......gigs! When I talk with other musicians/bandleaders/venues/agents about it, they all say the same things: It's their attitude that reflects negatively on the whole experience of the gigs they're at;
1. They grumble during load-in and load-out
2. When you talk with them, they always tell you how much of a struggle their life is
3. They don't visit with the crowd during breaks--they seclude themselves
4. Their negativity works its way onto the stage during the performance (BIG no-no)

You basically carve the path you make in life and your outlook along the way. If you're bitter because you haven't "made it" yet, then chances are you'll never feel like you've "made it", ever, no matter what you've accomplished. I feel, in most cases, that these people aren't bitter because they didn't make it, but rather they were bitter to begin with, and they are self-fulfilling their own prophesy/destiny. Be happy with what you've done, hopeful for where you might go, and determined to move forward. But, of course, be realistic...
A quite superb post Caddy! It's been 20 years since I earned my living playing drums (mainly mid range studio & live sessions) but the fundamentals are still the same. Attitude & visibility are everything. You work as a pro then you need a pro attitude in everything you do. That means you're a business with all the attendant bits such as self promotion, giving the customer exactly what he wants, punctuality, etc, etc. Just like the salesman at you local car dealership, it's smiles all the way. You're there to deliver a total product. I see no artistic conflict in this. If you want to earn money, then this is what you do. If you want to play stuff that pushes your buttons rather than creating a product for wider consumption in the hope that you'll "make it", great. Just don't expect to make a living on the journey.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Studio musos up the top of the paying list, going down till it finally arrives at original bands.
Except when the original band is touring arenas. :)

Pay rates and the actual money made will vary greatly by the frequency of the work.

Basic recording scale in L.A. is around $350 for a 3-hr block and up to 15 minutes of music (or 3 songs.) But with the lack of dates for a 'session musician', he'll probably make less than the guy in a cover band at the Holiday Inn 5 nights a week.

Short of being a rock star or doing a dozen sessions a week (which hasn't happened since Hal Blaine ruled the roost) at triple-scale, teaching private lessons can yield the most regular income. It may require more hours, but will result in the most cash at the end of the month.

Bermuda
 

Eric

Senior Member
I'm making a decent living as a musician, and I get to work with a LOT of people.

HEADS UP!!! One of the main reasons musicians DON'T get hired is their cynical, bitter attitude. Even if they have better chops than another player, the band leader/booker will more often hire musicians who are easy to work with, have a positive attitude, and will make the band look better and more professional overall. Complaining, grumpiness, bitterness, etc...these are not traits you want to be known for, as they will prevent you from getting gigs!

I know some great players that I've worked with, and they just.....don't......get......many......gigs! When I talk with other musicians/bandleaders/venues/agents about it, they all say the same things: It's their attitude that reflects negatively on the whole experience of the gigs they're at;
1. They grumble during load-in and load-out
2. When you talk with them, they always tell you how much of a struggle their life is
3. They don't visit with the crowd during breaks--they seclude themselves
4. Their negativity works its way onto the stage during the performance (BIG no-no)

You basically carve the path you make in life and your outlook along the way. If you're bitter because you haven't "made it" yet, then chances are you'll never feel like you've "made it", ever, no matter what you've accomplished. I feel, in most cases, that these people aren't bitter because they didn't make it, but rather they were bitter to begin with, and they are self-fulfilling their own prophesy/destiny. Be happy with what you've done, hopeful for where you might go, and determined to move forward. But, of course, be realistic...
I agree with this absolutely. Funny thing is-the ones with the negative attitudes you're talking about? I GUARANTEE you that a lot of them are reading that post right now and saying to themselves, "Boy, I'm glad I'm not one of THOSE guys!"
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I'm making a decent living as a musician, and I get to work with a LOT of people.

HEADS UP!!! One of the main reasons musicians DON'T get hired is their cynical, bitter attitude. Even if they have better chops than another player, the band leader/booker will more often hire musicians who are easy to work with, have a positive attitude, and will make the band look better and more professional overall. Complaining, grumpiness, bitterness, etc...these are not traits you want to be known for, as they will prevent you from getting gigs!

I know some great players that I've worked with, and they just.....don't......get......many......gigs! When I talk with other musicians/bandleaders/venues/agents about it, they all say the same things: It's their attitude that reflects negatively on the whole experience of the gigs they're at;
1. They grumble during load-in and load-out
2. When you talk with them, they always tell you how much of a struggle their life is
3. They don't visit with the crowd during breaks--they seclude themselves
4. Their negativity works its way onto the stage during the performance (BIG no-no)

You basically carve the path you make in life and your outlook along the way. If you're bitter because you haven't "made it" yet, then chances are you'll never feel like you've "made it", ever, no matter what you've accomplished. I feel, in most cases, that these people aren't bitter because they didn't make it, but rather they were bitter to begin with, and they are self-fulfilling their own prophesy/destiny. Be happy with what you've done, hopeful for where you might go, and determined to move forward. But, of course, be realistic...
I'd say you're on to something.

When first met Greg Bissonnette some 20 years ago, the thing that really struck me is just HOW nice he was. So it's no surprise he's still going strong all these years later.

And I can say the same thing about numerous other players I've met here and there from Deen Castronovo to John Tempesta to Kenny Arnoff; they're just such nice people, of course people want to work with them.

I've met a few name players with less than nice attitudes, and most of them are in the "what ever happened to" pile.
 

Moldy

Silver Member
Sweet, my confidence in my future is boosted! Everyone thinks I'm nice even when I'm not being nice!

Yeah, cynical dudes suck. They bring down the mood for everyone. Replace cynicism with a dash of grounding and the occasional reality check, though, and you have good musicians who have hope and high spirits (and manage to keep their ego in check).
 

Nytak

Member
Well, as far as attitude and cynicism goes, there's a pretty old saying out there..

If you think you can, you're probably right. If you think you can't, you're definitely right.

It took forever for it to sink into my thick skull that your attitude towards any situation greatly affects the outcome.

My situation is a tad different as I have no desire to make a living as a musician. As far as I'm concerned, "making it" in the industry to me would be a local original band with a bunch of older players with full time jobs like myself. If we happen to be in the right place at the right time and somebody wants to sign us and give us lotsa cash, sweet! If not, well, I have my music, which is why I play in the first place.

Right now I am a solo musician.. I do it all.. I sit in my little studio and write/record songs. I like it.. no pressure, and the only band arguments consist of my own indecisivness. Of course there is that collaborative element missing from my songs.

One of my friends though does have a band that works VERY hard for what little $$ they get; and while they can get a little down on the situation from time to time, they are always chin-up w/ a positive attitude at shows.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I think I'm seeing a trend here and I'm curious about it.

Is the general concensus among young drummers these days that being a professional drummer, making a living as a drummer, is entirely dependent on playing in a band that "makes it?"

Or would you say that you're looking more toward making a living as a free-lance drummer, a have-drums-will-play sort of thing?
 

donv

Silver Member
I do want to find all Christian members for sure for my Christian metal band. But i have thought about what my band may have to do if we cant find all Christian members.

My goal with the band is to have Christian and non-Christian fans, like underoath and as i lay dying.
I've recently moved back north after a number of years in the south, and there a plenty of Christian metal bands and venues for them. There is a time and place for what you wear on your sleve though. In many clubs it's not the time or place, but best of luck because it can be done.
 

donv

Silver Member
A bad attitude sure isn't going to help anyone get ahead, but things sure aren't like they use to be. The biggest problem I see is there are more musicians today then there are opportunities, and for the most part they're pretty good.

Back in the 70's I can't remember making less then a grand a week and twice that wasn't uncommon. At the time those working in the auto factorys working 40+ hours a week were only bringing home maybe $300 a week. Back then it was all cover music though. and it was really rare to hear any orignals in clubs, but it did happen. Guys I know today are lucky if they make $100 each a night. Very few support themselves playing only. I sure understand the frustration a lot of people are feeling.

Another thing that has really changed is the whole management and booking agency arrangements. They seem almost nonexistent. Opportunities like the old Holiday Inn and Sheraton Inn circuits don't seem to exist anymore. Last summer I was talking to the owner of one of the biggest blues booking agencys in the world, and the owner was saying that the biggest fears he has today with signing people is nobody stays together and nothing hurts his business more then that lack of commitment to his business. His exact words were, "I'll take reliability over talent anyday."

Then again, country music clubs are hopping in comparison to other clubs. Playing covers has such a negative connotation today except in the country clubs and a lot of musicians are cutting there own throats with the, "I want everyting my way," attitude and more importantly the idea that, "our music is more important then what the crowd wants," which leaves a lot of people out of the opportunities that do exist. Bar owners rightly care about the crowd, not the bands. Of course that's not to say some club owners are scumbags. Seldom in life can you have your cake and eat it too.

Another problem for musicians is the drinking laws in this country. It keeps a lot of people out of clubs, and unlike Europe, we don't have the mass transportaion system to compensate. Where mass transportaion does exist, it's usually not running at 2 in the morning. Now the problem is in the realm of politics.

This isuue is a lot more involved then just cynicism and luck over making a living playing music.
 
Top