Cynicism and making a living as a musician

Monica McCoy

Senior Member
I would just like to register my complaint and objection to their being a christian metal band. That's absurd. Horns up!
 
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wy yung

Guest
In all of this im talking about making a living as a pro musician playing original music. Just wanted to point that out.
Who's original music? Do you mean working as a sideman playing with an artist who has written original music for which you earn no royalties? Or do you mean playing music you yourself actually wrote? Or do you mean joining a band that has a catalog of music that existed prior to your joining? And if so would you refuse to play the music in the back catalog? Or do you mean joining a band and writing together and "Making It"? But what if the band has a principle composer? Would you refuse play that music, it not being your own original music?

Please clarify.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Its a tough road and cynicism is always around the corner. I would pay heed to the comments of a long time pro like Bermuda, and a working teacher like Wy
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
I want to share my belief in jesus and his love through my music. In my Christian metal band i do want all the members to be fellow Christians. If i cant find all christian members then im cool if non-Christians join the band. But they will have to be cool with the fact that we are a Christian band.

Yes, there are Christian clubs (club 3 degrees in Minneapolis is one). And then there are churches and other venues to play that are Christian.

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.
This brings to mind something my father said. He had to learn that there is a decided difference between a Christian artist and an artist who is Christian. I don't think your art NEEDS to reflect a Christian theme overtly. Sometimes the ministry itself has less to do with the art than with who you ARE in your faith and how THAT affects your patrons or audience or whatever.

As far as success in the business goes, might I suggest the following link:http://www.carlkingcreative.com/blog
 

elpol

Senior Member
Who's original music? Do you mean working as a sideman playing with an artist who has written original music for which you earn no royalties? Or do you mean playing music you yourself actually wrote? Or do you mean joining a band that has a catalog of music that existed prior to your joining? And if so would you refuse to play the music in the back catalog? Or do you mean joining a band and writing together and "Making It"? But what if the band has a principle composer? Would you refuse play that music, it not being your own original music?

Please clarify.
Thanks for posting this Wy. I think it's an important distinction to bring up. I know for myself that my definition of original music at 25yrs old was a whole lot different then now that I'm 45.

And the funny thing about that is how much less I know at 45 than I 'knew' at 25...

Lots of great points in this thread. If I may, I've been a sideman for most of my professional career. I'm very proud of it, and have had a lot of amazing experiences along the way.

To me, any MI cynicism I ever show is a by-product of observing first-hand, certain music business quirks happening repeatedly without change.

Yes, there are those who just seem happier when they're miserable; even happier still when they can make those around them more miserable than they feel.

and fwiw: one of my regular gigs; I am the resident drummer of a Gospel Choir. I'm Jewish. I try not to let religion get in the way of good, well-written music. I try to live and let live. Besides, music has been intertwined with religion for thousands of years. I suspect that any debate over the relationship between faith and secular music is much older than many realize, and will probably be around long after we're all dust.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff 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?
I don't think those are necessarily perspectives exclusive to youth.

While there are exceptions, most drummers who 'make it' do so via a band. Don't forget that independent drummers like Kenny Aronoff got well-known by being with John Cougar, Steve Ferrone with Average White Band, Vinnie with Zappa, etc etc. Only a relative handful of successful players have been truly independent, while there's a long list of well-known & well-respected and highly successful drummers who started in and/or remain in bands.

Bermuda
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I don't think those are necessarily perspectives exclusive to youth.

While there are exceptions, most drummers who 'make it' do so via a band. Don't forget that independent drummers like Kenny Aronoff got well-known by being with John Cougar, Steve Ferrone with Average White Band, Vinnie with Zappa, etc etc. Only a relative handful of successful players have been truly independent, while there's a long list of well-known & well-respected and highly successful drummers who started in and/or remain in bands.

Bermuda
Well said.

Even if a drummer is technically free lance, or technically an independent contractor, one still has to be associated with a band that has a certain level of success to reach a certain level of success.

Sure, I once got paid $20 to not show up to a canceled show, but it was only once, and the $20 didn't last me long.
 
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wy yung

Guest
Well said.

Even if a drummer is technically free lance, or technically an independent contractor, one still has to be associated with a band that has a certain level of success to reach a certain level of success.
Interestingly, not one session drummer I know took this route. Not one.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Interestingly, not one session drummer I know took this route. Not one.


Do the sessions sell records? Are the sessions successful?

Hal Blane may never have been in a band, but he became noted because the sessions he did were successful records associated with successful artists.

I can't think of anyone who became well known for playing on records that no one ever heard of. Although there certainly was a time when one could support themselves doing so, but it's harder to do that today.
 
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wy yung

Guest
Do the sessions sell records? Are the sessions successful?
I suspect some were more successful than others. I am not talking about guys doing demos. They worked their way up. Word of mouth seems to have been the key.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Well said.

Even if a drummer is technically free lance, or technically an independent contractor, one still has to be associated with a band that has a certain level of success to reach a certain level of success.

Sure, I once got paid $20 to not show up to a canceled show, but it was only once, and the $20 didn't last me long.
I suspect some were more successful than others. I am not talking about guys doing demos. They worked their way up. Word of mouth seems to have been the key.
And thus the circle is complete!
 

theindian

Senior Member
I would just like to register my complaint and objection to their being a christian metal band. That's absurd. Horns up!
Actually, there are a lot of christian metal bands:
Extol
Underoath
Zao
the infamous Stryper etc...
The music is metal and most have screams or growling for vox but the lyrics focus on the positive side.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
I've always welcomed as many cynical drummers to the fold as possible. Any decent player who wants not to try because the business is just too hard and cruel simply means that I just picked up more work. What's ironic is how these same guys will see you at a show and take the trouble to walk up and tell you how you don't deserve the gig they're watching because they're better players out there. I was told a long time ago that genius players can be found playing under every apple cart. Unfortunately for them, you don't find many gigs at fruit stands, and it's a lot easier to complain than to just take your hits and throw yourself out there.

It's often no fun taking a lot of garbage from strangers who don't get what you're trying to do. I come from the first generation of guys who experienced this kind of stuff on the Internet. I especially enjoyed the mind readers who wanted to interpret for everyone else what you were really saying and feeling so they could feel better about why they weren't trying hard enough themselves. Reflecting on it, it was a good way to put all that self defeating idiocy over to the side, because there's no harsher abuse than what you get from people who hide behind a computer. You also find you can respect a real life guy a lot more because it takes at least partial credibility to say that junk to your face. I also think my WFD days were excellent training for real life, because now the twists and turns are probably not as hard as they could have been.

I came to Eastern Europe for seasoning because there are more of those kind of guys here than in most places alongside a surprising amount of easily attainable work. I live in a city of two million people that has maybe a half dozen drummers willing to accept a wide variety of work without complaining or lecturing about how bad things are. The great drummer Vlad Popescu gets the first calls while I get most everything else, and all the first calls Vlad turns down. In The States I was told not to even try because places like this didn't exist. Then when some of my colleagues discovered I was moving up fast they started making excuses about why my scene would never work for them. They're all nice guys and they're still my friends, but they're inability to eliminate their self defeating mentality is a great asset towards my personal development.

Still I wish them well.
 
Matt, excellent post.

In my experience it seems there are two camps of musicians out there: people who complain constantly about how 'hard' the business is and musicians who stay positive and thankful for the fact that they are doing what they love to do for a living.

Can you guess which group is more successful? ;-)

I DO know a few musicians who are first-call people in my area (Boston) that fall into the second camp, although they are rare. I've learned that the irony of this business (and life IMO) is that happiness has to start with you...not gigs, money, or anything else. Only once you've established a positive outlook can success come, in whatever form you see it.

Of course, IMO finding internal happiness and positivity without external means (money, fame, material possession, etc.) is success in and of itself as it's self-sustaining.

I guess what I'm trying to say is be happy with whatever opportunities you have and immerse yourself in those moments. We are all SO lucky to have the gift of music...think about what your life would be like without drums?!
 

JPW

Silver Member
I have started to use a form of "zen" called "ignorance is bliss" when it comes to how hard being a drummer is sometimes. I just refuse to think about it and continue doing what I was doing when the depression fell upon me. I mean I have to tear down and setup my drum kit several times a week alone and transport it to various places. If I started to think about it too much I think I would start to complain. I just smile and do what I have to to keep playing. =)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've learned that the irony of this business (and life IMO) is that happiness has to start with you...not gigs, money, or anything else. Only once you've established a positive outlook can success come, in whatever form you see it.

Of course, IMO finding internal happiness and positivity without external means (money, fame, material possession, etc.) is success in and of itself as it's self-sustaining.

I guess what I'm trying to say is be happy with whatever opportunities you have and immerse yourself in those moments. We are all SO lucky to have the gift of music...think about what your life would be like without drums?!
Bravo. Great post and I totally agree. Happiness comes from within. The only thing that has ever made me truly happy....is my own accomplishments. Money, women (or men), or any other outside thing you can name can never make you truly happy, only you can.
 
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wy yung

Guest
What's ironic is how these same guys will see you at a show and take the trouble to walk up and tell you how you don't deserve the gig they're watching because they're better players out there.
Wow, I've never met a drummer, or any other musician who would do this. Has anyone else here had this happen?
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I was playing at the united center in chicago IL last night. We were pre game entertainment for the Chicago bulls. I was playing a set of roland TD12 vdrums. Some clown walks up to me and tells me I am a fake drummer because I play the same drums they use in the rock band game ( W.T.F ) I was stunned that someone could be that clueless. Its some of the stuff you deal with in the music bizz. After that comment I counted off and played the next song. YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID!!!
 
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