For those of you who quit drumming professionally and do it as a hobby now, why?

pt3407

Senior Member
Interested to know if there's anybody here who did drumming/music as a full time career and quit doing it professionally and switched to it being a hobby. What's your story? Why did you quit?
 

Frosticles

Silver Member
I am still playing professionally but will be quitting within the next 5 years. Basically due to age. Currently playing 1000mph Hardcore Punk (since 1986......) & will be 55 in November. It is beginning to hurt & I struggle severely when it is hot. I will see how fit I can remain.
After that, I just plan to play for fun. Maybe join, or form a local band. I will carry on playing though till I drop :)
 

Supergrobi

Technical Supervisor
A few hints are hidden in the list I posted into this thread, some of them have to do with income:

  • Running a commercial recording studio producing local bands ---(10 yrs.)---> Running a software company solving problems for the big brands
  • Developing software for fun (and for running my studio) in my spare time ---(10 yrs.)---> Recording stuff that makes me happy in my spare time
  • Playing festivals over summer time, multiple gigs a week ---(10 yrs.)---> Playing no gigs at all
  • Playing like a Delmag Dieselbär ---(10 yrs.)---> developed my left hand over last two years 1h/d on a practice pad, improving my chops big time, playing much more relaxed and a tiny bit more playful (still prefer a steady, band-oriented, supportive beat)
  • TAMA Superstar 12/16/20 ---(10 yrs.)---> DW Collectors 12/13/16/18/24
  • Using cheapest mics in a dead studio, doing everything with plug-ins ---(10 yrs.)---> Using decent mics in a well balanced room, using plug-ins homeopathically
  • Smoking 25 cigarettes and 5 joints and having 3l of coffee a day, weighting close to 70kg, looking like a bird scarer ---(10 yrs.)---> no tobacco at all, one cup of coffee in the morning, developed average amount of muscles and an overall normal body
  • Existing in a loud, stinky and overwhelming city, watching skinny girls walk by ---(10 yrs.)---> Living on the quiet and calm countryside, watching birds, hedgehogs, raccoons and bees
  • Being a single for ~20 yrs. ---(10 yrs.)---> found the love of my life, getting married next year

It was more like living a dream, not a real life. It was 100% fun for decades but at some point it became more of a burden than anything else. Additionally I had to leave the building containing my studio. At the same time I met my wife. Luckily I got the chance to join a few more of my abilities into what generates my income so in the end I'm even happier with what I'm doing on a daily base, generating magnitudes of the money I made earlier. All of this happened within just one year: after having the absolutely worst year in my life regarding literally all aspects (2012), the following one laid the foundation to what I'm experiencing now and really has been an absolute game-changer and a total relief.
 

felonious69

Well-known member
  • Smoking 25 cigarettes and 5 joints and having 3l of coffee a day, weighting close to 70kg, looking like a bird scarer ---(10 yrs.)---> no tobacco at all, one cup of coffee in the morning, developed average amount of muscles and an overall normal body
  • after having the absolutely worst year in my life regarding literally all aspects (2012), the following one laid the foundation to what I'm experiencing now and really has been an absolute game-changer and a total relief.
    Good stuff...glad to hear things are better.
  • I used to do the 25 joints, gallon of ice cream and no cigs...now it's just way too many cigs. And I'm getting pudgy NOW?!?!?!?
  • I did quit guitaring for a while because of hand damage.
  • Never played professionally and really just starting on drums, but I do have all that's needed if someone wants to come over and "jam".
  • Not tech savvy, so I can't figure out how to get rid of the bullet points because I copied your text.


 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
I quit playing professionally at age 32 because was sick of constantly hustling to make ends meet. It actually stole my love for playing.

I also hate playing music I don't like and unless you're in a band that makes money you must do it all the time.

I'm much happier now, I play the music I love and tour 1-2 times a year with my band (have an 11 gig European tour lined up for April, fingers crossed it happens).
 

Supergrobi

Technical Supervisor
Not tech savvy, so I can't figure out how to get rid of the bullet points because I copied your text.
I honestly love the artistic touch of your markup ❤️
 

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
I still "play professionally", but that has changed in practical terms. I used to gig all the time, do session jobs and recording projects, do local teaching and masterclasses, have a steady output on YouTube (monetised), all that stuff. I now have a young family, and simply don't want to play crappy gigs for crappy money, and I don't want to tour and be away from my family.

I now do a lot more composition, publishing, and recording in a way that is mutually supportive: compose work -> record composition -> publish composition -> sell/teach composition. I have expanded into music book publishing, and create my own musical work. Far happier, far more relaxed. No crappy pub gigs or long and distant tours.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
I now have a young family, and simply don't want to play crappy gigs for crappy money, and I don't want to tour and be away from my family.
I hear ya! (y)
When piracy (followed by streaming) happened, I was online in music forums advocating for musicians. I just kept getting the blunt reply 'play live', with the more detailed replies being along the lines that earning a living from recording was an anomaly, real musicians played live and that was somehow more honest.
NONE of the people I was arguing with had ever been away from home for 6 months, playing Pittsburgh for the third time in a year on a cold, wet Tuesday night (sorry Pittsburgh!).
It's tough!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I was never a full time pro musician in this century. So I guess at best I was semi pro musician. I'll comment anyway.

It's mainly a case of been there done that. (In my own personal music scene) I don't want to/can't make a living at music. I sub here and there but mostly I'm done with the playing out aspect and being in bands. I'll do maybe 10 sub gigs a year.

I must continue practicing though. I notice my mental faculties slipping a little with not playing out nearly as much. Drumming, far and away, keeps my mind much sharper than it would be without drumming, I think it's the 4 way coordination that's mostly responsible for that. I'm 63 now and starting to feel it. I need a nap every afternoon now. My priorities are being changed for me, like it or not. My body (heart/hips/legs) are working against me now and I have to use what energy I do have in order to make my living. I'm OK with that. It's less stressful, not doing the 8 hour gig after a full day of physical work, which agrees with me. I played out for fun only. It's not something I can maintain now.
 
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Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
After I retired, I did it semi-professional when in the rockabilly scene. What's hard for me now is doing the "Slim Jim Phantom" of standing up while playing. It adds such a great visual element to the whole stage set up, but it's rough after set #2.
I'm off the "professional" part as I'm into career #2, but I sit down as much as possible with the new bands I play in.Rialto stage 2.JPG
 
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dmacc_2

Well-known member
Not sure I'm qualified to comment as I did it 'professionally' from 1984 - approx 1990/91 (I truly don't recall).

At that time I had several reasons to leave it and looking back, I did the right thing.

If I maintained my fulltime teaching practice I had going, it may have lasted longer. However, at that time I became unhappy teaching 60+ students a week.

In terms of bands, I simply got tired of playing the same songs over and over and over again. It wasn't necessarily the style, it was the songs that made everyone get up and dance that eventually became too much for me to desire. But the gigs paid well and they were not in dive bars so for a long while, I made it work.

Above and beyond what I already mentioned, I simply was / am not good enough to cut the mustard on a sustainable level to get the 'better' gigs long term. I knew that and I wasn't going to kid myself.

My realization led me down a totally different path where I've been able to keep music as a great hobby and nice supplemental income (mostly as a teacher nowadays). Went to college for a degree that allowed me to work 32 years in a job that paid bills and accommodated a more traditional family lifestyle (which isn't for everyone).

No regrets!
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Slightly off topic, a mate of mine is good friends with a musician who's well known on the rock scene, released many albums with his band and is highly regarded for his songwriting. I'm not a fan and we moved in the same circles as teenagers but even saying that it would be pretty cool to meet him.
The other night he was playing close to me on tour the same night we were rehearsing and my friend dropped into conversation that he'd made the right decision leaving the originals scene behind, getting a job and playing covers for enjoyment as his mate doesn't have any money. I was surprised to hear this and pressed him, his mate isn't literally skint but financially is not in a good place. Without knowing that I would have thought trading places with him would be a blast but my guess is that but for a small percentage of professional musicians life isn't what "we" imagine it to be.
 

force3005

Silver Member
Quite in late 80's because of the money and traveling. Started playing full time again 2006 till early 2020 it was time for change. Now I play for myself and with a few friends two to three times a month. At this point in life I have a very nice wife and no money worries. Work around on our hobby farm. I am in a good place now.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I never got there on the drums, but the plan has always been to mainly be a teacher and don't do compromises with my own music.

I think it's actually fun to do all sorts of stuff as one offs, but doing stuff I don't really like as a steady gig gets challenging. That's not just because of the music, but also the environment it will be played in.

If I could have a chart and hide I'd be good with most things, but I don't see myself getting involved in that stuff any time soon. If I move to a city again, I'd definetly be open to it, though.
 

felonious69

Well-known member
my guess is that but for a small percentage of professional musicians life isn't what "we" imagine it to be.
My guess would be that applies to lots of the higher paying crafts...music, sports, acting, ..whatever.
Can't tell you how many folks I have met in the last couple decades who were gonna be a famous rapper...whatever

(and I had to look up "skint")
(I'm from the fretboard side of the pond)
(for a rightie)
 

felonious69

Well-known member
I suppose I coulda maybe been famous writing parody/re-writes of songs, but AL (The Weird one, not the Strange one) took my spot.:(
And most of mine would be not safe for radio.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
There were many reasons.

Mostly, as much as I wanted to be a professional drummer, I also wanted a house, a wife, and kids. So I needed a way to fund this. And when my band's record went no where (and didn't even get released). much less sell millions of copies, it seemed like it was going to be difficult to impossible to get married, buy a house, and have kids while being a full-time musician.

Also, so much was out of my control. I couldn't control a guitar player who wanted to quit the band just as things got good. I couldn't control a bass layer who was scared of success. I couldn't control a singer's ego. I couldn't control a record company's executive's decisions.

Being a drummer means relying on a whole host of others to make it work.

Talent also played a part. While I could learn the basics of songs quickly enough, I struggled to learn the little intricacies without a lot of rehearsal, and the fact is most bands don't want to take a ton of rehearsal for you to learn the little things. They're going to go with a drummer who can come in and nail everything right away.

And by this time, many of the opportunities to support oneself as a player were drying up. Mick Fleetwood has been a professional drummer since the age of 16, despite not being super technically talented, simply because he had a drum kit, and could lead a band. If you read Hal Blaine's autobiography, he supported himself playing strip clubs for years and years before his studio career took off. I read Grace Slick's autobiography, and she said she 1st got into bands because she could make more money singing in clubs than working her day job in retail. Yet, by the late 90s, early 2000s that market didn't exist. Strip clubs don't hire live musicians. Clubs don't pay well.

For a long time, in the studio scene, players were rated A, B or C players. And C players could still make a living playing demos, jingles, and lower budget recording. But around the mid-late 80's, the C and B players were all replaced by drum machines, DJs, or those jobs simply didn't exist because record companies were no longer willing to invest money into baby bands that didn't already have a proven track record. A number of record companies were merged, re-organized, or faded away in the 90s, which reduced the numbers of artists record companies were willing to take a chance on. Even into the early 90s record companies would sign band to demo deals, where the record company would pay for a band to make a demo to see how well a band sounded on record over live. But the budgets for those were eliminated, and with studio gear, such as ADATS, coming on to the market, bands/artists were expected to pay for studio time themselves. So the C-level studio work was eliminated, and soon afterward, the B-level work was as well. Lots of talented drummers were walking around trying to break into the A level work

I had played on the soundtrack for a TV news theme. I could turn on the TV every night for years and hear my drumming on the news. I got paid $100. And quite frankly, they had overdubbed so many percussion samples, they probably didn't even need me.

Trying to piece together $100 here, $50 there, without the opportunities (or talent) to get better-paying gigs, it just became all too much.

In retrospect, I didn't have the right mindset to adjust to how the music business was changing and how to handle the challenges I faced.
But as others have said, I also didn't really like playing music I didn't like just for the money.

I can't complain (though I sometimes do). I have a wonderful wife, two kids, and live in a nice house now.
 
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