Full time job and Professional drummer? Is it possible?

matthew

Senior Member
hey

im at a turning point in my life. I have a science degree to my name and with that I am applying for full time jobs. I'm not trying very hard because I fear I will actually get one and that MIGHT affect my drumming. But i need to either use my degree and get a job in the next 6 months or my studies are dated and irrelevant.

On the drumming side of my life: I've played for 10 years, I'm 22, i went to a conservatory for 6 months, then left it, I have had lots of live experience, held down a two gigs per week job with two different bands every week (saturday and mondays) for the last year and a half. And recently I have just joined the best group of musicians that I have ever worked with on an ambitious new original project with lots of material ready to go. They want to go full time, record and tour...

So enough with the backstory. Does any one have experience working a full time job but still remaining up-to-speed with their drumming ability?

I mean, atm I get lessons once a week, practice every day, gig once or twice a week, jam a couple times a week. But working 50+ hours a week would make all this a lot harder....

can it be done, or should i go hungry like Ray Charles did and play music no holds barred?
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Depends. What other responsibilities do you have? Wife? Kids? Caregiver to parents or siblings? Student loans? Rent? Credit Cards? Life and Medical Insurance? Auto loans? You say you are 22, with a Science Degree. If you are 22 years young and have no other responsibilites or commitments other than yourself, little to no bills, GO FOR IT NO HOLDS BARRED!!!
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
i have a full time job. i take lessons once a week and practice daily. i'm in a band that gigs, and i'm involved with some side projects. i'm single, which helps.

but i'm much older than you and heavily entrenched in my day job career. if i were only 22 and in your position i'd be seriously tempted to go on tour and do the whole deal.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Does any one have experience working a full time job but still remaining up-to-speed with their drumming ability?
Yep, piece of cake, although you may be pretty busy at times.

I worked a middle-management position (50-60 hours a week) for 14 years while working with a national touring/recording artist (I never missed a gig) and playing/rehearsing locally with as many as 4 bands. For 6 of those years, I was also married.

Granted, you may not land in a company that will let you take repeated leaves of absence (I was very fortunate in that respect) but it's certainly possible to play and rehearse with local bands. Don't forget, many musicians are also working 9-5, so you'll all be on the same schedule.

As for the mindset, that's also simple: just focus on the task at hand. Will having a day job or career take away from your passion? No, not if you have a genuine passion for playing. In fact, working during the week will enhance your desire to play and make those occasions more enjoyable.

Something else to consider: there's nothing like a regular paycheck. Being a starving artist isn't fun and impresses nobody.

Bermuda
 

donv

Silver Member
I think for most it's essential. Back in the day, through the 70's, while playing in top 40 rock cover bands we were making $500 and more a night. Usually we were playing Thursday through Sunday. Real good money back then and with a couple of years track record you could get even get a mortgage. Not today. I now see cover bands getting as little as $125 for the night and only playing one night. Original's bands are lucky to recover gas money. It's got to be hard today to make a living playing music.
 

chefmoonwalker

Junior Member
What is a "professional drummer?" Is it somebody who makes money drumming? When I think of a Professional Drummer, I think of a guy who plays drums for a full-time occuption. A "pro." Someone in the biz. No other job necessary. Maybe it's just me, but that's the picture I have in my mind.

If you're touring around the country, it's gonna be a little tough to have a 40 hour/week job. I guess you could do Web Design or something like that with a satellite internet connection... but nothing like a desk job unless, as as mentioned before, you're really lucky. Since you're a science major, it would be tough to fit those microscopes and beakers in the back of a tour van with your kick drum. ;)

This might be what you're asking: Can you play quite a bit after work, have a ton of fun, and make some money? Absolutely. For example, I have an MBA and write Condo Association Insurance 40 hours per week. Right now, I'm playing in one of the hottest cover bands in South Florida, and we gig 2-4 times per week every week. It's a three piece band (Guitar, bass, drums). We make between $500-$600 as a band for every gig. The band as a whole is gonna pull down around $65,000 this year. It's not a TON of money, but it pays for all the drum mics, vocal mics, stands, heads, sticks, drums, monitors, rehearsal space, drinks, manager, and I've always got spare cash for odds and ends. But do I consider myself a pro? Not really. Do I moonlight as a pro? Abso-freakin-lutely. To answer your question: I feel like I'm still up-to-speed with my drumming ability. It's hard not to be when we gig as much as we do.

What I'd suggest: record with your band and see where that gets you. Send that recording to everyone and anyone who will listen. Hire someone who does a really good job to promote you, and see what the response is. That's probably what I'd do.

I hope that helps. :)
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
But i need to either use my degree and get a job in the next 6 months or my studies are dated and irrelevant.
that may or may not be true. i'm in a science/engineering field and yes, that's somewhat true, but most of your college education is theoretical and doesn't become dated quickly. the company that hires you will train you in their technical specialty, whatever that is. most companies want people with degrees because they know they have a good theoretical foundation and they know they've got what it takes to get a college degree. so you could probably take some time to go on tour for a while at it won't damage your career too much.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
What is a "professional drummer?" Is it somebody who makes money drumming? When I think of a Professional Drummer, I think of a guy who plays drums for a full-time occuption. A "pro." Someone in the biz. No other job necessary. Maybe it's just me, but that's the picture I have in my mind.

If you're touring around the country, it's gonna be a little tough to have a 40 hour/week job. I guess you could do Web Design or something like that with a satellite internet connection... but nothing like a desk job unless, as as mentioned before, you're really lucky. Since you're a science major, it would be tough to fit those microscopes and beakers in the back of a tour van with your kick drum. ;)

This might be what you're asking: Can you play quite a bit after work, have a ton of fun, and make some money? Absolutely. For example, I have an MBA and write Condo Association Insurance 40 hours per week. Right now, I'm playing in one of the hottest cover bands in South Florida, and we gig 2-4 times per week every week. It's a three piece band (Guitar, bass, drums). We make between $500-$600 as a band for every gig. The band as a whole is gonna pull down around $65,000 this year. It's not a TON of money, but it pays for all the drum mics, vocal mics, stands, heads, sticks, drums, monitors, rehearsal space, drinks, manager, and I've always got spare cash for odds and ends. But do I consider myself a pro? Not really. Do I moonlight as a pro? Abso-freakin-lutely. To answer your question: I feel like I'm still up-to-speed with my drumming ability. It's hard not to be when we gig as much as we do.

What I'd suggest: record with your band and see where that gets you. Send that recording to everyone and anyone who will listen. Hire someone who does a really good job to promote you, and see what the response is. That's probably what I'd do.



Wow! Excellent advice Chefmoonwalker! Drummer's reality 101. With the right attitude it can be done.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I'm married, have two kids at home, and work a 40 hr./week job. I play every night for two hours and practice w/ the band once or twice a week. We're not gigging yet but we'll get there. I work hard, practice hard, and spend time w/ my family everyday.

You just have to manage your time right. Stay away from the television and other pointless, wasteful diversions.
 

Fur drummer

Pioneer Member
How serious are you about drumming and what to you mean about being a professional drummer? Do you want to be a semi - pro and just play weekend gigs or do you want to make drumming your profession? If you want to make it your profession then drumming has to become your full time job. You have a tough decision to make that will affect the rest of your life. If you really love playing drums and that is your true passion then I say go for it! Good luck!
 
It can be done. I work overnights Sun-Thu (Fri-Sat Off) . At first , I didnt think it would be possible ..depends on how bad you wanna play. I've been juggling my radio career with playing professionally since 1987. I have the best of both worlds (he he!) I get to play 'on air classic rock disc jockey' during the week ....I get to play in a great band on weekends..Hard work indeed ..but at the end of the day ..I'm very thankful to get paid for something I truly love to do ! Again..Its how bad you wanna play .

DD
 

Eric

Senior Member
That's a tough call. I've been a full time musician since college (I'm 42 now) so I'm very tempted to tell you to go for the full-time job, because I'm in the space now that Bermuda mentioned- being a starving artist is NOT cool, especially at my age. Funny the other poster mentioning web-design, because over the last year, I've spent all my free time-at home and on the road-studying that so I have another source of income. I started because it is something you can freelance at, and do while traveling, but frankly, if I got a full-time job offer to do it, I would give up touring with no regrets-but of course, that's easier for me because I've already experienced that. I know you can work full-time and play locally with a little self-discipline, especially if you can get a practice space you can use late at night. And remember, most bands have big plans to tour, but it's a long (though usually enjoyable) road, and you gotta pay your bills in the meantime.
 

druid

Silver Member
As for the mindset, that's also simple: just focus on the task at hand. Will having a day job or career take away from your passion? No, not if you have a genuine passion for playing. In fact, working during the week will enhance your desire to play and make those occasions more enjoyable.

Something else to consider: there's nothing like a regular paycheck. Being a starving artist isn't fun and impresses nobody.

Bermuda
Could not agree more....I hate when some guys play the "I am a pro you are not" game simply becasue they have no other real job....if your head and heart are into it and you keep in the moment with what you do playing wise no one take take away anything from you for having a "day job".....I have witnessed this kind of stuff first hand and just because someone is not juggling responsibilities in no way does this make them a 'better' or more 'real' player. Work hard at everything you do....and do your best if only because it leaves ALL of your options more open.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Our singer and I first met about 7 years and became friends because of our common interest in web and graphic design. I did it as part of my (steady) job at the time for a while whereas he does it full-time freelance and it's no picnic. He envies me having a job with holidays and sick leave, no 18-hour days trying to finish off a site before the launch etc.

The other three members of my band work in museums. Science is a tough field too. Rule of thumb is, if the job is so interesting and enjoyable that people do it as a hobby, then the competition will be more fierce and the pay scales tighter than in dry areas like management, admin, insurance, accountancy and law. A pity, but that's how it is. I'm lucky I'm a nerdy loser and enjoy statistics (my current job) or I'd go mad.

If you can pick up part-time work, that would be ideal. Scientists need technical officers to help out when they pick up grants, and part-time help is one way of keeping costs down.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
I had a situation like this too, but I was working for a company in the music industry, so they were a little more on my side when it came to needing time off for gigs.

I was touring with 3 bands while working 40+ hours a week. It did end up getting in the way after a while. I was only able to tour for a week here or there with each group, and they wanted me to be on the road for months at a time.

I ended up changing jobs to one that gave me that freedom. After about a year of that I gave up on the 9-5 life and started playing full time.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
That all makes sense. I'm one of those nerds that has to have numbers and analysis in a job. My software development management job is dry and some would say it was boring - but it pays well and I haven't had a boss looking over my shoulder since 2000. We're all virtual. But at the end of the day it is nice to realize I can play music also and consider myself a working musician - semi semi semi pro, but still a working musician with a burning passion for drumming and music.

And there is no better feeling than playing a song with a group of other musicians and knowing that you played your heart out and the song sounded the best it could and people are enjoying it.
 

denisri

Silver Member
Hi Matthew
I'm 55 years old and have been playing part time on the local scene some minor North America travel(limited east coast and Nevada )since I was 12 years old. Work as a full time energy engineer...and the balance between my two trades(or professions) has been great.
I have about 15 students a week, due about 4 or 5 gigs per month for two different bands...have a full time professional job with regular pay,vacation and benefits etc.
It is possible to do....but you must balance family(married 30 years, 3kids,4 grandchildren).
The drumming paid for my college and help paid for my 3 kids degrees.
Denis
 

johncrayforth

Junior Member
Basically, yes. I think its possible but your family and social life will probably suffer! I work but do some Wedding Music gigs now and then for a bit off extra income. Could be a professional musician and work though.
 
Top