Full time job and Professional drummer? Is it possible?

michael h


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?
Ha! Ray Charles didn't have a Science degree...I say go for it..You have already got the degree out of the way..Congrats on that btw...What do you have to lose? Lets say you try doing music full time for 10 yrs and decide you want do something else that required school.....You already have a B.S. so you can always go back and get a Masters in a couple of yrs..Another thing is maybe go to school for music...I know it gets expensive but from where I'm sitting at 43, I wish I went to school back when I sobered up at 23...Btw, I do music fulltime..I play and teach and I still study..It IS expensive and I am not rich but life is pretty good..I'm thinking about moving to New York again in a yr or two..I moved there when I was 25 for 2 yrs and man, did I get my ass kicked! It actually hurt pretty bad..I really wasn't prepared to sit in even at the Blues sessions...Not to slight that style..There are some killin Blues players in NYC. Different story now..I am cleaning up my act Jazz wise studying with Ian Froman and it's going great..He's called me out on my shit more than any other teacher except or equall to an Organist/Pianist for 4 yrs... I've been studying with him a little over a yr now..Wish I went to him sooner..Follow your heart..
Last edited:


can it be done, or should i go hungry like Ray Charles did and play music no holds barred?
It can definitely be done, Im living proof! :)

My job has me busy 50-60hrs a week, often after' hours, but I also have two bands on the run, one of which is playing 2-3 nights per week.

I think that it is something that only well organised people can do though!

Concrete Pete

Senior Member
Hey Matt,

Yeah, it's possible, and I do it all the time. Trouble is tha you will have to sacrifice spare time--(I have a killer boat and fishing gear, and have YET to go fishing this year!) and deal with family "quality time" losses.

Me, I'm single and loving it but still have no spare time at all between the 4 bands I'm in, work, doing bids, doing errands and chores, and all the other B.S. that life throws at you. GOOD thing is that when I feel like I need to have a bit of fun and relaxation, I just ride one of my Harleys for a while, hit the weights, spar with my neighbor, or weld up a sculpture or 2, and consider it a "mini vacation".

That's the thing about being a musician--it EATS your spare time, but is rewarding.

Hang in there,
C. P.


Platinum Member
Keep in mind many "pros" have "side jobs" to make ends meet.

It may be teaching, maybe running a recording studio, maybe selling drum items, it may be unrelated. I've read plenty of stories of guys who you'd think would make enough money from album sales and touring to support themselves, but for one reason or another, have to have a "day" job.


Junior Member
Basically, yes. I think its possible but your family and social life will probably suffer! I work but do some work for Weddings now and then for a bit off extra income. Could be a professional musician and work though.
Like you I enjoy helping couples and their guests enjoy their big day - playing weddings is rewarding both financially AND just as important gives a real buzz.

Also lucky that I love my job!
Someone once said - if you do a job you love, you'll never "work" again.


Platinum 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.
If that's the only definition of pro, there are very few pros who are pros at every stage of their career. Most people take up other work to make some money, or do non-playing drumming/music work, at some point. Pro players do not become amateurs just because they're scuffling.

But do I consider myself a pro? Not really.
You should. You're getting paid a not-insignificant amount of money to play. The clients certainly think you're pros, or what are they paying you for? Certainly you have to maintain professional standards, or you would be fired-- either you as an individual, or the whole group. What's not pro about the situation?

Edit: oops, suckered in by another one of these old-ass thread resurrections. oh well...