Not sure what the money beat is?

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
No, that would be Billy Jean..

Highway To Hell is quite difficult for some drummers to know when to start and also when to start again after the first chorus, etc..

Also difficult for most guitar players if you make an 8th note beat displacement btw lol..

"Billie Jean" goes without saying. Few beats are at once so simple and complex.


Well-known member
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some drummers don’t know what this is, and at the same time, hearing disparaging comments about the money beat, shouldn’t surprise me either.

But consider this; in music history, no other musicians get to stray from the parts they have to play. Drummers, seemed to have grown up with the idea that they get options in how they execute the music people want to hear. I wonder why that is?

If you’ve done any time in a concert band, orchestra, or actually, any group of musicians, have you ever noticed that people engage in playing parts? What if that guitar player didn’t play the correct part on the intro to “My Girl” because he didn’t want to play the “money” part? Or how weird would it be if the drummer took a different path for “50 ways to leave your lover”? (These are just two examples). Can you imagine an audience reaction to that? Yet, drummers feel like they have a say in whether or not they play the money beat or not.

I agree, there is music where things are improvised and that’s ok - listening to Ravi Shankar playing Indian music comes to mind, as well as listening to Charlie Parker. But for the most part, rock n roll cover bands (a blanket title for “everybody else”, so forgive me if I didn’t include you specifically), all the members are doing the “money beat”. If they have drummers who stray too far from that, you can bet they won’t for long.

So come on drummers, perhaps you need to re-assess your feelings on the money beat. Sometimes it blows my mind when I meet youngsters with a lot less experience declare “I could never just play the money beat, that’s so boring”. To which I’ve always said “then it must be nice you can get gigs where you get to play whatever you want”. Is the rude awakening when you get with a band that insists you play the right part (because, after all, they have to play the right parts), or does it become clearer when you get fired and then wonder why your phone isn't ringing (because you know, musicians talk to each other)?

I think band mates are sorta jealous of drummers because while the drummer can do all kinds of different things within a song, they have to play the parts that exist, or else no one would know what they were playing - hence the term, “cover band”. So drummers should be at least sensitive to that on the bandstand, and not complain too openly that they don’t get to do what they want all night. The other guys are playing their “money” parts. Be a team player and stop whining.

The point that some of us wanted to illustrate is that while necessary in some cases the money beat alone is just plain boring.
and yes drummers do have a say in what parts they play but only to a certain extent, I have played with guitarists that changed or added parts and the songs sounded better as in I wish they were written like that better. I have also played with other guitarist that changed the parts and totally ruined it. I just change very minimalistic parts and not when the part is very well known such as an intro or a roll in a very popular song.
About experience... Played for over 35 years I thought the money beat was boring then I still think it's boring now, However songs like Billie Jean are fun to play they are actually more challenging than say Tom Sawyer which to me is a very easy song to play. The challenge in Billie Jean is to keep a very consistent tempo the whole way through and resist the urge to add accents. About Phone not ringing.. I have never used or needed to use music to make a living, but I have also never been fired from a band or told not to play a certain way. I would never play in a band that just wants to copy note for note it's called a cover not a copy.

Darth Vater

Senior Member
"Highway to Hell" is the Ultimate Money Beat.
I had a young drummer at my studio the other day and was showing him the drum parts to some slick Narada Michael Walden songs from the 70's and Highway to Hell came up in the play list. I laid into it the best I could for a 66 y/o geezer and he was mortified. LOL. He's like "Dude you owned that!" I thought to myself, " yeah I kinda did. " ;) .


Silver Member
..Nobody cares, man. Nobody knows or cares what the hell the drummer plays. They want a band in the room, they want a vibe, and if they are even paying attention, they just want to see you having a good time..

Correct, thats why i tried to say that drummers should not worry too much about note-to-note reproducing drum parts..

But at all the parties where i played, at least like 10% of the audience wanted for sure 1 thing, which is..: to dance..

And no one likes to dance to songs that no recognizes anymore because a band is only busy with “own interpretations”..

Thats at least how things here (The Netherlands) work regarding this subject..

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I had a young drummer at my studio the other day and was showing him the drum parts to some slick Narada Michael Walden songs from the 70's and Highway to Hell came up in the play list. I laid into it the best I could for a 66 y/o geezer and he was mortified. LOL. He's like "Dude you owned that!" I thought to myself, " yeah I kinda did. " ;) .

In my early days as a drummer, when my lessons moved beyond the practice pad alone to incorporate kit training, AC/DC was among the first bands I practiced to. I've always seen Phil Rudd as a backbeat master. His judgement is superb, and he executes rather complex timing with the greatest of facility. His work is really quite misleading. Some claim he oversimplifies, but that charge is itself a grave oversimplification.


Junior Member
I worked with a bass player who was obsessed with playing songs note for note. He would slow down song recordings and just play to them over and over again until he got the parts down. On one hand I guess I could respect what he was going for but he held the band back in terms of taking requests at gigs, he couldn't play standards on the fly much to the frustration of some people making the requests and the other band members. He just could not improvise at all, even on simple songs.

The other side of the coin involved a Musical Director who was a drummer in the Orchestra on a cruise ship. His approach was to overplay in everything because he felt playing a simple beat was a sign of poor musicianship. His number one job was to back up guest entertainers in the theatre, needless to say he would run into conflict when he was asked to tone it down and not play against the vocals, make the song feel comfortable. Unknown to him he had a reputation on the ship as a good technical drummer but a terrible musician. He was a huge Vinnie Coliauta fan and even went as far as to say he was in the same league as him. My opinion? I enjoy listening to Vinnie's playing a lot more than I ever did his.

I guess maybe the question is more that maybe it is unhealthy to get overly obsessed with one aspect of playing......just my take.
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Well-known member
Again I am not a drummer who likes to play note for note, I can do it sure, but only on the parts that are very well known, and a lot of drummers add parts that they didn't play in the recording so it is not possible to play them live as in the original recording, the other aspect of that is that every single concert I have been to the drummer never played the parts he wrote exactly the same as in the album, they always change things here and there and improved it. Now playing overly technical just for the sake of showing up is just plain stupid, play to make the rest of the band sound good not just yourself. I think this is now beginning to be overthinking it. if you are having fun, the band will have fun too, and the audience will definitely have fun so who cares how you play it if it's working? still screw that stupid money beat... I learned to play that at the age of 12 and can play it to metronome perfection if needed I just choose to pick more challenging stuff.


Senior Member

...anyway, for the most party i agree with OP. When i was younger i did play things different because the beat was boring. When i got older i realized it's all about that the song feels as one. As a band you are a total package who's combined effort is to deliver a (cover) song as one group, not a bunch of individuals (or as me and the guitar player i play with call it a 'wankfest').

I can't stand when a monumental important beat gets changed by the drummer. 'Walk This Way' being played without hi-hat open on '1' for example or the snare intro on 'Kryptonite'. It also annoys me when parts are being played on the hi-hat instead of the ride or vice versa.
When i did cover songs i really delved into the song and try figure out what was being played. I always stuck to that part and made it my challenge to play it as good as i can do. Then finally i discovered how important feel is; playing a song with your heart in can make all the difference between a boring beat or something that drives the song.

We did 'Rockin' in the free world' a couple of times live and i think without doubt that drum-wise it is the most boring song I've ever played. When i first heard it i was 'it's 4:42 of the same beat... pffff', but when played live with the feel into it (and seeing the audience react) gives a totally new perspective. But still i stuck to the song and didn't burst into a double bass frenzy because it's the effort of everyone that makes the whole song 'the experience'. What i'm trying to say is that if something is off, the whole deliverance of the song is shattered.

Having said that, I'm probably the only who notices it and the generic attendee couldn't tell the difference I've i played 'Rosanna' with or without ghost-notes ;) (which is a beat i still struggle with and thankfully never had to play hehe!)


Im 61 and been playing bass since I was 17, played in a lot of cover/ original bands etc etc, I started drums two yrs ago.

The audience only hear the vocal hook and the primary rythmn tone/groove.....the nuances of the drum/bass parts unless the part was a primary rythmn tone/shape eg Ticket To Ride, Love Games etc etc that type of thing where the instruments are literally playing a hook, well then not so other words as an eg whether I correctly play nothing at the beginning of Pick Up The Pieces or a fun 16th note hi-hat groove, will the audience care?.....I think not.

But if the singer or rythmn guitar or keys play something totally different then the whole thing collapses.


"Uncle Larry"
If the feel is right, that's what really matters. The audience doesn't care, they don't know the friggin drum part anyway and aren't even thinking about it. Why do we think they are? Band members think they are the center of attention. The dancers think they are the center of attention. No one is right.
Everybody is mainly concerned with themselves, not anyone else.

If one has to think about if all the notes are played in the correct order....I would tend to think that that person's head isn't in the right place for music to flow through. Thinking hamstrings me. I have to turn that off to feel what I am supposed to be feeling while playing. Thinking while playing is my arch enemy.

Music to me is like sex. The more I see my partner...or a musician.... enjoying themselves, in my mind, the better they are at it. Musical standards still apply.

Ryan Culberson

Well-known member
The money beat has never been boring to me, and 40+ years into my drumming life I'm still working everyday to get it closer to perfect. Still have a long way to go. Billie Jean is the zenith for me, and I spend at least 30 minutes a day playing it and trying to perfect it. Some days I get close, others not so much. It's my personal benchmark, and if I ever get even 80% there I can die happy.


Junior Member
I saw a local Steely Dan cover band recently and was blown away at how well the drummer replicated Porcaro, Purdie, Gadd, etc. lick for lick.
If he had played a straight pocket throughout the set or he had played his own interpretation of the drum parts, I would have felt cheated and assumed that he didn't have the chops to play it correctly.

On the other hand, I also recently saw 70's/80's cover band where the drummer "elevated" songs that had a basic beat (Billie Jean) by embellishing his own more complex fills.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Music to me is like sex. The more I see my partner...or a musician.... enjoying themselves, in my mind, the better they are at it.

Yes and like sex, when everyone else stops playing and you're playing by yourself, it becomes a little weird.............

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