'session' versus 'in the band'


Senior Member
I'm just wondering about the percentages of gigging drummers who are 'in the band' and who are what I would call 'session' players. Let us clarify the terminology....

'In the band'= Drummers who mostly (but not exclusively) play in one band, and their playing revolves around the bands activities. Not only does the drummer drum but also participates in the business of the band, (ie bookings, posters, poster distribution, et al.). This individual will generally think of the band as a business and contribute whatever it takes (mostly) to make it happen. This set-up is generally seen by the band as a democratic system, where everyone's voice has (more or less) equal weight.

'Session'= Drummers who are essentially 'for hire'. They do not participate in the booking of gigs, posters, or any administrative duties within the band. A mercenary if you will. This drummer is of course interested in the bands continued popularity and gigging potential but plays little or no part except drumming accurately and showing up on time. This player will generally wait for the call from the band leader.

I know there are lots of grey areas between the two. Most of us fall somewhere in that area of grey. But which end of the spectrum would you characterize yourself?

If there has been a similar post in the past I apologize!


Well-known member
100% full fledged band member.

100% full fledged "session" as well when doing tracks for local musicians recording original music.


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I'm at both ends, depending on which band. I appreciate the "ownership" I have in some of the bands, but also appreciate my relative hands-off status with others: show up, play, get paid, and still called a band member.

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Senior Member
I have both situations running in parallel.
I am one of the founding members in one band and do my share of booking gigs, promotion, etc.
Then the same unit gigs regularly backing up a local singer/songwriter. In this second situation, we are just hired musicians. Although we have been this singer's band for the last three years steady and been nominated for local "Band Of The Year" awards, etc., we know that he can choose to go with other musicians at any time with no obligation to us. The singer does all the booking and other administrative responsibilities, but we do all the musical arrangements for his songs. All the earnings are split equally so in that sense, he is not really "hiring" us for a fee.

Formless Method

Senior Member
I guess you could call me a voluntary session drummer. I like to show up, play, get paid and leave. I am payed to play drums, and also act like a professional while at the gig on and off the stage. The bands I play with play music that I really enjoy and they are the type of people that I enjoy being around so I don't get to tripped up on "democracy" in a band or worrying about who has the power etc. That is to much headache. My main concern is playing to the best of my ability and making the band shine as best as I can. If I want to lead I will create my own band in which I lead but until then I'll let someone else deal with the headache.

Being a hired gun has a lot of great advantages along with disadvantages as does most anything
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Platinum Member
Both. I am proud of being a "utility" bandmember that can do songwriting, arrangement, sound duties, design work, promotions, etc. but I'm also happy to get a call to do a gig on a weekend with no expectations beyond that.


Drummer in the Band ( Hulk City)
Session percussionist ( conga's, bongo's, Darbuka and loads of shaker triangle tambourine stuff.

I play drum's in probly the most daring Anglo Swiss band ever ( i am biased ;-)) and wish to concentrate on skills there.
I play percussion so I can stand up & get involved & reading the parts is easy for me , i find reading drum parts I get distracted , put my own breaks in and the band leaders get pissed off.. hehe

No one ever says that to me as percussionist, i guess they don't expect it to be so precise.

Anthony Amodeo

spent 20 years as the guy "in the band"

and for the past 3 1/2 years have been much happier and making a better living as the "hired gun"


Senior Member
For the last 5 years or so I have considered myself a 'session' guy and have quite enjoyed it. Get the call, go to the gig, get paid, go home. Actually getting more work now than when I was 'in the band' because of the diverse bands that hire me.

Funny thing is, I just started with a new outfit, with some great players, and my girlfriend came to the first gig. After a fine show the boys are taking down the P.A. Now I usually give this the miss as I have deliberately not learned too much about P.A.'s but I started helping carry out after I got the drums loaded. The girlfriend then asks on the drive home, "how do you like your new band?"

I promptly reply that it's not my band, just the gun.

She replied, "Well, you helped with the P.A....so you're in the band."