So you want to be a PRO Drummer?

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Hey gang,
I read this on PIT's myspace page and I thought it might be good for some of you to read. Some of you may have already, it was posted over a year ago, but I like what is says.




So, you want a PRO drummer? (Los Angeles and Big Cities Everywhere!)

You'll find ads just like this all over CraigsList and other websites:


WANTED: Kick-ass drummer!! Must have pro gear and dependable ride. Must be available to rehearse at least 3 nights per week. Professional attitude, awesome chops, and the right look a must. We are a pro rock band with label interest, a new CD and gigs lined up. We just parted ways with our drummer and need a replacement ASAP. SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!

Let's break this ad down.

WANTED: Kick-ass drummer!! Must have pro gear and dependable ride. This should be a given. Nobody wants a lame drummer, or a drummer with horrible gear, no gear at all, or no transportation. I know those drummers are out there, as I was one of them back in 1986. It was more work, but the rest of the band pulled together to make sure there was a kit in the house. I just got myself to the rehearsals and performances.

So far, they're not telling us much.

Must be available to rehearse at least 3 nights per week. Three nights per week is a lot of time to invest in rehearsal. Musicians who are good do not need this much band rehearsal. As a musician, regardless of the instrument, I rehearse on my own at least every other day. Also, I rehearse with my bands once per week. A band that is gigging steadily only needs to rehearse either once per week or whenever they're adding a new song or changing something about their show. Yes, the show needs to be rehearsed as well.

Professional attitude, awesome chops, and the right look a must. Again, this doesn't tell us too much. Posters of ads like this typically include their look, influences, and so on. Make sure you have what they want, if you are really interested. Read on.

We are a pro rock band with label interest, a new CD and gigs lined up. They might be a rock band, and they might have a CD, but that's it. Ask them for a gig schedule and chances are good that you won't get one. Mention of "label interest" is just to get the inexperienced musicians excited. If a label is interested, they sign the act. End of discussion. This is just a carrot to stick in front of your face in order to get you excited so that you'll join their band without asking questions or negotiating your position.

We just parted ways with our drummer and need a replacement ASAP. This is where things get touchy. A band that is in this situation (combined with label interest, new CD, and other things) probably let their current drummer go. This happens when the band starts to talk about money. They think that if they fire the drummer (the one who wrote the parts for the songs and played on the recordings), they can potentially have a bigger cut at the end. It is perceived that the drummer doesn't write music, so (s)he shouldn't get writing credits. This couldn't be further from the truth, as the drummer writes his or her part to fit the song and deliver it in an appropriate manner. Bands like this are looking for a rube to work for cheap or free.

SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY! I have always been amused by this. Even if you really want "serious" inquiries only, you'll still get lots of undesirables responding.

Now, here is what these bands are not thinking about.

Most bands that are playing (at a minimum) the local circuit are not doing it for their health. They want to make a living making music. And if they don't have to pay one of the members, all the better. I have seen it time and time again, where a band will play a gig, and then only one or two members collect the money and keep it quiet. They will do this behind the drummer's back (or any other member who is being ripped off), and then be a "bro" to the person's face.

I recently encountered a 17-piece band where only THREE members are being paid. Why? In this situation, the 3 members are being paid because they no only fulfill needed positions, but they won't do it for free.

If you are a drummer, and you want to make a living playing drums, then you need to start charging.



How do you do this?

My favorite approach is to audition first, and then discuss money later. I doesn't matter if it's just gas money to get to rehearsals and $100 per gig, it still has to be discussed. What you cannot do is join a band and then start demanding money later. It won't happen.

There is a phrase out there that is thrown around. That phrase is "music business." While people will talk about the "music" aspect of it all, they will more than likely neglect the "business" aspect. Truth be told, music comprises about 20% of the "music business." The rest is pure business.

Sure, that band needs a drummer. You know what you bring to the table. Do you know what THEY bring to the table for YOU? Discuss it and negotiate before joining. You'll be glad you did.


BANDS, if you need a drummer, consider the following:

Consider what's in it for THEM: Sure, you need a drummer to record, gig and find success. Are you planning on ripping them off, or throwing them in the garbage when another drummer shows up? How would YOU feel if someone did this to YOU? Have consideration for your fellow musicians. It's a small world, and everyone knows everyone. Your reputation will precede you. Move forward with caution.

Make an offer: Maybe you can't afford to pay a drummer. Offer them a piece of the action. Have a contract available and ready. Or offer them something else. Maybe the drummer you are hiring just wants a place to hit the skins after hours. Offer them a key to the lockout and a schedule of available times where they can do their thing. Sometimes a barter like this will work.

Remember that auditions go both ways: You and your band are not the end-all to the world of bands. It's another opportunity, or maybe a flash in the pan. Or maybe nothing. Be humble and remember that this band member you're auditioning (regardless of instrument) is showing up to help you. If they don't like you or your music, they will pass.

Be fair and honest: Again, your reputation precedes you and word gets around. If you are not paying anyone in the band, or if you're paying some but not all, then you're asking for trouble. There are special circumstances. But generally, take care of these people. After all, you're building your success upon their backs and they don't stand to make what the project owner/leader will rake in. As the old music biz saying goes, pay your acts enough that they don't ask questions.

Have some questions ready: Is this drummer a pro or a hobbyist? Do they have a day job, or are they depending on money from gigs to survive? Prepare a list of questions to ask them. The person auditioning should also prepare questions. Getting these answers will ensure that you're getting the right person for the job. Even if they are amazing, it would stink if they left because the manager at their day job decided to transfer them to a different city.

Be professional: Make sure you're prepared. Send them material ahead of time. Show up early and be prepared for their arrival. Get to the point when having discussions or making requests. Don't whisper with existing band mates or create a hostile environment, unless you want them to walk out. Remember that "pro" is short for "professional."

Remember that the phrase "music business" contains the word "business": You consider yourself and your band to be "pro?" Are you interested in getting into the music business? Be prepared to talk business. Drummers must beware of situations where the band leader, lawyer or manager says things like, "You worry about the music part, and let me take care of the business part." What this means is that you can make music, and the other party will make themselves rich. Do business with each other in the same way that you do business with everyone else.

What does "Pro" mean?: The word "Pro" is short for "Professional." If you are not paying, then you are not worthy of having a professional associated with your project.




Finally, a note to all the drummers out there.

When you jump into a series of gigs for free, you're undermining your own future. If everybody is willing to put it out there for free, then nobody's going to make anything of it. Sure, I know you have to take risks, especially with start-ups. If you're starting your own band and trying to make something of it, then that's one thing.

It's another thing, however, when you go joining band after band, lugging gear around, expending, gas, money, time and expertise into "pro situations" where they're not paying anyone.

If you are entering into a pro situation, then you should be entering a situation where you are paid.

If you are not getting paid, you are not a pro. You are also not a hired gun.

If you are not on the songwriting credits, publishing, etc., then you are not a band member.

If you are showing up and playing for free with no promises, then you are a hobbyist who does it for fun, an amateur, or you're trying to make it with your band (whatever that means to you). Do not label yourself or your situation as pro. You can have a professional attitude, but you are not a pro.

When I play, I do it for pay, for a cut of the action, to promote my own music, or to do a favor for a close friend who needs drummer help. The last thing I'm ever going to do is run around wasting every resource in my life to help out someone who does not have my best interests at heart. You will know what I mean if you ever end up in a band, and the leader openly admits that if an agent was interested in him/her, but not the band, he/she would bail out in a heartbeat and fend for themselves.

It's time for YOU to fend for YOURSELF.

DRUMMERS! Just say NO to playing free gigs for bands that are not paying you, or in bands where you have no vested interested. You've worked hard to acquire your talents. Stand up for yourselves! ro
 

mcbike

Silver Member
there is some good advice in here, but this is a touchy subject and whenever your talking about money you need to be very careful and tactful. I know drummers who have gotten fired for whining about money. for example: the band was getting ready to do a tour. the agreement was money gets split 4 ways after expenses are paid (gas, food, hotels, booking agent). the drummer DEMANDED a guarantee for the tour or he wouldn't go. they left him at home. It's all good and well to be a PRO and demand respect, but you have to pull your fair share and contribute to the group making money. No band leader is going to pay to the drummer before they pay their expenses. You have to do your part promoting, booking, booking hotels, driving, navigating, being a good person to get along with.

I've never heard of bands were some members are playing for free and others are not getting a share. People will eventually find out, and you would ruin your reputation doing things like that. I know a few bands were one member takes a bigger cut because they are doing booking/promoting or they own the p.a. and the transportation. The only exception is when there is a band that might host a night at a club and bring up somebody for a few songs.

The band has to make money before you can make money.

songwriting royalties are a whole different discussion.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Although technically correct, it's a bit of an extreme view and not especially "real world". Playing music at any level has rules and protocols that differ from virtually every other profession, and terms like "pro" cannot always be applied in the same context.

An amusing/provocative read though, I really do wish things could be that way. Anybody on either side of that coin knows it's not the case.

Bermuda
 

justjim

Senior Member
whew! thankfully, it's a much easier/shorter path for me!



So, you want a PRO drummer? (Los Angeles and Big Cities Everywhere!)

No, no I don't
 
That is very good advice about really checking out the band before you join.

Most bands are just circuit bands but there are few that are dedicated and have real talent. please check this band out from (814) pennsylvania. they are a punk rock band that travels everywhere from new jersey, ohio, west virgina, new york, and all across pennsylvania. Check them out and reply with your input.

www.myspace.com/hisdayhascome.
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
Hey gang,
I read this on PIT's myspace page and I thought it might be good for some of you to read. Some of you may have already, it was posted over a year ago, but I like what is says.




So, you want a PRO drummer? (Los Angeles and Big Cities Everywhere!)

You'll find ads just like this all over CraigsList and other websites:


WANTED: Kick-ass drummer!! Must have pro gear and dependable ride. Must be available to rehearse at least 3 nights per week. Professional attitude, awesome chops, and the right look a must. We are a pro rock band with label interest, a new CD and gigs lined up. We just parted ways with our drummer and need a replacement ASAP. SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!

Let's break this ad down.

WANTED: Kick-ass drummer!! Must have pro gear and dependable ride. This should be a given. Nobody wants a lame drummer, or a drummer with horrible gear, no gear at all, or no transportation. I know those drummers are out there, as I was one of them back in 1986. It was more work, but the rest of the band pulled together to make sure there was a kit in the house. I just got myself to the rehearsals and performances.

So far, they're not telling us much.

Must be available to rehearse at least 3 nights per week. Three nights per week is a lot of time to invest in rehearsal. Musicians who are good do not need this much band rehearsal. As a musician, regardless of the instrument, I rehearse on my own at least every other day. Also, I rehearse with my bands once per week. A band that is gigging steadily only needs to rehearse either once per week or whenever they're adding a new song or changing something about their show. Yes, the show needs to be rehearsed as well.

Professional attitude, awesome chops, and the right look a must. Again, this doesn't tell us too much. Posters of ads like this typically include their look, influences, and so on. Make sure you have what they want, if you are really interested. Read on.

We are a pro rock band with label interest, a new CD and gigs lined up. They might be a rock band, and they might have a CD, but that's it. Ask them for a gig schedule and chances are good that you won't get one. Mention of "label interest" is just to get the inexperienced musicians excited. If a label is interested, they sign the act. End of discussion. This is just a carrot to stick in front of your face in order to get you excited so that you'll join their band without asking questions or negotiating your position.

We just parted ways with our drummer and need a replacement ASAP. This is where things get touchy. A band that is in this situation (combined with label interest, new CD, and other things) probably let their current drummer go. This happens when the band starts to talk about money. They think that if they fire the drummer (the one who wrote the parts for the songs and played on the recordings), they can potentially have a bigger cut at the end. It is perceived that the drummer doesn't write music, so (s)he shouldn't get writing credits. This couldn't be further from the truth, as the drummer writes his or her part to fit the song and deliver it in an appropriate manner. Bands like this are looking for a rube to work for cheap or free.

SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY! I have always been amused by this. Even if you really want "serious" inquiries only, you'll still get lots of undesirables responding.

Now, here is what these bands are not thinking about.

Most bands that are playing (at a minimum) the local circuit are not doing it for their health. They want to make a living making music. And if they don't have to pay one of the members, all the better. I have seen it time and time again, where a band will play a gig, and then only one or two members collect the money and keep it quiet. They will do this behind the drummer's back (or any other member who is being ripped off), and then be a "bro" to the person's face.

I recently encountered a 17-piece band where only THREE members are being paid. Why? In this situation, the 3 members are being paid because they no only fulfill needed positions, but they won't do it for free.

If you are a drummer, and you want to make a living playing drums, then you need to start charging.



How do you do this?

My favorite approach is to audition first, and then discuss money later. I doesn't matter if it's just gas money to get to rehearsals and $100 per gig, it still has to be discussed. What you cannot do is join a band and then start demanding money later. It won't happen.

There is a phrase out there that is thrown around. That phrase is "music business." While people will talk about the "music" aspect of it all, they will more than likely neglect the "business" aspect. Truth be told, music comprises about 20% of the "music business." The rest is pure business.

Sure, that band needs a drummer. You know what you bring to the table. Do you know what THEY bring to the table for YOU? Discuss it and negotiate before joining. You'll be glad you did.


BANDS, if you need a drummer, consider the following:

Consider what's in it for THEM: Sure, you need a drummer to record, gig and find success. Are you planning on ripping them off, or throwing them in the garbage when another drummer shows up? How would YOU feel if someone did this to YOU? Have consideration for your fellow musicians. It's a small world, and everyone knows everyone. Your reputation will precede you. Move forward with caution.

Make an offer: Maybe you can't afford to pay a drummer. Offer them a piece of the action. Have a contract available and ready. Or offer them something else. Maybe the drummer you are hiring just wants a place to hit the skins after hours. Offer them a key to the lockout and a schedule of available times where they can do their thing. Sometimes a barter like this will work.

Remember that auditions go both ways: You and your band are not the end-all to the world of bands. It's another opportunity, or maybe a flash in the pan. Or maybe nothing. Be humble and remember that this band member you're auditioning (regardless of instrument) is showing up to help you. If they don't like you or your music, they will pass.

Be fair and honest: Again, your reputation precedes you and word gets around. If you are not paying anyone in the band, or if you're paying some but not all, then you're asking for trouble. There are special circumstances. But generally, take care of these people. After all, you're building your success upon their backs and they don't stand to make what the project owner/leader will rake in. As the old music biz saying goes, pay your acts enough that they don't ask questions.

Have some questions ready: Is this drummer a pro or a hobbyist? Do they have a day job, or are they depending on money from gigs to survive? Prepare a list of questions to ask them. The person auditioning should also prepare questions. Getting these answers will ensure that you're getting the right person for the job. Even if they are amazing, it would stink if they left because the manager at their day job decided to transfer them to a different city.

Be professional: Make sure you're prepared. Send them material ahead of time. Show up early and be prepared for their arrival. Get to the point when having discussions or making requests. Don't whisper with existing band mates or create a hostile environment, unless you want them to walk out. Remember that "pro" is short for "professional."

Remember that the phrase "music business" contains the word "business": You consider yourself and your band to be "pro?" Are you interested in getting into the music business? Be prepared to talk business. Drummers must beware of situations where the band leader, lawyer or manager says things like, "You worry about the music part, and let me take care of the business part." What this means is that you can make music, and the other party will make themselves rich. Do business with each other in the same way that you do business with everyone else.

What does "Pro" mean?: The word "Pro" is short for "Professional." If you are not paying, then you are not worthy of having a professional associated with your project.




Finally, a note to all the drummers out there.

When you jump into a series of gigs for free, you're undermining your own future. If everybody is willing to put it out there for free, then nobody's going to make anything of it. Sure, I know you have to take risks, especially with start-ups. If you're starting your own band and trying to make something of it, then that's one thing.

It's another thing, however, when you go joining band after band, lugging gear around, expending, gas, money, time and expertise into "pro situations" where they're not paying anyone.

If you are entering into a pro situation, then you should be entering a situation where you are paid.

If you are not getting paid, you are not a pro. You are also not a hired gun.

If you are not on the songwriting credits, publishing, etc., then you are not a band member.

If you are showing up and playing for free with no promises, then you are a hobbyist who does it for fun, an amateur, or you're trying to make it with your band (whatever that means to you). Do not label yourself or your situation as pro. You can have a professional attitude, but you are not a pro.

When I play, I do it for pay, for a cut of the action, to promote my own music, or to do a favor for a close friend who needs drummer help. The last thing I'm ever going to do is run around wasting every resource in my life to help out someone who does not have my best interests at heart. You will know what I mean if you ever end up in a band, and the leader openly admits that if an agent was interested in him/her, but not the band, he/she would bail out in a heartbeat and fend for themselves.

It's time for YOU to fend for YOURSELF.

DRUMMERS! Just say NO to playing free gigs for bands that are not paying you, or in bands where you have no vested interested. You've worked hard to acquire your talents. Stand up for yourselves! ro
Couldn't have said any of this better myself and I am saving this to my hard drive for future reference! I always go into a situation like this extremely skeptical simply because I eventually realized there was a reason why the drummer left and it may not have been because of him!


Have you ever thought of writing a book? There is so little information out there about the music business and the best book I found is titled Tour Smart. There are no college courses on this stuff and it would be a real big contribution (other than your playing) to the world of music!


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com
http://www.patentcoachmike.com
http://www.youtube.com/drummermikemccraw
http://www.myspace.com/drummermikemccraw
http://www.facebook.com/mike.mccraw
 

thtst

Senior Member
It can get WORSE... as a drummer some unscrupulous types know you do not want to pack up the set so they'll come to your place to make it easy on you. So then you have strangers in your home and low and behold while one guy is 'in the bathroom'... After they leave you notice a few small valuables missing in your home. Please don't ask how i learned this hard lesson :(

Without proof a specific person took it/them you have no case.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I have mucho experience in HR. People have the right to talk about $$ during the recruitment phase, but it can be considered to be bad form in some industries - especially if there's a lot of competition for a position. Employers prefer that you ask about the job.

However, the music industry is less structured than most - small partnerships with varying levels of professionalism all over the place. So being more upfront about payment, albeit politely, makes sense. When there's people struggling to make a comfortable wage (and maybe some habits involved) then you can come across some feral types, as thtst talked about.

There probably isn't a formula; you just need to read the situation and the people in auditions just as you do in job interviews. The value of Nick's OP is that he's warning of a problem scenario that he's obviously seen before.
 

donv

Silver Member
I get a kick out of the ads that ask for audio and video clips of you playing to even be considered, but when you ask them for the same to consider auditioning, they have nothing to offer.

I also saw an ad on craigslist a couple of years ago that was sent to all the geographic regions. The ad was from someone in Florida wanting to put together a pop band of young teenagers for a European tour all ready lined up. I wrote the guy just to see how much he knew about what he was trying to do, and after some simple questions about getting work visa's for unaccompanied teens it was obvious the guy had a lot to learn. The ad looked very professional but the guy knew nothing about what he was trying to do. I had some idea of what was involved because a year eariler my nephew had gone to Scotland and Ireland to play and it was a nightmare for my sister to get everything done that was needed for him to go.

I take a look at Cragislist at least once a week and look at everything I read skeptically. But then again you here the stories, especially with metal bands, where bands find new members with internet ads.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
The article has some really good advice in it, but is also way too focused on the negative. I would be out thousands of dollars if I avoided ads that were looking for drummers ASAP because of getting rid of their drummers. Those have been some of the best paying gigs I have played.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
I posted this article for two major reasons.

The first being that from time to time I see threads on this website, and also a few others I am a member of, asking how to "go pro". I felt this might guid some of those people in the right direction.

The second reason is because I just moved to LA. This is a much larger music market than most cities and since I have relocated here I have been getting an avarage of 10 emails a day from craigslist and LA Weekly from these so called "Pro Bands" looking for a drummer.

In addition to the typical questions I ask these bands, I always ask "is this a paid gig?"
9 out of 10 of them say no. In fact, I had one guy email me back and tell me how I am everything that is wrong with the music industry and that he can "drum circles around me" and the only reason he contacted me was because he was "that desperate for a drummer".

I also have a "Manager" contact me about a band that she was working with. Anytime a group already has managment is sounds like they are in the right direction, no?
Turns out the band just formed 4 months ago, and this is all the members first real band. They are all about 7 years younger than me and the so called "manager" was one of the guys girlfirneds...

I agree 100% that there are two kinds of "Pro." Attitude and Career.
Lots of guys mught have a Pro Attitude, but that doesn't mean they are professional musicians, and I think you should only say you are a "Pro Musician" if you make a living from music.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
95-99% of that is good advice.

If you're a "new" drummer who's never gig-ed before, and has no experience, and start demanding to be paid, good luck.

But more to the reality is, not many clubs pay anymore. Many bands can't guarantee payment, because the clubs don't guarantee payment, and supply of bands far out weighs demand for bands.

If you look at most of the bigger rock bands today, most of them didn't get paid in the begging, and those that did, didn't get much.
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
If you're a "new" drummer who's never gig-ed before, and has no experience, and start demanding to be paid, good luck.
If you are a new drummer, are you going to think you're a pro? The post was all about being a professional, not a recreational drummer.
 
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