Where to go after playing on cruise ships?

DrummerPady

Junior Member
Hi guys

I just spent six months on a cruise ship. I worked for Carnival as a drummer and it was a really really good experience. I'm twmty years old and just came out of high school when i auditioned for the job. This means that i didn't study music or anything and i'm already working as a full time musician. My problem is that i'm not sure what to do now. I know that i'm gonna do a second contract but i don't know what to do after this. Many people recommend me to study music, specially because i dont have anything besides high school education. But that feels weird to me as i'm already doing the job others have to study for.

I have kind of a plan, i wanna do a second and a third contract on ships, because i learn a lot from the other musicians, i earn good money, i perform daily on a professional level and i can practice a lot because we dont work more than five hours a day. After having done the third contract i wanna go to LA as a freelancer and give my best.

Many people tell me thats not a good idea, they tell me i should study music in order to have an education, some tell me to study something completely different like international affairs in order to have a backup plan if it doesn't work out.

I'm not sure what to do and im sure there are many young musicians who have a similar problem and want to see discussions about it.

Thanks already for the replies.
Greetings from Switzerland
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
At some point you need to throw a little caution to the wind and make a decision. There is a term we use in business called "paralysis through analysis". Basically it means that you can make a plan and analyze it to the point where you see so many good and bad points you literally cant make a decision. You decide that whatever decision you make, you will be wrong.

In your case you are young, being as how you have been on a cruise ship you likely have very few debts and probably fewer people depending upon you. So I say if going to LA and trying to make it is your dream, then do it. But do it while you are young.

If you want to study music then maybe you should go to LA to do that. Go to MI or one of the other music schools and kill two birds with one stone. The world is your oyster man, go out and see the world, experience some things and seek your fortune.
 

Thud

Senior Member
I would say build for the future while still having a ball.
With a little careful management you can do both. I think you should study music formally and get some credentials on paper. Because what happens after the cruise ship job? So prepare for that day now while working in the present.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
You are young. Use your head while following your heart, to make your dreams become reality.
Yes you can quote me.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
At some point you need to throw a little caution to the wind and make a decision. There is a term we use in business called "paralysis through analysis". Basically it means that you can make a plan and analyze it to the point where you see so many good and bad points you literally cant make a decision. You decide that whatever decision you make, you will be wrong.

In your case you are young, being as how you have been on a cruise ship you likely have very few debts and probably fewer people depending upon you. So I say if going to LA and trying to make it is your dream, then do it. But do it while you are young.

If you want to study music then maybe you should go to LA to do that. Go to MI or one of the other music schools and kill two birds with one stone. The world is your oyster man, go out and see the world, experience some things and seek your fortune.
Here here!

But LA is tough. Not only are there tons of great players, but there are tons of attractive, young players, too, that you'll be competing with for gigs. Not only that, but there are very few recordings made today with authentic drums. The world of pop music doesn't need a drummer until it's time to play a gig, so studio drumming opportunities are virtually none. What studio drumming there is, it's often done for free by the engineer, or by someone's buddy who wants the experience. The stuff for TV and film is locked down by people who have been at it for decades, and is likely to stay that way for a long, long time.

Even big name drummers (Dave Weckl, Thomas Lang) are starting to book educational events. If they were busy with gigs and recording, they wouldn't have time for the educational thing. Some pros just like to teach, of course, but years ago, you just couldn't get access to these top-tier players unless you were hiring them for a performance of some kind.

It's not enough to just be the guy who shows up to play drums. You usually have to do something on top of that. Within the world of music, that something else could be teaching, audio engineering, scoring, owning a studio, or being the musical director. And it could be outside of music, like handling the finances (seriously, I've seen this!).

For now, stay on the ships and get your chops up as much as possible. Take up a pitched instrument and learn theory, too. In LA, you'll want to be as amazing as you can on the drums and in music in general.

I totally agree with attending a music school like MI or similar. But it's a good idea to be a student there who is already a bad-ass. More opportunities will flow your way, compared to being someone who needs more refinement.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
...some tell me to study something completely different like international affairs in order to have a backup plan if it doesn't work out....
I can almost guarantee that the AVERAGE musician can make $ easier and in greater amount by not performing music and getting/applying, say, a degree in Comuter Science....regardless of skill as a musician.

The question should always be about your happiness...some can have low $ and be happy....some don't care for the stress.

Will playing the same set of music over and over...night after night...make you happy when you take home slightly below min wage as an annual wage?

Answer yourself honestly and your course should become apparent....if you want $, do something else...if you want the trials and tribulation lows that go with the musical satisfation highs....then you know what to do.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Start lookin' for a new gig. The longer you wait the sooner you'll get the dreaded day job. :D

Cruise ships are kinda fun... I was on the Alaska run for about 3 months on Costa Riviera back in 1993. Gained 35lbs... LOL
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Agree with all that's been said so far. My 2 cents is to maybe study at a school that offers dual training / degrees. Example degree in Music AND Business or Computer Science or where your non-musical passon lies. Dual major in music and business gives you the music side and the business side of the music business.

You're still very young and probably have few debts / dependants, so you can follow your dream and learn from whatever mistakes you make.

Have you thought about other places to ply your drumming craft other than LA? Say Memphis, Nashville, NYC, Chicago? London?

Just some thoughts and ideas. Good luck!
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
You have a lot more tenacity than I did-- I was climbing the walls well before completing a single five month rotation on Carnival. I think what happens during your next couple of rotations will determine what you do: maybe you'll be offered a better gig, or maybe you'll connect with musicians who live in a certain city, and you'll want to move there. I would not go to school just because you think you should-- talk to the players you meet, and see where they went, and what sounds good. I'd probably just be thinking in terms of doing a semester or two at Berklee, or wherever, just to make some connections. I would recommend against moving to a city where you don't know anyone-- unless you're very aggressive and skilled at networking, and you make friends fast.

Don't get lazy while you're out there-- you should plan on studying music at very high intensity for at least the next 5-7 years. As for studying something other than music, do it if you're legitimately interested in it, and wouldn't mind spending the rest of your life doing it, because that's probably what will happen.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Yeah man, come on out to LA and begin to make your way in the world. I say arrive with a place to live and enough money to float you for six months to a year. I'm on the fence about studying music - I did, and ultimately got a degree in paralegalism, but I do perform and have a few gigs in town playing.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
i earn good money, i perform daily on a professional level and i can practice a lot because we dont work more than five hours a day.
You're livin the dream man !

You are young and eaning a living as a musician. Follow the path that led you this far.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
I have kind of a plan, i wanna do a second and a third contract on ships, because i learn a lot from the other musicians, i earn good money, i perform daily on a professional level and i can practice a lot because we dont work more than five hours a day. After having done the third contract i wanna go to LA as a freelancer and give my best.

Many people tell me thats not a good idea, they tell me i should study music in order to have an education, some tell me to study something completely different like international affairs in order to have a backup plan if it doesn't work out.

I'm not sure what to do and im sure there are many young musicians who have a similar problem and want to see discussions about it.

Thanks already for the replies.
Greetings from Switzerland
I have not worked in LA. Many friends have gone and worked in the US. They very nearly all left. American pay is terrible. You make much more money in Europe and Australia. Asia is likely better as well. A friend is doing very well in South Korea.

There is an idea that exists that one must "make it big" to be successful and happy. Whether as an actor or musician, this seems the case. So many guys I knew relied on making it in a band rather than relying on themselves. Their bands all failed, as did their drumming and they wound up in a job they hated with wives who later divorced them and took half of what they earned.

Life has no guarantees. There is no fix all to cover every situation. You make good and them BAM, you have cancer. Or your plan fails and you have to start over again. That has happened to me. I had a great drumming career. BAM! Broken back. I had to start again. I have another drumming career.

On this site I have read a middle aged engineer's thoughts on "what it means to be a professional musician". I don't go to engineering forums and talk about engineering. I know nothing about it. My contribution would be as worthless as his.

At this point in time you are a working professional drummer. By all means continue learning. Just remember, at the next audition nobody is going to ask for your test scores. If you can play, you can play.

If indeed you want to become a member of a faculty and teach in a university, do what needs to be done. There are many ways today to earn qualifications.

If it is in you to be a professional musician, you have no choice. This is the direction. Follow it. Back up plan? WTF????

A student of mine told me last week his high school homework is interfering with his drumming. I told him he had it wrong. His high school education supports his drumming. They are one in the same. He will need business skills, mathematics, another language etc etc. Life contains everything and drumming is a part of life.

Nobody knows the future. In Australia two large car manufacturers have closed or are about to. So many people losing work. No guarantees. Wars start. Earthquakes, freaking tsunamis. You know I lost three friends in that Asian tsunami at the beginning of the 2000's. Three! What guarantees did they have?

We live one life and then we drop dead. It is all over then. No second chances. You wwnna be a good working drummer? Then go and be a good working drummer. And let no bugger tell you you can't.

There, that is the extent of my wisdom. Which I don't really trust. So you're on your own.

Oh and stay single as long as possible. A family too early will drag you into that office job that will kill you five years after your wife divorses you and takes half your stuff.

Good luck. :-D :-D :-D
 

Dutch

Senior Member
I have not worked in LA. Many friends have gone and worked in the US. They very nearly all left. American pay is terrible. You make much more money in Europe and Australia. Asia is likely better as well. A friend is doing very well in South Korea.

There is an idea that exists that one must "make it big" to be successful and happy. Whether as an actor or musician, this seems the case. So many guys I knew relied on making it in a band rather than relying on themselves. Their bands all failed, as did their drumming and they wound up in a job they hated with wives who later divorced them and took half of what they earned.

Life has no guarantees. There is no fix all to cover every situation. You make good and them BAM, you have cancer. Or your plan fails and you have to start over again. That has happened to me. I had a great drumming career. BAM! Broken back. I had to start again. I have another drumming career.

On this site I have read a middle aged engineer's thoughts on "what it means to be a professional musician". I don't go to engineering forums and talk about engineering. I know nothing about it. My contribution would be as worthless as his.

At this point in time you are a working professional drummer. By all means continue learning. Just remember, at the next audition nobody is going to ask for your test scores. If you can play, you can play.

If indeed you want to become a member of a faculty and teach in a university, do what needs to be done. There are many ways today to earn qualifications.

If it is in you to be a professional musician, you have no choice. This is the direction. Follow it. Back up plan? WTF????

A student of mine told me last week his high school homework is interfering with his drumming. I told him he had it wrong. His high school education supports his drumming. They are one in the same. He will need business skills, mathematics, another language etc etc. Life contains everything and drumming is a part of life.

Nobody knows the future. In Australia two large car manufacturers have closed or are about to. So many people losing work. No guarantees. Wars start. Earthquakes, freaking tsunamis. You know I lost three friends in that Asian tsunami at the beginning of the 2000's. Three! What guarantees did they have?

We live one life and then we drop dead. It is all over then. No second chances. You wwnna be a good working drummer? Then go and be a good working drummer. And let no bugger tell you you can't.

There, that is the extent of my wisdom. Which I don't really trust. So you're on your own.

Oh and stay single as long as possible. A family too early will drag you into that office job that will kill you five years after your wife divorses you and takes half your stuff.

Good luck. :-D :-D :-D
Now print this out and stick it in your cymbal bag. It's the best piece of advice you'll ever receive.
 

MileHighDrummer

Senior Member
What you've found, or will find, on cruise ships is that you will be backing many visiting musicians- many of whom are well established and well-known. Make your connections and play where and how you like. My advice, for what you paid for it, is to learn to read drum music well. You'll have much more available to you if you can sit down and sight read a piece. It's not essential but your competition will be able to. Just have fun. If you can play for a few years, even if you decide later to do a different thing entirely, you'll always have that. I don't know when my agent will call about an audition or contract but in between I have a great time. Enjoy your time on the cruises, I sail several times a year and love it.
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
After having done the third contract i wanna go to LA as a freelancer and give my best.
Not possible without the proper visa, and that will be very difficult and expensive to obtain (basically, impossible).

Go to school. Study computer science or physical therapy, don't study music unless you're
A) ready for a life of poverty living with six room-mates, or...
B) are a monster player (unlikely, unless you're a prodigy)

There isn't enough work for more than about five guys in Los Angeles, and the list of talent is a long one.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Not possible without the proper visa, and that will be very difficult and expensive to obtain (basically, impossible).

Go to school. Study computer science or physical therapy, don't study music unless you're
A) ready for a life of poverty living with six room-mates, or...
B) are a monster player (unlikely, unless you're a prodigy)

There isn't enough work for more than about five guys in Los Angeles, and the list of talent is a long one.
Well, I think it's about six guys?

Joe Porcaro
Emil Richards
Larry Bunker
Harvey Mason
Steve Schaffer

.....no, you're right. Damn. The list to get on their sub list is probably really long ;)
 

PraveenSawh

Junior Member
I can almost guarantee that the AVERAGE musician can make $ easier and in greater amount by not performing music and getting/applying, say, a degree in Comuter Science....regardless of skill as a musician.

The question should always be about your happiness...some can have low $ and be happy....some don't care for the stress.

Will playing the same set of music over and over...night after night...make you happy when you take home slightly below min wage as an annual wage?

Answer yourself honestly and your course should become apparent....if you want $, do something else...if you want the trials and tribulation lows that go with the musical satisfation highs....then you know what to do.
lol, I think you just described me. Computer Science is good but it's not really something you can learn how to do by just going to school. You have to spend a lot of time doing it on your own to be in a place where you can get good money doing it. And you will only do that if you want to do it.

To the OP: sounds like you have had a good experience playing on the cruise. You said you learn a lot and get lots of time to practice. I think you can continue taking advantage of that for a little while longer. Then a couple years later, you might be in a better position to have ideas for what you want to do next.

BTW, how does playing on a cruise work? Are you playing with different musicians on a regular basis? Do you have to be familiar with the material before getting on the ship? Do you play every single day? I would imagine that people make requests, so is it a gotta-be-ready-to-do-anything type of thing?
 

DrummerPady

Junior Member
BTW, how does playing on a cruise work? Are you playing with different musicians on a regular basis? Do you have to be familiar with the material before getting on the ship? Do you play every single day? I would imagine that people make requests, so is it a gotta-be-ready-to-do-anything type of thing?
There are different kinds of ships where you play different kinds of music. There are ships where the bands get like two or three weeks of rehearsals on land and then join the ship. All that these bands do, is to play there sets, and sometimes they backup for guestperformers. The bandmembers usually stay the same during the whole contract.

On other ships you don't get any rehearsal time on land. You join the ship as a musician and join the already working band, which is usually a ten piece band. They play sets, they play all the productionshows (sight reading) and backup the guestperformers. The best part (or maybe worst...) about these bands is that the musicians constantly change. You may have joined the band two weeks ago, and the guitar player already leaves in two weeks and a new one is coming. This way you gain a lot of experience because you play with many musicians but it's also something bad, because you can't really connect to the people. That's something that is really hard on the ship anyway.

We do get a lot of requests. All of the bandmembers got an IPad with all the sheet music on it. That way the guests could just call a song and if we had the charts for it we would play it. There are also guests that bring their instruments, like guitar or sax, and they ask if they could come on stage and jam with us... they're usually really really bad but always a lot of fun.

I hope I could answer your questions.
 
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