Working Drummer Opportunities in USA/Canada/UK

Kilpa

Junior Member
Hola!

I'm 25, from Perth, Australia (the most isolated capital city in the world!) and currently making my living playing drums in a covers band (a well as some fill-in big band work) whilst doing research honours at university (in biology). I'm really proud of the fact that I've gotten to this point of being able to support myself playing the drums, and it's making me seriously consider a career change.

Anyway, after I finish this year I'd like to travel and see the world for a bit, and if I can do it whilst playing the drums I think this'd be fantastic. In particular I'd like to travel to either the USA or Canada (or maybe UK). I'd love to get your feedback on what sort of opportunities there are in these countries:

In particular are there any places which are better to base myself in for getting gigs?

Are there any particular opportunities that are unique to certain areas? e.g. going to Vegas and getting a job in a Casino?

Is there much call for touring bands...e.g. a touring tribute/covers act that would allow me to travel a bit whilst playing?

How do people feel about short-term gigs, i.e. I might come in for 3-4 months then finish up and travel on to the next city/state/country?

Thanks in advance.
 
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poppies

Senior Member
If you want to travel and perform, you may want to consider cruise ships. I suppose it depends on how much you want to see of the places to which you travel!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
There are certainly more opportunities in the bigger cities in North America, but there are also more players and competition for those gigs. So it's kinda the same. The better paying gigs (at least in the US) may require you to fill out tax paperwork, which means being a citizen, of course you'd have a somewhat easier time in Canada and the UK. But it's pretty tough all over, I know a lot of great, eager musicians who'd love to find even a part-time band to play weekends, and can't.

Bermuda
 

Green_C

Member
There are certainly more opportunities in the bigger cities in North America, but there are also more players and competition for those gigs. So it's kinda the same. The better paying gigs (at least in the US) may require you to fill out tax paperwork, which means being a citizen, of course you'd have a somewhat easier time in Canada and the UK. But it's pretty tough all over, I know a lot of great, eager musicians who'd love to find even a part-time band to play weekends, and can't.

Bermuda
I just want to correct one minor item here. Our IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is kind enough to let you pay taxes without any citizenship hassle whatsoever. You make money here they're happy to take it. In fact they demand it. No citizenship questions asked. ;^)

(My dad is a Canadian citizen who worked his entire life in the USA.)
 

Kilpa

Junior Member
If you want to travel and perform, you may want to consider cruise ships. I suppose it depends on how much you want to see of the places to which you travel!
Cheers. This is something I thought about awhile ago and have been preparing for (latin chops, reading skills) for the last year or so. I'm still going to audition in early September this year, but want to look at other options as well.


There are certainly more opportunities in the bigger cities in North America, but there are also more players and competition for those gigs. So it's kinda the same. The better paying gigs (at least in the US) may require you to fill out tax paperwork, which means being a citizen, of course you'd have a somewhat easier time in Canada and the UK. But it's pretty tough all over, I know a lot of great, eager musicians who'd love to find even a part-time band to play weekends, and can't.

Bermuda
Thanks Bermuda, I had a feeling it might be like that. I get the impression (from experience here) that a lot of bands aren't likely to hire you if they know you'll be travelling soon (I know one horn player who didn't get a gig because they might want to travel 2 years from now!). I might just have to wing it and see what happens!

P.S. I just thought I'd add that your one of my inspirational people in how you managed to successfully combine a music career with a "normal" job, which is what I think I'd like to do.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I just want to correct one minor item here. Our IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is kind enough to let you pay taxes without any citizenship hassle whatsoever. You make money here they're happy to take it. In fact they demand it. No citizenship questions asked. ;^)

(My dad is a Canadian citizen who worked his entire life in the USA.)
And I did say "may" because sometimes it doesn't happen, and sometimes it does. I have gigs/bands where the money is just free, and others where I am 1099'd by either the venue, or the bandleader (who is 1099'd by the venue.) In those situations, my ss# is required, and obviously that means being a citizen, or having some kind of work agreement. For non-US citizens there are work visas, but those have to arranged in advance, not on the spot when the person happens to land a gig.

I also know a few Canadians who work in the US, but they work for multi-National corporations, and it's all worked out at a level much higher than a person freelancing in bands.

Bermuda
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Thanks Bermuda, I had a feeling it might be like that. I get the impression (from experience here) that a lot of bands aren't likely to hire you if they know you'll be travelling soon (I know one horn player who didn't get a gig because they might want to travel 2 years from now!). I might just have to wing it and see what happens!

P.S. I just thought I'd add that your one of my inspirational people in how you managed to successfully combine a music career with a "normal" job, which is what I think I'd like to do.
Thanks for the nice words! :)

I think bands all over would like permanent members, even though many of the groups don't have any real opportunities to offer in exchange for that loyalty. Still, it's their right to ask, just as it's the hopeful musician's right to walk away.

I like the idea of winging it... sometimes I wish I could afford that! But in the US, particularly the major cities where the better playing opportunities are, living expenses are high. Sometimes very high. If you can afford to do it, that's fine, but make sure you've got some cash reserves... maybe $2500/mo for a city like L.A., and even more for New York City.

Bermuda
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
One can only add to what Bermuda said.

Sure, such gigs exist, and it is entirely possible that it could work out the way you hope.

But the number of available players generally outweighs the available number of gigs.

And many of the better gigs only audition people who are recommended or otherwise connected to someone.

Los Angeles is the still one of the music capitals, and a lot of the music business still goes on here. It is still very much a place to be if one is interested in a music career. But stand on any average corner with a ball, throw said ball in the air, and chances are you'll hit a drummer.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
One can only add to what Bermuda said.

Sure, such gigs exist, and it is entirely possible that it could work out the way you hope.

But the number of available players generally outweighs the available number of gigs.

And many of the better gigs only audition people who are recommended or otherwise connected to someone.

Los Angeles is the still one of the music capitals, and a lot of the music business still goes on here. It is still very much a place to be if one is interested in a music career. But stand on any average corner with a ball, throw said ball in the air, and chances are you'll hit a drummer.
I was going to say something similar. Say you arrive on music scene X. Well there are already guys that have been there much longer than you trying to score a good gig. Unless your a phenomenal player, there' going to be people ahead of you.

It's not like there's an abundance of gigs to pick and choose from. I think you may be in for a rude awakening. Your plan, with all due respect, sounds a tad naive. Unless you are a phenomenal player, the kind that gets snapped right up by the top musicians.
 
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