Working Rates?

groovemaster_flex

Silver Member
Hey guys, as an up-and-comer in the music business, I have a question for the gigging drummers out there.

What do you guys charge when you do session work?

How do royalties work for you guys?

When you teach a lesson, how much do you charge?

When you play a bar gig, or sub in for another drummer, how much do you charge?

My very first teacher once told me that if I was charging under $200 CAD for a bar gig, I was underpaid. That being said, I realize that I'm an 18 year old drummer, but I'm talented. And I want to be taken seriously.

The bar gigs that I work currently, my band as a whole charges 800$ to play. There are 3 of us, but we're a solid band. My jazz trio, depending on the venue and who we play for, charges between 600 and 1000 to play. Are we overcharging or under charging?

Also, because I've only really done tracks for my friends on drums, I charge by the song. I charge about 50 bucks per track but I want to know how royalties work, because I've had some interest in doing drums for commercials and working as a legitimate session musician playing on other's records.

Often, I find drummers leaving out the "business" part of "music business". I want to know what you guys charge, and what you feel is fair in this industry.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
As bar gigs go, that's really good money for a 3-piece! Bands in L.A. are lucky to get $250, regardless how many in the band.

Royalties? Nope. Not unless you're a writer, or hold the publishing, or own the recording, or have an agreement as part of a group. In the US, union dates may have additional payments based on re-use or new media*, but there's no understanding that "hired guns" get anything more than the work they were hired for.

Bermuda


* An example of new media is when DVDs came out, anyone who'd alrerady been paid for work they did on a movie, would get paid again (at a reduced rate) for their work being reissued in the newly-released format.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Everything Bermuda said is true.

Rates depend on a lot of things, including your location. I think the best thing you can do is talk to local guys and see what they get. It also depends on how much work you want to do. The rates that you named for your bands are obtainable in my area, but only at certain venues. So, I can choose to make $1000 (for the band) a night, but only do a show or two a month (because of venue scheduling), or I can choose to make $400 for the band and play every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and most Sunday nights (while still getting those $1000 gigs as part of that rotation). If you want to know if you are charging too much or too little, look at where you are playing and how often you are playing and decide from there. Most venues have a set range...they will pay a band from $xxx to $xxx, and won't go above it or below it. If you want to play that venue, you have to accept that range.

Royalties are an interesting topic. For session work, etc, you don't get any. However, I have built a reputation as being able to add a lot to a song as more than just a drummer, but as a writer. Because of that, I am starting to get co-ownership of songs in ASCAP (meaning I will get paid royalties), and rights to the copyright, along with my session fees, because I help write the songs. However, the average session drummer is hired just to drum, and thus doesn't have any rights to the song.

From my personal experience, my average rates are:
Session work: $100/song
Lessons: $1/minute, but I give discounts for longer times. If it's at their place, I also charge a $5 travel fee
Fill-In Work: Generally I take an even share of the bands cut (ie...four people make $1000, I take $250), but never less than $100 for the night, and $50 for rehearsals if they want me to.

With that said, all of this is wildly subject to change. I've done free shows to help people out (I love drumming and love to share my talents). I've charged as much as $500 per song for recording, when it was intricate stuff where I had to really create my own unique parts and do a lot of overdubs, etc.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I was thinking, wow, that is A LOT of money for a gig.

But then I realized you might mean Canadian dollars.

Either way, it would be rare to get paid that much in Los Angeles, or even San Francisco without having name players, or being a very established band that does corporate events and/or as a known draw.

But here, the supply of bands far out weighs the demand for bands.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
But here, the supply of bands far out weighs the demand for bands.
That's the way it is in Portland, too. Too many bands vying for too few gigs. And, most of those gigs are the kind where the band walks away from the evening with about $25 because nobody goes out to see music at a dive bar on a Tuesday night.

If you want to book higher-paying gigs, hook up with a talent agency and, most importantly, NETWORK LIKE CRAZY!!! I'm fortunate that I sometimes get paid upwards of $600 to play a 2 hour gig, but sometimes I play gigs for as little as $50. Mostly, though, it's about $100-150 per man per 2 hour gig. For lessons, I charge $40 an hour. I just subbed for a drummer last night and got paid $150. As far as sessions go, I usually get paid around $100 an hour. If those hours are spent setting up mikes, setting levels, mixing, rehearsing or tracking is up to the producer or whomever is paying for the time. I usually don't charge per song, but rather by the hour(and I don't include the time I spend loading in, setting up, tearing down, or loading out). And, I never do royalties. Musicians that do typically don't get the studio gigs...

Hope this helps!
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
That's the way it is in Portland, too. Too many bands vying for too few gigs. And, most of those gigs are the kind where the band walks away from the evening with about $25 because nobody goes out to see music at a dive bar on a Tuesday night.

If you want to book higher-paying gigs, hook up with a talent agency and, most importantly, NETWORK LIKE CRAZY!!! I'm fortunate that I sometimes get paid upwards of $600 to play a 2 hour gig, but sometimes I play gigs for as little as $50. Mostly, though, it's about $100-150 per man per 2 hour gig. For lessons, I charge $40 an hour. I just subbed for a drummer last night and got paid $150. As far as sessions go, I usually get paid around $100 an hour. If those hours are spent setting up mikes, setting levels, mixing, rehearsing or tracking is up to the producer or whomever is paying for the time. I usually don't charge per song, but rather by the hour(and I don't include the time I spend loading in, setting up, tearing down, or loading out). And, I never do royalties. Musicians that do typically don't get the studio gigs...

Hope this helps!
What's scary is this the same as what guys were making 15-20 years ago, meanwhile, the cost of heads, stick, gas, etc have all gone up.

I remember 15 years ago doing mid-week gigs for $25 a night, 3 nights a week (Tues,Wed, Thus) over the summer, and making enough to pay off my Roland kit after a few months.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
When I lived in Buffalo I would charge $100 for a gig and $50 per song in the the studio.
Lessons were $15 per half hour and $30 an hour.

Not that I am in LA the prices around here are more. I see lots of teachers charging $30 a half hour and $50-60 and hour...

I don't take a gig unless it's at least $100 for the night.

Always try to get more if you can...
 

jjmason777

Senior Member
Groovemaster, you are making good money already! Good for you.
Caddy mentioned talent agencies, but beware, there are a lot of them who are crooks, and will take most of your money.
 
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