The Musician's Life

Alcyon

New member
I'm in high school, and I've been having some thoughts lately about my future (as all teenagers do) and I'd like to ask some of you guys what your experiences were like, maybe you can help me.

I could easily go to university, and that's what my family would like me to do, of course, but I'm not sure whether I'd be able to bring my drums, and even if I could, whether I would have time to play them.

It's of course a very low chance that any band that I get in after high school will make it and get a record deal or anything, but even though I know I want to keep drumming my whole life, I don't want to be a session musician or live from gig to gig, I'd like to be in one band and tour with it and all that. Most of the people I know that are now in popular bands somehow went straight to playing gigs, touring, and making albums right out of high school, and that's what I'd like to do, but it's scary not to have a plan for where things will go, you know what I mean?

For those of you who are now in popular bands, what happened when you graduated high school? Did you buy your own place and get a job and start gigging? Did you go to university and join your band there?

Thanks a lot.
 

screamkevin

New member
I'm going to keep my answer short so I don't ramble, but...

1. Go to college. I cannot stress that enough. Education is everything. It will open a lot of doors for you that you won't get a toe in otherwise.

2. Just because a band is "touring" doesn't mean they are successful. Touring could mean multiple tractor-trailers, custom busses, hotel suites and mega-bucks, but most of the time it's a broken-down van crammed with equipment and bandmembers, sleeping at fans' houses cause you don't have the $$ for even a cheap flop motel, surviving on ramen noodles and water, and praying that your gear holds up for the whole tour.

3. The more people (musicians) you can meet, the better off you'll be.

Go to college, man. Go to college.
 

break the prism

New member
go to college. that's what i'm doing, anyway. you don't know what you'll need it for until you get it.
if music is truly what you want to do, don't get hung up on 'making it big'. even try to avoid record deals early in your musical endeavors. prely focus on getting better at what you do.

as far as touring goes...my band does short tours now and we're not even out of high school. we get in touch with random places in New England and the Northeast, pack up our shit into the van and play one after another. usually it's a 3-show deal and then we're back home.
you don't need to be famous at all to start touring, really.
 

Gaddabout

New member
Go to college and get your degree. Trying to guess which band is going to hit it big and be successful is like basing your life on winning the lottery. At least if you have a degree, you've always got Plan B in your life, one that potentially comes with a regular salary and health care in case you decide to get married and start popping out babies. Or of that part of life comes at you out of nowhere.

I went the other direction -- tried to go from high school to full-time session musician -- and it was miserable. I don't think I did any worse that most of my friends, though. They all joined bands and lived out of vans, ate baked beans for 8 straight days, begged for gas money home ... they loved it, but they all knew it wasn't something they could do for the rest of their lives. Most of them recognized it for it was ... doing something crazy before joining the world of responsibility.

One more bit of advice: Unless you have absolutely no other interest in anything else in the world, don't major in music. Major in something the world truly values. You can always study and play music on the side. If you're good, or if you find the right bandmates, stay single and do it on nights and weekends until you hit it big, or until everyone burns out and pursues other careers.
 

mortem

New member
yup, listen to these guys... I was in the same position as you a couple of months ago, and posted a thread here (http://www.drumsmylife.com/viewtopic.php?p=20416&highlight=) looking for some guidance and advice. I decided to stay in school and I'm really glad I did. Everyone I've talked to have told me it was the best thing to do. Check the other thread out, it will surely help you out. Good luck!
 

Gaddabout

New member
One other thing to consider is genre of music. A lot of popular metal bands are selling records and packing them in on tours and not making a lot of money. Didn't Derek Roddy just call it quits because he was going broke? That should tell you what it's like if you play in a niche genre of music.
 

B-RAD52

New member
if you like playing drums, and are good at it (which I'm assusming in this case), why not audition at a university? I am extremely lucky to be where I am right now. I'm in a rock band that plays out every weekend, and I'm also a Percussion Major at my college. But, if I had to choose between my band and school, I would choose an education. Like I said, it's just luck that my school is also music.
 
I dropped out of college to pursue drums full time with a band I was in at the time. That was 3 years ago and the band I was in has folded since, but now I'm in a much better band that I'm very proud of. We play steadily every month, and I also fill in for various bands that I'm friends with when they need someone and give lessons out of my home. I couldn't be happier. I have friends that tell me I'm going to have to "grow up" sometime, and sure, I'll believe them, but for me the best decision was dropping out of school to pursue this. Of course I'm not saying that's the right decision for everyone, far from it, I'm just saying what was best for me. However, I know I could always go back to college. The opportunities I've had with playing would have come and gone if I had stayed in school.
 

jozasch

New member
you can go to college and play music, in fact you'll meet more musicians and possibly come across more opportunities..its your thing, do you what you want to do,,,thats what i say...to myself too. lol
i didn't go to college, we were touring and such, some of the best experiences, wouldn't trade them for anything..and my life is still on that road..not to get all robert frost, but follow the road your heart takes ya.
 

Rockula!

New member
I am in a unique poaition because I am at the other end of the same situation you are in and I had the same ideas you had when I was your age

Right now, I am 38 and never made it to the rock star life
I did, however, do the starvation tours
I never got a formal education past high school
My entire life has been spent living paycheck to paycheck

Sounds miserable right?
Not at all
I live my life by my rules and go where I wanna go
Yeah, I never got the major label life but I wouldn't trade my life for anything
My entire lifestyle is based around my art
I'm pretty sure that I will die relatively young
Not by an overdose or plane crash or anything glamorous
My death will be after I develop cancer or something like that
I will have no health insurance and I will just die

I don't want a family, house, nice car or any of the things that "grownups" or "adults" aspire for
My life is neither lonely or miserable
In fact, I feel much more freedom having nothing than the freedom to take a 2 week vacation from my job to "enjoy" my life
Other than my day job, I am always on vacation

You need to assess your priorities
Chasnces are that you will not become as successful as you had planned
That doesn't mean it won't happen
It just means that you should have realistic expectations

By all means, make sure you have the proper tools to become an average citizen with a decent job, family, house , car etc...
You sure as hell will not be able to do it as a musician

You have the rest of your life to give up, settle down and join a cover band
Or, you could live a solitary existance with no aspirations of a life with any type of material posessions
 

FelterSkelter

New member
Rockula!":2onqqt69 said:
I am in a unique poaition because I am at the other end of the same situation you are in and I had the same ideas you had when I was your age

Right now, I am 38 and never made it to the rock star life
I did, however, do the starvation tours
I never got a formal education past high school
My entire life has been spent living paycheck to paycheck

Sounds miserable right?
Not at all
I live my life by my rules and go where I wanna go
Yeah, I never got the major label life but I wouldn't trade my life for anything
My entire lifestyle is based around my art
I'm pretty sure that I will die relatively young
Not by an overdose or plane crash or anything glamorous
My death will be after I develop cancer or something like that
I will have no health insurance and I will just die

I don't want a family, house, nice car or any of the things that "grownups" or "adults" aspire for
My life is neither lonely or miserable
In fact, I feel much more freedom having nothing than the freedom to take a 2 week vacation from my job to "enjoy" my life
Other than my day job, I am always on vacation

You need to assess your priorities
Chasnces are that you will not become as successful as you had planned
That doesn't mean it won't happen
It just means that you should have realistic expectations

By all means, make sure you have the proper tools to become an average citizen with a decent job, family, house , car etc...
You sure as hell will not be able to do it as a musician

You have the rest of your life to give up, settle down and join a cover band
Or, you could live a solitary existance with no aspirations of a life with any type of material posessions
Damn man...... get out of my head. I have said all of these things about my life at one point or another.
 

Jaki

New member
I've been playing drums since the beginning of high school, I passed all the music courses and exams. So at least I have something to go back on and to University if nothing works out.

I made a decision that has changed my life radically this year. I said no to Univeristy and played drums and made music. I'm not playing for a pretty dam good band and we have extremely high aims and we will do it. But it is all about finding the right band members who have the same goal as you. It isn't all about bands though, you can do recording and offering to play for bands and stuff, get your name around. Prehaps play soem one off gigs for people and jam with people.

But the only draw back is, do not get a girlfriend...speaking from experience now, you will want to spend your valuble drumming hours with her and stuff... that can shave your chances in half. After breaking up I've been playing drums literally 5 hours or more a day. Before and after work.... It's all about one night stands and having a laugh now. But if you have a talent for music, don't let it go. If you want it enough and your dedicated enough things will happen !! plus you get to meet alot of new people. It is usualy advised to work part time and have set days off so you can work around that. As the money flows, buy better, long lasting equipment and so on...

So yeah, drumming 4 life !!!
 

The Duster

New member
I headed off to college, planning to get a physics degree. Didn't play drums for a year, and got really depressed. Realized that I only had a passing interest in physics, and the only thing I really cared about was music. Dropped out of college, went to music school (Musicians Institute in Los Angeles), and studied music.

Even though I was miserable in college, the experiences were priceless. By the time I got to music school, I was 100% focused. Most of the kids who went to music school straight out of high school spent more time partying and enjoying their new parents-free life than they did studying. I'd gotten that shit out of my system in college already, so I was able to work my ass off. In hindsight, going to college first was the right decision for me, for sure.

Hope we've all helped ya bud
 

The Duster

New member
Jaki":1qgst896 said:
But the only draw back is, do not get a girlfriend...speaking from experience now, you will want to spend your valuble drumming hours with her and stuff... that can shave your chances in half. After breaking up I've been playing drums literally 5 hours or more a day.
I agree 100% on that one. While I was in music school, I grew this hugely hideous afro (looked like CarrotTop's kid brother - eeek!), because I knew there was NO WAY I could get a hot gf with that thing. So basically, I cockblocked myself haha.

Finally did meet a chick though - a fellow musician - and she understood. There was no "waaahhh! you're not paying enough attention to me!" because she was down the hall practicing too. We're now married, so yay for me.

But still, stay away from girls as a general rule. The music industry's hard enough without having someone else dragging you down.
 

Karlo123

New member
I just keep trying to play and play the drums. Thats it. And ofc the school + listening music + my works and trying to get some money :D
 

Mistajohn

New member
Kudos to Rockula's reply!

I will tell you right off the top: COLLEGE IS IMPORTANT!

Yes, it can certainly put you in a better earnings bracket!

I would do the education thing if I were you...but I am not really sure of your personal circumstances. "Go to College" is merely my stock answer, because I know you can find better employment ops because of it...

Now, what I have learned from living is that you must follow your heart. I went to college, but didn't finish. Many go to college but have no idea what it is that they like. KNow that first if possible!

I was a quantitative psych major...talk about boring. I would've killed myself long ago if I had graduated with a degree in that field. I've always had music as a first love.

Tried switching majors (to music), but those conservative/well educated music people in the department didn't feel I had what it took.

That pissed me off, and I decided right then and there that I could make my own way, and needed not be discouraged by anyone in this business.

I ended up moving to NYC and starting a band. We never got a record out, but I learned much about discipline.

Came back to LA. This was right when I realized the importance of having fun when playing. I started a band for the hell of it with friends. Musicianship didn't matter, it was all about our views, sense of humor and love of partying.

That band lasted ten years and I've seen a big part of the world because of it. Many of the "serious" bands I've played in have never gotten off the
block.

I kept learning though, and ended up doing sessions and sideman gigs. Landed the major label tour thing. Yeah, I made money, and got to travel, but I realized that playing other people's music (even for good bucks) did not satisfy the soul.

That moment came when we played the Park Pop Festival in the Hague (imagine finally playing infront of 300,000 people, but not getting off). I then knew that something was wrong...

Wrapping this up, I will say "GO TO COLLEGE" yet again. But I also know that life can lead you to some really amazing places if you have the guts to follow your heart...follow your dreams (how cheesy is that?). These days I am co owner of a music production house, play in my own band making our own music (having tons of fun too), I give lessons and I also do sessions.

This is the life I always wanted. The money comes when needed. Right now I simply consider how to take my experiences and abilities and apply more business sense to the situation to really make my own way!

But I love what I do, who I do it with, and know that no amount of money could buy the experiences I've had while touring (from nearly burning down clubs to making out with girls on gravel parking lots, to almost being killed to hanging with other musicans shooting the shit).

Have a good time....ALL THE TIME!
 

BillRayDrums

New member
Getting a good solid education is great but......I know many who have gone on to develop a great career at their respective jobs and one day *poof!* Their jobs got outsourced, the company goes tits-up, whatever...and they are STILL looking for a job.

Regardless of what you do, if you manage YOURSELF and FOLLOW THROUGH, SHOW UP ON TIME, you will excel at whatever it is that you set your heart on.

Sure, this career of being a musician is tough work. It sucks hard at times. However, it is possible to make a good living at this. Yeah, you'll not get the 401k, health coverage, etc. etc but at least you'll be doing what you truly love.

That being said, I'd recommend that you get a college education at something that is stable. My ex-wife got her bachelor's in political science and guess what she does now.....yep!! Looks for a job. ME? I've got a GED equivalency diploma and I like to think I'm successful of sorts in my chosen field. At the very least, I get a little more respect as my age increases. I figure that after I'm dead and buried there will be a bit of a legacy that my son will partake in.

I do this shit because I love it, not because I'm trying to be a rockstar or drum god. I do it all for my own selfish pleasure. :)
 
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