Tips for the pros?

Call me Gideon

New member
So...I've been drummin a good long while and as all but a lucky few of us come to realize, I'm more than liley not going to "make it". I've decided to pursue other avenues to do my best making a living by doing what I love. I know the avenues to being a professional drummer, besides being in a signed band, (ie: teaching, session work, etc) but really have no idea how to get started. First off I know I want to take some lessons myself to ensure that I have a good grasp of rudiments and reading so that I can pass that on and I know that its going to take a long time to pick up students and what not but other than that I really dont know how to begin. Should I take some business classes? Accounting classes? I dont know really what a self employed person needs to know. Any advice from those of you that are already making a living by playing drums will be much appreciated.
 

Timekeep69

New member
Keep records of what you spend and make. As a drum instructor or performer by profession, you can write off anything drum related on your taxes from buying books to sticks, heads, drums etc. Get business cards and put them up at music stores to get students.

When teaching be confident but not arrogant, and always be professional. Determine before hand what ages your willing to teach. Teaching a 5 year old how to play drums can be a trying experience.

Look around at what other drum instructors are charging for lessons, see what kind of experience they have and price yours accordingly. As you start out, you may want to charge less than everyone else until you get some experience teaching.

Hope this helps
 

BillRayDrums

New member
Hey Gideon

When I moved to California way back when I got my start by hitting the jam sessions and finding some guys that I could work with. Over time, I just started picking up things here and there. Relationships I developed with certain players over my career led to bigger and better gigs. You find a core group of like-minded individuals who are "doing it" and hopefully things gain traction.

Teaching is a means to an end- I never set out to be a drum teacher, it was a way to collect some $$$....I mean, someone waves a check in your face at the beginning of every month, you find a way to grab it, get my drift? :)

Finding recording work is another avenue- granted, most sessions you do won't be lucrative in the beginning, as you've got to build up a reputation. 90% of the engineers I work with have told me at one point or another "if you're the guy who can come in and play stupidly simple stuff, I'll call you for 99% of my work". It's kind of funny- we as drummers work on all these lofty chops and dazzling displays of technical brilliance yet the majority of our sessions ends up being something that a beginner could handle.

The art of being a professional musician breaks down like this- 20% musicality and 80% business. Out of that 20% musicianship the layout is about 50% feel, 40% "vocabulary" as in being able to play different styles convincingly and 10% of that "special sauce" that is your chops thing. The 80% business thing looks like 60% calling people and setting up work for yourself, 10% balancing your calendar, 15% dealing with work materials (sticks/heads, vehicle maintenance)and 15% keeping your books straight.

That's basically how it works for me. Those percentages might be a bit off but you get the idea.
 

Call me Gideon

New member
Hey thanks for the tips ya'll. I actually started makin calls today to some folk I know that work at studios so...a small step but a step in the direction I want to go.
 
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