How to Make Money Playing Drums!

hybrid-drumset-liveMost drummers play the instrument as a hobby and for fun. But the truth is, virtually every drummer would love to make some money playing the drums. Making money with drumming is not difficult, you just need to know how to get paid.

If you are just getting started with drumming and looking for opportunities to earn some money one of the best tips is to attach yourself with savvy players who already know the ins and outs of making money in the music industry. But that’s easier said than done.

Lets start with some common sense tips on how to make money playing drums>

What Does it take?

The way I made money when I started out is I found a band that was getting paid to play weddings and parties. I made $50 per gig. Sometimes I got $100. That is not very much when you consider traveling costs and time. But that was in the early 1990’s, and I wasn’t picky.

I know some session drummers who earn money playing drums like myself. Some other times, they are simply tipped (something around $35 or less). And, for those that are in a Musicians’ Union, they get a scale pay of about $80 or less.

I also know drummers who played  in cover bands a couple of times and earned $300 and sometimes less. Indeed, it is enjoyable and lots of fun playing these categories of gigs.

The good thing about these kinds of gigs is that you don’t have to be an amazing drummers to get paid. You do have to be good, but you don’t have to be perfect.

But, beyond playing gigs, what about making a living from playing drums? I’m talking about earning money from royalties for sessions, even joining established artists on performance tours. If you are looking to make money or earn a living through these avenues, how can you achieve this?Studio drummers make the most money, aside from being in a famous band of course. And you can become a paid studio drummer on top of the before mentioned gigs. However, you must be a very well rounded drummer.

Getting studio gigs can be tough if you are just starting out. You have to make connections and get the word out, and then you have to really impress both the musicians and the engineers. Word gets out very quickly if your good or bad in the studio. So if you do well in the studio and impress the other people there, studio work and gigs will come knocking at your door.

Essential Characteristics a Drummer Must Possess!

drummer-headsetIf you must be attracted to established artists and receive drumming invites that would bring real money as a drummer, there are essential characteristics you must possess as a drummer;

  • Responsibility
  • Dependability
  • Easy to work with

These characteristics are virtues I came to develop over the years as I witnessed how they’ve worked for my mentors. And today, these virtues have taken me to places I never dreamt of being in my drumming career. Beyond your playing ability you need these characteristics to stand out among the packs who are also excellent in striking the drum.

So, if you desire to play at tour level or at the recording level, you need more than skills. Therefore, ask yourself some critical questions; what type of personality do I possess? Am I likeable or a turn-off? It doesn’t matter how talented you are in drumming, no artist would want to work with you if you are a complete turd. Take a cue from great drummers who are artists’ favorites because of their easy-going attitudes and dependability. Some of these guys are Gordon, Kunkel, Porcaro, and Gadd; renowned artists are not tired of hiring them over and again, you really need to listen to interviews with these guys!

Now, the money making aspect!

Let me start by listing the two types of drummers; Touring and Recording Drummers.

My focus would be on recording drummers for now. Most times, artists rely on their producers for musicians who will play in an upcoming session. So, you should identify an artist who would want you to be part of his musicians or a producer who would want to recommend you to an artist. Getting connected to either an artist or a producer is one of the fastest and best ways to land good paying gigs.

Of course, you must be communication-ready by ensuring your phone lines are on 24/7. Do not get into the odd habit or changing phone number like you change clothes. When you are hired for a gig and you are called upon for a discussion on your pay, it is entirely left for you to decide how to bill for the job. You may decide to charge per hour, let’s say $100 per hour, or bill a lump sum (e.g. $1,000) for the entire session. Also, remember to bill a royalty percentage, which is usually low – something between 7 and 10%.

Okay, let me list other ways you can make money playing drum:

  • Cruises
  • Theatre performance
  • Playing for a church
  • Product demonstrations
  • Tutoring
  • and more

Obviously, there are several opportunities for you to make money as drummer, don’t limit yourself to just one aspect. Bear in mind that how much you will earn will depend on factors such as the type of job, your reputation, and the person you are working for.

stand-up-bass-jazz-drummerAdditional Ways to Find a Drumming Job!

Take a Step Forward!

Leave your comfort zone and step out to all local studios, clubs and bars. These are hangout spots for all the musicians. Interact with them and establish a relationship. Remember, you must wear an easy going nature to attract attention. You must also sound dependable and responsible.

Check Your Local Listings.

Your local listings, craigslist and gumtree are some of the places you should constantly check since bands are always searching for drummers on these spots. In addition, request for referral each time you finish playing. However, ensure the impression you leave behind will speak for you.

Also, you can provide drumming lessons to people in your neighborhood. Eventually, you should start thinking long-term by considering establishing your own drumming business such as staging shows, having a teaching studio, and authoring drumming educational materials. These are great ways to gain financial stability and build a more enduring career as a drummer.