I wanted to share a few key points about some basic yet important factors in getting work as a drummer or musician/singer. You will grow continuously, and having a positive outlook will keep you grounded when things get a little rocky. You may not reach the level of a touring musician, but keep pushing and learn some key factors in landing great gigs.
It’s not enough to be a good musician anymore. There are many talented musicians and many of them aren’t getting work. The phones aren’t ringing like they used to and many musicians are struggling to make things happen. Start to think differently and change your mindset if you want to be successful. The points below are specific to drummers, but the principles apply for any working musician.
1) Know Your Instrument – Learn how to tune your instrument properly. Play with your sounds and exchange ideas with other musicians. You can learn so much by searching, reading and just listening to others. Don’t get comfortable and always re-invent yourself.
2) Learn Some Theory – Although I play by ear, I wish I had learned music theory or how to read early on. There are some great drummers who play ONLY by ear, but I have found that knowing the “Lango” …such as MEASURES, COUNTS, etc…will give you an upper hand when dealing with educated musicians/artists. Some gigs require that you READ and equally play as well. Learn both if you are able. Find a Mentor or Teacher. If you can’t afford a teacher, Youtube has many videos that can help you along your way.
3) Be A Precise Drummer – Practice with a Metronome – Practicing with a metronome, will not ONLY give you precision, but cause you to be a disciplined drummer as well. There is nothing more frustrating than playing with musicians in which their timing is OFF. I struggled for years …not realizing that I would speed up a song when the adrenaline and excitement was high. Although you will play different in a LIVE setting as opposed to being in a studio setting, as a drummer you are the TIME KEEPER. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE !!!
4) Network with other Drummers and Musicians – Its so important to play or jam with other musicians. You will not be a good drummer ONLY playing by yourself. You learn so many things by playing with others. Dynamics ! When to change the volume of the song…. When it is appropriate to solo. There are some things you will only learn by VIBING with other musicians. Learn from other drummers. It will keep you up to date as well as keeping you excited about your instrument. SELL YOURSELF !! Word of mouth is the BEST way to get music jobs. If you are good…someone will TELL someone else about YOU. Get out there, and SHOW Em what you got !! Use Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and MORE to spread the word. Check Craigslist and other popular Musician pages for jobs. When the word of mouth has expired you may need to LOOK for jobs. The jobs are out there and many Agencies and Marketing companies will advertise for specific types of musicians.
I landed a gig with Nintendo to help market the game WiiMusic a few years ago. I played as a “mom” and demonstrated the virtual drums all over the area. The marketing company flew us to LA for training as well as offering us a lucrative contract to HAVE fun ! The young lady that played my daughter is now a well known female guitar player that is playing with major artists, and my stage husband is a well known DJ in the DC area. That experience taught me how to think “outside of the box” when playing drums. How did I land that gig ? Marketing on Youtube and Word of Mouth !!
This is just an example of the Possibilities if you Don’t Limit Yourself !!!!
5) Be on TIME to Gigs/Meetings – This is SO Important. I have been successful in obtaining gigs for this main factor. I’m on TIME ! In fact …I’m early at gigs. The drummer has more to assemble and should get there before the other band members.
6) Expose Yourself to All Types of Music – Don’t limit your playing to one Genre. When practicing, try different rhythms. Learn how to switch from one rhythm to another. You can get plenty of work if you can play Jazz, Gospel, Funk, R&B, Rock…etc…. Learn some jazz standards as well. You may build a reputation as a Funk drummer, but don’t stop there. Keep challenging yourself.
7) Play With Feeling and Passion Believe me…people can FEEL you. If you’re not passionate about your instrument and not playing from your SOUL and Heart…. Your audience can tell !! Learn how to channel and release through your playing. Its important. Musicians will love playing with you when they are able to FEEL you…or VIBE with you. Music is very healing….be a part of that experience.
9) Learn the Music Industry – Contracts – Travel Research and learn about the music industry. Get contract information and learn about industry standards when recording. Read about unions and organizations that protect musicians. You may not necessarily need to use everything, but know your value. Unfortunately there are those who will take advantage of your vulnerability, so do your homework before stepping out in the world of music.
10) Your Attitude and Character – Another big factor in the music industry. I have heard horror stories in dealing with artists, musicians and singers. Your reputation will spread like wildfire if you are hard to work with, arrogant and inconsiderate. You will gain respect as you treat others with respect. I have seen some great acts lose their record deals, contracts and more from their attitude and character. Executives and artists simply won’t stand for it these days. Why should they ?? There are too many great musicians and you are replaceable. Learn to control your temper and actions. There will be challenging days, but how you handle each situation will define how successful you are in the music industry.
11) FIND A WAY TO LEVERAGE YOUR INCOME – Although you may not make enough to create your own clothing line or your own perfume fragrance, find a way to invest your money. During the dry seasons have another source of income. Use your music and expertise with your instrument to create an added income.
Create Your Own Beats and sell in a package. Join an Affiliate Program and Sell a Music Product. Write a BOOK and sell YOUR Own product. Learn how to maximize your results by using Youtube Heard of FIVERR ? People charge 5.00 for all types of services. Write a music chart or sell a 2 min intro track on Fiverr.
These are just a few ideas to get that creative MIND working 🙂
My goal is to HELP you in understanding that you can get work as a drummer or musician. Whether you are a local musician or travel abroad, you play an important role in creating music. Apply these key factors and stay focused. Stay positive and touch the lives of other musicians. Music is powerful and you are instrumental in that creative process.