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  #1  
Old 07-27-2010, 04:00 AM
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Default Making a living playing the drums

My goal is to be able to get to the point to where i am making a living playing full time in my original Christain metal band. But until i am able to do that i am trying to think of other ways as well to bring in money playing the drums. Of course there is playing in cover bands and doing session work and things like that. But what are some other ways to bring in money playing the drums until im able to support myself by playing full time in my 1 band?

As a side note, what are some good things about the musicians union that can really help out a pro musician? I have read that they have things like health insurance for musicians and that they have things that allow for a musician to put into things like a retirement fund. Does anyone know about these things and others that the union offers?
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Old 07-27-2010, 05:49 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

you could teach. a lot of pros do that.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:45 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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you could teach. a lot of pros do that.
Yeah, teaching is an option. But to be honest i prefer to play.

Anyone else have any thoughts as well?
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:36 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Christian Metal? That's a tough one, as it's not quite mainstream. You're certainly not gonna be asking every other club out there for a gig.

My area has an organization that was made to help the musical community by sponsoring shows and setting up the area's own music festival. It helps bands get recognized, and also does all the local Battle Of the Bands.

I suggest looking around to find out if your area has one like it, they could get you gigs, either for the name or for the money.
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:38 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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Originally Posted by Coldhardsteel View Post
Christian Metal? That's a tough one, as it's not quite mainstream. You're certainly not gonna be asking every other club out there for a gig.

My area has an organization that was made to help the musical community by sponsoring shows and setting up the area's own music festival. It helps bands get recognized, and also does all the local Battle Of the Bands.

I suggest looking around to find out if your area has one like it, they could get you gigs, either for the name or for the money.
Well, i want my band to tour and play with Christain and non-Christain bands. Like Living Sacrifice and Underoath do. I will be open to playing just about anywhere and everywhere with my band.
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:53 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

The musician's union has kind of devolved over the last few decades, and better serves those who are already doing union dates - few and far between these days - rather than help get work for its members. There were certainly good benefits for those doing a lot of work in the '50s-'70s, but there's very little being done anymore other than the occasional soundtrack, awards show, play or symphony work. Even in large markets like L.A. or New York City, union membership, power, finances and benefits are dwindling.

Basically, joining the union at this time in order to get work isn't going to be very helpful. If you have a long-term gig that requires joining, or get offered a union album date, it would be worth it, at least temporarily.

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Old 07-28-2010, 05:34 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Thanks for that info Bermuda!
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:32 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Hmm difficult question to answer I would say. As I live in the UK, bands rarely ever get paid money to play, the only ones that do are very decent cover bands but the ones who get the most money are the tribute acts. We had a Rage against the Machine tribute band round where we live and they were so spot on if you closed your eyes you could swear it was them.
Now I believe they were getting in excess of 500 per show.

My advice is start up a tribute act to a band that many people like but one that has been paid tribute to a million times before like AC/DC or Metallica for example. Once you're established you can charge a lot for gigs and venues will pay to have you, if you are good enough.

Another option is having a band for weddings and occasions, I understand you can charge quite a bit if you sound professional. It depends on your style too if you only want to play metal then there probably is no easy answer I'm afraid.
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:11 PM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

IMO relying on a ban
d to "make it" is a fool's errand. The best way to make a living is first to be good. Once one has something to offer, the better the chances of full time work. An agent is a must in many cases. The ability to get along with people, play in time and cover many styles is key.

There are numerous avenues to pursue such as teaching and gigging. Recording follows gigging with as many people as possible. One needs a large base of people who know they can trust you.

Bottom line is, be good enough to be in demand.

Sorry to post.
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  #10  
Old 07-28-2010, 01:40 PM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

I don't think you can make a living on the drumset alone. My son studies with a local college professor. He teaches at the college full time, writes the show for the local drum corps each year, works for one of the local high school drum lines, teaches from his home $40 per hour, fills in for the local symphony when he can, does recording sessions, fills in on conga's for a local group if needed, played timpani for Aretha when she came to town last year, did a 6 week engagement of Wicked on percussion when the touring company came through town last year, and much more. Why because he plays all things percussion. Mallets, timpani, snare, set, hand percussion. EVERYTHING!!!!! You want to work steady you can't do it on just the drumset alone hoping for bar gigs and to "make it". There are several people in my area who have busy schedules like this and are living comfortably.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:21 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Thanks for the replies all.

For me im ok with doing cover band work and sessions and teaching and things like that as well. But i have always wanted to have 1 main band that is my major focus that i can work hard to make a success. I really think its doable to make 1 band a huge success if a person puts in the time and work and finds the right people (and gets other members if people quit). I see it like building a house with 1 main band. I just have to build it up.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:33 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

There are a lot of people who want to play their own music with one band. Thats the problem, oversaturation. Its possible but even guys who "make it" still have to do more usually than play drums in one band. I play in two bands, & occaisionally deal in used gear, & I still have a day job.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:43 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

"Making it" and "making a living" are two entirely different propositions. Don't confuse them. Both are possible, but one entails more than just hopes and aspirations.
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  #14  
Old 07-29-2010, 01:31 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

I think that a band can make it to where they can make a living playing in that one band. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance but it can be done for sure. I think that until a person gets to where they can support themselves off of the 1 main band that they want to play in that it is good to do other things to bring in money as well. But one has to remember which band is the most important to them as they play in other bands and play sessions to bring in money. That wont be a problem for me personally. Im just saying.

The sad thing is that a lot of peple get so discourged by others a lot of the times when it comes to trying to make their one band a success. A lot of people paint it like it cant be done. And this is just not true. But it will be true for the people that believe that it is not possible to make a living playing in one main band. And the reason is because they tell themselves this. If a person convinces themselves that they cant do something or that something cant be done they are going to get just those results regardless of what they are thinking that about.
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  #15  
Old 07-29-2010, 01:51 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

I'm not trying to be discouraging mate. Moreso just passing on what I've picked up along the way. Tenacity and self belief are admirable traits, but they are applicable to you as an individual and unlikely to sway record companies or the consumer......at the end of the day, if you're aiming for superstardom, you'll need the support of both.

Go for it, I say....just have a "plan B" mate. I know too many guys who's musical hopes and aspirations lie on the scrap heap.....despite all the self belief in the world. They are in their 40's and 50's, never worked, no home, no money and still playing solo acoustic gigs on the local circuit for peanuts. The band long gone, the dream long dead. I wish I could say they were happy.

Again, go for it......but don't ignore other life skills along the way. You're aiming for a very niche market - bigger in the US than here, but still you haven't had too many replies on where to move to to start a christian metal band. This tells me that the market is small by comparrison......don't be afraid to broaden your horizons and keep yourself working.

Good luck to you though my friend.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:02 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
I'm not trying to be discouraging mate. Moreso just passing on what I've picked up along the way. Tenacity and self belief are admirable traits, but they are applicable to you as an individual and unlikely to sway record companies or the consumer......at the end of the day, if you're aiming for superstardom, you'll need the support of both.

Go for it, I say....just have a "plan B" mate. I know too many guys who's musical hopes and aspirations lie on the scrap heap.....despite all the self belief in the world. They are in their 40's and 50's, never worked, no home, no money and still playing solo acoustic gigs on the local circuit for peanuts. The band long gone, the dream long dead. I wish I could say they were happy.

Again, go for it......but don't ignore other life skills along the way. You're aiming for a very niche market - bigger in the US than here, but still you haven't had too many replies on where to move to to start a christian metal band. This tells me that the market is small by comparrison......don't be afraid to broaden your horizons and keep yourself working.

Good luck to you though my friend.
A good thing is that most Christian metal bands play in the secular market as a Christian band. This is what i also want to do. This also allows the Christain metal bands that do this to appeal to all metal fans on a musical basis. This is also what Underoath does and they have a had great success in this way.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:30 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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A good thing is that most Christian metal bands play in the secular market as a Christian band. This is what i also want to do. This also allows the Christain metal bands that do this to appeal to all metal fans on a musical basis. This is also what Underoath does and they have a had great success in this way.
Does your band have a good demo recording? Send it to Underoath! I would have thought that Christian metal bands would be far more, well, accessible than their secular counterparts, and that band already knows who's who in the Christian metal business.

Send them your CD! Why wouldn't they want to help you if you're really good?
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:36 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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A good thing is that most Christian metal bands play in the secular market as a Christian band. This is what i also want to do. This also allows the Christain metal bands that do this to appeal to all metal fans on a musical basis. This is also what Underoath does and they have a had great success in this way.
Not a bad option......you'll need a band first though won't you? That's your first point of call mate. I'm yet to see a solo drummer on MTV....christian or secular :-)
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:47 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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Not a bad option......you'll need a band first though won't you? That's your first point of call mate. I'm yet to see a solo drummer on MTV....christian or secular :-)
Oops, sorry, I thought he already had a band.

Still, make a good demo of yourself and send that to Underoath. They may know of a Christian metal band that's looking for a drummer, no? I wouldn't have thought there'd be zillions of Christian metal drummers out there to compete with although I could be wrong.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:48 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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Does your band have a good demo recording? Send it to Underoath! I would have thought that Christian metal bands would be far more, well, accessible than their secular counterparts, and that band already knows who's who in the Christian metal business.

Send them your CD! Why wouldn't they want to help you if you're really good?
Thats a good idea for sure when i find the right band.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:49 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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Not a bad option......you'll need a band first though won't you? That's your first point of call mate. I'm yet to see a solo drummer on MTV....christian or secular :-)
Very true i must say :-)
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:13 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

sorry glad I caught the end because after reading all that drummingman your not even in a band!!!

You are limiting your market even more with this label of 'christian metal band'......I am sure it fits into the States but hitting Europe etc with that serious limits promoters and other bands wanting to share tours with you........

I know Metal Bands and successful ones who will turn their nose up at such a label as Christian Metal

But all the more power to you but if you seriously want to make a living from drumming then as you said you don't want to teach etc but it's how a lot of guys stay afloat........

Nothing wrong with it but be prepared for hardship but you do you want your cake and eat it but playing and earning a good living from 'one' band..........

I sound negative but sometimes the odds are better of winning the Lottery.........

good luck regardless
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:22 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Hey Drummingman,

Here are some ways to make money/a living from drums:
1) Join a function band or create one
2) Do sessions and tours for existing bands, composers, shows, events
3) Demonstrate gear at trade shows
4) Offer online sessions
5) Teach
6) Write for the magazines

If you diversify a little and do even a couple of these really well you'll be able pay your bills and fund your bigger goals.

Another piece of advice, never ask someone who hasn't made it, how to make it. Doing what you want is far from easy but it is possible if you have a good business brain to compliment you drumming skills.
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:45 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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Originally Posted by thedrumninja View Post
Hey Drummingman,

Here are some ways to make money/a living from drums:
1) Join a function band or create one
2) Do sessions and tours for existing bands, composers, shows, events
3) Demonstrate gear at trade shows
4) Offer online sessions
5) Teach
6) Write for the magazines

If you diversify a little and do even a couple of these really well you'll be able pay your bills and fund your bigger goals.

Another piece of advice, never ask someone who hasn't made it, how to make it. Doing what you want is far from easy but it is possible if you have a good business brain to compliment you drumming skills.
Since you've just given the OP six, actually seven points of advice I guess it's fair to assume that you yourself have "made it," no?
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:59 AM
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Another piece of advice, never ask someone who hasn't made it, how to make it. Doing what you want is far from easy but it is possible if you have a good business brain to compliment you drumming skills.
I certainly get where you are coming from, and to a degree it's a point well made.

But on the flip side, I don't have to hear it directly from Sir Edmund Hillary's mouth to know that climbing Everest is incredibly hard.....and that far less people who set off from base camp actually reach the summit.

Knowledge can be garnished from the experiences of many.....whether it be Tommy Lee or the guy working the local circuit.
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Old 07-29-2010, 05:27 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Quote:
Originally Posted by thedrumninja View Post
Hey Drummingman,

Here are some ways to make money/a living from drums:
1) Join a function band or create one
2) Do sessions and tours for existing bands, composers, shows, events
3) Demonstrate gear at trade shows
4) Offer online sessions
5) Teach
6) Write for the magazines

If you diversify a little and do even a couple of these really well you'll be able pay your bills and fund your bigger goals.

Another piece of advice, never ask someone who hasn't made it, how to make it. Doing what you want is far from easy but it is possible if you have a good business brain to compliment you drumming skills.
Thanks for your post man. Lots of good info!
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:12 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

This piece by the great Bill Anschell is written for jazz musicians, but much of it certainly applies to other areas of music. Probably even more so.
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:22 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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Fantastic article! " a Gig Whore may claim to be working "in the trenches," the jazz musician within knows that he's really plumbing untreated musical sewage."

Thanks for sharing
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:01 AM
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Fantastic article! " a Gig Whore may claim to be working "in the trenches," the jazz musician within knows that he's really plumbing untreated musical sewage."

Thanks for sharing
I should've attached a warning- it's pretty dark satire! I don't believe he means to brutalize struggling musicians- he self-identifies as being at least a partial gig whore, like virtually everyone else who has ever worked professionally.
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:05 AM
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I should've attached a warning- it's pretty dark satire! I don't believe he means to brutalize struggling musicians- he self-identifies as being at least a partial gig whore, like virtually everyone else who has ever worked professionally.
Absolutely. The reason it resonates is that seems to be a view from the inside. Like a CNN correspondent..or an endoscopy ; )
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:06 AM
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Since you've just given the OP six, actually seven points of advice I guess it's fair to assume that you yourself have "made it," no?
Hi con struct,

I've been gigging and teaching for a long time now as well as authoring a book so I'm self-sufficient as a musician and have achieved most of my goals to date. "Made It" as in getting where I want to be, yes. As a signed band, no, but that's not my goal.


Quote:
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I certainly get where you are coming from, and to a degree it's a point well made.

But on the flip side, I don't have to hear it directly from Sir Edmund Hillary's mouth to know that climbing Everest is incredibly hard.....and that far less people who set off from base camp actually reach the summit.

Knowledge can be garnished from the experiences of many.....whether it be Tommy Lee or the guy working the local circuit.
I totally agree with you pocket full of gold. Everyone has knowledge and experiences that we can benefit from but when the advice is primarily negative, un-useful and offers no practical solutions then you've got to ask where is this coming from and what use is it to me?

At least that's how I view the situation, I'm a solutions guy! ;-)
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:09 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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This piece by the great Bill Anschell is written for jazz musicians, but much of it certainly applies to other areas of music. Probably even more so.

That was laugh out loud funny at times. And at other times very sad hahahaha.
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Man, you read quick Aydee!!

Very funny! Great read Todd.....thanks for that.
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:16 AM
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I totally agree with you pocket full of gold. Everyone has knowledge and experiences that we can benefit from but when the advice is primarily negative, un-useful and offers no practical solutions then you've got to ask where is this coming from and what use is it to me?

At least that's how I view the situation, I'm a solutions guy! ;-)
I totally agree with this. In my time online asking about how to make a living as a musician, especially in the context of one main band, the majority of things that i have heard have been negative. And i find that to be truly sad to be honest. Because it just shows me that a lot of people have given up on their true dreams and they live with a mindset of defeat when it comes to what they want to do. People have to remember that most of the bands that have made it started at the same place that we all start at. This just shows that it is very possible for any band to make it.
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:17 AM
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Thanks for your post man. Lots of good info!
My pleasure drummingman, now get out there and prove that it CAN be done!! Haha!
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:20 AM
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Man, you read quick Aydee!!
Will read the rest of it on the way back home, PFG ; )
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:21 AM
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but when the advice is primarily negative, un-useful and offers no practical solutions then you've got to ask where is this coming from and what use is it to me?
Certainly not trying to be negative mate. I just wanted to highlight that if it was as easy as: "I'll get myself a band together, hit the scene, get signed, sell several hundred million units and jet-set my way to international stardom", then we'd all be doing it.

Merely trying to highlight the difference between "making a living" and "making it". So precious few actually "make it" in the sense being discussed here (i.e one band sustaining a lifestyle).

Cheers man :-)
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:24 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

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I totally agree with this. In my time online asking about how to make a living as a musician, especially in the context of one main band, the majority of things that i have heard have been negative. And i find that to be truly sad to be honest. Because it just shows me that a lot of people have given up on their true dreams and they live with a mindset of defeat when it comes to what they want to do. People have to remember that most of the bands that have made it started at the same place that we all start at. This just shows that it is very possible for any band to make it.
Incorrect. I've given up on nothing. You are missing my point.

EDIT: that explains all Aydee......here I was thinking you're a speed reader.
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:26 AM
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Default Re: Making a living playing the drums

Making it also does not have to mean selling a 10 million albums. To me it means being able to play the music that you love and being able to make a comfortable living do so. And if my band sells 10 million albums without us compromising our beliefs and our musicial vision then thats great as well!
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:28 AM
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Incorrect. I've given up on nothing. You are missing my point.
I was not saying you personally. I was just saying in general.

Only each person knows if they have given up on their dreams. If i had not talked with a person fpr a good bit i would try not to assume that they had given up on their dreams.
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