Do you enjoy playing less if you are a professional ?

behindthenotes

Junior Member
Hi Guys

We have posted this as our weekly discussion on our Forum but would be interested to hear your views on this

Do you enjoy playing less if you are a professional ?

Before we kick off lets just clarify the context of “professional” in this post – it is a person who makes their sole income from playing music.

As a sport lover it’s nice to be able to particpate and enjoy it. The thought of being a pro sports person is an inviting one –full time training, racing. But then there is the flip side – you don’t win you don’t eat. I wonder if this stress would detract a professional from the enjoyment of racing.

This prompted the same question to be asked of music – everyone would love to be a professional musician, full time playing, practising, writing. There’s obviously no ”race” to win but in musical terms would the enjoyment of being professional be dulled slightly by having to take that “so and so gig” or recording date? Is it more appealing to be semi-pro and be able to choose what you want to play rather than HAVING to play certain gigs to make ends meet ?
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Not for me.

I play professionally, and I love it. Even the pick up gigs that aren't really my style, I'm so in love with drumming, that I love doing them. I was hired to play two shows with a town band, mainly polka, and it was still a great time. Horrible music, rough musicianship, and I was still getting paid to play the drums. Greatest feeling ever.

I am curious to see how much of a "discussion" this gets...because only people who have played professionally can really comment...you just have no clue what it's like until you do it...it's very different than I thought it would be.
 

nickg

Silver Member
Not for me.
I am curious to see how much of a "discussion" this gets...because only people who have played professionally can really comment...you just have no clue what it's like until you do it...it's very different than I thought it would be.
the playing part was ALWAYS the fun part.

it was the traveling, putting up with sh!tty managers, agents, promoters, crappy venues/setups, etc., that sucked.
 

drumtechdad

Gold Member
Depends on your situation. If you're full-time with one group it's one thing; if you freelance it's another.

When you're a pro and the phone rings and you have the date free, you take it, no matter how horrible the leader is, the musicians are, the style of music, the playing conditions, etc. Otherwise you starve.

I play 3-5 gigs a year that are sublimely fulfilling from a musical standpoint; the rest, not so much.

Still, it beats working for a living.
 

KCDrummer

Silver Member
Most of the gigs I play are enjoyable enough. A few of them are religious experiences. Once in awhile, I play a gig that I definitely wouldn't take if I didn't have to. In those situations that make me hate life a bit, I ask myself if I would rather be waiting tables or sitting at a desk and the answer, with a VERY few exceptions, is always "HELL NO!" Paradoxically, the gigs that make me ask myself that question are usually the ones that pay the most--weddings, private parties, corporate events, etc. The fact that a gig that I hate is paying my rent that month makes me hate it a little less.

That's one of the reasons I haven't moved to New York like so many jazz musicians I know. The lifestyle and cost of living in Kansas City allows me to make my living only playing and teaching music. I'd much rather be a musician in Kansas City than a waiter in New York.

I can see how some would want a more secure income and pursue music on the side, so that each gig is more of a special occasion that you look forward to instead of "business as usual". But I'm one of the only people I know who actually gets to do what I've always said wanted to do since I was a kid and I wouldn't trade that.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
Back in my working drummer days I always looked forward to the gig. I was in bands and didn't do much free lance work.

I'll admit that the time on the road could be tiresome and who knows where the money went. Once we hit the stage it was a blast. My bands were usually pretty rowdy. I still can't believe some of the stuff we got away with.

I was a great experience. At least what I remember of it. Friggin wild times to be sure.
 
J

jay norem

Guest
Words cannot describe the hellish agony of playing music professionally. To have your dreams tossed about like so much flotsam upon the angry seas of futility, to have your fondest desires shattered upon the rocks of indifference, to have your very person reduced to nothing more than a trained ape, is to find yourself living in a malignant and chaotic universe of desperation, anguish and despair. It is torture without end, servitude without reward, it is to grovel at muddy boots under the table as you wait, drooling, to gnaw on the next scrap of crust or sinew that is tossed to the filthy floor upon which you crawl like a diseased crab.
Other than that it's really pretty cool.
 

KCDrummer

Silver Member
Words cannot describe the hellish agony of playing music professionally. To have your dreams tossed about like so much flotsam upon the angry seas of futility, to have your fondest desires shattered upon the rocks of indifference, to have your very person reduced to nothing more than a trained ape, is to find yourself living in a malignant and chaotic universe of desperation, anguish and despair. It is torture without end, servitude without reward, it is to grovel at muddy boots under the table as you wait, drooling, to gnaw on the next scrap of crust or sinew that is tossed to the filthy floor upon which you crawl like a diseased crab.
Again, better than waiting tables.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
I consider myself quite lucky to be a paid professional drummer/percussionist. I am able to compare playing music for a living with working like a dog in physically hard jobs. I had many back breaking jobs in my youth. There is no comparison at all. Even the cabaret type gigs are better than lugging wheelbarrows full of bricks.

Not only that, but I am more in love with music and drumming than I was as a kid. And I really loved it as a kid. I teach mostly now and gig occasionally. I find teaching just as fulfilling as playing live because I love to share drumming and help those willing to learn.

As for gigs and touring, I have done my fair share and it is true that we musicians have to deal with lots of fools, but then so does everyone. Just ask anyone who works in an office. While we put up with a dreadful promoter who doesn't know his job, others deal with office politics and bullies. Travel can be hard and sitting in a car or van for many hours day after day sucks. But one of my students is a rep' for a firm and spends each day doing the same thing. Some weeks he travels just as far or even further than I would touring. He doesn't gripe about it.

One of the things I love most about my more than 20 years playing professionally is the back log of funny stories and characters I've met. It has been wonderful. I think like anything it all depends upon attitude. If you want to consider yourself a tortured artist, then that is what you'll be. If on the other hand you want to be more positive, you'll have a more positive response both from yourself and others. Plus hopefully you'll develop a thicker skin over time and being ignored by a crowd of punters in a club wont be so bad. Again I think it is just attitude. I never expected people to fall over themselves to applaud for me, therefore if they ignore me I'm not hurt. When they clap it's a bonus.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I just love playing, and never feel like I'm only doing it for the money. Often I think how lucky I am to be playing for a living and doing something I enjoy, so I have an added perspective of not taking any gigs for granted.

In the grand scheme of things, as a basic concept, I guess it's easy to say it's "just a job", but I really don't view it that way. I enjoy every minute I'm playing.

Bermuda
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Words cannot describe the hellish agony of playing music professionally. To have your dreams tossed about like so much flotsam upon the angry seas of futility, to have your fondest desires shattered upon the rocks of indifference, to have your very person reduced to nothing more than a trained ape, is to find yourself living in a malignant and chaotic universe of desperation, anguish and despair. It is torture without end, servitude without reward, it is to grovel at muddy boots under the table as you wait, drooling, to gnaw on the next scrap of crust or sinew that is tossed to the filthy floor upon which you crawl like a diseased crab.
Other than that it's really pretty cool.
Wow. I feel sorry for you. I have just the opposite experience. Watching someone sing along to lyrics you wrote, etc, making a living doing what I've always dreamed of...heck, my fondest desire isn't shattered, because it's playing professionally...and that's what I'm doing.
 
J

jay norem

Guest
Wow. I feel sorry for you. I have just the opposite experience. Watching someone sing along to lyrics you wrote, etc, making a living doing what I've always dreamed of...heck, my fondest desire isn't shattered, because it's playing professionally...and that's what I'm doing.
God almighty, don't you "professionals" have a sense of humor? I was being oh what's the use....
 

lochday

Senior Member
Words cannot describe the hellish agony of playing music professionally. To have your dreams tossed about like so much flotsam upon the angry seas of futility, to have your fondest desires shattered upon the rocks of indifference, to have your very person reduced to nothing more than a trained ape, is to find yourself living in a malignant and chaotic universe of desperation, anguish and despair. It is torture without end, servitude without reward, it is to grovel at muddy boots under the table as you wait, drooling, to gnaw on the next scrap of crust or sinew that is tossed to the filthy floor upon which you crawl like a diseased crab.
Other than that it's really pretty cool.
Shakespearean in style! Brilliantly expressed. Had Shakespeare, per chance, written about this topic and he would have just added some more tragic events ... triggering their way towards final death. I am not a professional musician (just did a few gigs) but my son is, so, I can sort of understand what you said. I hope you know (i'm sure you do) how to cope with all that, and surmount it. I know you are a jazzman, and this only is great! You must be happy to play such a great music even if that kind of music sometimes deals with the darker side of life (Coltrane died after seeing the face of god ...)
PS I had half guessed from the style you were being humourously ironic but I wasn't sure. After reading your second post, there's no doubt anymore, and I am left with admiring you shakespearean style of writing.
 

aaajn

Silver Member
Words cannot describe the hellish agony of playing music professionally. To have your dreams tossed about like so much flotsam upon the angry seas of futility, to have your fondest desires shattered upon the rocks of indifference, to have your very person reduced to nothing more than a trained ape, is to find yourself living in a malignant and chaotic universe of desperation, anguish and despair. It is torture without end, servitude without reward, it is to grovel at muddy boots under the table as you wait, drooling, to gnaw on the next scrap of crust or sinew that is tossed to the filthy floor upon which you crawl like a diseased crab.
Other than that it's really pretty cool.
Dude,
I have no idea what you just said but I agree 100%.

Fabulous diatribe, now I am a military man, if somebody in the unit ever came to me complaining with the above language, I would give him the day off and a promotion.
 

TheGroceryman

Silver Member
Words cannot describe the hellish agony of playing music professionally. To have your dreams tossed about like so much flotsam upon the angry seas of futility, to have your fondest desires shattered upon the rocks of indifference, to have your very person reduced to nothing more than a trained ape, is to find yourself living in a malignant and chaotic universe of desperation, anguish and despair. It is torture without end, servitude without reward, it is to grovel at muddy boots under the table as you wait, drooling, to gnaw on the next scrap of crust or sinew that is tossed to the filthy floor upon which you crawl like a diseased crab.
Other than that it's really pretty cool.
wow i almost cried after reading that. that's amazing writing...that right there is a serious talent...like wow... i am flabergasted.
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
Hi Guys

We have posted this as our weekly discussion on our Forum but would be interested to hear your views on this

Do you enjoy playing less if you are a professional ?

Before we kick off lets just clarify the context of “professional” in this post – it is a person who makes their sole income from playing music.

As a sport lover it’s nice to be able to particpate and enjoy it. The thought of being a pro sports person is an inviting one –full time training, racing. But then there is the flip side – you don’t win you don’t eat. I wonder if this stress would detract a professional from the enjoyment of racing.

This prompted the same question to be asked of music – everyone would love to be a professional musician, full time playing, practising, writing. There’s obviously no ”race” to win but in musical terms would the enjoyment of being professional be dulled slightly by having to take that “so and so gig” or recording date? Is it more appealing to be semi-pro and be able to choose what you want to play rather than HAVING to play certain gigs to make ends meet ?
I don't play full time, but that being said I'll take any gig that I know I can handle if my main band isn't already playing, I'm not usually too fussy about money, bit most are paying at least $100.00 dollars for the night, very RARELY do I get less than that.

My motto is: "Give me enough advanced notice to get there in time for setup and I'll BE THERE!!!"

I once did a pickup gig in Maine with the call for it at 4:30pm, I live in Rhode Island. As I showered to get ready, the band drove to my house, and we threw my gear into their band's van and hit the highway but FAST!! We made it JUST in time to load in and do a "speed set up" at 8:45pm and play by 9:30pm. I got paid $125.00 that night with a free meal on the house. I got home at around 4:30 in the morning to get up for work for my day job at about 6:30am as I had to be in work at 8:00am.

Fortunately that was a once in a lifetime rush job, but I did it because I love to play!
.
.

Most respect the badge, but all fear the drum.
 

drumtechdad

Gold Member
Words cannot describe the hellish agony of playing music professionally. To have your dreams tossed about like so much flotsam upon the angry seas of futility, to have your fondest desires shattered upon the rocks of indifference, to have your very person reduced to nothing more than a trained ape, is to find yourself living in a malignant and chaotic universe of desperation, anguish and despair. It is torture without end, servitude without reward, it is to grovel at muddy boots under the table as you wait, drooling, to gnaw on the next scrap of crust or sinew that is tossed to the filthy floor upon which you crawl like a diseased crab.
Other than that it's really pretty cool.
Yeah, but the groupies make up for it. ;-)
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
God almighty, don't you "professionals" have a sense of humor? I was being oh what's the use....
No, I have a sense of humor. That just wasn't funny. And I actually know a lot of guys that I have recorded with who do have that exact attitude for real.
 
Top