Friday, June 19, 2009

The Start...

I’m a drummer…and this blog is my chance of explaining what I feel is wrong with the way we as drummers (and really all musicians for that matter) view ourselves and our careers.

Far too often I’m hearing wonderfully talented players, both drummers and non-drummers, complain about inconsistent work, poor playing conditions, and bad career choices. They let it go on until they get to a point of burnout, of losing their vision, of not caring anymore…and then they become miserable middle management at Macy’s…or Starbuck’s…or whatever. Nothing against those establishments and aspiring to work for those companies…but I don’t believe that’s what they set out to do. They just fell into the hole that so many musicians fall into…they let their career happen to them instead of them happening to their career. There is a HUGE difference. HUGE.

We wait. We wait for the good gig, wait for a call on sessions, wait for new students…wait, wait, wait…and complain. “There’s just no job stability in music”, “I’m just takin’ these gigs to get by until so and so goes on the road again”, and a thousand other excuses of why you’re starving to be a musician. So you eat your ramen noodles and practice and dream of that big break. Let me just drop a little knowledge on you here…If your career plan hinges on getting a “big break” or signing a “deal” with a record company or landing that dream artist gig, you’re playing the lottery and that’s no way to build a stable career. Let me give you some insight on what I’m talking about…

You are marketing
You are sales
You are collections
You are management
You are accounting
You are the planning department
You are promotions
You are booking
You are producer
You are technician
You are bandleader
You are teacher
You are mentor
You are the artist
You are the student

………and you are you’re only chance…..

You just haven’t realized it yet.

My whole world changed, my outlook did a complete 180 degree turn when I understood this. If you succeed it’ll be because you took control of your life and your career and didn’t wait for a phone call, or a deal, or whatever. You’ve gotta put time, blood, sweat, and life into the non-musical side of your career for the playing side to have a chance to shine through.
“Stop using all of those corporate terms”, you may say ”I got into music to get away from the hum drum workforce. I just want to play, I just want to make beautiful music”…….Then rock on Kennedy, ‘cause your careers headed for the grave.

I know, you’re thinking “This is all well and good for some but I have a steady gig, a solid teaching position, a full roster of students…”. But you won’t forever. The only sure thing about life is change and movement. And when that “solid” gig or position runs its course and when those students quit, if you haven’t honed any of the skills necessary for survival outside of a guaranteed position, then you’re up a creek.

I went to school to be a drummer…Worked hard, practiced harder, and got a degree. ‘Nuff said about that. What I want to talk about is what I didn’t learn while attaining my music degree. I want to dive into the topics never mentioned in my lessons, or my music history classes, or my counterpoint studies, etc. I want to help you see a lot sooner than I did that taking a business course, or reading a marketing book, or learning a skill like basic HTML code is an absolute must. I don’t remember the last time I read a book on music….probably college. All of my time is now devoted to acquiring and learning the skills necessary to put food on the table for my family…all of that eventually leads back to the music, but I use the term eventually lightly. It’s a process and it takes time and patience…and planning…and direction…and goal setting…

So I decided to blog about it. To document my discoveries, what I’ve learned, my mistakes (there are LOTS of them), and to get some feedback from you guys. I hope to have some guest interviews (Nashville is full of experienced and seasoned professionals, drummers and non-drummers alike) with musicians that achieved their dreams through very unconventional manners. I’ll speak on some practical issues dealing directly with drumming (injuries, technique, practice, etc), and some on the business side of it (career options, marketing, goals, personal finances). Please don’t hesitate to comment on the posts. If you’ve got experience in the topic, please by all means, chime in. I want this to be a place where discussions are started, problems are solved, and hopes are encouraged with practical and applicable knowledge.

I’ll end with a quote from one of my favorite inspirational speakers, Zig Ziglar…

”If you do the things you have to do when you have to do them, you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.”

Welcome to Drummer…etc.


Jeff said...

Amen brother. Thanks for setting this up. Awesome!!
That's why I got a marketing degree..My problem is I'm spread a little thin now with cover gigs and teaching that I'm cutting into my practice and "developmental" time. I'm glad this blog is around to help motivate me and keep me on the right path. I'll will contribute my thoughts as much as possible. More later.....

Audiyo said...

And you're just the kinda've drummer we need on here...I'm just hoping to get some good discussions started, and yes, hopefully to do a little motivating. Sometimes we just get so snowed under with trying to make the bills that we lose sight of why we're in this in the first place. Thanks for stopping in and there will be much more to come...

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