A Professional’s Guide To Becoming A Self-Employed Drummer

A Professional’s Guide To Becoming A Self-Employed Drummer

You should totally quit your job… Be self-employed! Face it, you’re not actually happy with what you do, are you? You could be putting your skills to a more productive, creative and fulfilling use. Testament to this is that everyone’s got a little business idea they’ve always wanted to pursue. And the beauty is that it can be anything; from making pottery, or starting a fashion blog to starting a record label, and beyond. You could even strike out on your own doing something your current company doesn’t do as well as you think. 

Fact is that you won’t just benefit yourself, but you’ll be doing your country a favour too. Why? Small companies form an integral part of the commercial ecosystem, helping a country better cope with economic ups and downs.

So, here are a few don’ts that will hopefully be helpful when deciding to say “I’m out!”.

Don’t do it blindly 

Have a plan; one that’s clear and with achievable goals. Keep an open mind to the possibility that things change/evolve with time; so let your plan be adaptable. As a small business, being too rigid is a bad idea. Have a mission statement (a couple of sentences that defines all your business activities). This will help you focus your plans and goals.

Don’t do it with little money in the bank

When you decide to ditch your soul-less job, make sure you have a good amount of savings. You’ll need this you until you start breaking even / making a profit. Taking out a loan can be a good idea, but it puts you in debt… Better to owe yourself than someone else, no?

Don’t be stubborn

Be persistent and tenacious, but don’t be stubborn.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Remember, you’re not the first person to strike out on their own to do what you’re about to do. Part of your research should be to get in touch with your future competitors who, don’t forget, will also be your peers in your chosen industry. Ask them for advice; you’d be surprised how helpful they can be… You can battle it out with them later!

Don’t go throwing your money away

Budget well and spend your money wisely. For example, Google Adwords and social media ads are money better spent than a pricey advert in a couple of issues of a well-respected magazine! Furthermore, networking and word of mouth are key to success: relationships! You might be better off paying to go to networking events to make yourself known.

Don’t NOT seek investment 

There are people out there who enjoy helping start-up businesses. These investors got so much cheddar that it’s not about money, but about the thrill of creating something successful and being part of it. Don’t rule out this possibility; it’s definitely worth exploring it.

Don’t think you’re not worth it 

Be confident, and fight for what you want. If you don’t do it, nobody else will do it for you.

Don’t listen to other people

People will tell you whatever advice they feel is important based on their experiences, like a nostalgic recounting of their successes and failures… And whilst you might want to listen to them, at the end of the day, it’s your decision to follow your heart, so do as you please! Same applies to this article, so do whatever the hell you want!

Is Your Attitude Stopping You Being The Best Drummer You Can Be?

Is Your Attitude Stopping You Being The Best Drummer You Can Be?

Since I started teaching drums as a full-time thing a few years ago, I started noticing that when learning or, more specifically, becoming a pupil in our adult life, students above 25y/o seem to behave a bit like children. Now, I don’t mean this in a negative way at all! In fact, I behave exactly the same way when I’ve gone to see a drum teacher. So, how can we use this to learn drums better?

What interests me about this observation is this perceived change in attitude; the shift in which we proceed to accept information from an ‘expert’ (i.e. someone who’s considerably ahead of us). We surrender our trust and our will to this person, placing ourselves in a vulnerable position, and perhaps making feel a bit like kids again.

Have you noticed this yourself perhaps as a teacher or as a student? My partner, who teaches English in an ESL school, reports this exact same behaviour of her students. Senior as they may be in age or job in their native countries, she says they behave like middle schoolers. Now, her stories revolve around immature behaviour, which isn’t the case in my experience; my focus here is a general approach to learning.

So with that in mind, how can we make the most of this (i.e. learn drums better), our rejuvenating child-like sense of learning and adventure? To me, it’s about approaching learning something new with an open mind and a disposition to change something about ourselves (i.e. learning a new skill or developing it further).

The great Dom Famularo, said it best. To him, the fountain of eternal youth was to constantly be on the cusp of learning something new. Therefore, following on from those very wise words, consciously and actively try to

  • Keep an open mind, but not just when going for a lesson; do so in picking up new information and perspectives. Even if you might not agree with it, it might enrich your knowledge

  • Take advantage, and try to impress your teacher. On one hand, learning is done for ourselves, yet it’s also motivating to hear encouraging words from your teacher

  • Work with a mate on things you’re struggling with

  • Base your learning around projects like songs you’d like to cover, for instance

Thank you for reading my blog, as usual. I hope you’ve found this useful or interesting in one way or another. I would love to know what you think; whether you like it, or think it’s rubbish!

Simple Hacks To Become A More Confident Drummer

Simple Hacks To Become A More Confident Drummer

This quick blog entry deals primarily with the issue of confidence (i.e. how to become a more confident drummer), which is quite a personal thing, I suppose. You see, I was born musical, and consequently taught myself how to play my instruments: the guitar, bass, and drums. Of these, it’s the latter that I’ve gone into most detail; enough to make a career out of it.

Incidentally, I’ve always felt intimidated by those who have attended / graduated from music schools, or conservatoires. I tend to associate these musicians as being far more technically able and knowledgeable of music theory than I, which I always find daunting.

So, I wanted to focus on this little issue of mine, partly to exorcise the demons. Yet, also partly to see if any of this resonates with any of you, and perhaps helps you in any way. This is because to me this feeling of intimidation is directly linked to confidence.

Of course, on the one hand, we can become a more confident drummer by practicing more. But that’s just one way. I think it’s worth spending a bit of time to figure out what makes you different. As I’ve come to understand it first hand, being a musician these days is a more all-encompassing term. You’re more than just a player of your instrument; you’re an entrepreneur.

A good place to start in building your confidence might be to look at what other aspects, both direct and peripheral, of being an all-encompassing musician you might be good at.

Can you play other instruments, or do you sing?

This may be useful in helping you getting a gig. I, for one, treat the fact that my first instruments were the guitar and bass, as a way of making me more aware of the ‘bigger musical picture’ when I play in a band. As a result, I get told I have a “great feel” for the music, which, to me, gives me a bit of a boost to compensate for some of the more technical abilities I might not have yet perfected.

confident drummer

Singing whilst playing drums is a highly desirable skill!


Are you a savvy business person?

A huge part of being a musician is being clever enough to make money from it. Most musicians are artists, yet lack a business sense. Whilst others are very business-oriented, yet lack some of the more artistic side. To me, balancing this is important, yet being organised and being business-minded goes a long way in terms of your longevity in the industry and as a creative.

Are you a good teacher?

Something else to have a think about is where you stand as a teacher. In my experience, every time I teach something to a student, it helps reinforce it in mind. Likewise, not all musicians are good teachers… So, if you’re a good at this, it’s something to feel good about. You can use the transferable “teacher” skills to better communicate with your band mates or clients, or perhaps help  explain or clarify things for others, etc… If you’d like to learn about teaching drums, check out my drum lessons page, and get in touch! I’d be happy to help you become a great drum teacher.

Are you a great entertainer?

Again, perhaps your technical skills aren’t like Jojo Mayer, but are you a good entertainer? If you are, then use that to your advantage! Zoltan Chaney, for instance, is a great example of a very entertaining drummer whilst keeping a solid groove. Check him out below:

These are just a few thoughts, and whilst I can’t answer those questions for you, you should try to discover these things. And how can you incorporate this to your “offering”? Wear them on your sleeve; show them when you have to but don’t gloat; that’s never a good look.

Hopefully these things get you feeling like a more confident drummer. The above are very personal to me, so these may not resonate, and that’s OK! The point here is to think about yourself beyond your technical ability, given that “musician” does not equal being able to play 1,000 notes per second, although this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for that either!

Don’t forget, the more skills you have, the more you can bank on. But never stop developing your craft, learning from others, and from experiences.

10 Tips For The Self-Employed Drummer

10 Tips For The Self-Employed Drummer

I’ve been a musician pretty much all my life, a semi-professional one for many years, having gone full-time a few years ago. The music industry is a tricky one to navigate as a self-employed musician, as there’s a lot uncertainty. However, it can be very rewarding, and that’s the big pay-off!

Having worked in marketing and advertising before going full time as a musician, I wanted to offer the lessons I’ve learned so far as my top 10 tips for the self-employed drummer / musician. This background and experience, I believe, have given me a different approach to business which is teaching drum lessons, and recording drums remotely for artists all over the world.

#1. A healthy routine, and discipline

Maintaining a healthy routine might mean different things to different people. To me, this is about going to bed at a reasonable hour, and getting up and being productive by 9.30am, even if the hours working in the music industry might be irregular. Be disciplined and work hard yet don’t neglect taking a break, and the importance of chilling out and rest.

Similarly, as your passion is now your livelihood, be aware that it’s easy to get caught up in the work. So do your best to spend as much quality time with your loved ones – they’re your support network and are just as important as your work.

music industry

Be disciplined, work hard and the results you want will come

#2. Stay active

Join a gym, or do yoga; it’s an investment and it’s invaluable. Exercise 3 – 5 times a week. You will look better, will feel better, and will even play better. Being physically fit also means being mentally fit; and will have a positive effect on every aspect of your life.

Running is a great way to keep active and healthy on a budget

#3. Don’t be a diva

Be polite, friendly and courteous, make sure you’re always on time and well-prepared. Having a positive attitude and helpful disposition goes a long way! Treat others how you want to be treated. Having a bad attitude is probably the worse thing you can have as a musician, and the music industry is small, so word gets around quickly!

#4. Don’t overplay

Leave your ego behind, and play to serve the song. Being a good musician is not about how many notes you can play per second. Listen to the music and to what others are playing; music is teamwork.

#5. Trust in the universe

Did you ever read a book called The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho? Do yourself the favour and do so if you haven’t. One of the take away messages from the book is that when you follow your heart, the universe conspires to help you. And whilst quitting my job wasn’t inspired by the book, I have personally experienced that things have a way of working themselves out. Keep your head down and work.

#6. Network

Go to gigs or musical / music industry events (i.e. the UK Drum Show, or drum clinics) and meet musicians. Make friends with your local music shop, jam with as many people as possible. This will help not only get your name out there, but you will meet people from the industry who could be helpful. For instance, the drums industry is very small, and as a result, is not only a nice community but also a supportive and collaborative one.

music industry

The UK Drum Show is a brilliant networking event.

#7. Have goals, but don’t compare yourself to others

As a player, it’s important to have goals yet you have to remember that you’re not better or worse than the next guy. They’re farther ahead than you because they’ve been playing for longer, or spending more time on stuff.

#8. Listen to lots of different music

Not just that, but learn about the instrumentalists who play on these tracks and the nuances to their playing. You never know when someone might ask of you to play like such and such person in such and such record. Keep in mind that most of the time it’s not about what you play, but how you play it. Listening to varied music will make you a more well-rounded musician.

#9. Don’t stop learning

Take lessons, watch videos, buy books, take courses… Whatever it is, don’t stop learning. Learning keeps you young, but also relevant so you’re more likely to be in demand.

#10. Get the most out of your instrument as a money-generating skill

What does this mean? For instance, I’m a drummer, yet I don’t just play to earn my keep. I teach privately, I write for magazines, I play in cover bands as well as original bands, I do teching work in studios, I created and launched my own product, etc. Think of different ways in which you can apply your instrument to make a living from it.

Bonus tip

#11. Be confident

If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will? This is something I always struggle with, and need to remind myself constantly about. To that effect, you can only do your best under the circumstances you’re under. So, go for broke and give it your best shot.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you’re after drum lessons with a twist of business-savvy, get in touch! Similarly, if you’re an artist after drum tracks for your songs, check out my remote sessions page and let me know how I can help.