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!

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.