Planning Your Music Career

The Challenge. We study and practice. Yet the question remains, “What now?” How do I make a musical connection to others? How do I apply my skills to real-world experiences? It’s frustrating that the craft of drumming, and the landscape of the music business is not an exact science. But there are things you can do; steps you can take; and changes you can implement to take you out of the practice room and into the music business. Let’s start by planning and then by taking a look at your goals.

Take stock. Examine your musical and professional experiences and goals. Where are you in your music career? How many shows do you play a year? Do you have the network you need to achieve your goals? Do you have any network at all? What do you want to be doing next month or next year? Are you on the outside looking in? If so, what must change? This type of personal assessment will be different for everyone depending on your hopes and dreams. Allow yourself the time for this evaluation. Perhaps even do some research. Be very clear about the type of drummer you are, and the types of playing at which you shine. Taking an honest look at your present situation will save time now and perhaps avoid future disappointment. It will also pave the way for your next step.

Find your pigeonhole. Have a concise, truthful answer prepared to the “What kind of drummer are you?” question. Once you’ve decided, stick to the answer and tell people that answer when they ask! For drummers, this seems to go against our very core. We are taught to be well rounded and versatile. We should be open to many musical styles. However, it is also important to realize that fellow musicians, band mates, the music industry, even your local bartender, will classify you as a certain kind of drummer. For example, think of a drummer that you do not know personally, but one whose work you admire. What kind of drummer is he? If you had to put him in one musical category, what would it be? You see? We do it to others, and others will do it to us.

If you do not pigeonhole yourself, others may do it for you. For example, suppose you consider yourself a heavy metal drummer. Your band recently returned from a successful tour. You have several weeks before your band tours again. To pay the rent, you accept a six-week gig, playing a show at a local dinner theater. Because you are now working at a dinner theater, are you a show drummer? The outside world may see it that way if you let them. However, if you have already established yourself as a heavy metal drummer, the theater gig will only help you appear accomplished and versatile. Remember to decide your category honestly, and then stick to it, no matter what kinds of jobs you are doing. Soon, others will describe you by using your own phrase. If you do not take the time to type cast yourself, to pigeonhole your career, you are leaving your legacy open to the random interpretation of your peers. Now that you have your place in the music world, it is time to make something happen.