The career of a professional drummer is a long journey, and you’ll meet a lot of people along the way. No two professional musicians will tell you the same stories about their lives, but some common threads run through them both. You need to be prepared, so DRUM! Magazine has compiled the following list of the people that you’re likely to meet along the way, as well as offer advice on how to deal with them. Here’s a preliminary tip — some are out to help you, and others have ulterior motives. The trick is to be able to tell one from the other.
At least one person will show you the ropes, even if you are mostly self-taught. A good drum instructor will teach you what you want to know, but a great drum instructor will teach you what you need to know. For example, a 13-year-old kid only wants to play rock songs, but a great instructor will also encourage the student to learn how to play a samba. Best Approach. Treat with the utmost respect, as this person is doing more than teaching you to play a beat. He is teaching you to love the drums.
There is always going to be someone who can play faster or with more finesse. Some will flaunt it just to “one up” you. Best Approach. Who cares? You play because you love playing. Just have fun (and if you’re the kid showing off to make someone else feel bad, well, stop it!).
Unless you’re in Silverchair, this won’t be your last band. You will write awful songs that you think are great, and perhaps your friends will cheer for you at your high school’s annual talent show. Best Approach. While you may look back and laugh when you’re older, this is when you begin leaning how to play well with others. Don’t damage friendships when the inevitable break-up occurs.
Now you’ve graduated high school or college, and have decided that you want to pursue a career in music — or more accurately, you want to make it big. You’ve put together a band that you think has the talent and the songs to become successful. You’re ready to change the face of music. Best Approach. Your bandmates will be the most important people to you over the lifespan of this band. You will spend more time with them than you will with anyone else. You will write, rehearse, tour, eat, and possibly live together. You will love them like family, but will also fight with them like brothers. Learn patience.
Your job is to write and perform songs that make people listen. Your manager’s job is to help you get your music out there, and make smart decisions about everything. He is involved with securing and negotiating all agreements (recording, publishing, merchandising, etc.), deals with booking agents and attorneys, and is your liaison with the record company after you land your big deal. Best Approach. Choose a manager that you can trust, but also one who believes in the band, gets the job done, and can take you to the next level. Your manager works for you, and not the other way around. You may find a manager early on in your career, or you may start searching for one after you have label interest and your options have expanded.