Samantha Maloney: 3 Career Strategies For Drummers

It’s one thing to be the best drummer on the block, and another to sustain a career as a professional drummer. Your chances of finding a gig are severely restricted if you don’t possess the right business acumen. Just ask Samantha Maloney, whose track record with bands like Hole and Clutch speaks volumes of her ability to land great jobs. “People are always looking for drummers,” she insists, speaking from experience, “because there aren’t enough good ones out there.” Here are her tips for drawing attention from prospective employers.

1. Create A Press Kit
Anyone looking for a drummer wants materials to look over to see what the prospect looks like and sounds like. When I auditioned bass players for Hole, I got thousands of submissions. Some were put together in a couple minutes and others obviously took a long time to put together. It’s good to make a nice impression, but overall it doesn’t matter if you spend $10 more on high-gloss paper. They just need to know what you look like, what you sound like, and what you’ve accomplished. It’s important to have a good demo, but a CD can be Pro Tooled, so you’re never sure if it really represents what that person sounds like. So a video is even better, whether it is a live performance of you playing with a band or playing along to a CD of your favorite music. Web sites are like the new business card, so it’s not a bad idea to spend a few bucks to buy your own domain name, and put some info up there with a picture.

2. Network
Establish some sort of rapport with the guys behind the counter at the music store. Tell them that you play drums, and you’re looking for a gig. Ask them to recommend cool places to go see the type of music you play. And then go to those clubs and meet new people and have your business card or just a pen on you. Sometimes people feel like business cards are cheesy, but it doesn’t hurt to have one. It’s important to give your information out to everybody, including drummers. I’ve gotten calls from someone looking for a drummer, which makes me remember if I just met a drummer who was looking for a gig. I also know an incredibly talented guitarist who just moved to L.A. who is looking for a gig, and she’s been going to jam sessions to try to meet people. I think that’s the way to do it — just get out there.

3. Outreach
Rehearsal spaces usually have bulletin boards, so put your name up there — “Drummer available. This is the kind of music I listen to. These are my favorite drummers.” You don’t even have to include your picture; just a phone number and your email address. A classified ad in the local paper is good, too. It’s like dating. You have to go out and meet new people, and some people you’re going to go, “Ugh, that’s not going to work,” and sometimes you’re going to feel like, “This might be a new fun relationship. Lets try this.” People post [on social networks], like, “Band looking for a guitarist. We sound like the Cure meets Depeche Mode.” You need to call them and see where their heads are at. Do they want to tour? Do they want to just play locally? You have to just talk to the people and see what their goals are.