There are numerous ways to make money playing drums today, offline and online. Certainly, all of them require a different set of skills.
I compiled a list of ways to earn money playing drums for you looking to earn a little bit more money on the side or even transform this into a full-time job.
1. Touring Drummer
Nowadays, there is a common stereotype that drummers, and musicians in general, don’t have a stable source of income.
This may have been the truth 30 years ago, but today internet has opened a huge opportunity for musicians to monetize their skills and talents.
Now you are wondering if touring can be your full-time job and provide a stable income stream.
Here is the trick: touring will provide enough if you are alone, but the problem comes when you have a family to take care of. Having a family comes with all sorts of problems and increased expenses.
Factors are your skill level and experience, popularity, and negotiation skills. Pro, touring drummers can make up to $100,000 annually.
Speaking gig-wise, depending on your experience, you can earn from $20 per hour to several hundred dollars and possibly even more.
What is it like to be in a band
You can expect here to have the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and the mediocrity of mediocrities.
There are no rules.
You get to hang out with your friends, write and play songs you love, and perform them in front of your buddies, family, and fans.
For you as a drummer, being in a band is important because it will polish your drumming skills and reveal your strengths and weaknesses. In addition, placing your musical skills in a group context will be a big challenge for you.
You will be able to improve since you will be exposed to other musicians with a different skill level than yours. When conquering the stage, you will be more at ease since you will not be alone.
You will also learn about other instruments and spark your creativity even more. Finally, and most importantly, you will have fun and learn the advantages of teamwork.
Now, let’s cut all these flowers and roses and speak about some bad things. There are maybe two things I would single out.
The first one is the ability to be creative. I know I have said you will learn about different instruments and spark your creativity even more, but that doesn’t mean other bandmates will allow or approve of your creative abilities.
The second one is how you fit in. That could be a problem if you came to an already existing band when members formed a tight clique. However, that doesn’t mean you should not try to fit in.
What is being on tour like
Everybody is curious to know why touring is so exhausting?
It is because you spend a lot of time traveling, and there isn’t much to do except listen to music, converse, or sleep.
The funny part comes when you take things like sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom for granted. You must plan those things up in front, or you may take a dump at a very inconvenient time.
Also, no matter how crappy you feel, you must be up when the showtime comes. It doesn’t matter how tired you are or how crappy you feel.
Now is the perfect time to say, “SHOW MUST GO ON.”
Sad but true.
Also, you need to engage and entertain people if you want to keep paying the bills.
Another thing that I find bad is that even though you meet many people when touring, you don’t have time to develop relationships.
You may feel like you exist in a “Bubble” where you are around other people, but only superficially.
Since some musicians are touring with jets, playing around time zones to minimize fatigue and increase your performance is crucial.
A jet leg can already be seen even across a one-time zone. However, the fun begins when you cross three or more zones because the effects become more noticeable.
To minimize jet leg, I can give you a few pieces of advice you need to do before and during your tour:
- Start shifting your body clock before you leave.
- Avoid caffeine since it can mess up your other efforts to phase shift.
- Take 20-30 min naps.
- Drink lots of water while traveling to prevent dehydration.
- Get natural daylight over artificial light when possible.
To summarize, you drive/fly, eat, sleep, do the show, drive/fly, eat, sleep, do the show, etc. When you finally get home, you feel exhausted like never before.
Life on a tour bus
I mentioned some bad things above, but there are many good things. First of all, when you hit the road, you say goodbye to everything, metaphorically speaking.
The funny part is you don’t have to face bill collectors again, only if they decide to follow the bus. Second, you become closer to your band members and stage people. They become a second family to you.
Third, there is no stress of being late for the gig because of the traffic and other things. Being late is perfectly normal when doing a bus tour.
Now you are wondering why musicians on touring are allowed to be late?
That is because the more time patrons spend in the venue, the more money they are likely to spend. This is a marketing trick played to increase the perceived value of the ticket.
2. Online session drummer
Online session drummers are people who have a small home studio set up and record drums for bands, artists, and musicians from around the world.
Flexible time and schedule creation are among the biggest benefits of being an online session drummer.
You won’t probably have a chance to meet your clients face to face, and most of the time, you will never even speak on the phone with them.
This is due to time differences which makes communication very impractical. Most online session drummers rely on Google, Facebook, Job Boards, and musician’s classified websites.
Now, we need to explain how you get hired to do something.
Many platforms mediate between you and your clients. Some of those platforms are SoundBetter, Fiverr, AirGigs, and Tunedly.
Also, you can look for jobs as a drummer or drum teacher on job boards like Jooble.
For example, on Fiverr, you will create a gig showcasing your talents and explaining in detail what you are offering in exchange for a certain price.
Then, you would wait for someone to hire you for your first job. You should find a platform that best suits you. Maybe the waiting element on Fiverr isn’t for you, and you would like to apply for jobs instead.
As a session drummer, you can make a decent living with an average salary of $50,000.
3. Drum Teacher
One of the most popular ways to make money playing drums for full-time and part-time musicians today is giving drum lessons.
From my experience, teaching drums is the best and most lucrative way to earn extra money playing your drums.
You have two options.
One is to teach online (from home), or you can do one on one lessons in the studio.
By teaching, you will also learn about yourself and your personality. You will learn to be more articulate and communicate better with your students/clients.
Teaching from the facility has both positive and negative things.
The positive thing is you won’t need to find students yourself, as they will come to you. But, you need to consider how much you will pay for facilities fees.
The average salary of drum teachers is $45000.
4. Drum Clinics and Workshops
You don’t have to be involved in any company or have any endorsements to be able to put on a clinic. As long as you know how to do it, you will be okay.
One way to promote your drum clinic is to go to a community center, take one room and tell people what you are all about.
This way, you will let people know what your skills and experience are, and you will also start to build a brand for yourself, which is the most important thing.
You can offer your services to schools or colleges and teach young kids to play drums. The trick is to talk to the right channels and the right people.
Approach them with your predesigned package and say what you are offering. That is all you need to do.
The average salary for clinicians is somewhere around $58000.
5. Start a YouTube drumming channel
Youtube is a big one since you can make a stream of income just from it alone, but you can also combine it with different sources of income.
To earn money on youtube, you need to create high-quality content interesting to people.
Representing yourself as a professional will show people you know the ins and outs of your hobby/job.
So, what do you need to start?
First, you need to create your youtube channel, which can be done by signing up to YouTube on a computer or mobile phone. After signing up, go to your profile picture and click “Create a channel.”
You will be asked to create a channel and fill in some information about yourself.
Now that you created your youtube channel, you will need to purchase a solid camera. The price for the right camera depends on your budget. For a decent camera, you are looking to pay at least $200, but you also have to remember to purchase the lens.
After your channel gets a certain amount of views, you can choose how to monetize it. Of course, the most popular way is with youtube ads.
Creating interesting and entertaining content is the most important thing. Remember, your monetization will suffer if you can’t keep your viewers long enough on your videos.
That is because the youtube algorithm will place you lower in the search results if people don’t stay enough on your videos.
If you monetize your channel through ads, you will earn $3 to $7 per every one thousand views on average.
There are a lot of ways to make money playing drums.
Some of them are touring, being an online session drummer, teaching, working as a clinician, or running your youtube channel.
My advice would be to start as an online session drummer since you will have flexible working hours, the ability to create your schedule, a competent income, and to work with different types of people, which will improve your negotiation and communication skills.