How Much Does a National Touring Act's New Drummer Make?

drums1225

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You know what gets me about everything I have read in this thread is that I, as a weekend warrior and almost 60 years old make more doing my weekend thing than a lot of pros trying to grind out a living drumming full time as a side man. I can't help but feel what a shame that is. I'm just proud that my selfish hobby in terms of my family life pays for itself. I never use family budget money to support my hobby because I make enough with it that it pays for itself. I could be a big time bass fisherman or hunter and have my indulgence cost far more than it returns on investment. I have taken a lot of what was posted with tongue in cheek however. I'm glad I chose a family and career over trying to make a living with music, with that said, when I was a naïve youth, I was actually seriously considering trying my hand at it full time.

Does anyone else find it odd that some people in this thread feel that having a family life and playing music full-time are mutually exclusive?
 

mydadisjr

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Not odd to me... I played full time in country/rock bar bands in the 80's and 90's in Northern Arizona as my main source of income. I definitely felt my full time barroom career impacted my marriage and my relationship with my daughters. And I was not even on the road.

Working 4-5-6 nights a week with tons of access to booze, drugs and women was not conducive to my marriage. Fortunately the drugs were not a problem but unfortunately I wound up with a bleeding ulcer and we had infidelity issues. Never again.
 

hsosdrum

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Pays not to play and get a real 9-5 instead!
This. Right. Here. Since I quit playing drums for money back in 1977 I started a 42-year career that kept a roof over my head, the lights on, provided enough food that I nearly doubled my weight, and allowed me to retire two years ago. And during that 42 years I refused to play "business music", and instead played whatever damn kind of music I wanted (all of which is far, far outside of the mainstream)! For me it was a total win-win.
 

cruddola

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Not odd to me... I played full time in country/rock bar bands in the 80's and 90's in Northern Arizona as my main source of income. I definitely felt my full time barroom career impacted my marriage and my relationship with my daughters. And I was not even on the road.

Working 4-5-6 nights a week with tons of access to booze, drugs and women was not conducive to my marriage. Fortunately the drugs were not a problem but unfortunately I wound up with a bleeding ulcer and we had infidelity issues. Never again.
Yup, that Flagstaff/NAU scene back then could get mighty off-road at times.
 

Tornado

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Does anyone else find it odd that some people in this thread feel that having a family life and playing music full-time are mutually exclusive?
This is a good point. It isn't mutually exclusive. Not for everyone. And a perfectly normal middle class existence is possible. There are plenty of full time musicians who have one, even if they don't tour with a national act. But a lot of people have been chewed up and spit out; often times due to their own choices, sometimes not. It does seem like the kind of environment that can bring the worst out of people.
 

bassanddrum84

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You know what gets me about everything I have read in this thread is that I, as a weekend warrior and almost 60 years old make more doing my weekend thing than a lot of pros trying to grind out a living drumming full time as a side man. I can't help but feel what a shame that is. I'm just proud that my selfish hobby in terms of my family life pays for itself. I never use family budget money to support my hobby because I make enough with it that it pays for itself. I could be a big time bass fisherman or hunter and have my indulgence cost far more than it returns on investment. I have taken a lot of what was posted with tongue in cheek however. I'm glad I chose a family and career over trying to make a living with music, with that said, when I was a naïve youth, I was actually seriously considering trying my hand at it full time.
Absolutely the same
 

bassanddrum84

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This is a good point. It isn't mutually exclusive. Not for everyone. And a perfectly normal middle class existence is possible. There are plenty of full time musicians who have one, even if they don't tour with a national act. But a lot of people have been chewed up and spit out; often times due to their own choices, sometimes not. It does seem like the kind of environment that can bring the worst out of people.
I toured in hardcore and punk rock bands from 15-21 and I can say it was the best and worst times. Started in a minivan then 12 passenger then motor home then old tour bus. Didn’t make mess for money but it was a blast playing clubs all over the us. But it will def bring out the worse in people. Addictive personalities get into drugs and such. Lack of money, food or space. Your band and you will argue and fight and everything in between. With that said I won’t change my choice to be a family man ever. I’ve turned down great opportunities to tour with pretty big acts and while the money isn’t good the exposure prolly is and def the experience. But having kids was a no brained to say no.
 

cruddola

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This. Right. Here. Since I quit playing drums for money back in 1977 I started a 42-year career that kept a roof over my head, the lights on, provided enough food that I nearly doubled my weight, and allowed me to retire two years ago. And during that 42 years I refused to play "business music", and instead played whatever damn kind of music I wanted (all of which is far, far outside of the mainstream)! For me it was a total win-win.
Here's to you, brother! To thee, my King, I take upon both knees! I did the same and took a job with Uncle right after the Freedom Bird and a DD214 stateside. Did another 34 years after the Green at a job that allowed me to take some time to do a few European, South American and North American tours on my oldest sister's band. Uncle paid mighty good, tax-free with every holiday paid and 30 paid days of vacation with weekends off. Everything I have is paid for, haven't had any debt in 40 years because I did not wanna be a broke-assed musician and only play when there was scant money to be had. Nah, not me. I had enough of that through college (on scholarship, of course). Only bills are my insurance, internet and utilities. Never a wife or kid. Job wouldn't allow it anyhow. Cash for everything including both houses. Never took out a loan for anything. I keep a Visa and an American Express, that's it. Right after 9/11 my salary tripled. 57 nations later and at 66 years stupid I've got one year of retirement under my belt. Going through a total re-hab on the old house I grew up back in the ghetto. I'm at home in the crappiest environs. I'll never get robbed there. The neighborhood's crooks shop at the better neighborhoods. No one calls the cops. And when they do show up, it's usually two cops per car, six to eight cars with flying hardware above. I bought it back. I wake up, brush my teeth, shower, play the drums. Surf online for an hour, play the drums, have breakfast. Play the drums, do about an hour on the garden till lunch. Have lunch, play the drums for about three hours. Surf the net for an hour. Have dinner, play the drums. Watch a movie on line (No Cable for me), play the drums then go to bed. Repeat. I salute thee!
 

drawtheline55

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The simple answer is: it depends. If you're playing with a major act like Usher, selling out the enormodome, you'd be making_ _ _ _ Any guesses??? Not nearly as much as you think. As is the case with a lot of Pop and R&B sidemen. It's well known these guys and gals are not paid well. I can't and wouldn't try to speak for ace drummers like @Whitten or @Trey Gray , but they're in a different category as established, well known players.

When you get into the Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, Vinnie Colaiuta, Russ Kunkel, Josh Freese, etc sideman category, it's another level. Someone mentioned publishing. I can assure you no touring drummer is receiving publishing. You're a paid sideman and depending on your resume, reputation (your playing ability is a given) you negotiate the best salary you can. There may be a favored nations clause. So it depends...
This, sounds very correct. How to make a lot of money in music ?
WRITE THE HIT SONG....wish I could, Top sidemen as mentioned above I am sure make a very healthy living.
But there aint alot of them. It is all about generating revenues, you do that you get your cut.
You dont....you are an expense.....and all businesses want to keep expenses as low as possible.
Including bands.
 

cashmanbashman

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The Offspring scored 7 Top 10 hits and has sold more than 40 million albums, as many as Steely Dan. Pretty Fly, right?

I was in high school when keep them separated hit. I was in a metal band at the time but liked punk music too. We played local with a punk band and they hated these guys and Green Day, as did the rest of the punk crowd. The Offspring never bothered me but it was a hate crime to bring those bands up around those punk guys.
 

cruddola

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Don't quit yer day job!
Or get a 'Real' job. When I was young and stupid (I'm now old and more stupid) I got to the point where I'd only play when there was money to be made. I used to think having a 'Real' job was for suckers. No different than the Mob guys. I did almost a decade with a 27-member Latin Jazz and dance band through college. The money was good then the band located to Mexico City. After that it was Bumsville as I and my siblings were five of eight Americans on that band. (Those guys today make a grand a night, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays down in the private parties and exclusive clubs of Polanco.) Nah, Uncle got me right outta college, made me a Corpsman, shipped me off to the otherside of the otherside. Got out and got a 'Real' job that allowed me to tour on my oldest sister's band. I also did quite a few recording sessions down in Mexico. They paid tons better than in the States. "Don't quit yer day job" is right!!
 

dale w miller

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I have several friends in big Nashville acts and they said that the going rate for a drummer is $1000/week. No one is getting rich as a sideman in any genre.
I heard Dale Crover(the Melvins) on Howard Stern about ten years ago. Stern was giving him a hard time for leaving Nirvana(which isn't at all accurate, he just recorded some songs on the first album). Anyway, he asked him how much he made and he said 80k was his best year. The Melvins headline the bigger clubs and open for arena acts.
The goal for me was to play original music I’m proud of, touring and recording all while not having to have a day job to have a decent middle class life. If that’s $80K, $300K, or $1 million a year, it doesn’t make difference, I am not doing something I don’t want to do.

The only difference is what if the money stops. This is part of the reason I started my own company. I overpay everyone who works for me. My director makes more money than I do, but she does all of the day to day labor and I simply put out fires, answer her questions, and oversee the books, all of which can be done while in a van while on tour.

When I’m not on the road, like it’s been since February ‘20, I still have an income no different than a retainer. It’s worked out quite well actually because for however long it stays in business, my company is also a retirement fund.
 

1988fxlr

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I was in high school when keep them separated hit. I was in a metal band at the time but liked punk music too. We played local with a punk band and they hated these guys and Green Day, as did the rest of the punk crowd. The Offspring never bothered me but it was a hate crime to bring those bands up around those punk guys.
I was in third grade when Smash came out. Pretty much the coolest thing you could have in your discman on the school bus. So many more curse words than anything else without a parental advisory label
 

dale w miller

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This, sounds very correct. How to make a lot of money in music ?
WRITE THE HIT SONG....wish I could, Top sidemen as mentioned above I am sure make a very healthy living.
But there aint alot of them. It is all about generating revenues, you do that you get your cut.
You dont....you are an expense.....and all businesses want to keep expenses as low as possible.
Including bands.
All you have to do is look at the artist/singer/songwriter’s net worth and then look up his or her’s drummer and a reality check will be handed out much faster than a paycheck.
 

cruddola

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Just look at Journey's current singer. It took him a while to become a 'made' member of the band. I still doubt that Gregg Rollie will ever give him an equal cut on the ticket's take. I doubt Dean will get an equal slice of the ticket action too, especially after punking out his girl, putting a dent on his life. Scumbag. I understand there's every difference on how dough is handled on those huge national and international acts in relation to us 'No bodies'. Here's my experience having been a 'No body' all my life. I've never taken to play with any band where every member didn't get an equal slice of the pie at the end of the gig. None ever had anything published, let alone a recording out. I've always refused to play without an equal cut on the action. I joined and rehearsed for two weeks with a killer band only to find that the vocalist and keyboardist weren't getting an equal share of the take. It was a well-established private party band who's drummer pulled a nickel for a repeated DUI. They were a band that competed with my sister's band at the time. They went through vocalists and keyboardists all the time. It was good pay for me as I was getting an equal slice, but I wasn't on board for that for the other two mentioned. My sister's band took them in at a full slice and the tightwad band sunk overnight. My sister's band made great money equally for everyone including the roadies. If you rigged and played, you got two equal slices. If you setup the audio, played and rigged, you got three equal slices. Six years at A&M taught her well on managing a band. Her bands did well for almost 15 years. Back in the 80's her musicians and crew averaged 55-60K (140K today) a year doing a few overseas tours and tons of exclusive private parties in the Miami to Virginia Beach/Hampton areas. Remember them 'Miami-Vice' days? The South Beach club and private party scenes? Yup! I was honored to play on two of her bands. Money destroys bands. Ask Lombardo what his take was on the tickets.
 
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Pat A Flafla

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Thought exercise: zoom out and imagine the median musician's livelihood throughout history, then ask yourself whether even the small percentage of wealthy musicians we're used to seeing is the new normal for humankind, or whether we've just seen the bubble at its peak.
 

Tornado

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Thought exercise: zoom out and imagine the median musician's livelihood throughout history, then ask yourself whether even the small percentage of wealthy musicians we're used to seeing is the new normal for humankind, or whether we've just seen the bubble at its peak.
Looking at the zoomed out timeline, the very act of selling records or getting radio airplay royalties is a tiny blip. That was a unique, never to be seen again time in history.
 

Pat A Flafla

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Looking at the zoomed out timeline, the very act of selling records or getting radio airplay royalties is a tiny blip. That was a unique, never to be seen again time in history.
Exactly what I was thinking. Artificial markets like that aren't sustainable.
 

Whitten

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The drugs and women thing is a real stereotype, not applicable to everyone.
In order to be full time musician you have to be available 24/7. Touring means being away from home, months on end, year after year. None of which is really conducive to relationships and bringing up kids.
I have toured with straight, clean living guys who are are in pain because they've missed their child's first steps, or yet another birthday, or the school play, or the prom. It's a major sacrifice.
On the money thing... Being full time in music is not all about money. A lot of musicians are passionate about music. That's all they want to do every week.
We all go through peaks and troughs, good paying years and bad. Right now, the majority of the pro musicians I know have barely earned anything for 1.5 years, the length of this pandemic.
I'm earning a lot less now than I was 30 years ago, but I enjoy playing. I have had the pleasure of visiting a lot of stranger countries recently that I never visited in my major touring years - like Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Mozambique and India. It is fascinating and I would put that above a better paying office job every day of the week.
 

Whitten

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Looking at the zoomed out timeline, the very act of selling records or getting radio airplay royalties is a tiny blip. That was a unique, never to be seen again time in history.
I hate this line of argument. I have been active in fighting the exploitation of musicians first from piracy, then by streaming platforms.
The fact is, societies evolve. We decide what is preferable for society as a whole and move in that direction. Reverting backwards is regressive and negative.
In the best decades, people bought records and musicians were well paid. In the early 2000's technology allowed normal people to exploit musicians and share their work without paying artists. This was both illegal and immoral, it wasn't a return to normal after a 'blip'.
Streaming emerged from piracy, but illegal sharing weakened artists so much that streaming has been able to keep pay outs to the majority of artists at unsustainably low levels. So the musicians who used to live in the studio went out on the road.
There is very little money in recording these days. That has put a lot of pressure on the live scene. Good 'journeyman' touring musicians are now competing for work against Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta and Steve Lukather.
A record is just as valid a product as a live show, but records are worth far less in reality, basically as a result of piracy. This is the true blip we are living through and it needs to be sorted. Most musicians are earning below society's average wage, while a handful of tech billionaires are earning huge amounts from a musician's toil.
 
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