Kenny Aronoff studio tour vid - my personal takeaways

dcrigger

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I would be willing to guess that twenty years ago, Kenny never imagined he'd be doing sessions in a cartage space with a combined mic setup that cost less than a single ELA-M 251, and supplementing his income by being a freelance inspirational speaker.
Personally I doubt that Kenny isn't surprised by how things have turned out in the slightest - except possibly in the positive... in that, I think he likely succeeded at totally accomplishing what he set out to do.

You seem to be conflating the lives and goals of artists with the lives and goals of working musicians. Imagining that because that Kenny and John Fogarty play on the same album together or Burt Bacharach and I have ridden the same tour bus together that we are in any way beyond the same.

Perceiving inequities in this, I guess makes sense, if one subscribes to the notion that the world of music mainly follows the "all for one, one for all, we all grew up together, rock band" structure - which, of course, couldn't be further from the truth. That "band of brothers" model is really very much the exception, not the rule.

It seems obvious to me that - artist and sideman - are two completely different career paths. With the former offering far greater potential for great wealth and a far greater possibility of ending up a failure and working in a body shop - while the latter (being a sideman), though certainly insecurity - still offers many multitudes of paths to a more modest success.

Kenny's first big gig was as a sideman with Mellancamp - and to the greatest degree, he's just worked and worked to become the top flight, A-List sideman that he's been for years now.

Those big stars can burn very brightly with some actually amassing and holding onto great wealth, while others go down in flames just as dramatically. But a great working man of a player's success isn't tied to any one star - and the really capable ones are able to adapt to changing trends and the general ebb and flow of the industry as a whole.

As for the implied inequity, I disagree. I've known many a player to get all cynical and sour over this perception. And I think it is totally unfounded. Yes there can be unscrupulous artist that will sing the "we're all in this together" song to enlist support and sacrifice from player's for their dream, for their brass ring. The old "we just have to all take a hit on this tour, so we can get this first album across - then things will get a lot better. The part left said, of course, being that the artists career will be successfully launched and the sideman with be awarded hopefully with the opportunity to work a job that just pays what it should.

But that doesn't mean the structure is wrong - just that some folks are sharks and some folks gullible and naive (and/or just want the opportunity to do it - to gain experience or just have the experience).

But professionally - artist put skin in the game - sometimes lots of it. I've done promotional tours that artists just paid for out of their pockets - because it was the right thing for their careers.

And I took their money and offered no discount - because their investment had nothing to with my career - but their paying me did.

Like myself - sidemen by definition take no big risks, make no big investments, we insist on getting paid as we go - and so really have zero claim on any portion of the pot of gold that some of our employers are able to procure.

IMO
 

Whitten

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Thanks for the original post. I've obviously admired Aronoff for a very long time and am eager to watch this video.
It's been a while since I did frequent freelance studio sessions.
I ALWAYS wrote out a cheat sheet, are like numbers of bars with the odd lyric or drum fill remind notated.
Producers expect the keeper take within 3 takes, maybe half an hour. You need to concentrate on feel and the overall story you are telling with your drum performance. You don't want to ruin an otherwise killer take by forgetting the second verse was 12 bars instead of 8.
I've worked on albums, then toured with some big stars. I didn't for one moment envy their income, as long as I felt I was fairly paid.
They earn their money. While I'm having a longer lie-in, they are already dong an early morning press conference. And answering the same cliche questions from journalists who haven't bothered to do their research. I could walk out of the hotel and spend the day sightseeing, the star could not leave their room without being hassled and mobbed. No thanks!
Back in the 80's I replaced a lot of band member drummers. It was often a toxic process, with the drummers leaving the band during the album. The sound that got the band signed was never the same again. Once Pro Tools came in, producers were able to record several takes of an average drummer, edit together the best bits, retime any out of time bits and replace all the sounds with samples. This kept all the band members happy and signalled the end of most session work for bands.
I think some forward thinking drummers set up pro level tracking rooms a few years ago. If you have a great sounding room, the right drums and the right mics, why travel all day to different studios, and spend time setting up the drums and getting a sound. Also, it's nice to be comfortable at home, eat your own healthy food, take a break in your own living room.
I wanted to do it 15 years ago, but for whatever reason could never find the right space.
I think the move to remote recording has only been accelerated by Covid. Lots of drummers sitting at home unable to play live for over a year. So those that could afford to, built and marketed their home recording set up.
 

musiqman

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I also love all these studio’s from their vids have instruments, a lit of them even as the main thing.

That confirms again that even in todays pop/rock music real instruments are used.

I knew that already, but its good its getting in the public place more and more too.
 

853guy

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Personally I doubt that Kenny isn't surprised by how things have turned out in the slightest - except possibly in the positive... in that, I think he likely succeeded at totally accomplishing what he set out to do.

You seem to be conflating the lives and goals of artists with the lives and goals of working musicians. Imagining that because that Kenny and John Fogarty play on the same album together or Burt Bacharach and I have ridden the same tour bus together that we are in any way beyond the same.

Perceiving inequities in this, I guess makes sense, if one subscribes to the notion that the world of music mainly follows the "all for one, one for all, we all grew up together, rock band" structure - which, of course, couldn't be further from the truth. That "band of brothers" model is really very much the exception, not the rule.

It seems obvious to me that - artist and sideman - are two completely different career paths. With the former offering far greater potential for great wealth and a far greater possibility of ending up a failure and working in a body shop - while the latter (being a sideman), though certainly insecurity - still offers many multitudes of paths to a more modest success...
Maybe. That's possible, I guess. I can't definitively say one way or another what each individual's goals may or may not be. But I would say that it's possible artists and working musicians both share a basic human desire: to generate sustainable income doing something they love in a world of growing inequality and volatility.

My post wasn't about Kenny's choices per se, it was a response to What It Is who suggested "Anybody that wants to make it as a drummer in the music business today needs to watch this video". As I said at the bottom of the same paragraph you snipped from: "To me, the video is a cautionary tale, in which what worked in the past is sometimes a terrible predictor of what will work in the future, especially in an industry as turbulent and volatile as the music industry".

And why? Because I think we're all very aware that the days of being flown by private jet to do one song, in a studio with three full-time engineers and a locker full of Neumanns and Telefunkens, where you can make more money in one month of sessions than an entire yearly salary of being a sideman for Mellencamp and be played on the radio to hundreds of millions of listeners everyday are ancient history. Do you know any session musician, anywhere, who's still living that life? I mean, radio-play - what's that?

And if you compare and contrast what Kenny used to do, to what he does now, it's impossible to ignore the fact that the turbulence and volatility I allude to above is an ever-present reality for those looking to make a long-term living, not only for working musicians/artists, but for anyone contemplating being part of the gig economy (or for that matter, any industry).

Frankly, there's plenty of historical precedent for my comment not limited to the music industry. All the IBM guys, all the Detroit automaker guys, all the real estate guys, all the guys in banking - they all thought that what worked yesterday was gonna keep on working because a turkey that gets fed everyday never comtemplates the (very real) probability it won't be fed on Thanksgiving (in fact, it's going to be food).

So again, my comments are much less directed toward Kenny (who may or may not be very happy with his life, I have no idea), but toward those who What It Is directed his comments to. Yes, go ahead and watch the video. And then perhaps ask yourself, do you want to be 68 years old, operating out of a cartage space, doing sessions for no-name artists, and supplementing your income with motivational speaking? If so, and you don't have kids to put through college or a sick spouse or child and own your own house, then Kenny will be a constant source of inspiration for you.

But if you're young, and just emerged from some university or music school with $100K worth of debt, living in a world where housing and food prices continue to rise, interest rates make saving worthless, major corporations provide platforms but own your content, and globalisation creates fragilities of scale that have the very real potential to create downturns such that hard-work and diligence alone are wholly inadequate to ensure you remain unharmed, you might look at the video and think, gee, what are the chances that what's working for Kenny today will still work five years from now, twenty years from now, fifty years from now? How can I create wealth in an economy that continues to adapt and evolve, and gets upended based on a single tweet from Elon Musk? How do I invest my time and energy into something that's personally rewarding and financially viable over the long-term, aware a new COVID (or any other event) may be highly consequential sooner rather than later - especially in an industry like the music business that has undergone monumental upheaval?

It may be my ideas have not been articulated very clearly, and using Kenny as an example of my point is flawed and inelegant. For that I apologise.

To avoid further confusion, let me quote someone who's eloquence surpasses mine in his summation, and predates this post by half a century: "In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." Eric Hoffer.

Best,

853guy

P.S. I still think you have some very valid points in your post(s). But again, I'm not addressing the difference between artist and sideman, but between what has worked, and what may work in a future none of us can predict.
 
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What It Is

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I think you're right, but maybe not necessarily for the same reason as you.

Let's say you've recorded drums on ten albums that sold ten million copies each.

Let's say you went on the road for at least six months in support of each of those albums, touring the world and staying in five-star accommodation.

Let's say you wrap up the final tour and go home to your nice house in the suburbs, while the guy whose name is on the cover of the albums and wrote all the music buys a chalet in Chamonix to complement his NY apartment and LA condo, while taking his kids on holiday to Ibiza, and then calls you to tell you he's thinking of taking the band in a "different direction".

Even if you're an A-lister, and have been for decades, you've essentially spent most of your life as a disposable commodity rubbing shoulders with artists who just keep cashing royalty checks and live without the day-to-day financial concerns of everyone else in their circle no matter how talented, disciplined and hard-working you might be.

I would be willing to guess that twenty years ago, Kenny never imagined he'd be doing sessions in a cartage space with a combined mic setup that cost less than a single ELA-M 251, and supplementing his income by being a freelance inspirational speaker. To me, the video is a cautionary tale, in which what worked in the past is sometimes a terrible predictor of what will work in the future, especially in an industry as turbulent and volatile as the music industry (see: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Shakira, Dire Straits, Beyonce, Mark Ronson and Ed Sheeran (to name a few) who are selling their catalogues - or pieces of it - to private equity firms).

Best,

853guy

P.S. dcrigger's post above lays out a very credible argument for why the home/private studio thing is less of a personal choice, and more of a financial imperative.
I appreciate your insights and do not disagree with your argument. My position of "watch this video" was a dual thesis that I should have explained in further detail with more evidence. I was both blown away by where the technology is today with recording as well as curious for where the young kids who want to be part of this scene fit in. Where as I don't think Kenny could see around the arc of change that was to come in 1980, he definitely adapted and positioned himself to be part of world where change was becoming the only constant. I'm not sure of his personal life (kids, mortgages, college, etc), but I am incredibly in awe of his ability to choose to adapt at all the critical junctures of change that the music has wrought on his career in the last 30 years. He chose to be in this lane and I think it's inspiring.

I'm a high school history teacher by trade, and in my 30+ years in the classroom, change has left many great teachers in the wake of where learning was going. Many did not adapt, could not adapt, or chose not to adapt. Those of us that chose to adapt, we didn't know where it was going, but we were flexible enough and humble enough to keep learning because as at the end of the day, we love teaching. Sure, the realities of life might have been motivating those changes, and the change isn't easy, but we adapt. I'm confident everyone on our wonderful Drumforum has had that happen in their careers. It's still happening. What career hasn't experienced volatile change?

I hope young people watch this video as both a cautionary tale as well as an inspirational motivation to make sure they are ready to commit themselves to a career that is not what it used to be (hasn't for 20 years perhaps), but are ready to adapt and attempt to predict where the business may go.

Smells like be-bop. In the end, aren't we all just playing jazz? Thanks for thoughts and sorry for the rambling.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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Don’t go out and spend a bunch of money setting up a home studio thinking you’re going to do all of these recordings for people. Remember that the guys who are doing that were already playing on hits before they started their own studio. Even now, You’re competing with A list players, because even these big name players are playing for unsigned bands!!! (Which is fine, if they’re making money).

So it’s great for players like him. But for the average Joe, the only hope is probably a focus on live gigs.
 

BennyK

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First call for producers looking for one less thing to worry about .

His fill on Jack and Diane is iconic .

My generation's Hal Blaine

Not a hair out of place

How long would he last in a body shop ? I don't know . He might have some difficulties at first, but his formidable work ethic would keep him out of harm's way .
 
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BennyK

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Maybe. That's possible, I guess. I can't definitively say one way or another what each individual's goals may or may not be. But I would say that it's possible artists and working musicians both share a basic human desire: to generate sustainable income doing something they love in a world of growing inequality and volatility.

My post wasn't about Kenny's choices per se, it was a response to What It Is who suggested "Anybody that wants to make it as a drummer in the music business today needs to watch this video". As I said at the bottom of the same paragraph you snipped from: "To me, the video is a cautionary tale, in which what worked in the past is sometimes a terrible predictor of what will work in the future, especially in an industry as turbulent and volatile as the music industry".

And why? Because I think we're all very aware that the days of being flown by private jet to do one song, in a studio with three full-time engineers and a locker full of Neumanns and Telefunkens, where you can make more money in one month of sessions than an entire yearly salary of being a sideman for Mellencamp and be played on the radio to hundreds of millions of listeners everyday are ancient history. Do you know any session musician, anywhere, who's still living that life? I mean, radio-play - what's that?

And if you compare and contrast what Kenny used to do, to what he does now, it's impossible to ignore the fact that the turbulence and volatility I allude to above is an ever-present reality for those looking to make a long-term living, not only for working musicians/artists, but for anyone contemplating being part of the gig economy (or for that matter, any industry).

Frankly, there's plenty of historical precedent for my comment not limited to the music industry. All the IBM guys, all the Detroit automaker guys, all the real estate guys, all the guys in banking - they all thought that what worked yesterday was gonna keep on working because a turkey that gets fed everyday never comtemplates the (very real) probability it won't be fed on Thanksgiving (in fact, it's going to be food).

So again, my comments are much less directed toward Kenny (who may or may not be very happy with his life, I have no idea), but toward those who What It Is directed his comments to. Yes, go ahead and watch the video. And then perhaps ask yourself, do you want to be 68 years old, operating out of a cartage space, doing sessions for no-name artists, and supplementing your income with motivational speaking? If so, and you don't have kids to put through college or a sick spouse or child and own your own house, then Kenny will be a constant source of inspiration for you.

But if you're young, and just emerged from some university or music school with $100K worth of debt, living in a world where housing and food prices continue to rise, interest rates make saving worthless, major corporations provide platforms but own your content, and globalisation creates fragilities of scale that have the very real potential to create downturns such that hard-work and diligence alone are wholly inadequate to ensure you remain unharmed, you might look at the video and think, gee, what are the chances that what's working for Kenny today will still work five years from now, twenty years from now, fifty years from now? How can I create wealth in an economy that continues to adapt and evolve, and gets upended based on a single tweet from Elon Musk? How do I invest my time and energy into something that's personally rewarding and financially viable over the long-term, aware a new COVID (or any other event) may be highly consequential sooner rather than later - especially in an industry like the music business that has undergone monumental upheaval?

It may be my ideas have not been articulated very clearly, and using Kenny as an example of my point is flawed and inelegant. For that I apologise.

To avoid further confusion, let me quote someone who's eloquence surpasses mine in his summation, and predates this post by half a century: "In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." Eric Hoffer.

Best,

853guy

P.S. I still think you have some very valid points in your post(s). But again, I'm not addressing the difference between artist and sideman, but between what has worked, and what may work in a future none of us can predict.
Just what I was going to say .... you said it better

much better

thanks
 

KevinD

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Around 2007-2008 I played a handful of gigs with a guitar player-singer who had Kenny Aronoff play on his most recent (at the time) CD which was done in 2006.
He contacted Kenny via his website and was surprised to get a call from Kenny himself to make arrangements.

When the artist originally reached out to Kenny he assumed that Kenny would do the tracks remotely and send him the tracks via Zip drive or similar technology that was used back then, especially given the fact that the recording session was held at a studio in Western NJ, about an hour & 15 min from NYC.

Kenny told him he was going to be there personally, a day before the session some of Kenny’s gear arrived, then on the day of the session Kenny arrived. He had taken a bus from NYC to the studio.

He instantly struck up a rapport with the producer and the artist, and throughout the day he became a “member of the band” working into the situation and also offering some tips on the production, well as some of the song crafting. His enthusiasm and the way he fully immersed himself into the session really elevated the atmosphere and everyone’s efforts.

He nailed all the tracks in a couple of takes, and at the end of the day the only thing he asked for was a ride to the bus stop… one of the engineers offered to drive him back to NYC but he declined.

To be honest, the songs were fairly straightforward and they probably didn’t need a drummer of Kenny’s caliber to lay them down, but he brought so much else to the session that the artist felt it really set the tone for the way they made the rest of the CD. He not disclose what Kenny’s rate was but said it was worth every penny.

Some people just have a certain energy and vibe about them them. Kenny seems to have that kind of approach to life, early in his career he took a negative (being dismissed from the John “Cougar” recording sessions ) and turned it into a learning experience. Many people (I’ll bet me too) would have just taken that as a sign to get a 9-5 job instead).

So again, it does not surprise me that Kenny adapted his environment when Covid hit to turn his facility into a video studio…It also doesn’t surprise me that he is now making the rounds as a motivational speaker, or that he has a coffee. Kenny is a guy that makes it rain, there is a reason for his success and it isn’t solely because of his playing. My guess is that a guy like him would be successful in any line of work that he chose.
 

dcrigger

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Don’t go out and spend a bunch of money setting up a home studio thinking you’re going to do all of these recordings for people. Remember that the guys who are doing that were already playing on hits before they started their own studio. Even now, You’re competing with A list players, because even these big name players are playing for unsigned bands!!! (Which is fine, if they’re making money).

So it’s great for players like him. But for the average Joe, the only hope is probably a focus on live gigs.
I agree - in part. 100% with your main point - any form of simply hanging out a shingle stating that you're now available for major tours and album work is simply not how players land new work.

In my experience, every single bit of work grows out whatever a player has done previously - the players they've played with, the relationships that have formed, their reputations documented by either demonstrable product or glowing testimonials. Nothing has changed as to that aspect of music career building.

It's your last thought where I believe we differ... It's been pretty apparent for a while now (way before Covid) that live gigs likely won't provide the whole path for building a drumming career. Particularly when it comes to recording - and no, the Kenny Aronoff's aren't not able to service the needs of more fledging, up and coming players and artists. There will always be a demand for the cheaper, more accessible collaborator - at more of the peer level.

Compared to back when I started - there is certainly less low-end recording work - because back then, if anyone wanted the sound of drums on their demo (even the quickest, dirtiest demo) they had to get a drummer to come over and play. Drum machines of course changed all of that - which sucks, because those were great "get you feet wet" - "get over your red light panic" projects.

Those barely exist any more - but the next level does - but the onus of being set-up to record drums has shifted from the small independent demo studio (which hardly exist any more) to each player's satellite personal facility.

The point being for anyone that would like to eventually be able to record drums professionally (even at the lowest levels) then putting together some form of home studio is really no longer an option - but rather a necessity. As while building that cadre of players that know, and like, and recommend your playing - it's going to be harder and harder to snag any of those first recording opportunities without being able to say "Sure I think can do that for you".

Because few of those calls are going to come attached to someone that has access to a space and the gear needed to record drums. That's part of what they need - the whole package - meaning a budget, affordable version that they can afford with a player attached that they hope can do a good job.

And the player that can offer that will be the one that gets that opportunity and experience.

But again to be clear - that's the stage #2 part.

It is now - for good or bad - up to the player to provide those stage #1 experiences for themselves. Those first bunch of times under the mics... because unlike in 1973, few people are going to call to a drummer to set up in their living room or dinky garage studio to record their demo.

Sure maybe some might - but we're dealing with really diminished numbers here. IMO the player that has created their own experiences is going to come into the marketplace much more prepared.

And that's just the building on one's otherwise live music contacts. There's a whole bunch of networking and musical collaboration to be had via online relationships - which with the ability to record oneself, a player doesn't even get to participate in at all.

So yes, as always - there are no shortcuts and no easy paths. But at the same time, the world is constantly changing - so the path to success is likely to change a bit as well.
 

Whitten

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My post wasn't about Kenny's choices per se, it was a response to What It Is who suggested "Anybody that wants to make it as a drummer in the music business today needs to watch this video". As I said at the bottom of the same paragraph you snipped from: "To me, the video is a cautionary tale, in which what worked in the past is sometimes a terrible predictor of what will work in the future, especially in an industry as turbulent and volatile as the music industry".
I slightly agree with the main tenet of your post, but your explanations are full of black and white exaggerations of what the reality really is.
I agree with the line: "Anybody that wants to make it as a drummer in the music business today needs to watch this video". Because Kenny is a highly skilled all rounder. FWIW, I was mentoring a teenage drummer with talent around 2009 and Aronoff came to our local drum store to do a masterclass. I informed the teenager about a week in advance and said if he did anything in his life he needed to get to that clinic. Of course he decided to go to the beach instead that day, and my mentoring stopped at that point.


And why? Because I think we're all very aware that the days of being flown by private jet to do one song, in a studio with three full-time engineers and a locker full of Neumanns and Telefunkens, where you can make more money in one month of sessions than an entire yearly salary of being a sideman for Mellencamp and be played on the radio to hundreds of millions of listeners everyday are ancient history. Do you know any session musician, anywhere, who's still living that life? I mean, radio-play - what's that?
Virtually no session musician was living that life in the golden era. It's another fantasy that gets repeated on drum forums again and again. I have made a decent living as a full time musician since 1980 and I have never been flown on a private jet to play on one song. Porcaro played drums on the Dire Straits album 'On Every Street' in London, and I'm sure they flew him over, maybe business class, on British Airways. Even then, we are talking about maybe ten of the absolute elite musicians - Gadd, Keltner, Porcaro, Aronoff etc.. But many thousands of other drummers have had a long career as studio musicians.

And then perhaps ask yourself, do you want to be 68 years old, operating out of a cartage space, doing sessions for no-name artists, and supplementing your income with motivational speaking? If so, and you don't have kids to put through college or a sick spouse or child and own your own house, then Kenny will be a constant source of inspiration for you.
Yes actually. It is a lot of fun and I love what I do. I'm my own boss and I can just work on projects I want to work on. I don't want other people telling me what to do every day. I don't want t go on 'team building' weekends rock climbing with people I don't particularly like. I don't want to have assessment interviews - "where do I see myself in ten years"? " What are my flaws I should be working on" etc....
Yes, I would much rather be playing music every day than dreading Monday morning at the office.

You talk like it's a sudden change, but I diversified into computing, Pro Tools, Logic Audio in 1992. I started learning how to make my own videos about ten years ago. I've had an ambition to remote record, with my own drum tracking studio since 2005.
Yes, you can't survive just playing drums any more, but in my experience that has been the case since at least 2000.
 

High on Stress

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This is a really great thoughtful discussion to be able to read here. Thanks to all of you who have contributed.
 

853guy

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I slightly agree with the main tenet of your post, but your explanations are full of black and white exaggerations of what the reality really is.
Well, the main tenet of my post(s) is the world is constantly changing and evolving with a high degree of volatility and unpredictability, so if you wish to make a living and survive those changes, don't expect what worked yesterday to be an accurate predictor for what will work in the future.

As historical precedents for that position, I mentioned not only the music industry, but computing, automotive, real estate and banking. I could add advertising, newspapers, cinema and photography to the list - all of which have experienced monumental changes few predicted or saw coming. The Eric Hoffer quote above sums up my position, and given many industries suffered spectacular recessions with COVID, I struggle to take the "black and white exaggerations" critique as any sort of robust reason to revise my main tenet.

Virtually no session musician was living that life in the golden era. It's another fantasy that gets repeated on drum forums again and again. I have made a decent living as a full time musician since 1980 and I have never been flown on a private jet to play on one song. Porcaro played drums on the Dire Straits album 'On Every Street' in London, and I'm sure they flew him over, maybe business class, on British Airways. Even then, we are talking about maybe ten of the absolute elite musicians - Gadd, Keltner, Porcaro, Aronoff etc.. But many thousands of other drummers have had a long career as studio musicians.
My comment was taken directly from this quote from Kenny Aronoff in 2018: "Back then, there was a lot of money in the music business. People would buy records. Now people do not go to recording studios anymore because they can do it at home. Nobody is really buying records. The whole industry has changed. But I was there when there were loads of money, people would fly me all over the world just to record one song." *

To me, it's less relevant to consider: Q) How many elite session guys lived the rock-star business-class/private jet session lifestyle? A) Only ten; But rather: Q) How many elite session guys needed to significantly adjust their expectations as people stopped paying for music and recording budgets significantly diminished? A) All of them.

You can reframe it by choosing to focus on the first one it to strengthen your position, but again, I fail to see how that in any way undermines the validity of my main point above.

And yes, it's impossible to deny thousands of session drummers exist and make money. The question remains, will they make enough of it in the good times to survive the volatility thrown up by an unpredictable world in the bad times? Lehman's bankers made a lot of money, until suddenly they didn't. One bad hand took away all the money they made, and destroyed a company that had been trading for 158 years. Too black and white for you?

Yes actually. It is a lot of fun and I love what I do. I'm my own boss and I can just work on projects I want to work on. I don't want other people telling me what to do every day. I don't want t go on 'team building' weekends rock climbing with people I don't particularly like. I don't want to have assessment interviews - "where do I see myself in ten years"? " What are my flaws I should be working on" etc.... Yes, I would much rather be playing music every day than dreading Monday morning at the office.
At no point, ever, did I attempt to tell other people what they should do with their time. I suggested they ask themselves some questions after watching the video. And I certainly didn't recommend they should get a desk job.

You talk like it's a sudden change, but I diversified into computing, Pro Tools, Logic Audio in 1992. I started learning how to make my own videos about ten years ago. I've had an ambition to remote record, with my own drum tracking studio since 2005. Yes, you can't survive just playing drums any more, but in my experience that has been the case since at least 2000.
I'm just talking. How you perceive it will depend on your own world view. "Sudden change" is exactly what happened to Long Term Capital Management, and Lehman Brothers, and Kodak, and IBM, and Chrysler, and people who thought it would be impossible for international travel to be suspended. It happened to every great civilization in history. That's the nature of sudden change - even some of our best and brightest can't possibly conceive it'll happen in their lifetime.

Everyone is free to do what they want, and take away whatever they want to take away from Kenny's video. But nothing in your post would suggest your current experience can be extrapolated to a wider demographical sample size and still be true twenty years from now. It may not even be true for you.

Best,

853guy

P.S. While on a theoretical/rhetorical level I enjoy debating and arguing these sorts of topical issues, on a personal level I have really enjoyed your drumming over the years and genuinely wish you the continued best in life and all you put your hands to.

*https://straycatscollectorsarchive....s-interviews-legendary-drummer-kenny-aronoff/
 
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Whitten

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So people flew Aronoff in to play on one song. Where did he mention 'private jets'?
I've been doing this for 40+ years. Those occasions are very much the exception. As I say, despite a large number of great studio drummers in the UK and Europe, Mark Knopfler flew Porcaro in for the last Dire Straits album. It wasn't in a private jet and it wasn't for one song.
Apart from Covid, which has been a bolt out f the blue for everyone, most music industry changes have been more gradual. the switch from real playing to programmed software, the closure of many commercial studios and the refocussing on personal studios. The sad loss of income from recording to music piracy then low cost streaming.
If you find yourself out of time, it's because you are not paying attention. I must admit I missed the move to get in a band and stick with it at all costs. Until Covid this was the most important development of the last 20 years, as it was the only way to make consistent money.
Most successful freelancers have joined a paying band and stuck with it over a long time. Aronoff with John Fogerty for example.
What happens next (like 2022/2023) I don't think anyone knows yet.
 

853guy

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So people flew Aronoff in to play on one song. Where did he mention 'private jets'? I've been doing this for 40+ years. Those occasions are very much the exception. As I say, despite a large number of great studio drummers in the UK and Europe, Mark Knopfler flew Porcaro in for the last Dire Straits album. It wasn't in a private jet and it wasn't for one song.
He mentioned it here:

"That started us down the road of playing arenas, flying in private jets, and appearing on every TV and awards show imaginable. ‘Jack and Diane’ landed my career."

"We were flying in a private jet and we were staying at the Ritz-Carlton Four Seasons Hotel. "

“I wanted my mom to call and get me a job with the Beatles,” Aronoff said this week as he waited in a Los Angles airport for John Fogerty to arrive so they could take a private jet to their next gig.

"It was like private jets and madness, kidnapping chicks in our aircraft and hospitality rooms."

"I remember flying on a private jet after playing in Montreal for 18,000 people."

"I have flown on private jets, been around the world, recorded on some very successful hit records, played for three Presidents, etc., etc."

"Hi from the sky in a G5 jet."

"There is a friend of mine here in Calgary who is an executive producer on a project I am doing, and he wants to get a private jet and bring me to the clinic and back."

Does your argument hinge on the fact that because Porcaro did not use a private jet for the one specific session you do know about it must therefore completely negate the possibility that Kenny could never have used a private jet for all other sessions you don't know about?

Apart from Covid, which has been a bolt out f the blue for everyone, most music industry changes have been more gradual. the switch from real playing to programmed software, the closure of many commercial studios and the refocussing on personal studios. The sad loss of income from recording to music piracy then low cost streaming.
If you find yourself out of time, it's because you are not paying attention. I must admit I missed the move to get in a band and stick with it at all costs. Until Covid this was the most important development of the last 20 years, as it was the only way to make consistent money.
Most successful freelancers have joined a paying band and stuck with it over a long time. Aronoff with John Fogerty for example.
What happens next (like 2022/2023) I don't think anyone knows yet.
Given this is my fifth post in this thread, and I've said all I have to say about it as well as I can, I don't really see how any more from me will be profitable to anyone. I'll leave the thread to others who want to celebrate Kenny's career and/or debate the changing times we live in.

Again, nothing personal. Have a great rest of your weekend.

Best,

853guy

Links to quotes: http://ofpersonalinterest.com/kenny...mand-drummer-turned-author-knows-his-purpose/ ; https://musicguy247.typepad.com/my-...-john-fogerty-and-john-couger-mellencamp.html ; https://berkshirestyle.com/features/Kenny_Aronoff.html ; http://paulmccartneypics.blogspot.com/2014/02/exclusive-drummer-kenny-aronoff-on.html ; http://www.drum-line.net/archive.html ; http://nicksmusiccorner.blogspot.com/2009/03/kenny-aronoff-interview.html ; https://magnetmagazine.com/2015/08/11/from-the-desk-of-the-bodeans-kenny-aronoff-part-two/ ; https://www.theblackpage.net/pdf/The Black Page August 2009.pdf
 
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IBitePrettyHard

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After watching, I'm kind of surprised he's using a thumper in his studio. I guess why not?, but I associate those with live playing.
I bought a Porter & Davies "thumper", not for Live, but for practice specifically. It was to tighten up my bass drum playing and make it more tactile. It has improved my bass drum playing tremendously.

I feel more in sync with my foot now, and no longer have a detached feeling with my foot. My note placement is more in the pocket, which in turn has improved my groove.
 

Tornado

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Wow, so many great replies in this thread.

One thing I'd quibble with is the idea that Kenny had to go into motivational speaking to diversify his income. Nobody but Kenny knows that, but I doubt it. Factually speaking, yes, it's another stream of income. But he probably just likes doing it, and could easily fill his time with other things.

I feel like some watched that video and saw a guy who was forced to adapt to a changing world, and poor Kenny. I watched and saw a guy who adapted to a changing world and is loving every minute of it.
 

multijd

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Kenny is such a pro. Attitude, playing, business sense, technical adaptability. Inspirational.
 

Whitten

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Does your argument hinge on the fact that because Porcaro did not use a private jet for the one specific session you do know about it must therefore completely negate the possibility that Kenny could never have used a private jet for all other sessions you don't know about?
You aren't being accurate and therefore your argument falls down.
Because I think we're all very aware that the days of being flown by private jet to do one song, in a studio with three full-time engineers and a locker full of Neumanns and Telefunkens, where you can make more money in one month of sessions than an entire yearly salary of being a sideman for Mellencamp and be played on the radio to hundreds of millions of listeners everyday are ancient history. Do you know any session musician, anywhere, who's still living that life?
'The days of being flown in a private jet to record one song'?
Those were never 'the days'.
It was the absolute exception. The text you've quoted above he mostly talked about touring in private jets - which IS the norm (for various reasons).
On McCartney and Dire Straits, nearly the entire tour was under taken with private jets. It is not that much more expensive than buying 15 business class seats on a commercial flight. Commercial flights do not necessarily connect the two gigs you are travelling between. they may not fly on the day or at the time you need. And it cuts out all the waiting at check-in, waiting at security, and waiting at the gate. A lot of the time it's a 737 with no other passengers on it, not exactly a lear jet with a jacuzzi.
I obviously know and have talked to many established studio musicians. Either working in your home city, or flying on commercial airlines for studio work was/is the norm!
It's just a thing on forums that people who have never done it aways talk about 'chicks', orgies, champagne, private jets, drugs binges. None of which are actually the norm. It's a professional job, it is very hard work.
It doesn't help that Aronoff highlights that side of his experience.
When people were taking our music for nothing (illegal downloading) I confronted many pirates online. Their answer was always - you are super wealthy, all you want to do is party with 'chicks', why shouldn't I get your music for free?
That is not the case for the vast majority of working musicians, who are contentious and work hard for an average wage.
So yeah, I don't like to see the millionaire lifestyle portrayed as the norm for studio musicians, it is very much the exception.
 
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Carlos McSnurf

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Don’t go out and spend a bunch of money setting up a home studio thinking you’re going to do all of these recordings for people.
Exactly. Kenny built his own studio by his reputation from sessions done. Own class A studio gear will not automatically make you a drummer on demand. Especially when today technology
does more and more in studio session process.
But for the average Joe, the only hope is probably a focus on live gigs.
And again, very true. Better to become live gig drummer on demand, first. Let people call You, not You calling to the people.
 


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