You’ve just graduated from music school. Congratulations! You’ve worked hard, practiced your butt off and now it’s time to get out there and “make it” as a professional drummer. But where do you start?
Or maybe you’ve been enrolled in this school called “life”, and have been working gig after gig toward getting your big break.
Whatever your story is, if your heart has called you to make music for a living, your Zildjian Family has some advice from those who have successful careers doing what they love to do - playing drums.
Roberto Gualdi - Italy, Independent: Somewhere I read about the ABC rule. Attitude...Behavior...Consequences. Careers are based on "word of mouth". Play with anyone you can, anytime and always do the best you can.
Antonio Sanchez - USA, Pat Metheny: Don't get discouraged. You have to develop a thick skin. There will always be people out there that won't like the way you play. Taste is in the ear of the beholder. All you can do is make sure you do what you do the best possible way. Make short term and long term goals and stay focused.
Ben Gordon - Australia, Parkway Drive: Create your own style, don't copy other people exactly. Think outside the box. Practice a lot. Find a good guitarist and jam with them.
Brooks Wackerman - USA, Avenged Sevenfold: Never stop progressing and never become too cozy or satisfied with your art. Also, don't be a dick.
Gary Husband - UK, Independent: Take a great interest in the people you'd most like to work with. Find out what you can about them - who they've enjoyed working with in the past and why... anything. It's flattering to who you're trying to get to the attention of and it gets you in the door, conversationally. From there on, try and orchestrate a way they can hear you. I think it's very necessary to be proactive - especially these days. If they don't hire you... try hiring THEM! It worked for me! On a number of occasions!
Stephen Perkins - USA, Jane’s Addiction: Stay focused on the potential of your playing and your technique, chase that goal daily. Music comes first, the road is paved by your hands and feet with sticks and pedals. Also, keep yourself surrounded and playing with musicians that have a strong work ethic and discipline - players that are striving for that same goal.
Fredrik Larzon - Sweden, Millencolin: Practice with a lot of like-minded people. Record yourself and/or your band often and listen to it to hear what you can do better. Have fun!
John Tempesta - USA, The Cult: Practice makes perfect. Put yourself out there by going to as many shows as you can. Being at the right place at the right time helps. It has for me.
Steve White - UK, Independent /Trio Valore: Be positive. Do not succumb to gossip, negativity and being down on people. When you think you cannot work any harder, work a bit more. Be diverse and be a nice person. No one likes an asshole on a bus.
Lucas van Merwijk - The Netherlands, Independent: Get your technique down first and then become a complete musician. Keep an open mind.
Ash Soan- UK, Recording Artist: Be as good as you can be. Work hard and be cool. A very famous producer once said to me "don't look down.”
James Payne - Italy, Hiss From the Moat: Work hard like everyone else does in their daily job, don’t just practice, dedicate 100% of your life to drums, and learn in every situation. You can never do enough!
Vasily Rudenko - Russia, Independent: Play wherever you can, play different music with different people. I think it's important to be versatile and be able to adapt! You need to be a gentle, friendly person and not be afraid to communicate with people. It's not enough to be just a good musician, because a lot of the time you'll be traveling and in hotels with people who are paying you...it goes far beyond just being on the stage with them.
Simon Scheibel - Germany, Lake Cisco: Always try to be and stay true to yourself. Use any contact you know that might help you.
Bernhard Schimpelsberger - UK, Independent: Investigate what it is that you love, and then pursue it. You can never be anyone else. If you are true to yourself and work hard for it, you will reach people with your work.
Daniel Platzman - USA, Imagine Dragons: Practice with a metronome and don't be a jerk. Nobody cares how good you are if they can't stand to be around you.
Mike Gaspar - Portugal, Moonspell: Well I have always been a band oriented kinda guy. I think it’s the best to have your own band put out your own songs and develop a family relationship within the band. When you stick together and put all your heart and time into one goal, things can get rolling before you know it. Keep your eye out for the right people that take music seriously. Work hard and have the best time of your life doing what you believe in. If you’re a studio or live drummer, deliver what is needed for the project and don't try to show off. The relationships in the industry are just as important. No one likes to spend two months on the road with complicated personalities!!! Be yourself, keep it cool and have patience.
Bunta - Japan, TOTALFAT: Put up the music antenna, and check out many good drummers and music. And the most important thing is to make friends in your industry!
Ian Matthews - UK, Kasabian: Keep at it, stay active and be a great person to work with.
Daniel Hanson - Australia, Ball Park Music: Try and play with as many different artists in as many different styles as possible. If you are looking to be in a band, eventually you will find the right one. Just be patient and practice your butt off in the meantime.
Kent Slucher - USA, Luke Bryan Band: Obviously being able to play well but always staying humble and being good to people. There's always someone who can replace you and be happy to be there. I always try to keep things in perspective, I'm truly blessed to be where I'm at today.
Richard Jupp - UK, Elbow: Practice, be adaptable, listen, and be nice. I've only done a couple of sessions outside of Elbow but what I took from them was that it's tough out there, you've got to be ready for anything. So being personable and able to interpret what the other musicians need from you is so important.
Jason Bittner - USA, Shadows Fall / Flotsam and Jetsam: Learn a LOT of different styles, and be prepared to work harder than you've ever worked before.
Tobias Derer - Germany, You Tuber -Ultimate Music Covers (UMC): Practice every day; think of music and your career every minute of your day.
Barry van Zyl - South Africa, Johnny Clegg: Practice and network. Not necessarily in that order.
Jacopo Volpe - Italy, Vanilla Sky: Follow your heart and feel free to do what you really like.
Pierre Nakano - Japan, Ling Toshite Shigure: A tip is to acquire the skill and pleasant personality people want to work with.
Nicolas Viccaro - France, Independent: Practice a lot. Analyze people’s reactions when they’re doing business and learn from them.
Alex Salinger - Australia, Deez Nuts: Practice practice practice! Play with as many people as possible, get on recordings with friends and stuff like that. If you want it bad enough it will happen!
Darshan Doshi - India, Bollywood / Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy: Be true to your art. You need to be fully dedicated to your instrument.
Kristinn "Kiddi" Agnarsson - Iceland, John Grant: Be nice. Really, be a nice person and fun to be around, and that will get you far.
Marito Marques - Portugal, Independent: Practicing and practicing and more practicing. It's also important to go out and meet other musicians, shake-hands and get to know people in the industry.
Toni Mateos - Spain, Independent: Learn the rules and stick to them.
Matt Greiner - USA, August Burns Red: Practice hard, value relationships, and think outside the box.
Gavin Harrison - UK, Porcupine Tree/ King Crimson: Practice, practice, practice. If you're really good you will eventually get noticed.
Joe Clegg - UK, Ellie Goulding: Persistence.
Are you working toward becoming a professional musician? Are you already there? Share your best tip for success in the comment section below.
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