Millions of people around the world want to become professional drummers. Being a professional drummer can open up a world of opportunities, including traveling, meeting new people, and pursuing your musical passions. As a creative career, the career path of a drummer is different from a more traditional profession. But how much money can you make as a drummer?
Many factors determine how much money you can make pursuing a career in drumming. Entry-level drummers make about $30 thousand per year. Amazing drummers can earn hundreds of thousands.
Is your goal to only playing with your band, recording music, and touring? Would you like to become a drumming instructor?
Maybe you would like to work as a studio drummer—a drummer hired to play with a band during their studio recording. Each of these types of drummers can earn significantly different salaries. Read on to learn more about what other kinds of drummers make.
How Much Does the Average Drummer Make?
Several factors determine how much money a drummer will make. Some of these factors include experience in the field and their level of education with the instrument.
Different types of drumming jobs include:
- Teaching students as a drumming instructor
- Drumming as a studio drummer for bands
- Playing the drums in your own band
Many musicians make between $36,000 and $57,000 annually. However, these salaries do not reflect the drummers who become famous and strike it rich, which is rare.
How Much Do Drum Instructors Make?
Teaching as a career can be a lucrative and exciting career path. There are many professors of music teaching in universities, schools, and music centers. If you work as a teacher or professor, you can hope to make a similar salary to your colleagues.
Teaching private classes through a musical institution or freelance is another possibility. While teaching private lessons, you can charge between $15 to $40 an hour, depending on your experience and your clients.
Teaching salaries come from your amount of experience and your educational background. Studying music and music theory in a university will allow you to command a higher salary and open up more career opportunities. You can also meet fellow musicians while at college.
How Much Does a Studio Drummer Make?
Besides performing with your band, you could be hired as a drummer to perform with a well-known singer. For example, Sting is a solo artist who still needs a band to perform on stage.
In this scenario, you would receive less than if you were playing with your famous band. But you will receive a fixed salary and still have the chance to perform on stage in front of a live audience, as well as travel on tour. This opportunity is great if you do not have a band or want to gain more experience.
An average salary for studio drummers is about $50,000 a year. Of course, if you build your reputation and become a well-known studio drummer, your potential earnings will also increase. These numbers can also vary based on what state you are living and working in.
It is also possible to pursue a mixture of these possibilities. For example, you could work part-time teaching at a music school, work part-time at a studio, teach some private classes on the side, and continue to play with your band.
This combination certainly requires some effort and planning, but it is one way to make your career a drummer. Many career drummers balance their careers and supplement their incomes by using their drumming skills in various ways.
Here are some examples of various ways:
How Do Bands Actually Make Money?
If your dream is to make it big playing with your band, you could make much more money than the salaries listed above, but it might take time. You will need to cultivate a fanbase and promote your music to as many people as possible. How do you start making money as a drummer for a band?
Once your band starts selling albums and performing at concerts, you can expect to start making some money. The more albums you sell and the bigger the venues you perform, the more money you will make. Typically the money made from album sales and gigs is split evenly between band members.
However, sometimes the “frontman” of the band, usually the lead singer, receives a more significant portion due to their higher visibility and greater role in the band. You also typically need to pay your agent and producers. This is something that should be discussed and decided upon by all of the band members.
- World-famous bands can make $100,000 or more for each concert they perform. If there are eight members in the band and the sum is split evenly, that works out to $12,500 per concert. Of course, that is for famous bands.
- An average, mid-level band could make around $50,000 to $100,000 per show.
- The more concerts your band performs, and the bigger the venue, the more you can make.
Bear in mind that touring is not cheap. You and your band will need to calculate how much you are willing and able to spend on travel expenses, buying and replacing technical equipment, transportation, and other costs. These additional expenses can quickly bite into your earnings per concert.
You can also make more money when your band sells merchandise- like t-shirts, posters, and vinyl records. Your band could also potentially earn more through royalties. Music royalties are when someone wants to use your music, for example: in a TV show or advertisement. Your band will be paid royalties for the use of your music under copyright laws and with your permission.
Should My Band Sign with a Record Label?
If your dream is to play drums with your band, your salary will depend, of course, on the popularity of your crew. Everyone dreams of their band making it big, and it can happen. Well-known bands are certainly paid accordingly. Bands can maximize their exposure through media outreach and a digital strategy.
In the last few years, the music industry itself has been experiencing massive changes.
- Many new artists are creating and releasing their music themselves, without signing with a record label.
- Independent artists using social media platforms to release and promote their music, building fan bases through followers.
- DIY artists also release their music directly on some streaming platforms like Spotify.
While being an independent artist does give musicians more freedom artistically, there are some negatives. As a DIY artist, you will be entirely responsible for financing, marketing, and merchandising—aspects usually provided by a record label.
Signing with a record label means you can benefit from the label’s experience and professional connections as well. The record label will be investing in you to help start your career and encourage your success. Record labels will take care of the business side, allowing artists to focus on the creative side and making more quality music.
Some record labels will offer an advance to new artists who sign on with them. This amount could be anywhere between $5,000 and $50,000 or no advance at all. It depends on the label and how much of an investment they can afford to make in your band.
Record labels will also help you in planning your tour, including booking venues and negotiating deals. The record label will also help you create a marketing campaign to promote your band, including designing necessary artwork, merchandise, and photos. Promotion of the band will also be handled by the label, including arranging interviews with the media.
While there is no fixed or guaranteed salary for a drummer, there are many different career paths to choose from—from teaching to performing with your band. Pursuing a mix of these other career options can help you decide what you want to do and help you make money while you figure it out. If recording with a band is your dream, contact record labels to learn about more possibilities.