If you are a gigging drummer or musician and just starting out playing here is some important advice and information. I am going to share some information with you that will help you to never have to suffer the way I have with unreliable people or people that do not understand or respect drumming or drummers.
Even other drummers sometimes do not respect each other. It may sound basic or like plain old common sense to you and it is, so listen carefuly and follow along. People say that miscommunication or lack of communication is “the nature of the (music) business but I say let’s put a stop to that! If you have anything to add to this please be sure to drop me a line and I will add it as well. Let’s help each other out here.
Whenever you get a call or someone invites you to a session, a party a gig or a jam, make sure you get all the details. Getting all the details will save you from wasted travel time and disapointments as well.
The time, the place, who is involved, the nature of the gig (what is it for , who is it for, who else will be there, are there other drummers coming, instruments to bring). Be sure to get the start time and the finish time and ask who the crowd will be. Even ask what is the goal or theme of the event. Has the audience heard drums before? Are they hoping to participate? I mention these things because sometimes drumming can shock or surprise people and more often then not, people at an event or party are going to want to hit your drum or some how join in. So be prepared by being knowledgable.
Always find out what, where, how and when. Also “who”. For example, who is giving the party or session (sponsor). If it is a gig, what is the pay and for how long do you play?
Recently I agreed to do a gig for 1/2 an hour for a set amount. I was very clear about how much I wanted. But when I asked where the gig was, I could not get information. Also what time it started. Couldn’t get it. It was another drummer so I gave him the benefit of the doubt despite the fact that he had canceled a gig on me last minute before.
He asked how much more would it be for an hour, an hour and a half and two hours. I quoted him prices.
But even though I wrote him and quoted him prices, somehow over a period of a month the 1/2 hour changed into a full hour but there was no pay increase. Time crept on and although I wrote him and wrote him there were still no details. But I finally got the time of the gig and the name of the club.
Then at the last minute (3 days before hand). I was told that they needed to do a run through. That meant me spending more time (remember the 1/2 hour had been expanded to one hour with no additional pay), and I would have had to pay for transportation (taxi) to and from the rehearsal. There was no mention of a rehearsal at any point.
Now this guy had canceled on me last minute before, and my first gig with him he made me sit around for an hour before I got to play while he dj’d. So I told him I would not go to the rehearsal. I was never told about it and it was too much, especially since we were now doing an hour show instead of 1/2 hour. And I also told him I wanted a 50% cash deposit.
Well to make this long story short, the gig got cancelled do to “lack of communication” on my part he say’s, because I did not answer the phone when he called for me to go to the rehearsal.
So as you can see the lack of communication on both of our parts was a deal killer. For me it is all about communication, and good communication. If I had been more firm and pressed for details more firlmly, stated my needs clearly or asked for a written agreement up front I could have saved myself a lot of time and hassle. My contact was flakey and unprofessional, but it was my responsibility to take care of myself, find out the details and persist.
“The ability to communicate effectively is everything” Lee Iacocca
If and when you can, get signed agreements and be sure to ask everything that is required of you for a job. Don’t be shy, and don’t be afraid about loosing a gig or job because you ask or asked too many questions or you wanted a solid agreement. And speaking of agreements, especially with friends it is great to write things out clearly at the beginning of any project. Don’t think, “because we are friends you do not need to do this”. Making an agreement and signing an agreement will actually save friendships in the long run! In the long run you will be making it easier on everyone.