I often have students ask me how to get gigs. My answer is usually not what they want to hear… because there really is no answer. There’s no online database that musicians go to when they want to hire a drummer. There’s no secret phone list that you can subscribe to.
As far as my experience has been, the only way to get gigs is to practice hard and then play whenever you can. Do some of your friends have a band? Ask if you can sit in with them. Does your church need volunteers for Sunday morning worship team? Be apart of that. Is your school putting on a musical? Get in on it. The more you play, the more people hear you and the better chance you have of getting hired for a “real gig.” Here’s some things to remember…
1) Always bring your A-game. Play as well as you can all the time. You never know who is listening and what kind of opportunities may come from that down the road. There is no such thing as a throw-away gig where you don’t need to try.
2) Always be on time. Everybody gets annoyed with someone who’s late for a rehearsal or gig, and if your reputation as such is going to make everyone nervous, then you will probably not get the call – even if you’re a good player.
3) Try to be nice and easy to work with. For most gigs, 10% of the time is spent playing music, and the other 90% is spent hanging out with everyone else on the gig. If nobody likes hanging with you, or if you always whine about the conditions of the gig, then you’ll eventually be replaced.
4) Try to have good gear. Most of the time people will notice your kit before they notice you, and your set-up will say a lot about what kind of person/player you are.
5) Be versatile. Learn the vocabulary of as many different musical styles as you can, and you’ll not only improve your skill, you’ll also broaden your chances of getting hired.