How Much do Drummers Earn? (Real Truth)

How Much do Drummers Earn
Written by Corey Morgan

Drummers may expect to earn an annual salary of around $40,000 on average. Depending on the type of gigs, album royalties, and how frequently you perform, this number can vary substantially.


If you’re a fan of music, then you’re probably aware that most bands have at least one drummer. And if you’re curious about what it is that drummers do in a band, or how much they earn for their work, then you’ll want to read on. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of drumming and find out just how much money drummers make. We’ll also take a look at some of the skills that are necessary to be a successful drummer. So, if you’re interested in learning more about this unique and important role in the music industry, keep reading!

Regardless of how long you’ve been playing the drums or how recently you started, you’re certain to have pondered at some time how much money drummers can make in a year.

Drummers may expect to earn an annual salary of around $40,000 on average. Depending on the type of gigs, album royalties, and how frequently you perform, this number can vary substantially. There are plenty of opportunities in the drumming industry, from teaching and working on cruise ships to making millions as a professional drummer!

Obviously, not everyone who picks up a drumstick and purchases a drum set aspires to go on tour, sell out stadiums, and earn millions of dollars performing in front of an audience.

Still, there are many people who would like to make a little more money from their love of music and the drums in particular. If at all possible, several drummers would like to make a full-time living playing the drums.

I’ll go over a few different types of drummers and how much money they may expect to make each year in the sections that follow. There are many ways to make money playing the drums, and this should give you an indication of how much money you may expect to make.

How Much Does a Drummer Make on an Annual Basis?

More than 80% of drummers will not be able to afford the cost of a competent professional drum kit, much less earn an actual living from their craft.

The average annual wage for a professional drummer in the United States is $40,000, according to

Glassdoor utilizes the term “professional,” which I believe may cause some misunderstanding. The term “professional,” in this context, encompass a wide range of drummers, from those who perform on cruise ships to those who are employed by sports teams to those who teach.

You can’t expect to make $40,000 a year as a drummer in a typical garage band or weekend warrior band.

At the same time, there are certain drummers…

and I’m not only talking about the world’s most well-known drummers… The ones who are making more than $40,000 a year

How Much Do Different Drummers Earn?

In order to better grasp how much money drummers can make and what they are expected to accomplish in order to earn it, let’s go over a few different types of drummer careers.

  • $50,000 to $70,000 per year for session drummers
  • $35,000-$60,000 a year for drum instructors
  • Per Year: $31,500 for Cruise Ship Drummer
  • Drummer for the Military Band Making $40,000 a Year
  • Professional Performing Drummers (Low End)
  • Each Show Costs $50,000.
  • Professional Performing Drummers (High End)
  • $125,000 per Show

Drummers can make a wide range of incomes, depending on their specific skill set and experience.

How Much Do Session Drummers make?

This may be the “Goldilocks” drummer job for many people, and they can expect to earn $50,000-$70,000 a year or more for their skills.

When it comes to drumming for recording sessions, session drummers are drummers that don’t necessarily belong to a band but rather act more as “floaters” who can play with a wide range of artists.

Many of these drummers will be hired directly by bands, while studio personnel may provide recommendations of people they want to bring on board and work with in the long run.

If you’ve built up a reputation as a top session drummer, or if you’ve worked with several big-name bands, you may be able to earn six figures or more without difficulty.

As a session musician, you may not get the opportunity to play the music you want to play. You may be a fan of hard rock but continue to land gigs playing country…so you can’t be choosy, at least initially.

When it comes to music, there are no limits to what you can study and play. The sessions could be a chore if you despise a particular style of music.

Having to relocate to a city you don’t want to live in is another probable drawback. Every city, big and small, has a recording studio these days…but to acquire regular employment, you’ll probably have to reside near a big metropolis… Choose a city with a solid reputation in the music industry.

Another disadvantage is that you’ll need to know a LOT about a wide variety of styles of playing, and I do mean a wide variety.

How Much Do Drum Instructors Make in the United States?

It’s not hard to see why those who want to play and teach the drums end up in the music teaching or individual tutoring industries.

As a general rule, drum teachers can expect to earn anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 per year, which is in pace with traditional teachers, although this can vary greatly depending on how much the teacher charges per hour and how many students the teacher accepts.

It is not uncommon for one-on-one tutoring sessions to cost upwards of $900 a day, with some tutors costing much more.

Music professors and music schools or conservatories can also offer lower six-figure income, although these positions are extremely tough to secure.

As a result, many drum teachers choose to release their own programs or become more entrepreneurial, and this is when their wages considerably increase. More and more drummers are making their expertise available to students worldwide via video conferencing software like as Skype or Zoom. Others construct online instructional courses and post them on sites like

In addition, YouTube is increasingly being used to teach drums, either directly or as a means of driving traffic to online courses. In this way, drummers can make money from their YouTube channels, make money as an affiliate by promoting things, and make money by directing students to their online lesson programs… It takes time to establish an audience, but the rewards can be enormous.

How much do drummers who perform professionally make?

There are only a small percentage of drummers who are genuinely professional performers, drummers hired by bands to record and tour with, or entertainment venues to be the “house drummer” for whoever comes up to play on any given day.

To become a touring drummer, you need to play a lot of shows and make $1,000,000 every year. A lot of drummers in well-known bands make considerably more money than this.

Other types of drummers, such as house drummers, can expect to make six figures or even less. To get started in this approach, you’ll need to look into possibilities that may not appear evident at first.

The need for a drummer might arise in a variety of settings, including sports teams, restaurants, pubs, and so on. The competition for these jobs is substantially lower than for a studio session drummer because people aren’t anticipating it.

How Much Money Does A Cruise Ship Drummer earn?

Drummers and musicians in general frequently underestimate the possibility of working on a cruise ship.

Getting one of these gigs is easier than getting a job as a session drummer or performing with Cirque du Soleil, but is it the best way to make money?

The average yearly salary for a drummer working on a cruise ship is $31,500. With each passing year, your seniority will increase, and you’ll eventually be able to move up to bigger ships with better entertainment. Because the cost of living is lower on a ship, you save money every month.

You should also keep in mind that most of your expenses will be covered while you are on the ship, so you won’t have to worry about things like rent, car/gas, utility bills, and so on.

The internet and alcoholic beverages may be free on some cruise ships, but on others, employees must pay.

This is a much better deal than the “regular” 9-5 job”, but it’s not insignificant either.

How Much Do Military Drummers Earn?

Military service is an option that many musicians neglect. As a military drummer, you’ll earn a lot of money and be part of a great team.

At least $3342 is the average salary for the drummer in a military band. Salary ranges from $1828 to $7236 depending on factors like rank and field of service. Benefits for military musicians include a stipend for rent and health insurance, amongst others.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, no matter what branch of service you are in, you are first and foremost a soldier. The majority of your time will be spent playing at concerts and other special events, but you can be called upon to perform in a variety of other capacities as well.

In the military, the benefits of being a drummer can be enormous. As a drummer in the military, you get to do three things: serve your nation, make money, and take use of military advantages to further your post-military career.

Many military personnel are eligible for free college tuition…

A fantastic chance to earn a degree in your field of choice (music performance, business, or anything else), which can help you advance your career. You’ll also have the opportunity to play with a changing cast of musicians and make new friends.

BAH (Base Allowance for Housing) is one of the other perks. Rent and mortgages will be easier to afford with this extra cash. Additionally, you’ll get free access to VA medical care and discounts at nearly every store and restaurant.

There are, of course, drawbacks. You can’t always pick your own neighborhood… Which might be Alaska or South Korea?

Another option is that you could be called into service. You may be deployed to a conflict zone if the country is at war.

Finally, don’t expect to hear any heavy metal or hard rock. During the holidays, military bands perform a lot of traditional music and “general audience” songs. Marches, Christmas medleys, and jazz standards will take up much of your time. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, but they may not be your “cup of tea.”

In what ways do bands generate revenue?

To make it big in music, you can earn much more than the incomes indicated above, but it may take a long time to get there. To be successful, you’ll have to build a following and spread the word about your music to as many people as you can. For a drummer, how do you get started making money in a band?

You can expect to start earning money from your band as soon as they start selling albums and playing shows. To generate more money, you need to sell more CDs and perform at larger locations. In most bands, the earnings from album sales and live performances are divided equally among the members.

However, due to their increased prominence in the band, the “frontman” of the band, usually the lead singer, receives a larger share of the band’s earnings. Your agent and any producers that worked on your project should also be compensated. This is a decision that should be made by the band as a whole.

The average concert by a well-known band can bring in upwards of $100,000. The band’s total cost each show is $12,500 if the eight members split the money equally. Of course, this only applies to famous bands.

Each performance by an average mid-level band may bring in $50,000 to $100,000.

As the number of shows your band plays grows, so does your earning potential.

Consider the cost of travel while planning a trip. There will be expenses, such as travel, the purchase and replacement of technical equipment, transportation and other charges that you and your band must account for. It’s easy for these extra costs to eat into your earnings from a single show.

T-shirts, posters, and vinyl records can also help your band earn extra money. Royalties are another source of additional income for your band. If your music is used in a TV show or commercial, you may be paid royalties. In accordance with copyright rules and with your consent, your band will get royalties for the use of your song.


Of course, the success of your band will determine how much money you may expect to make as a drummer. Everyone wants their band to be successful, and it is possible. Bands with a recognizable name get paid accordingly. Media relations and a digital strategy may help bands get the most out of their online presence.

Massive shifts have taken place inside the music industry in the previous several years. Without the help of a record label, a growing number of young artists are self-releasing their work.

Independent artists use social media channels to release and promote their music, gaining fans and a following.

Some streaming services, such as Spotify, allow independent musicians to distribute their music directly to the public.

Having more artistic flexibility as a self-employed artist has its advantages, but it also has its drawbacks. You’ll be in charge of every part of your career as a DIY artist, including finances, promotion, and merchandise.

When you sign with a record label, you gain access to the label’s expertise and network of contacts. In order to help you get your career off the ground, the record label will invest in you. As a result, artists will be able to concentrate on their craft and produce better music while record companies take care of the business.

New musicians that sign with a label may be given a financial incentive in the form of a signing bonus. This sum could range from $5,000 to $50,000, or it could be nothing at all. Your band’s success will depend on the label and how much money they have available to put in it.

Additionally, record labels may assist you with all aspects of organizing your tour, from venue reservations to contract negotiations. To help you promote your band, the record label will also assist you in designing the essential promotional materials, such as artwork, merchandising, and images. The label will also be in charge of the band’s promotion, which will include setting up media interviews.

Drumming as a hobby for the sake of it

The truth is that being a highly successful touring drummer is really difficult…

The majority of musicians will make their money through teaching, playing smaller gigs (such cruise ships and small studios), and by being members of military bands.

It’s not impossible, though, to earn some extra cash as a drummer on the side. First and foremost, you’ll be playing because you’re passionate about music and the stage. Even so, if you’re able to make a few more dollars, why not?

Bands with fewer than ten members can expect to make $300 to $500 per show, which is divided among the musicians. Album and merchandise sales can help with this.

This kind of achievement appeals to a lot of drummers. In their free time, they like hanging out with friends, performing music, showing off their drumming skills, as well as making a few self-produced albums. Between sets at the place where they’re playing they often get free beverages and meals because of their local reputation.

Drummers like them, who form the backbone of the drumming community, play purely for the joy and fulfillment that it brings them. Without a doubt, the beer money is good, but the actual goal is to spread the love of music to as many people as possible.

Drumming can lead to a wide variety of jobs!

Exactly How Do You Make a Living Playing the Drums?

Years of training and practice are required to become a professional drummer. It’s possible to make a living playing drums if you’re confident in your abilities. The following are six possible careers in drumming that you can begin right now:

  1. Teaching
  2. Online lessons
  3. Corporate events, marriages, and gatherings
  4. Shows, such as musicals and Cirque du Soleil performances
  5. Writing
  6. Playing small-town gigs

Each of these drumming jobs has its own requirements, so let’s take a look at how you might get paid for it!

1) Teaching

Despite what you may believe, teaching the drums is a great way to make a lot of money. From $30 to $200 an hour, you can expect to make a good living as a teacher.

It’s not uncommon for instructors to earn $60 an hour, which means that even if you work part-time, you’ll still make between $2,400 and $4,000. You may earn even more if you’ve played in major bands or have the correct connections.

2) Online Lessons

Like the above, online lessons are a good option for students. You can teach others how to play the drums by creating online classes. There are numerous lessons that can be filmed once and then used to generate passive money indefinitely.

Because online classes are now widely acknowledged as a reputable educational resource, they’ve grown in popularity as a drumming gig. The need for drummers is high, despite the fact that there are a lot of people doing this. Consider highlighting your unique skills and teaching approach in order to make yourself stand out from the crowd!

3) Weddings, Corporate Events, and Parties

This is also a popular path for aspiring drummers to take because it offers the most financial rewards. It’s also surprising how easy it is to get hired for these positions. As with any drumming gig, you’ll need to be sure you’re providing something of value.

As a result, you’ll need to take pride in your work. As your repertoire grows and your band gets better, you’ll be able to secure more jobs and recommendations. You can raise your charges as you get more work.

4) Musicals, Cirque Du Soliel, and Shows

Are you a theater-loving drummer? Making a living by performing in musicals and other stage productions is a wise financial decision.

Drummer engagements of this nature typically necessitate require above-average reading skills than the norm. If you put in the work, even a drummer who is just beginning to read music can improve his or her skills to above-average levels in less than a year.

Reading at least one piece of music a day is the best approach to steadily improve and work toward playing for musicals and performances. Drummers who want to pursue a profession as a drummer in these fields need to practice hits, time shifts, and odd meter in order to succeed.

5) Writing

In this drumming job, you aren’t actually playing the drums. Writing about drumming, on the other hand, necessitates practice and familiarity with the instrument.

Writing about drumming in articles, books, and blogs can bring in a lot of cash. Furthermore, it’s important to realize that writing elevates you to the status of expert.

Plus, you can do it whenever, wherever, and however you choose, all while benefiting others and expanding your creative abilities.

6) Appearing in Small-Town Events

It’s true that this is one of the less lucrative options for professional drummers, but it’s also one that can yield substantial rewards for the creatively inclined. Local events and even small- to medium-scale tours necessitate a back end if you want to make any money. Selling items is likely to be a part of your business plan.

On average, you can get paid $20-$75 for performing at performances. However, this might be a lot of work for little reward. Products like t-shirts can help you keep your audience interested and returning for more. This will help you earn more money.

Now you’ll have to think beyond the box. Consider how you and your band can provide the most value to your followers.

Final Thoughts on How Much do Drummers Earn

So, what’s the take-home message? Drummers are in high demand and can earn a good living. If you have the skills and passion for drumming, don’t be afraid to pursue it as a career. With hard work and dedication, you could very well end up being one of the top earners in your field. Do you play an instrument? What other music-related careers might be of interest to you?