A lot of times people will look at the number of band changes a drummer has made and see it in the wrong light. Sure it's great if you have been lucky enough to find the right guys and become very successful together with no member changes, but that's a rare thing these days. Many of these guys jump around and change it up simply for the exposure, and to add diversity to their biography/discography, which in turn can add to their longevity as a working musician.
If you are in a band starting out or in an established band looking to achieve a higher level, why not consider hiring a session drummer (singer or string player), to appear on your first or next release? It can be on a demo or a full-length, recorded with or without the support of a record label. Technology today allows these things to be easily done and the raw files can mesh with your production sound seamlessly, with a few turns of some knobs.
Many of us have a lot of pride and/or an ego and would never think twice about this, as we know our parts are just fine the way they are, but that's not the point. You can get a drummer with an extensive discography to record a track for you at their home studio for anywhere from $150.00 to maybe $500.00 and make them a guest player on your record. Doing this not only helps in your promotions for the release of the record, but gives you a new tool for added free promotion. Not only will you be including their name in any press or promotions you take part in for the release of the record, but they too will promote the fact that they have just recorded for your release. This will bring fans of the session player to your website or social pages and more than likely bring you new fans that will buy your record, merch and even come to your shows.
Off the top of my head I can think of quite a few guys of varied experience who have the means and are always looking for session work. Guys who have worked and sacrificed to buy and build a proper personal studio to be able to track pro drums at home. Some who rely solely on drumming as their living and some who work regular jobs too. Guys like Sean Reinert, Darren Cesca, Duane Timlin, Derek Roddy, Alex Micklewright, Tim Yeung, Dirk Verbeuren, Kerim Lechner, Kevin Talley, Navene Koperweis, Erik Schultek, Sam Paulicelli, and George Kollias… to name a few. There are obviously a lot more, and I'm guessing most guys would find a way to make it happen if they have the time, but these are just a few I know who have and still do this on a regular basis. Even if you're not sure if a drummer you might like to appear on your record does in fact track individual songs for other bands, all you have to do is reach out and ask. If they are not on a label, just hit them up on their website, facebook or youtube channel and if they are on a label, send them an email or give them a call about having their artist appear on your record. I can't think of any reason they would not help you get in touch, or at least ask them for you.
You might also want to think about hiring a PR Firm like EarSplit, SpeakEasy or one of many other reputable and affordable firms available to help push the news. Many of these PR companies have the same network of contacts, and many of the new ones are hungry for your business, which means they will also be affordable. Just be sure to ask for a report on how many "opens" their press release email receives (how many people actually read it) and when possible, a list of sites that actually publish the news. Some may not do this, but if they ask the sites in their network to send them url's of their news upon publishing, they can easily relay that to you in the hope you will hire them for repeat campaigns.
There are many options available when hiring a PR firm, as far as reach, frequency of delivery, geo-targeting (specifying location) and many other package characteristics that put even the larger companies within the reach of your budget. You can find PR firms (or individuals) to promote your release and even help with the writing of the press release, starting anywhere from $50.00 – $100.00 for an entry level campaign. Adding that to the promotion the session player brings your way, it's a whole lot of new potential fans for only a few hundred dollars, and that's not a bad deal. All the time and money you put into your music is definitely worth some effort and some money set aside to promote it.
The most successful bands and drummers I know are relentless when it comes to their own promotion. Guys in bands as big as Anthrax and Megadeth answer my interviews faster, more thorough and consistently professional than small bands trying to make it. You might think they have PR people to do all that for them, and they do, but it's the guys who also do it themselves that are still out there drumming for a living after 20-30 years. Always focused on the promotion and press, always getting the requested coverage back to me in a day or two.
I've always said people will buy boxes of crap if they are branded/marketed correctly, and as sad as it may be, it's the truth. Have a plan for your music! Not only the material, but for how and when you are going to market it and with what resources you can utilize to achieve it.
Written By: Ian Macdonald