Daniel Hadaway is a next door neighbor to us here at Sage Audio. He’s been the drummer for Grammy-nominated duo All Sons & Daughters. He’s also been the touring drummer for many other artists like Grammy Award winner Rebecca St. James, Stephanie Smith, The Rival and others. He’s transformed his career into nationally coaching drummers online and runs the ONLY podcast just for drummers. We sat down with him to get some insight on how he made the switch from on the road to being a drummer’s career coach.
How long have you been a professional musician and at what point in your career did you switch from “on the road” to “teaching”?
I’ve been getting paid to play drums in some fashion for about 20 years. I’ve made a full-time career of drumming for the last 12 years or so. I’ve always had the goal of teaching and guiding drummers who are looking to do something similar to what I’m doing, but never really enjoyed teaching lessons to beginner drummers.
I realized that there were tons of drummers out there who had a good amount of talent and wanted to make a career out of drumming- but they were doing so many other things in their lives that were preventing them from ever having a shot (without realizing it).
A little over a year ago, I decided to take a break from touring- my son was starting school and I wanted to be home for that- and I thought that this year would be a perfect opportunity to try and provide as many resources for drummers as possible.
I’m only NOW really in the place where I’m comfortable saying “I’m not touring right now” as a matter of principle. I never say “never”, but I’ve made a conscious decision to move away from touring full-time in the last few months.
What Inspired that change?
I realized that serving other drummers and seeing them succeed is actually more fulfilling for me than traveling and playing shows every night. I still do sessions here in Nashville and in my home studio, so I still enjoy playing the drums- but I honestly feel that from a “professional musician” standpoint, I’ve accomplished all that I ever set out to do.
I find a lot of joy knowing that I can “influence the influencers”, and through that process I can impact many more people through music than I ever could traveling and playing shows for one artist.
What’s the crux of the business you own now?
I provide resources like one-on-one coaching as well as online courses and training that are all intended for drummers that are either looking to become professionals or are at least looking to become the kind of drummer other musicians love to play with. So my business is mostly selling courses like Pro Drum Academy- which is a 6 week self-guided course that walks drummers through the process of becoming the kind of drummer that gets hired and makes a living off of music.
I also provide tons of free resources for drummer who may not be able to afford one-on-one coaching or even an online course.
When teaching drums online what interface do you use to connect best with your students? How does the teaching process work?
In group settings I take more of a “classroom” approach to teaching- which I mostly do via Facebook. So I will talk and play (I have a pretty extensive camera and sound broadcast setup in my home studio) and take comments/questions from the group.
For one-on-one sessions I do it through Skype- which works pretty well for most drummers. I also do a lot of coaching throughout the week for students on Voxer.
You seem to have a passion not only in teaching drums but coaching drummers how to succeed in their sound, relationships, playing and money. Would you call yourself a drumming career coach? Do you coach clients long term?
Yes! I definitely would call myself a drumming career coach. I believe everyone needs a coach. There’s a reason why professional sports teams have coaches, despite having the best athletes in the world! I love coaching established professionals as well as up-and-coming drummers. There are a couple of drummers that I’ve continued to coach long-term that were once “up-and-coming” but now have established careers. I love being a resource for these drummers, and am also looking to coach more working professionals who are looking to step up their game as drummers and maintain their world-class status as musicians.
Tell us a little bit about the mixing drums side of your career.
I’ve discovered that there are many people who have the technical knowledge of how to mix drums (they know how to use EQ, compression, etc.) but there is a severe lack of people who have an ear for drum sound. I’ve always had an ear for what a good mix sounds like, but lacked the technical skill to translate it. I’m very analytical by nature, so I started asking myself “Why do the drums on that track sound so good?” Pursuing those answers gave me the technical knowledge to support my ear for drum sound.
So now, I’ve come to realize that even though I’m naturally analytical, I can teach others who don’t naturally take that route to become more analytical. I can couple that with teaching the technical pieces of mixing that matter most to drum sound, and most drummers get it!
I also discovered that even many top-tier drummers have no idea how to mix drums- and in this era of home-studios and remote recording, knowing how to mix drums can be the difference in having a career as a studio drummer and not.
With all of your experience over the years, what’s a no. 1 tip you would give to aspiring musicians? What would you advise them to stay away from?
My number 1 tip is to focus on becoming the kind of person others want to work with (musicianship included). So many drummers focus on their technical ability, learning how to play things that NO ONE will ever ask them to play as a professional, but they can’t carry on a simple conversation without making it awkward. And from a playing perspective, I always advise drummers to step back and focus on the simple, “easy” things and work on the quality of their drumming- instead of treating their playing like a checklist… It’s not about if you can play something, it’s about how you play it.
Who would you look up to as a model drummer guru or guide and why?
There are a lot of guys here in Nashville that I have tons of respect for. They’re great drummers, but I have a lot of admiration for how they love their families and treat others around them. A couple that come to mind are Jacob Schrodt and Richard Scott. They’re both guys who are around the same age as me, but it makes me so happy to see guys who are super-busy also being great husbands and fathers.
Check out more about Daniel and sign up for his podcast at http://www.danielhadaway.com/about/
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