Hi Tyrel – thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. You are in a very unique position to help us understand some of the ins-and-outs of the industry. You are a full-time working musician. You are a songwriter. But you’re not associated with any particular band. You’re an independent drummer. So how’s that work? Who hires you?
Sometimes I’m hired by the artist themselves. Sometimes by the manager whom I was referred to or I auditioned for.
And how long does a contact last for?
As far as friendship — the relationship — that lasts a lifetime; but the contact working as an artist for another artist, that varies. It could be a year or longer. The longest I’ve been with an artist consistently is 3 years.
So wait, do you only take contracts for tours? Or do you do studio work too?
Yes, I take contracts for tours. I’m getting more and more into studio work; it’s cool and yes, I do work on a contract.
Are there benefits? Insurance? Are you constantly out looking for the next gig? Or is it really solid work?
The only work I have done with benefits and insurance is union work. And yes, I’m never satisfied or comfortable with my gigs. I’m always looking for something bigger and better, but in a professional way.
And yes, most of all the work I do now is solid work that will make money for me in the long haul — working like writing and production.
OK. So if you don’t mind me asking, how do you get paid? You don’t get any royalties do you? Is it all upfront?
Don’t mind at all, I get paid by check; no cash for tax purposes! And yes, I have a couple of royalties coming in. I’m working on creating more royalty revenue. Sometimes it’s upfront, other times it’s upfront money with royalties coming later.
Why’d you go this route rather than being part of a band?
Ultimately, I would love to be part of a solid band, but at this time I find it more lucrative to be independent. That’s not to say that in the future I won’t be a part of a band. It will happen soon.
Do you have any idea how many independent full-time musicians there are? Is there an agency or a network that you belong to?
I would have to say the number of independent artist changes from time to time, but there are a lot of independent full-time musicians. I don’t belong to an agency but there were times that I have worked with agencies in the earlier part of my career. Now my networking is done with Facebook, Twitter, Full Sail University and just simple networking at music stores, and with the musicians I’ve been blessed to work with.
But wait — besides for being a gun for hire, you’re part of a songwriting team too, aren’t you? Can you please tell us about that?
Yes, I am apart of a great group of guys — all musicians playing different instruments — and we all write lyrics and music. Basically, we have music or lyrics that we’ve put together and then we shop it out to different artist. We are also looking to get into scoring and jingle writing.
So you just had your first huge songwriting hit. How many songs did you write before this one?
Honestly, this one is the first real one I’ve worked on as a co-writer, I have tons of material that needs to be put together, registered and submitted soon.
What’s it take to pen a hit song? Any advice?
To make any hits, be real and true to the music from your heart. Write about real issues, heartaches and pain. Fans can relate to that. That’s the advice I was given and I will continue to do that.
And lastly, any advice to all the aspiring musicians out there?
If you believe in God, keep him first. Help others. Practice Practice Practice. And more Practice. Practice your craft, your sound, your identity. Network and position yourself around musicians that are better than you. They will cause you to stretch your skill levels. Stay hungry. Never get comfortable.
Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. Many thanks my friend!
Tyrel McCoy was born In Camden New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, New York and Philadelphia. Tyrel started playing drums at the age of 14 years old and by 19, he went professional by playing for many renowned gospel artists. Today you can find Tyrel playing for some of the top artists in hiphop, R&B, pop, country, jazz.
This interview was originally published at: Musicians For Hire | Ultimate Ears