Your perception of YouTube/IG/TikTok drummers

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
There's no question that many of the drummers who are known for their online presence can play the drums. Some are quite proficient on the instrument. But how do you feel about their status as a drummer/musician?

With literally just a few well-known exceptions, drummers play in bands. If YT drummers aren't playing in a band yet are able to monetize their videos... do you consider that to be a valid career?

If there was some money involved, would you be satisfied not playing with other musicians in a live setting?

Would being known as a "YouTube Drummer" be okay with you, or is there a lack of credibility as a musician associated with the term?

Is that stigma disappearing? (Read: is being an "influencer" a legit thing when it comes to 'art'?)

Which YT Drummers have transitioned into a live career?

Are there well-known drummers who have transitioned to an exclusive online presence?

For me, I am very happy to be playing in live situations in-person with live audiences. I wouldn't deliberately make a switch to an exclusively online presence, even assuming that anyone cares to hear what I can play. With 30+ years online I'd consider myself social media savvy, and I appreciate/understand the exposure aspect and the potential benefits, but I've always felt that playing drums in the context of a group is what it's all about.

I know this can be a hot topic, let's stay civil.
 
Hi Bermuda. Good query.

On line players monitizing their playing into lessons or a subscription channel offering some type of service or reviews or advice is just another form of musical expression IMHO.

The one's that play just to show off chops (like the multitude of little girls that grow up on YouTube playing drums and covering tunes) I don't much care for. Nor the look at me see how amazingly fast I can play dudes. Those kinds that don't play with bands I just don't get.
 
I have a lot of opinions that I don’t feel like arguing at the moment, but I’m fascinated by the case of Ash Soan. He started his career in a regular band, and they had some international hits, tours, etc and eventually fell away as is normal. The public mostly had no awareness of him as the drummer in the band. But now he’s an immensely popular instagram artist! He got a signature model snare by Gretsch during this new online era, not while he was part of an international hit band.
 
There's no question that many of the drummers who are known for their online presence can play the drums. Some are quite proficient on the instrument. But how do you feel about their status as a drummer/musician?

With literally just a few well-known exceptions, drummers play in bands. If YT drummers aren't playing in a band yet are able to monetize their videos... do you consider that to be a valid career?

If there was some money involved, would you be satisfied not playing with other musicians in a live setting?

Would being known as a "YouTube Drummer" be okay with you, or is there a lack of credibility as a musician associated with the term?

Is that stigma disappearing? (Read: is being an "influencer" a legit thing when it comes to 'art'?)

Which YT Drummers have transitioned into a live career?

Are there well-known drummers who have transitioned to an exclusive online presence?

For me, I am very happy to be playing in live situations in-person with live audiences. I wouldn't deliberately make a switch to an exclusively online presence, even assuming that anyone cares to hear what I can play. With 30+ years online I'd consider myself social media savvy, and I appreciate/understand the exposure aspect and the potential benefits, but I've always felt that playing drums in the context of a group is what it's all about.

I know this can be a hot topic, let's stay civil.
The question becomes what can be considered a career? I have seen YouTubers start in their garage (April Wilkerson) or their bedroom (Ola Englund) and make a living Via YouTube. I use those two examples because they have been doing it for years (which then allows that to be called a career) and YouTube is how they were able to do it. Now going back to musicians.... There are a lot of "Known" YT drummers out there, but a lot of them (Meytal Cohen being one of them) do hundreds of takes until every part of their cover is perfect. I can play anything if I stitch every 10 seconds of perfect performance. the problem is can I play it live without cheating?
Of course there are a lot of them who do play their stuff live so good for them, for the others.... well good for them too for being able to make a living faking it.

Not playing with others in a live setting may be for some, I feel that a lot of those YouTubers are chosen for their looks and planted there to promote ..whatever.

Khrim Lechner transitioned into a professional drummer..
Delta Empire is a well know drummer who...kind of transitioned to an online presence...
 
Adam Neely recently put out a video about how he has 1.8 million subscribers.....and none of that actually matters. Everybody should definitely watch it.

Now with that being said, here's my take on it. Short answer: Yes. It counts. They're making music, they're making money (kinda). It's valid. But the thing is, is that it's kind of a side show. Non-musicians watch these online-only drumming "influencer" types and say "Neato!" and move on with their lives. But being a drummer in a band that the same person connects with. Sure, maybe that person isn't paying attention to the drummer, but there's a deeper connection with the music. If I'm laying down sick grooves at a Salsa Dance Party that people are dancing to and having a good time with, that's more rewarding than if someone is just doomscrolling, sees my online drum video, and goes "neat." Even if they don't know my name in the former.

I bet you if you asked all these influencers if they could choose between youtube/social media and playing music in a band in a live/studio setting, almost all of them will pick the latter. Social Media feels so soulless and impersonal, especially when you do it for longer. 500 people attending your concert is worth infinitely more than 500 views on your youtube video.

EDIT: Youtube is definitely a valid and valuable stepping stone to playing live. Emmanuel Caplette, my favorite 21st century drummer, started on youtube. She was pretty active with her videos from like 2009-2011. Then she started gigging and getting popular and asked for, and she posts like once a year now. That's the case for others, like Anikka Niles, etc. If YouTube/Social Media was that lucrative, either financially or spiritually, why would they switch? Someone somewhere once said that the frequency that YouTube musicians post is inversely correlated to how often they work IRL. Musicians who gig and record don't have time for YouTube videos. I have barely put up any videos of note in the past year, because I played 98 gigs last year. I didn't have time for that.
 
I follow a pretty well know drummer who plays for a huge, arena filling artist. But he’s of a certain age and his social media presence isn’t that large. Last year he left his Zildjian endorsement because he couldn’t get enough tour support. Meanwhile Zildjian is signing all these young YT drummers who don’t play with bands. I get why he’s upset. He’s out there doing it on the highest level, while they seem to be just playing in their bedrooms. I also understand where Zildjian is coming from. They sign an endorser to sell cymbals. How many people filling those arenas care about what cymbal the nameless drummer in the back is playing? YT drummers are marketing directly to their mostly young fans who will go out and buy whatever gear they are playing. I’m sure they sell more gear than the guy playing in the back of an arena. I’m sure that changes a little depending on whether you are a famous band member drumming in an arena, or if your just a nameless, faceless touring musician backing a well known artist, no matter how good you are.
 
"old man Trick question"
--sun fung Lu 1273 AD

"if you weren't on the cover of a Downbeat in the 70s I'm not interested"
- --- Art Blakey sitting in a coffee shop Hill District Pittsburgh Steel Town 1978

"Can't watch my favorite drummer lost my charging cord"
---millennial upset mom turned off the electricity
 
YT drummers are marketing directly to their mostly young fans who will go out and buy whatever gear they are playing. I’m sure they sell more gear than the guy playing in the back of an arena.
I guess there are young fans of the YT model who consider solo drumming aimed at social media viewers to be a legit expression. At what point does it occur to them that there's a vast majority of players making music with other musicians in bands? Or does it ever dawn on them? Seems sad that they might not ever play with others and create music for people (besides other drummers) to enjoy.
 
Hi Bermuda. Good query.

On line players monetizing their playing into lessons or a subscription channel offering some type of service or reviews or advice is just another form of musical expression IMHO.

The one's that play just to show off chops (like the multitude of little girls that grow up on YouTube playing drums and covering tunes) I don't much care for. Nor the look at me see how amazingly fast I can play dudes. Those kinds that don't play with bands I just don't get.
I pretty much share the same sentiments.

To paraphrase an observation from Jeff Porcaro in an MI Vault video, he says that there loads of drummers with great chops and shedding ability but at the end of the day their playing lacks a "social element / playing with others" which is important to having a great career as a musician.

So in my eyes, if you've harnessed your drumming abilities and the abilities to get it visible via social media, more power to you, but you're just at drummer status in my book. If you've additionally had some level of experience playing in a semi-pro to pro atmosphere where you've had to interface with other human beings in a musical setting (live bands, recording, creating original music, etc.) then you are at musician status.
 
One of my oldest friends is a professional guitarist.

Before YouTube became so popular and also accessible for content creators he was a professional guitar teacher as his main income, teaching children all across our county in various schools and locations. He eventually then moved his lessons exclusively to his home studio, teaching all ages. Then, when Covid hit he set up an online service, navigating two or so years of various lockdowns/travel restrictions in order to keep offering lessons and his only income.

He then started a YouTube as a way to offer Jazz guitar content and also offers 1-1 lessons via Patron covering all styles. He’s doing very well for himself and has scrapped most 1-1 lessons from his professional life, but from the outside looking in unless you knew him he probably could be labelled a YouTube guitarist over on Guitarworld, as he tends to keep sides his musical life separate. It’s not there to promote his bands albums, or their shows. He just loves teaching and is passionate about it.

He’s still out gigging a few times a month with his various bands in theatres and jazz venues (he’s successful there also), when we catch up and talk shop he’s still passionate to talk about the bands and bandmates he plays with mostly.

He has mentioned in the past how hard it is to keep up regular content and the pressure that brings.

The reason I type this?

There might have been a circumstantial reason why some players navigated to those platforms. Found themselves building an audience and have stuck with it, rather than that being their goal from the off.

Maybe Covid has had an effect on the shift/growth to online content, I remember at one point here in the UK during the first waves of covid all Yamaha EA10 kits were regularly sold out. People had months of waiting for an entry point introduction to recording drums via a phone/tablet/computer…etc

YouTube/TikTok/Instagram drummers and influencers aren’t really my thing. I’m not the target audience being a 40 year old stuck in my ways. I do follow a small amount of them on Instagram but find myself skipping past most videos simply due to the amount of ‘instant content’ overload (unless you’re a dog being silly good luck catching my attention on there!!!).

YouTube I only watch drum videos for gear reviews / demos. Never used TikTok, I doubt I ever will.

I much prefer playing with other musicians as that brings experiences and musicianship a screen cannot and I would stress this to younger players if asked. If online content helps younger drummers to learn some skills on the kit to then transfer over to a band environment I’m all for it.

Finally, the times are not changing. The times have already changed. You either get with it or get left behind, in some cases.

Online ‘influencers’ are not going away.

10, 20, 30…etc years down the line they’ll be some other new medium replacing this.
 
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I'm far from good enough for anyone to ever want to watch me play on YouTube, so its a non starter for me.

I enjoy watching a little bit of stuff I see online, more of a "well, that's kinda cool" sort of thing, but I don't stop and watch more than a minute or two. (el estepario siberano always amazes me, but I can only watch so much before moving on. Same with the little kid videos. Some of the Drumeo stuff captures my attention, but they are usually talking about what they're showing, which is a different element.)

I FAR prefer watching clips of Todd Sucherman playing at his Styx shows with the cam he has mounted on his kit. Capturing the playing in context of the song, with the band, on the biggest stages. That's really cool stuff.
 
wait for what's next

😁
 
So in my eyes, if you've harnessed your drumming abilities and the abilities to get it visible via social media, more power to you, but you're just at drummer status in my book. If you've additionally had some level of experience playing in a semi-pro to pro atmosphere where you've had to interface with other human beings in a musical setting (live bands, recording, creating original music, etc.) then you are at musician status.

Agreed. But if you were able to make a career of just being an online drummer - not teaching or anything else interactive - would you do it?

I just wonder what kind of pleasure or artistic satisfaction is derived from solo drumming in front of a camera.
 
I have a lot of opinions that I don’t feel like arguing at the moment, but I’m fascinated by the case of Ash Soan. He started his career in a regular band, and they had some international hits, tours, etc and eventually fell away as is normal. The public mostly had no awareness of him as the drummer in the band. But now he’s an immensely popular instagram artist! He got a signature model snare by Gretsch during this new online era, not while he was part of an international hit band.
Ash is actually a UK session musician, he also tours regularly with different artists.
 
I have a "33" daughter right
 
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