HOW TO MAKE A “HIT” DRUM COVER ON YouTube
Thinking about making a YouTube drum video? If so, you’re reading the right article for you! And if you’re not, a lot of the things I talk about here will be good information if you decided to every make any kind of video on YouTube! (Things with an “*” will be discussed in later articles).
To begin, there is the biggest factor: being a great drummer. This will obviously help you get hits, but believe it or not you could still be an amazing drummer and get very few views. I’ll get into the other factors shortly, but before that I want to talk about why drumming in a YouTube video is different from drumming in real life. In a real gig, the main thing you focus on is playing the song right. In a YouTube video not only do you have to do this, but to be “great” on YouTube means you have to be visually captivating and entertaining to watch play. I’m not saying you need to set your drumsticks on fire and do fire drumming for your videos! However, to be engaging you need to look like you are having fun while playing. That will go a long way. On top of that you see a lot of drummers hitting harder than they normally would at a gig, or doing stick tricks a lot during a video when in a live gig that’s something the drummer would tone down quite a bit. Thus, when recording your drum video don’t be afraid to let loose a little and really get into it! Don’t forget that the tricks and flashy stuff are still the cherry on top and the foundation must still be a solid play through of whatever song you are recording.
Another big factor is the quality of your audio and visuals. Beginning with AUDIO – Personally, this part annoys me because recording drums are more difficult than recording any other instrument. Not to mention it’s very expensive to get all the equipment you need for a “pro” sound. If you have the money or access, you want to mic all your drums and have some overheads at the least.* STAY TUNED FOR AN ARTICLE ON RECORDING DRUMS FOR MORE INFO!* If you don’t have the money, do what you can. Even one mic on the snare and one on the bass drum can go a long way. If you can’t afford any mics, don’t worry about it! Make do with what you have and just record without mics, with technology on our phones and cameras these days the sound quality will actually come out fairly decent. Outlaw Drums uses a very simple un expensive setup. 8 channel interface audiobox combined with garageband on a mac book pro.
Note: mics need to be connected to an interface* You will also need some type of music recording software like Garageband or Pro Tools.*
Moving on to VISUALS: The same general rules go for visuals. In a drum cover, the more camera angles you have the better. People have a low attention span and by changing angles every 5-10 seconds it will help keep your audience more engaged. There are two ways to get multiple camera angles: 1) record the song over and over placing the camera in a different location on each take, or 2) get multiple cameras and record the different angles in one take. Option two will cost you a lot more money than option one, so once again, make do with what you have. Editing will be more difficult with option 1 and if you don’t play the same thing in every take, the final edit may come out weird and choppy. If you only have one camera, maybe just use one angle for your first video until you get the hang of things more.
Note: You will need editing software to put the music together with the visuals and for editing the video footage. Most computers come with software like iMovie or Windows movie maker; the most popular and easiest to use software is Final Cut Pro.*
PHYSICAL LOCATION AND SETUP
Finally we have the “other” visual aspect of your video. Filming in a big empty field or somewhere in nature has been a popular and successful choice for drum cover location shoots, and if you can make it happen go for it. Realistically, you will be in a studio or at home. In a studio you can’t really decorate your surroundings so focus on your drum set up.* Don’t worry if you don’t have a super tricked out drum set with lots of cymbals, it’s all about how you play the kit you have, not about what your kit looks like. With that said it doesn’t hurt to dust off your drums, (if you’re OK with this) polish your cymbals, change your drumheads, and try to keep things looking clean and shiny so they look nice on camera.
The home setting is where you can really do a lot to distinguish yourself and make your video appealing to viewers. Ideally, you have your drums set up in an area where you have walls around you or behind you. Decorate these walls! Make them an expression of who you are and show people your interests and passions through art, posters, pictures, and accolades, whatever it is that reflects who you are. This will take you from being just another drummer playing a song, to someone who people can relate to that viewers want to subscribe to, follow, and get know better! Don’t forget to use your bass drum to put stickers of your favorite drum companies!
Those are the three major factors. To recap: 1) drumming skill and entertainment factor 2) audio and visual quality and 3) surroundings and physical location and drum setup. There are other smaller things to consider as well which I’ll cover briefly.
Timing is something to consider. If a new hit song comes out chances are people are going to be YouTubing it (YouTube is the #1 place people listen to music). So if you release a drum cover of a song that just went viral, your chances of getting views will increase.
Song choice will also make a little difference. Still, a good video is a good video. If you like metal music and want to play a less popular metal song as opposed to a top 40 pop hit, go for it. If you happen to like top 40 music then you’re in luck because it’s easier to get people to watch a drum cover when it’s played to a song they know or like.
Other things to consider are to keep upping your game with each video. Try to do different things and keep it fresh with your videos. Take feedback you get and incorporate it into your videos. Collaborate with other drummers and musicians. This is your channel, don’t be afraid to get creative!
Otherwise, have fun guys! That’s what it’s all about. You don’t have to do any of the things I talked about in this article but I am willing to bet you it won’t hurt your chances of getting more views! You never know what video will go viral so if you’re trying to monetize your video, make sure you select the ads in your settings so that you don’t get a million hits later and realize you never monetized your video, there’s no going back at that point.
HOPE THIS HELPS! If you have any questions about drums or music law, or requests for topics email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!