Well, with another year in the history books, many of us are looking forward to 2017 with excitement and anticipation. People all over the globe are saying goodbye to old habits and attempting to reform themselves in a positive light. For drummers maybe it is practicing foot technique as a daily regiment, practicing rudiments or working out finger and wrist strokes. Regardless of what you are currently working on, there will always be an enormous "to do list" with drumming development. That is kind of a problem, isn't it? With all of the educational videos on YouTube, articles written and suggestions made by our peers, it can be difficult to know exactly how to proceed with learning drums. You may find yourself asking the following questions: What are the most efficient routines to learn something quickly? How do we break down certain methods properly to avoid incorrect technique? Wouldn't it be nice to have some insight and knowledge from some of the industry's most heralded drummers in history? Enter Drumeo......
Well by this point most of you will know full well that the Drumeo team is a powerful force in this industry, but everything begins as a seed. For Drumeo, the seed that was sown in 2002 was to educate every drummer in the world. I know that back in 2002 Jared had no expectations that guys like Benny Greb and Billy Cobham would be featured on Drumeo and then viewed a few hundred thousand times by the world. It isn't unreasonable to be doubtful of such a thing happening at all. We grew up listening to these guys and idolizing the recordings, trying to interpret and mimic their styles and phrases. Since the launch of Drumeo in February 2012, the momentum has been that of a freight train, pun totally intended, at Railroad Media, Inc. It is nearly impossible to be a drummer with access to the internet and not know what Drumeo is. Online lessons appear to have some major advantages over alternative teaching methods. With Drumeo you have access to multiple educators, specialized lessons, online content that you can frequent whenever you want and a community of students through the service that you can connect with to share ideas. In short, Drumeo's service is an exceptionally presented online hub for drum students around the globe. Prior to Drumeo's official release, there were 10 years of prior work that lead to the launch of Drumeo; you can read their company history here. Below is the interview I had with the CEO of Drumeo, Jared Falk:
DG: What are the advantages of online drum lessons compared to drum lessons in person?
JF: Both are great options, but the main advantages of online lessons are:
1) Access to more specialized teaching.
It’s unlikely you could get a private lesson from Billy Cobham, David Garibaldi, Claus Hessler, Benny Greb, and many more of the great artists. This is due to cost and location. These are masters of their craft and getting lessons from them is a real treat.
2) Ability to review what you learned.
After a private lesson you may miss certain things that your teacher said. Unless you’re filming the lessons you may not remember the material taught and not all teachers are available to ask questions between lessons.
3) Staying organized is easier.
With Drumeo, we have a complete “My Lists” section built out so you can keep track of what you’ve learned and what you want to practice next. Knowing what you’re going to practice is many times the key to progressing. With Drumeo it becomes quicker and easier.
DG: I watch Drumeo a lot on YouTube. Who was your first special guest and how did it come to be?
JF: Our first guest was Larnell Lewis, supported by Yamaha Drums Canada (Thanks Sean and Ken!). This was before Larnell went on to play with Snarky Puppy. He is an incredible drummer and we can’t wait to have him back.
DG: How did you and Dave Atkinson become friends?
JF: I used to play a popular weekly church event called Doxa. Dave would come to that event and we’d always chat afterwards as he was starting to really get into drumming. I ended up giving him a few lessons and he bought a kit off of me.
After I started Drumeo we were looking to hire someone to help out around the office. So I messaged him on MSN Messenger and he replied with a YES! He is a passionate drummer and took a pay cut to come work with us. Over the years he’s done customer support, sales, graphic design, shipping, and most other positions.
Artists love working with Dave and he’s created some amazing lessons.
DG: Drumeo sponsors Victoria Drum Festival, how did this partnership occur and how has it helped the drum festival since?
JF: I got connected with Murray Creed, the founder of the VDF. He’s become a great friend and I really respect him as a teacher and drummer. It was a natural connection as he hosts the festival a short ferry ride away and I have full trust in him putting on a great show. There has always been top notch presenters to a sold out show.
Where there is drum education happening, that is where I want Drumeo to be.
DG: How much growth, roughly, have you seen year to year since FreeDrumLessons.com inception in 2007?
JF: The growth over the years has been steady. I always say that we grow the Drumeo business one student at a time. That is the only way to do it in my opinion. Many people try to grow education businesses through technology, but I think it should be built off of people and relationships, then augment that with technology where needed.
To answer your question more simply, we started with zero subscribers now the YouTube channel is at more than 500,000 students and 100,000,000+ views.
FreeDrumLessons.com was never created to make any money, it was something to give back to the drumming community, hence the name, FREEdrumlessons.com.
DG: How can Drumeo expand from where it is now?
JF: One initiative we are working on is licensing the brand into other countries/languages. Our mission is to educate every drummer in the world, regardless of age, location, skill, and status. So with that as our mission, we’ll work towards moving into other languages and partnering with people on the ground in those specific countries. The first ones we’re looking at are Portuguese, Spanish, and German.
Another item we’re working towards is expanding our lessons to appeal to a wider audience. Right now, we do a great job targeting students from 15-90+, but we haven’t done a good job for the up and coming generation of drummers. I’d like to create some tools for students aged 2-14.
We also just launched Pianote, our online platform for aspiring pianists!
DG: How do you find your success in comparison to what you imagined when Railroad Media, Inc. was founded?
JF: We had no idea it would be like this. If you would’ve asked me years ago about working with Billy Cobham, Benny Greb, David Garibaldi, and Thomas Lang I would’ve laughed about it.
I really wanted to create a sustainable business that could put food on the table for my family, but it’s gone much further then that as now Drumeo employs more than 25 people and we’re continuing to grow year over year.
DG: What advice would you give anyone thinking something may not be possible?
JF: I would tell them that anything is possible, but you must be ready to work hard and have patience. Too many people expect things to happen overnight. They email me and tell me they’ve been working on something for a year and haven’t had success. Well, that is not nearly long enough to commit to something before getting frustrated.
Since online lessons is a relationship business it takes time. So I’ve had to exercise patience in the development and let the relationships take the time they need to develop.
DG: How has the process been building Drumeo to where it is now?
JF: We’ve had many ups and downs over the years figuring things out. We started by offering downloadable lessons in 2002-03, then switched to DVDs, and now we’re back to downloads and apps. So we have to always re-adjust what we’re doing internally with our development processes.
I’m extremely grateful for my amazing team. They are all so talented and really genuinely care about creating an amazing experience for our students.
DG: If you didn't own Drumeo, what would you be doing?
JF: I grew up on a farm, working on the farm in the family business. So it’s very likely that I’d be working there if I wasn’t doing Drumeo. I still am very close with my family and love to work with them whenever I get the chance.
Also, on my grade four paper I wrote I wanted to be a real estate agent. So I may have tried that as well.
The size of the risk that was taken in creating Drumeo is impressive. In the early years, Jared Falk and Rick Kettner were developing lessons that you could download and later they produced lesson packs in DVD format. This was well before the internet was capable of video streaming. This all predates YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets. They were taking major risks producing those DVD's and the big upfront costs without knowing for certain that they would succeed with sales is scary stuff for most people. If they hadn't stuck to their guns on that who knows if Drumeo would have been able to exist. I think it's a great Canadian business story and as a fellow Canadian, I'll drink to that. I also wanted to quickly mention, big congratulations to Jared for "Best Drum Educator-Rhythm Magazine 2016". That's well earned good sir.
I am someone who is thankful for people that take chances, follow their passions and complete what they set out to do in life. In our world, we need people that push the envelope and take risks to reach their goals. I know I have felt inspired by many people/companies in the drumming community and certainly one of them would be Drumeo. I must say, to begin 2017 with an article about Drumeo is categorically supreme; so the theme of this article was to highlight something more people should establish their ideas within. People should understand that with devotion to a goal along with patience you can create something of incredible value, as long as you believe in your cause. I hope that this article serves to help inspire your New Year. Stay happy and stay drumming peoples.