YouTube Success Stories

Luke Holland of the Word Alive and Hoodie Allen's Jimmy Kadesch. Two YouTube trendsetters, who've smoothly transitioned from aspiring player to cyber-sensation to full-fledged band member, share details of their journey.






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Publication: Modern Drummer : MD
Author: Romano, Will
Date published: March 1, 2013

When the Peoria, Arizona, drummer Luke Holland, nineteen, posted a drum remix of Skrillex's "Cinema" to his YouTube channel, he had no idea that Tyler Telle" Smith, frontman for the metalcore outfit the Word Alive, would be watching.

"The band's drummer and keyboardist had just left," Holland says, "and they brought in Matt Horn to record the drum tracks for their last album, Life Cycles. When Matt couldn't go on the road, the band needed a replacement. It just so happens that Telle's Facebook wall was plastered with my 'Cinema' remix. He checked it out and sent me a message, asking if I would like to play with the band full-time. I gave it some thought and it ended up working out, especially since we're all from Arizona."

Surprisingly, Holland had already been discovered on YouTube long before the Word Alive came calling. (Who says opportunity knocks only once?) In 2010, Adam Gray, the drummer for the metal band Texas in July, contacted Holland with a special request for the young drummer.

"Adam had seen me cover Texas in July on YouTube and left me a note in the comments section of one of my video entries," says Holland, who at the time hadn't yet turned seventeen. "He said he had an opportunity for me and that I should contact him via Facebook, which I did. I gave him my phone number, and the next day he called me when I was in school, asking me to fill in for him at a show in Pennsylvania. He was stuck in Italy and couldn't make it. The band and I got along really well, and they told Adam when he got back that if he ever needs a fill-in drummer again, they want to go to me. I only did the one show, but it was a game changer for me."

Joining Texas in July, albeit briefly, the Word Alive, and a third act, the Green Children, one year prior, as well as keeping a fast-paced professional schedule, hasn't stopped Holland from consistently uploading high-quality content to his YouTube channel. As of this writing, Luke has amassed more than 110,000 subscribers.

"To this day I don't know how to edit videos," Holland says. "I don't know how to do sound mixing and mastering. All I know is how to play the drums. My friend Justin Bartram and I used to set up one camera in the corner of the room and shoot the video all in one take. And we used the audio from the camera instead of miking the kit. Then I approached Paul Vickery, a studio owner, and we worked out a deal in which I could record my drums there. Later I met Jeremy Tremp, who films me now. Jeremy uses multiple cameras, full lighting, and a dolly system-everything you need to make a music video. It works out really well, because now I have both solid audio and video quality."

Fellow Tuber Jimmy Kadesch cut a similarly unconventional pathway to win his current professional gig. The twenty-five-year-old Leominster, Massachusetts, drummer began uploading videos to YouTube in 2009 as a way of documenting his rhythmic concepts. "I kept notebooks full of ideas," he says. "I knew if I didn't post to YouTube, many of these ideas were not going to see the light of day."

In the past three years, Kadesch's YouTube channel has attracted nearly 14,000 subscribers, while the drummer's cover of Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" has garnered more than a quarter of a million views. "On the surface it seems that you're doing all of it selfishly," Kadesch says. "But once it's out there, people actually comment that they've been inspired."

Thanks to the power of social media, Kadesch opened a line of direct communication with his current employer, the Long Island hip-hopper Hoodie Allen. "I wasn't on the Twitter bandwagon," Jimmy says. Then, a year and a half ago, I decided to get a Twitter account. I didn't know how to use it, but I followed a few people. I was listening to Hoodie Allen's music, and I thought I'd follow him. That very first day I saw him tweet something that was aimed at producers. I think the tweet read something like, 'Send me your beats. I'm bored.' As a drummer I knew this was not directed at me, but I sent something to the email address he gave anyway. I said I had just finished school and if he ever needed anyone for studio work or touring, here's my YouTube channel."

Within a day Kadesch had lined up an audition. They said they had a tour coming up and that they'd like to see what's up," the drummer recalls. "I was on cloud nine. Two weeks later I drove down to Long Island and we rehearsed. We ended up going on tour-me; Hoodie, who's the MC; and a DJ. We've since done other tours and expanded the band. More dates are scheduled for spring 2013."

Although Kadesch maintains that the world's most popular personal broadcasting site is an important networking and educational tool, he warns against rushing content onto the Internet in the hopes of it going viral. "You should have a certain sense of quality control," he says. "You should be your own harshest critic. Technology has been helpful in getting people out there, but that doesn't necessarily change how many drummers are reaching certain levels. I would say the goal is to put something out there that you're proud of, that honestly represents you as a drummer and the kind of music you like."

To watch these two players in action, search YouTube for "Luke Holland drums" and "Jimmy Kadesch drums."

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