How to Make a Great Drum Cover Video

Drum cover videos have been circulating around YouTube for a while now. If you’ve checked out our Video’s Page, you probably have seen at least one great drum cover videos yourself. The first one I remember watching was Travis Barker playing along to Soulja Boy’s “Crank That“.

Unfortunately, I found that video to be a bit of a joke, and I brushed off the idea of videoing yourself playing drums to other artist’s music. What I should have done was give Travis praise for blazing the way for drummers to show off their skills to such a huge worldwide audience.

Since then, the popularity of the YouTube drum cover video has increased dramatically. Some of them may not be worth watching, while others are just downright cool. So how do you make a great drum cover video in the first place?

The YouTube drumming world can be incredibly lucrative. Check out a few success stories:

Cobus Potgieter

Meet Cobus Potgieter. Born in South Africa, this self-taught drummer put himself out on YouTube when he was only 16. Amazingly, his videos began to pick up notoriety, and he eventually became a YouTube sensation.

Currently, he boasts over 550,000 subscribers, and he has totaled well over 80 million views on his videos. Due to his YouTube success, Cobus is now fully endorsed, has his own line of sticks, and has an excellent educational DVD explaining all his secrets: The Cobus Method.

Meytal Cohen



Meytal Cohen has managed to create an amazing career performing on YouTube. Originally from Israel, Meytal got her start by recording an audition tape for America’s Got talent.

She didn’t do well on the show, but the video took off like wild-fire on YouTube. Since then, she has gained over 700,000 subscribers, and has more than 120 million views.

Meytal is also endorsed and has her own line of sticks, as well as her very own instructional DVD, “Maximum Meytal” explaining her own method.

Meytal Cohen

So How Do I Start? Easy, Pick a Song

The first step when trying to make a great drum cover video is to pick what song you want to play over. Think of a style you are comfortable with, and run with it.

I like to find songs with less drums on the track (Hip-hop and Rap tunes are good for this), and some open spaces so that I can show off a little. If you just want to play along to a song as if you are playing a transcription, that works as well.

If you are feeling especially ambitious, you can also make a collection of songs edited together for added interest.

Check out this killer drum cover video from Chris Dave:

Chris has chosen to cover two songs here: “Mysterons” by Portishead, and “Nautilus” by Bob James. These are two very different tunes, but Chris manages to blend them together nicely. Of course, choosing to play over only one song is a easier option, so don’t be afraid to keep things simple.

Gain Access to a Camera

This could be the most important step of them all, since without a video camera, there won’t be a drum cover video at all. Personally, I prefer using at least two different angles, which means you will probably need two or more cameras.

Currently the camera of choice is the GoPro Hero 4 Silver Music Edition. It’s pretty versatile, actually produces decent audio straight from the camera, and is good enough to use straight out of the box.

buy go pro hero 4 silver music edition

The music edition comes with a few sticky backs that I have used to stick directly on drum shells and a threaded mount that goes directly onto any microphone stand.

As seen in Chris Dave’s video above, a great drum cover video can be filmed by using only one camera if you’re short on cash and have some creativity. Some other angles to think about are the foot cam, the top-down shot, a close-up snare shot, and at least one full kit angle.

Think about how you want your drum cover to look, and go for it. Below is a video done by Tony Royster Jr made specifically for GoPro, and filmed using 100% all GoPro cameras.

Plan out your Cover, and Record

This is the fun part: filming your drum cover video. Try and get your best performance in. This is going to take some practice and a little bit of thought to work out what you want to do, and where you want to do it.

Go through your song, and pay attention to it’s structure and dynamics. If you’ve got some chops you’d like to show off, think about where you want to put them. Personally, I’m not as interested in a drum cover video where the drummer plays nothing but licks for five minutes.

I like to see some nice grooves mixed in with the chops. Keep the video well-rounded, and show off your strengths. Here is an insane drum cover video from Aaron Spears playing Usher’s hit song “Caught Up”. Aaron regularly tours with Usher, and so this drum cover was a no-brainer:

Obviously, Aaron did not film this cover himself, but what’s important to note is how he structures the whole performance. There are moments when he plays a solid groove, and then there are moments when he goes all ham on the kit, and plays mini “drum solos”.

Knowing how talented Aaron Spears is, and how he has chops for days, it’s great to see some musicality in his drum cover video as well.

Publish Your Video

The final step in making a great drum cover video is to publish your work. YouTube is the website of choice for most drummers, but there are other video hosting sites elsewhere on the internet, such as Vimeo.

Once the video is uploaded, pick a snazzy name, and start sharing it with your friends.


Good luck with your drum cover videos, I can’t wait to see them!

What are you favorite drum covers? Comment and discuss down below!

10 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I came across your article/advice.
    I think it’s also important to discuss copyright.
    For those aspiring to put drum covers on need to think very carefully about which tracks they are drumming to and whether it’s likely that it will infringe copyright.

    As the father of a drummer myself, I find it very confusing as to why those mentioned in your piece seem to be able to play to obviously copyrighted tracks but others may not.

    Indeed one of your own videos linked above has had the audio removed.

    I would appreciate some advice about the best way to approach getting permission from music owners to play to a cover using an original background track. Considering that for mere mortals even getting a response from famous artists or their representatives is more or less impossible.

    thanks
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the input!

      Copyrights can indeed be tricky to circumvent. Of course, doing everything legally is going to be the best way to do things, but you’re right, you can’t always get through to the copyright owners of this material. Even if you do, to gain their permission to the song can be even more difficult. There are certain channels in which you can pay for those privileges, but that is less than ideal.

      As for the “other” methods. A drummer can always change the pitch, or the speed of a song in order to bypass YouTube’s copyright claims. There are a number of programs which can do this for you, just make sure you do it BEFORE you record the video, or else everything will be off.

      I have had a few questions about this, so I will be writing another article on how to do just this as soon as I can!

      Cheers,

      ps. Thanks for the tip about the audio on one of the videos.

  2. please am having a problem with double kicking

  3. Easysays:

    Hey man, love your post! I’ve learned how to make a great drum cover video.

  4. Hey, I have already done a few videos but I’m trying to figure out how to use two camera angles.

    I’d like to film with my GoPro Hero 3 /’d my iPhone 6s Plus. My only confusion lies in the editing process making those two videos one.

    Thanks

    • Hey Charlie!

      Your setup definitely sounds good enough to make a decent video. When it comes to editing the video, what you’re looking for is something called “Multicam editing”. This is when you have shot the same action using two different cameras and then importing them into your editing software to cut between the two. Most video editing software can handle this pretty easily. In order to explain it to you on here I would need to make a whole post in itself. Luckily there are a ton of good blogs that have already very detailed explanations and will tell you how to do it for whichever program you are using to edit.

      Good luck!

  5. How do you find tracks that have the drums removed to play along with?

  6. Jeffsays:

    I’m trying to find tracks for my son to use for recitals and for drum cover videos. How do you find authentic tracks for songs that exclude the drum tracks? Or is there a way to remove drums from songs that we own? Is there a site where we can purchase music that is missing drums? There are so many drum cover videos out there that I thought it would be easy to find these.

    Thanks!

    • Hey Jeff,

      Check my comment below for a response. I’m usually don’t bother eliminating the drums from the song since I’ll be mixing my own drums louder over the track anyway. However, there are programs that will help you take out the drums using equalizers and other techniques. You’ll have to look around the internet for how to do that, since that is beyond my skill set at the moment.

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