How To Create A Popular Drum Cover

August 27, 2020

So you’re at the point where you want to share the skills you’ve learned on 180 Drums with the rest of the world, and what better way to do that then with a drum cover? People enjoy watching someone jam out to a great song.

It’s entertaining and can serve as a great way to showcase your talents in a musical way. A video of you just playing chops is appealing to a much smaller demographic. Putting yourself out there can also serve as a great learning experience, offering others in the drum community the opportunity to positively critique and point out ways you can improve.

Warning: You’ll always have some haters, but we don’t do anything for people that have nothing better to do than put others down. Those who do so are always people insecure about their own abilities.

Back to filming your first Drum Cover! We’ve all been guilty of spending hours on Youtube watching drum covers. There are many different ways people produce them and we’re going to discuss how to create a popular drum cover… or at least one that just might become popular. It’s all about putting the odds in your favor. There’s a lot of good quality covers out there with multiple cameras and mic’s. Others are uploaded straight from their mom’s old Nokia flip phone (Yikes). You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on new equipment to create covers that will be worth watching. With just a few pointers, you can improve your drum videos quality to look like a pro made them. We’ve noticed that the most popular videos all have two things in common, at least in the perspective of the public. Skilled Musicianship & Quality Production.

Sit back as we take you on a journey to look at a few of the ways you can achieve this with a limited budget. Before we talk too much about specific products that will be helpful, we’re going to delve into understanding some fundamentals in production and your playing.

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Good Musicianship

So of course the main purpose of sharing a drum cover is to showcase your progress as a musician. This is achieved only through practice, practice and more practice.

Always be open to learn, from everyone, everywhere. Listening to other drummers that inspire you is key in shaping and influencing your own drumming. As you “Dip your bread in different pots” a style that is unique to you will take shape.

Shortcut Alert! The #180instructors take this a step further and teach you their own techniques, saving you years of learning. When doing a cover, it’s important to stay true to what the original drummer played but look for opportunities to add something to the song that is musical and showcases your ability to listen.

People do want to be entertained though so you’ll have to balance covers that show off  your chops with covers that show off how well you can compliment a song with your playing. What entertains people and has share value might not be what brings other musicians to your front door to take you on tour. This is an important distinction.

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Good Production Quality

There are multiple ways to create a high quality product with limited resources. Let’s look at the variables that affect everyone so we can narrow down what’s available on our personal video set. Here are three main aspects that affect your production regardless of your budget.

Lighting

Cinematography (Camera angles and editing creativity)

Audio

Another way of saying the above would be the style in which you approach the shoot (including the image quality), the way your video looks and the sound of your kit in relation to the music.

Cinematography

A popular technique is to have multiple camera angles to keep the viewers attention, showcase technique and create movement in the video. If you are able to get your hands on multiple cameras, shooting multiple angles should be easy. If you have only one camera, how can you achieve this same, exciting look?

Easy! It will take more time, but you can still capture multiple angles by playing through the song several times, each recorded at a different angle. You can proceed to edit your footage afterwards and pick which shots you want for each part of the song.

You could even plan which type of shots you want in each part of the song and just record those individual parts, rather than play through the whole song several times. We’d recommend you know exactly what you want to play, record one solid take and just cut the footage in from other angles so your take doesn’t sound choppy!

There’s also a special energy generated by playing a song top to bottom. People will feel that whether or not they notice it.

With your different angles, try to grab shots that differ from each other. (Try wide shots, tight shots, low angle, high angle…etc.) This creates variety and keeps the song fresh.

There’s no wrong or right way to do this, it’s an art! Here are some examples from #180instructor Steve Augustine playing “Move.” #180drumsolo

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Lighting

Lighting goes hand-in-hand with camera work. Whether you work in film or photography, you will always deal with lighting. It’s important to shoot in a well-lit or properly exposed area (unless you’re going for a moody and vibey look).

If you don’t know how to set up a 3-point lighting system, I highly suggest you do some research on it. It’s amazing how 3 intentionally positioned lights can transform and improve the look of your video.

Light serves to paint a scene, with picture and video as it’s canvas. Gather all the lamps and lights you can find and don’t be afraid to experiment! Let’s take a closer look at those same screenshots.

The red arrows are pointing in the direction of the light source.

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Audio

So you have your video looking good, now it’s time to make it sound good!

Whenever you record a drum cover, you want to make sure you are playing along with the song using headphones or in-ears. This allows you to capture the isolated sound of your drums recorded without the bleed of the song running through a speaker.

To capture a great drum sound, owning two solid room mics is an ideal starting place. Adding a kick drum mic will greatly increase the low end and attack you want to capture from the kick.

If you can get your hands on a set of close mics for your toms, snare drum (top and bottom), you’ll have an even more specific set of sounds to mix in with your overhead / room sound. These mic’s need to run through an audio interface to plug into your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) on your computer.

This is a fancy way of saying you need a piece of equipment (interface) that captures your microphone sound and connects those sounds to your computer. Your DAW is that program that you use to record those sounds (Protools, Logic, Cubase, GarageBand, etc).

Most electronic drum sets already have an interface built in, so all you have to do is plug it in to your computer and record through whatever recording software you prefer. Recording sounds with an electronic kit is a very simple way to get a clean and clear drum sound but leaves out the feel and dynamic possibilities available on an acoustic drum set.

Mic placement is paramount in producing great drum tones for your video recordings. Experimenting with different mic positioning is going to familiarize you with what positions produce what sounds. Here’s a picture of our snare and tom mic positions.

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* Close Mic set up for Steve’s snare drum

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Editing

So you have all your material recorded and you’re ready to throw it all together. I typically start out with editing my audio to clean up and get good sounds from the recorded drums. There are plenty of online resources to help clean up your sounds and get a good mix.

After you have your audio edited, you can go ahead and import it into your video editor. Continue to sync up the video and audio with the song you tracked your drum cover to. Now you’re ready to begin cutting to your different video angles.

Boom, there you have it! Hopefully this crash course will help you make better quality drum covers. There are many ways to do this and we’d encourage you to explore and experiment with different lighting, camera and audio ideas!

Until Next time…

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