As a drummer who has been influenced by countless professional drummers over the years, I am always eager to watch or listen to their interviews and master classes available throughout the mobile/web landscape. The proliferation of websites, podcasts, and online learning portals has made it easy for all of us to satisfy the “on-demand” craving that we have.
But I must say that I am very disappointed by what I am finding online these days. Sure, it’s always great to settle in and listen to the drummers we all admire, especially on a personal level, discussing their training, practice routines, influences, how they came up with “that”famous groove we all mimic. But I am finding these types of interviews far and few between.
Most of the interviews and master classes have become nothing more than huge press junkets as they promote their new instructional video and companion book, online course, a new this, a new that…you name it. If there is something they can promote, they will find a website and an interviewer willing to accommodate it.
But I can’t blame them for promoting something. We all have to make a living. But I have to blame the interviewers themselves for this proliferation of self-promotion.
The problem, as I see it, is often due to the interviewer, not the interviewee. They are often a budding online entity with little or no interviewing skills or experience. They are trying to maximize their digital footprint, trying to justify their membership fees, trying to build their circle of influence, in order to attract more eyeballs and hence another celebrity GET.
Once they’ve booked the celebrity drummer, it’s time to promote it. We see daily posts on Facebook, an inordinate number of email announcements to subscribers and lurkers. This is all well and good, provided what they are promoting is relevant to the drumming community and not just an excuse to have another banal interview for the purposes of having something to offer on a weekly basis.
Now that they have announced their big interview with that big celebrity drummer, the day of reckoning is upon them, AND US!
Here is what you can expect:
Unless these interviews originate from a multi-camera television studio with quality microphones and plenty of network bandwidth, you’re in for a big surprise – or perhaps not.
For me, quality of the signal (full duplex sound and picture, network bandwidth, camera specs) speak volumes. It not only lends credibility to the originators, but it provides a quality audio/visual experience where you hear and see all parties without delays, buffering, or poor quality audio. But I find most of these originators work out of less than desirable rooms or studios that are not properly equipped. But it is what it is. Today, anyone can be a broadcaster. Anyone can be the host of their own webcast or YouTube channel. Poor quality is the new norm.
But too many of the non-professional resource sites have poor connectivity, poor quality audio, and bad lighting, which tend to have a cascading negative effect on the quality of the interviews.
Most are conducting interviews via Skype that fail big time. Most, if not all, of the interviews are a complete waste of my time. But that’s only my opinion.
The problem that I have is that these interviews are often banal (boring) and meaningless. The interviewers fawn over the celebrity drummers, agreeing with everything they say, ad infinitum. I have yet to hear an interviewer ask a compelling set of questions, or challenge the celebrity in any way. They ask simple questions that don’t elicit any real depth of a response. And the interviewers simply fawn over, and respond to, the celebrity’s answer with, “I agree”, or “how interesting”. Where is the depth to these interviews? Where is the substance? The intelligence?
Technology has gotten in the way of quality interviews and interfering with interview skills. The interviewers are often juggling a full time job, often running late, having difficulty setting up Skype, having to navigate social media Q & A, email Q & A, maybe a teleconference line, and web portal, all while trying to moderate the interview. These are generally train wrecks.
It’s no wonder they pretend to be listening intently. But you can tell from their vacuous questions that they barely paid attention and failed to comprehend what was really being said because: 1) they aren’t professional interviewers, and, 2) they are way too distracted and overwhelmed with the technology they have to deal with, while trying to make it sound like they have a grasp of the subject matter.
The blame isn’t entirely on the interviewer. The celerity drummers, if they have the wherewithal, can step up to the challenge, take control, and begin to impart some knowledge into the interview.
But sadly, most of the celebrity ramblings sound like voodoo. They can’t follow their own train of thought. They don’t know how to explain what they do that makes them so great. I actually heard one of the most influential drummers on the scene today say, “I simply do this. Now you should do this and this will occur”. Oh, wow! It’s that simple! How astute of you!? Of course, we’re all watching saying to ourselves, “who…how…what, did he/she just say?”
I understand that’s the way of the world. Celebrities flock to the most popular outlets with the most eyeballs, and the highest ratings to be able to promote something to the largest audience possible. But the web is still the wild west, somewhat of an uncharted territory, with everyone claiming to have a loyal following and huge membership base. It’s simply not the case.
The real problem is how the interviews are conducted. If you have an inexperienced interviewer at the forefront, then the end result will be less than stellar.