Friday, November 27, 2020

We get mentioned on YouTube sort of

Hey, it looks like one of my posts was a catalyst for a video by a semi well-known opaquely-named YouTuber. He has been the victim of some kind of smear campaign to make his videos seem negative, competition-oriented, and status-obsessed. Which they are, but he wants them not to be thought of that way. 

At least the few I've seen. I tried to “research” this further by watching a couple more videos, but I couldn't hang with it. Clearly I am not the intended audience. Looking at the list of his videos en masse I'm getting a very similar vibe as some YouTube nitwits I've written about previously. Not good. I know he he's had an education, but I'm not seeing any evidence of any depth at all. If it's there I wish he would put it in his videos. But he doesn't. I'm starting to feel cheated for the 15 minutes it costs to watch them.  

Sidebar: If you want to know what substantive, positively-focused content looks like, take a snoop through the archives of fellow bloggers Jon McCaslin and Ted Warren.  

So, this new video is partly a reaction to my post Authenticity, which he quotes and screencaps, but doesn't mention this site by name, or link to the post. Normal etiquette would be to at least identify the subject of your quote, but YouTubing is not really about that. 

My post was partly about my own experiences with the concept of authenticity, as a young white jazz student and musician from the Pacific Northwest; and it was partly about my reaction to his video “DOES AUTHENTICITY MATTER?”, in which goes at great length about authenticity in jazz as being about achieving supreme status, and surviving punishing combat, and people being mean to you— a lot of sturm und drang.   

Anyway, here, because I link to things I talk about, is the new video: 

Noted that it wraps up with a pitch for his method of learning jazz by learning hiphop instead, which I also reviewed in a previous post

So, I feel I'm seeing a strange act of deflection; he argues against himself being perceived as a kind of mean, gatekeeping “music school jazz nerd” drummer, while putting that same criticism onto others, who presumably are guilty of it. 

The opening is pure fear and adversary— the frame is that people are trying embarrass you for being interested in what they're interested in... jazz drumming... to which the natural response is to be scared and aggrieved and run away and give up. 

Marketing adolescent fear is very popular on the internet. People love the idea that there are disapproving, purely ego-motivated jazz snobs who will correct your errors unapologetically, and to punish them by quitting and not listening to them is awesome. Hop over there and look at the comments. It's one big celebration of quitting jazz for the hatred of mythical jazz snobs.      

He claims to be encouraging to newcomers, but saying I am encouraging is not the same thing as being encouraging. Especially when, in the very next sentence, he helplessly reverts to the old crucible of high performance competition business. 

Arguing with that framing is like turning on Fox News and saying “well, at least they put their bias up front.” But it's influencing you in ways you don't even understand. You think “well, I know this is bullshit, so the truth must be the opposite of that.” But you're still living on their terms, while the real truth is in another country and time zone, speaking a language you've never heard of. Like, I'm talking about making wine and you're talking about clawing your way to the top writing an android app. Bringing the mentality of the latter into the former is a recipe for some fucked-up wine. 

I'll close by saying I don't care about the superficial conflict aspect of this— beyond being a little bit irked at not being credited for my quote— none of this is personal, it is about the content of a line of video product, which happens to reflect some very common negative attitudes promoted on the internet. I only comment on it because we can learn something about being musicians, teachers, and media consumers from it. Today the lesson is beware of living in other people's narratives, doing so may mess you up in ways you don't expect or understand. And maybe don't sell fear and ego

[h/t to Anthony Amodeo, an excellent drummer and teacher living in New York, for alerting me to this video]


Unknown said...

Well put Todd, and thanks for the shout out- Ted

Todd Bishop said...

Thanks Ted-- I had to keep editing to tone down the language. Writing invective is one of the ways I amuse myself, but I don't want to be a complete jerk.

Anonymous said...

Yes, well put Todd. That guy is simply a YouTuber looking for gullible followers and not contributing anything positive to the art of music or drumming. I watched one or two of his videos a long time ago, now when he shows up in my feed I just laugh and cringe simultaneously.

Anonymous said...

When I first saw "80/20's" channel a few years ago, I thought he might have some good information to pass on, but it did later become clear that his channel is status and competition-obsessed.
In nearly every video I've seen of his (several), he includes clips of unsuspecting YouTube drummers who, in his opinion, play badly. Cue some monologue about 'greatness' and the desire to wade into the 'deep end' - then a sales pitch. Even his 'about me' section on his website isn't about's just another infommercial-style ad.
In his most recent video, he grades and ranks several song covers by drummers that he found on YouTube. It left a bad taste in my mouth because a couple of the covers are done by practically kids or young adults who are early on in their career, and I assumed he didn't ask their permission. long as he doesn't try selling something directly in his video (as he points out) - instead he'll ask you to join his mailing list where you'll get the pitch.
I can't watch his videos much much because of his talking over constant drumming throughout the video...not really sure what the point of that is. Internet drummers seem to love him, though, and he can play well.