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21 million views later, SA’s YouTube drummer tells his story
Since August 2006, South African drummer Cobus Potgieter has notched up close to 22 million views of his drum covers. Now Potgieter is producing a DVD, to be released worldwide on 11 November 2009, which will include elements such as understanding ce
By: Antoinette Panton
The DVD, due to be shipped around the globe on November 11, follows a phenomenal rise to internet stardom for the 22 year-old whose work has been viewed close to 22 million times on video network YouTube.
On the DVD, the self-taught drummer will show viewers lessons taught from his perspective and will focus heavily on “teaching yourself”.
The DVD is not all that’s happening for Potgieter. He will also be heading to the United Kingdom soon to ply his trade with the country’s musicians, courtesy of one of his sponsors, Jobeky which is Cobus two-year sponsors of his drums.
Potgieter, who has been hard at work on the DVD, says producing the DVD felt like the “absolute most natural next step”.
Potgieter, 22, has been making major waves on the internet since 2006 when he posted his first video on social network channel YouTube. Potgieter recently played a four part drumming tribute on YouTube as a tribute to pop icon Michael Jackson and played a Kelly Clarkson hit, which according to Potgieter, has been one of his most viewed videos. The video has been viewed close to half a million times.
Potgieter is currently ranked YouTube’s 79th most popular musician, having powered his way from 98th spot just less than three months ago. Most views have come from the United States, Great Britain and Canada.
“Since this whole YouTube story has always been done in “non-profit”
He says the aim of the DVD production was to tell the story of the “kid with the unpronounceable name” who had attracted worldwide support.
The highlight of Potgieter’s journey, while producing the DVD, was how people like his teachers and parents had reacted to it.
“It was unbelievably cool to hear the story from their side, how they perceived it, and what they thought of it - definitely one of the highlights of the whole project. Also, working closely with project partners, SMG, has also created some really cool friendships that I feel very blessed with,” says Potgieter.
Potgieter who has worked alone on all his YouTube material says working with more people was definitely a challenge during the production of the DVD.
“Before this project, I worked alone, on my own time and with next-to-nothing pressure. Obviously this doesn't work in a structured environment like in the DVD production, where more people involved and where changes had to be made. Although I enjoy the structure and stability it brings, my meticulous way of working sometimes struggles to fit into deadlines. So that has definitely been the biggest challenge,” says Potgieter.
He adds that even though working with more people was the biggest challenge, it was also the most rewarding part of the project.
Potgieter says the DVD will be ordered through his website at first, but didn’t rule out hitting the retail stores should there be a demand.
The DVD will include a number of elements, mainly understanding certain techniques, practice routines, kit set-up and writing original drum parts.
Potgieter says choosing his favourite element of the DVD would be like asking a parent to choose a favourite child.
“I’m very passionate about all the elements included on the DVD, since they are all topics that I chose and that I would like to talk about and introduce to people. If I had to choose though, I loved the idea of preparing the more abstract part of the DVD, like writing original drums, thinking differently about drumming and becoming more creative.
Potgieter has also teamed up with well-known South African actor Frank Rautenbach who starred in Hansie and Faith Like Potatoes to help him deal with the challenges of international stardom.
In terms of SA musicians, Cobus is now the SA musician with the second most fans on Facebook, second only to the Parlotones. He is closely followed by Goldfish.
FOR THE EDITOR
Cobus Potgieter, the 22-year old YouTube drummer who grew up in Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape, is internationally recognised for his videos on the social network channel.
Potgieter began playing drums at the age of 16 and posted his first video in August 2006. In late 2007, he loaded his first hit track, Nsnyc’s Pop, which was his top viewed video with over 1,5 million views.
Over the past three years, he has posted seven series of videos on the channel, each using different camera angles and editing techniques. His first series was the "overhead series" featuring 10 videos which was released in June 2007. This was followed by the "tri-cam" series featuring seven videos and the “dual-cam"
On November 11, 2008, Cobus Potgieter uploaded the Hybrid series (he used the acoustic and electric kits combined) which comprised 17 videos, including Avenged Sevenfold's Afterlife, Vanilla Sky's Umbrella (a Rihanna cover) and the Jonas Brothers Burnin' Up.
This was followed by the Michael Jackson tribute series which included four tracks, Beat it, Black or White, Smooth Criminal and Billie Jean. This mini-tribute series' topped over 100 000 views in only four days. His drum cover of Beat it was the second most rated video by a musician on YouTube on the second day of its release.
Cobus Potgieter cites Tony Royster Jr, Derico Watson, Carter Beauford, Travis Barker, Mike Portnoy and Thomas Lang as his main drumming influences.
Potgieter currently lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.