Student Drums His Way to Social Media Stardom
By Leslie Johnson
Casey Cooper’s thousands of social media fans may not realize the talented Georgia State University student behind the drums–playing blind-folded in a viral video, giving lessons, performing a variety of covers–is a hard-working entrepreneur.
Cooper, 22, has made a name for himself by deftly navigating the punchy, succinct world of Twitter, the interactive nature of Facebook and the attentive audience on YouTube, and it has paid off.
Cooper, a senior studying music technology, is taking an online computer course, participating in marching band and thinking about taking more business classes as he contemplates his next move. He knows he wants a career in music, and the odds are long.
“Anybody who has played in the music industry in any city, anywhere, you know it’s not easy,” said Cooper, who received his first drum kit when he was eight.
“And you know you really have to find that right group, you have to have that right person at the right show to tell you ‘I just saw your band, I think I want to sign you guys’ or, ‘I want you to record a little bit and we’ll see what happens.’ It’s a lot of right situations that have to happen in order to succeed in that route. The cool thing is other routes have kind of popped up.
“I’ve been able to take my skills, my talent, what I do, and take it to that level without having to get that right opportunity, without having to get that one person to show up at a show.”
His early video-posting days were simply about sharing clips with others. But after his freshman year at Georgia State, and playing with some bands, Cooper realized he needed to take matters into his own hands to further his music career.
“That was when I was like, you know, people enjoy watching me play,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. I’m not the best drummer on the planet, I’m not the most technical drummer on the planet. But what I do have is, the way I play, people love it. People just love to watch it.
“I knew I could take that, put it on video and go somewhere with it,” Cooper said.
In addition to making sure his videos are “sharable, watchable and enjoyable,” Cooper had another clear goal. “I wanted to make sure no matter what someone is searching for on YouTube, no matter what kind of cover, what kind of video, they’re finding my video, they’re finding me on YouTube,” he said.
Cooper spends about 80 hours a week producing videos and plans to do more interactive work on his YouTube channel, such as giveaways.
He credits his knowledge of computers and video editing, coupled with his musical skill, for developing his following and popularity. He has also pursued and secured several endorsements, including drum maker Pearl which features him on its website, offering him greater exposure.
Cooper considers himself lucky his parents supported him and always encouraged him to work hard. And he feels fortunate that his exposure has helped him do something unexpected: inspire others.
“When I started this out, it wasn’t my goal to be the biggest inspiration or role model or anything like that, “ Cooper said, “but once I started becoming that for so many people, I realized there’s nothing greater than being that, than showing people how much fun it can be to play and inspiring people to go after their dreams and work hard.”