Business

Abbotsford drummer Jared Falk builds a smashing empire in Drumeo

Today, Drumeo supports 50,000 active students and a social media community with more than six million followers

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At age 15, Jared Falk hit a drum kit and it was love at first beat. By his 20s, the Abbotsford born-and-raised musician was touring professionally and teaching.

A purchase of the book 101 EBay Secrets in 1999 connected the dots to how the 42 year old author of the Best Beginner Drum Book could marry his concepts for improved musical education with the burgeoning digital online realm.

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In 2003, he and his original partner Rick Kettner founded Breaksticks.com and began selling digital downloads of videotaped drum lessons. By 2005, this expanded into FreeDrumLessons.com which operated for the next seven years. In 2012, the site rebranded as Drumeo, for Drum Education Online.

Today, Drumeo supports 50,000 active students and a social media community with more than six million followers. Subscribers register for a program, learning from play-along tutorials streamed to laptops or mobile devices. An annual membership is $20/month. There is a free seven day trial.

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Drumeo’s platform includes over 6,000 transcribed songs in its play-along-and-learn format with additional feature video lessons from many legendary players including James Brown timekeeper Bernard Purdie, jazz titans Dennis Chambers and Peter Erskine and metal monster Gene Hoglan among many others. The website was awarded best education site by Drum Magazine in 2014 and 2015.

In 2023, Drumeo announced the Drumeo Awards to celebrate “exceptional talents and achievements in the world of drumming.” The drummer of the year was II of the secretive metal act Sleep Token. Other winners included Blink-182’s Travis Barker, the Roots’ Questlove, Tool’s Danny Carey and many more familiar names to drum fans.

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“Coming out of high school, I was destined to follow in the family duck farming business as previous generations had done,” said Falk. “But in early 2000, I had the opportunity to tour with musician Riley Armstrong and realized that I loved playing drums, but I didn’t love touring. I came home to selling ducks in Chinatown and teaching in the evenings until breaksticks.com started up.”

It turned out that downloads were a bad fit in those early days of plodding dial-up internet services. The company pivoted to mail order DVDs of its FreeDrumLessons.com content. When YouTube launched, they posted their videos on the site and FreeDrumLessons.com took off. Drumeo came next.

Today, the company is part of Musora Media Inc. Established in 2021, the business also includes additional online instrument for sites Guitareo, Singeo and Pianote. Similar to the Drumeo concept, each of these aims to create an expanded online community for music learning.

Initially, Falk was creating hundreds of videos. After one year where he filmed one a day, he realized he was tapped out and needed new content. Preferably, this would be coming from marquee musicians. Abbotsford — which Falk describes as “berries and churches,” — wasn’t exactly a musical hub like L.A., Nashville or New York City.

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So he hit upon a scheme to tie-in name talent to the Drumeo concept.

“I didn’t have connections to artists, but I did have access to manufacturers like Yamaha, so I pitched them my vision noting it could likely sell some instruments,” he said.

“A week after my first meeting in Toronto, a set of Yamaha drums arrived at our humble studio. A week after that, an incredible drummer from Toronto named Larnell Lewis, who now plays in Snarky Puppy, showed up.”

Next was session legend Kenney Aronoff, whose credits include everyone from John Mellencamp to Willie Nelson and the Smashing Pumpkins. Throughout the years, the content kept on coming and Musora kept on honing their digital skills. The company learned how to carry its core ideas forward as well as developing expertise in the ever-shifting world of digital business and its “constant moving target” of licensing rights for the song archive.

“Most of the music education companies do a good job, but what I think makes us different is maintaining a lot of human involvement within our students’ experience,” he said. “Whether that is connecting to us via livestream, through pre-recorded videos or having them send us a video of them playing with questions and then us making another in response, out secret sauce is the human interaction. If they keep on enjoying the process, they will keep going.”

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Serving drummers and listening to their feedback led to the creation of the separate areas of the Musora platform. Anyone signing up for one of the options is given access to the others, learning guitar, piano or singing as well as drums.

“We didn’t want to be a one hit wonder,” said Falk. “So we created the separate areas that each have their own feel for their specific type of education. The goal is to keep building on the experience and response we get and adding additional instruments.”

Falk notes that most of their students are everyday musicians who “play because they love the lifestyle, not because of some overarching desire to be stars.”

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