If you haven’t already seen it, you might be wondering what the hell is up with the above image.
Pictured here is world-touring power metal sensation Dragonforce, along with metal Youtube comedian Steve “Stevie T” Terreberry. At first glance, you might think they’re about as different from each other as it’s possible to be. One is a world-touring band, the other is an admittedly-skilled guitarist who makes Youtube videos parodying famous musicians, complete with absurd faces and even more absurd jokes.
But Stevie T almost joined Dragonforce on tour as their bassist – and I think it raises a fascinating point about the nature of fame and musical success in the era of social media.
As I understand it, Herman Li (Dragonforce’s lead guitarist, for anyone who doesn’t know) was streaming on Twitch, when it was suggested by fans that they ask Stevie T to join Dragonforce. Literally just as a joke.
Herman said something to the effect of, “Yeah, sure! He can be our triangle player.” Stevie T made a Youtube video about it – which I personally found hilarious but his humor’s definitely not for everyone – and that was the last anyone heard of it for a while. Then, a few months later, Dragonforce legitimately asked him to join them on tour. Why?
…Memes. Literally just memes.
And to make matters even more interesting, Stevie turned them down at the last minute because of severe anxiety! Were they upset? Did they judge him for being too afraid?
Nope. Herman talked to Stevie on the phone for an hour about his own struggles with anxiety and how he completely understood, then Dragonforce gave him a cameo in one of their music videos.
I don’t think people really understand how significant this event was! A world-famous band who’s been around for over 20 years, and a 30-something-year-old introvert with crippling social anxiety who’s never toured and barely played live at all, were on equal ground. They were peers. They ARE peers – because both Dragonforce and Stevie T are professional musicians.
Stevie has almost 2 million subscribers at the time of writing this, and his most recent video has amassed almost 450,000 views in 6 days. Some of his videos receive millions of views. There are syndicated network television shows that don’t even see a fraction of that viewership, and Youtubers are 100% independent, making videos from their own home and building a community all by themselves.
It begs the question, what does the future of music look like? Even ten years ago, the notion of a musician making full-time income without touring was considered impossible. But let’s take it one step further, because Stevie became a full-time musician without leaving his house.
That’s insane. And we know all-too-well what that’s like, because without the use of social media, we wouldn’t have become full-time musicians either! We’re extremely reliant on Facebook advertising to grow our audience, as you’ve most likely experienced for yourself when you discovered us. It’s made 100% of the difference between having a music career or not.
What does it mean for the world of music, when a guy who looks like Stevie T is asked to join a band like Dragonforce? When someone who has NEVER toured at all, is asked to join an internationally-touring machine of a band without having any prior experience? Personally, I think that’s amazing. I think it means the old ways of the music industry are finally dead. It means that there’s more opportunity than ever, and potential is truly limitless.
I also think it means that being genuine and truly embracing one’s personality is a huge component to success. Stevie T became popular because he’s so unapologetically quirky. He’s just a weird dude, and that’s off-putting to some people, but others love it – and isn’t that how it should be, rather than a manufactured facade put up by managers and label executives?
Bring on the future.
I hope it means that artists and their fans will connect more and more, in ways that were impossible before the internet. For example, we’ve been using our Patreon page as a means to let fans into the studio with us as we create our next album, with behind-the-scenes access that was absolutely impossible before a platform like this existed. And in fact Dragonforce themselves did something very similar, streaming the recording of their latest album live on Twitch.
We live in exciting times. No more walls between artists and their listeners.
By the way, if you’d like to join us on Patreon and see what this behind-the-scenes access is all about, you can do so here.
Thanks so much for reading, and please leave me a comment below with your thoughts on all this! We’re all really interested to hear your input on how the internet and social media has changed the way musicians become successful, or anything else you might want to say!