This year we’ve made some adjustments to our annual Readers Poll, which goes live here at on December 1. So if you’ve voted in the past, you’ll notice that things look a little different.

First off , whereas for the past several years we’ve supplied nominees in each category, for our 2020 Poll we’re putting the process back in your hands. Besides the Hall of Fame category (we can’t let you have all of the fun, you know), you now choose all the nominees. We think this gives all of us drummers a more accurate idea of who is truly exciting and inspiring us at this particular point in history. This is actually the way we did things during our first few decades of publication, and it provided a direct line to readers’ feelings that we’ve missed during the past few Polls. We hope you appreciate our new/old approach, and we’re extremely excited to see who you choose—and, of course, who tops each category!

Speaking of “this particular point in history,” we’ve also made a few changes to our categories, to fully reflect the multitude of ways that we all rate the players and teachers who entertain and educate us today. As popular music and drumming of all types reflect wider global and stylistic influences, it becomes harder—and less accurate—to describe musicians solely in terms of one playing style. The way we see it, that’s a healthy thing both for the art of drumming and for music in general.

To help better represent the always-changing realities of drumming and music, we’re evolving from a genre-oriented approach to a broader one, simultaneously dropping certain stylistic categories and adding new ones, such as Soloist, Live Drummer, and App/Online Instruction. In a sense, it’s our way of getting closer to the types of conversations we’re all having when we get together in the real world, and less about being beholden to academic traditions.

For sure, some of you will have strong opinions about these changes, and we’d expect nothing less. And there will no doubt be further adjustments in future Polls. But like Roger Daltrey sang more than forty years ago on Who Are You—a year before the Modern Drummer Readers Poll was launched—“the music must change.” Likewise, it’s our duty to continuously consider the way we discuss and judge it, as reflected by the way you, our readers, do.

If you’re so moved, let us know how you feel about all of this on social media. More importantly, go to, and vote!



Adam Budofsky
Editorial Director