Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but Nandi Bushell is the youngest drummer ever to grace the cover of this magazine. (Honorable mention to 16-year-old Tony Royster Jr., who appeared on the January 2000 cover along with Dennis Chambers.) In the past, it would have been inconceivable—and, to be honest, all kinds of wrong—to celebrate a pre-teen as a cover artist for Modern Drummer.
But the evolution of media culture in general, and, specifically, the carousel of change that is the music business has made it possible for young people to have a monumental impact on instrumental communities, gear manufacturers, and music distribution. Toto guitarist Steve Lukather had one of the most hilarious comments on the new-media landscape, stating, “There’s an embryo on YouTube who can play guitar faster than all of us.” Giggles aside, many of these young musicians possess frightening technique—more than enough of a skill set to send even accomplished players back to woodshedding.
But, like many of my peers, when I see ridiculous and inane content pop up on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok posts that garner bazillions of views, I shed a tear for the collapse of civilization was we know it. In the music community, we’ve gotten to the point where a legendary player can be almost invisible on social media, while someone who posts videos of, say, performing not-awesome snare rudiments while riding a surfboard in a rainstorm can earn a good living via revenue generated by their vast engagement numbers.