Jazz Musician Mathieu Fiset

Jazz, Creativity Luck and a VIRAL VIDEO

Mathieu Friset is a rock star.  Well, he’s an all-around-musician star.  And I couldn’t have been more excited to interview him.

I discovered Mathieu through my passion as a drummer. I’ve played drums since 3rd grade.  But lately I’ve been learning more about drumming through YouTube, and because of COVID I’ve had way more time to learn and practice.  Sound familiar to your life?

Somewhere along the way I heard an amazing video where absolute top-shelf drummer Larnell Louis plays drums to a pre-recorded and awesome song called Chick’s Pain, by Mathieu Friset, of Quebec.  It’s an amazing video with an AMAZING drummer.  Like so many other drummers I thought, “Dang, that song is awesome.  I want to learn it too. I want to be Larnell!”  It turns out I had a lot of company. If you search YouTube, there are a ton of other drummers who have “covered” this same song, and posted themselves playing drums with it online.

It turns out the “drumless” version of the song is available to purchase…and I was thrilled.  (“Drumless” means a recording of the entire song…. Minus the drummer.   For musicians, being able to “sit in” with a professional band through the magic of technology is both terrific fun and a really great way to improve.)

The next step was going down the wonderful rabbit hole to find the composer/musician who created this music in the first place.  Enter Mathieu Fiset, the composer.  He has a ton of great music out there, has recorded a bunch of amazing stuff, and is…. well, he’s awesome.

I sent him a quick email thanking him for putting out a drumless version of his song. It struck me as a very generous thing that a musician would share a piece of his music with enthusiasts and students like me.   And because he’s cool, he wrote back.  And now, lucky me, he is on the podcast.

There were so many things I wanted to ask him. How do you make a living as a jazz musician? How do you make any money during Covid when you can’t tour or play clubs? And how in the world did this drumless chart make it to Larnell Lewis? And finally, what did he think of the fact that this song BLEW UP the world of drummers?

The interview with Mathieu didn’t disappoint.  He’s charming and smart.  His experience with music is way more varied than I expected, and his willingness to open up, be real and vulnerable made him super charming.

It’s a long-ish interview…but it’s one of my favorites and I encourage you to check it out. Let me give you a couple of highlights here in this blog.

Sometimes Free Can Be The Most Profitable

It turns out that Mathieu knew a drum site called DRUMEO was offering up drumless versions of songs for sale.  He also knew that he had a drumless version of Chick’s Pain, and that all of the drummers he’s played that song with say it’s really fun to play.

So he asked if they’d like to put his song in their library.  For free.   Of course they jumped at it.

Then, (you gotta hear the recording to get the whole story) Larnell Lewis covered that very same song on camera for Drumeo, and the video went viral.  It got huge.  (Currently the video has over 3 million views!)

The result was great for Mathieu. He got a ton of attention.  He became friends with Larnell Lewis.   And he’s earned money (mostly through Spotify and YouTube copyright fees.).  Yay Mathieu!

He did mention that sometimes giving too much away can lead feeling like somebody took advantage.  Noted.  Yup.  But still, this story about giving value to others without much expectation, and then it leading to nice (in this case VERY nice) things is terrific.

Be Prepared for Luck

Mathieu Fiset admitted that some of what happened with that viral video was luck. But he also mentioned that you’ve got to be prepared to take advantage of luck. You’ve got to be good. You’ve got to be ready to use your luck as a stepping stone to other good things. I loved this mixture of honesty and vulnerability, along with some rock solid advice. Counting on luck, of course, is a crappy business plan. But putting things out there hoping that something good will happen sounds brilliant. Especially when coupled with the advice that we still need to put in our work, we still need to strive for excellence, and we need to continue to create.

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Brad is passionate about jazz and drumming.  But he makes his living as a motivational and inspirational speaker.  He’s got some big ideas, and his audiences think he’s funny.   His clients love him because he helps their people and organizations make a difference.

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